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

 

Whiskies 18,058
Other spirits 2,785
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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (62)
Aberlour (
136)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (
43)
An Cnoc/Knockdhu (3
7)
Ardbeg (4
68)
Ardmore (
131)
Arran (
121)
Auchentoshan (1
26)
Auchroisk (
45)
Aultmore (
81)
Balblair (102)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
3
6)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (2
72)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
9
9)
Benrinnes (
112)
Benromach (
8
5)
Bladnoch (
8
9)
Blair Athol (
114)
Bowmore (5
88)
Braes of Glenlivet (
5
7)
Brora (1
4
7)
Bruichladdich (3
38)
Bunnahabhain (
4
25)
Caol Ila (760)
Caperdonich (
106)
Cardhu (4
3)
Clynelish (4
66)
Coleburn (2
5)
Convalmore (
30)
Cragganmore (
90)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
117)
Dailuaine (91)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
3
7)
Dalwhinnie (
44)
Deanston (
6
6)
Dufftown (
65)
Edradour (95)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
9
3)
Laphroaig (
5
26)
Ledaig (1
3
8)
Linkwood (
204)
Littlemill (1
33)
Loch Lomond (
116)
Lochside (7
3)
Longmorn (2
3
9)
Longrow (
85)
Macallan (331)
Macduff (9
3)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
57)
Millburn (2
5)
Miltonduff (
103)
Mortlach (2
22)
Mosstowie (2
5)
Scapa (61)
Speyburn (
51)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (
4
36)
St-Magdalene (
60)
Strathisla (
11
4)
Strathmill (
5
6)
 
 
Pete and Jack



2022
November 1
October 1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
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2021
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October 1 - 2
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August 1 - 2
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June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
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2020
December
1 - 2
November 1 - 2
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August 1 - 2
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April 1
- 2
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2019
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
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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'

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
22

 


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November 25, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful, part four and hopefully last

 

In truth we were having a secret goal, which was to try our 800th Caol Ila before the end of the year. I think we shall succeed… In the meantime, more wine (and Caol Ila, ha)…

Smoked Oysters

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (48%, Artist Collective, LMDW, recharred wine cask, 1388 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (48%, Artist Collective, LMDW, recharred wine cask, 1388 bottles) Four stars
The label's been done by painter Yanis Khannoussi, but the wine, no ideas… Colour: light gold. Nose: not so much wine, but recharring probably did offset any obvious wineyness, while we're having a rather perfect young and fresh Caol Ila under our nose, with ashes in abundance and a good basket of fresh almonds. You may add the right amount of camphor and naturally, some seawater. Mouth: a tad sour in a good way, with lemon and apple juices, a curious touch of mustard, the expected saltiness, and the no-less expected oysters. These 48% vol. always work well as far as, well, strengths are concerned. Finish: medium, very briney. More oysters, ashes and zests. Comments: were those Champagne casks? I'm asking because Champagne with oysters always works well.

SGP:556 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (59.1%, Artist Collective, LMDW, refill sherry butt, 1191 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (59.1%, Artist Collective, LMDW, refill sherry butt, 1191 bottles) Four stars
Two butts have been used here. Right, peat and sherry, let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: hottish and rather fermentary, doughy, with the expected old walnuts and miso hiding a part of the Caol-Ilaness here. This is an intriguing nose… With water: even more old walnuts, earth, dried porcinis, menthol tobacco (Mum's Kools), whiffs of verbena and wormwood… Mouth (neat): big peppery and leafy smoke, over some thick marmalade. Some cedarwood too (or remember when we were sucking our pencils at school or elsewhere). With water: touches of leather, salty cockles, more walnuts and more marmalade and bitter oranges. Finish: long, with more marmalade (lovely in this context) and seashells. Walnuts in the aftertaste, as almost always with unsweet sherried peaters. Comments: you would have thought it would have been one of those very leathery 'sherry' peaters, but the butts behaved. This one too is excellent.
SGP:556 - 86 points.

How consistent aren't they all indeed? Let's go one, but this won't be exactly wine…

Caol Ila 2013/2022 (47.2%, Dumangin & Fils, ratafia champenois finish)

Caol Ila 2013/2022 (47.2%, Dumangin & Fils, ratafia champenois finish) Three stars
Picture of another bottling by Dumangin. Actually, the label tells us that this young Caol Ila was 'double barreled' in ratafia champenois casks. You may remember, since we've already tried a few very good whiskies that had been treated like that by the Champagne House Dumangin, that ratafia is grape must fortified with eau-de-vie such as marc de Champagne. It's an old-school apéritif that's currently gaining traction again. Colour: pale gold. Nose: once again, this seems to work, the ratafia having seemingly cooled down everything, rounded the malt off, and generated notes of the moistest panettone (since we're entering high season). In short, liquid panettone, how great is that? Also raisin rolls, the ratafia has really tamed the peater. Mouth: perhaps a little wilder, with walnut skins and leaves fighting back, green pepper, juniper and cloves, acidic coffee… Still lovely, but I liked the smoother nose better. Finish: rather long, leafy. Some raisins back in the aftertaste. Comments: using Caol Ila has probably proven a little trickier than double-maturing Bushmills, for example (WF 87).

SGP:664 - 81 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2012/2021 (55.3%, Thompson Bros., for The Netherlands, refill hogshead, dechar/rechar hogshead, 257 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2012/2021 (55.3%, Thompson Bros., for The Netherlands, refill hogshead, dechar/rechar hogshead, 257 bottles) Four stars
Does the colourful seal on the label refer to Dornoch or rather to The Netherlands? Colour: straw. Nose: almost no curry, ginger or allspice here, but indeed some soft wood smoke, beyond the peat, as well as banana foam, custard and marshmallows. Al that sweetness remains under control, this is well a proper Cola Ila, with a lovely coastal freshness too. With water: it reacts very bizarrely to water. Vinegar, gherkins, fermenting fruits, a little ammonia… I find this funny! Mouth (neat): a little ginger and turmeric this time, shrimps with green peppercorn (a lovely Thai dish), barbecued bananas, caraway… And a little salt, baked oysters, drop of triple-sec… With water: no bizarre behaviours this time, rather a rounded and medicinal smoke. Pretty awesome. Finish: medium, with some kind of smoked tropical cake, or something… A drier aftertaste, perhaps flour, or tapioca. Comments: feels a little 'lab' here and there, but the lab did a perfect job. New-world methods I suppose, well, that's what's going on now…

SGP:666 - 87 points
(devilish drop).

Time to have a last one (cross my heart…)

Caol Ila 16 yo 2005/2021 (56.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Selected by Or Sileis, refill sherry hogshead, cask #17600501, 400 bottles)

Caol Ila 16 yo 2005/2021 (56.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Selected by Or Sileis, refill sherry hogshead, cask #17600501, 400 bottles) Five stars
There's been a very wonderful 2005 G&M for TWE last year (WF 90). Colour: straw. Nose: there, more proof that Caol Ila takes aging extremely well, and that 15 years represent a milestone for any given cask. All these 8, 9, 10 or even 12 are well and good, but they can't beat a 15, let alone a 16. Old ointments, bandages, almond cream, sauvignon blanc, lime juice, pine ashes, passion fruits (hey hey), oysters… Good feelings this far. With water: wool and chalk chiming in, classic and class. Mouth (neat): ooh! Salty crème brûlée and crème de menthe, the obligatory limoncello, mango chutney, smoked salmon… Better cut this story short. With water: impeccable, on smoked oysters and lemon. Finish: rather long, extremely well balanced and ultra-classic. Comments: Caol Ila as in Caol Ila, an unbeatable dream of a middle-aged peated malt whisky.

SGP:466 - 90 points.

I believe that's 32 Caol Ila altogether. No duds and a wonderful consistency, but as always, au naturel works better. My take.

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

 

November 24, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful, part three

Not even sure it's going to be the last…

(Picture, Château d'Arsac, Margaux)

Arsac

 

 

Caol Ila 15 yo 2006/2021 (55.3%, Alambic Classique, Special Vintage Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #21015, 263 bottles)

Caol Ila 15 yo 2006/2021 (55.3%, Alambic Classique, Special Vintage Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #21015, 263 bottles) Five stars
I think we'll remember that flabbergasting Port Ellen 31/1969 by DL for Alambic eternally (WF 95). You read that right, 1969. Colour: gold. Nose: ooh, it's gentler one, softer, on cakes and croissants, coconut balls, marzipan… Was that the barrel? With water: there there there, metal polish, old toolbox, fino sherry (I know it was a barrel)… Mouth (neat): high-class immediately. Lime honey, Meursault, seaweed, smoked kippers, some banana wine, beeswax… With water: superb. More Meursault, smoky elements of life (what?) and crushed ripe fruits, bananas, quince, apricots… Some smoothie, I can tell you. Finish: loud applause. Lovely balms and ointments. Comments: the magic of the fifteen years. Only time can do this (I know I'm hammering away at that…)

SGP:565 - 90 points.

So more 15 please…

Caol Ila 15 yo (54.6%, Cadenhead, Online Tasting Week, bourbon hogshead, 2021)

Caol Ila 15 yo (54.6%, Cadenhead, Online Tasting Week, bourbon hogshead, 2021) Four stars
I've heard this one was extra-tight. Colour: white wine. Nose: almonds, whelks, clams, softer rubber, mutton suet, bacon (or culatello, thanks again Massimo), then rather coal dust and brake pads. With water: aromas from the nearest woods, in this case fern, mosses, oak leaves and pine needles. Mouth (neat): very acidic, a little astringent, ultra-grassy for sure, on citrus peel and Himalaya salt (I'm not trying to be smart, it's very specific, no, really). With water: totally lemon and grapefruit, zests, flesh and juices. Finish: back to salt and mercurochrome, plus olive brine. Some unexpected varnish in the aftertaste. Comments: awesome, but perhaps a tad demanding.

SGP:366 - 86 points.

The Sponge had two at the same time…

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '54', 273 bottles)

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '54', 273 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: a delicate one, with first carnations, then waxed papers and beach sand. Some 'clean' engine oil, paraffin, drawing gum and fixing fluid. Then a little chenin blanc, in a pretty Savennières kind of way. With water: back to waxes, paraffin, and even a little butter, probably from the hogshead. Better yet, proper mashed potatoes, 50% potatoes and 50% butter. Mouth (neat): subtle brines and Timut pepper, more oils, seawater, oysters, pink grapefruits… This is just awesome. With water: the butter is back but in small amounts, otherwise granny smith, lime, and the greenest gooseberries ever, wrapped in carbon paper or something like that. Finish: good length, classic salty CI of good age. Comments: if 15 yo mean better balance, 18 yo mean rising complexity. Let's not believe the corrupted whisky revisionists (I weight my words) who would like you to believe that wood/wine = time. Good grief, never!
SGP:466 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '55', 248 bottles)

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '55', 248 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: a little more oak influence, more coconut and vanilla, shortbread, softer oils… While the back remains more or less the same, unsurprisingly. With water: not too sure, perhaps has it gotten a little more acidic this time? Turning back. Mouth (neat): more oak influence indeed, but this time that would rather translate into more sour fruits, overripe apples, quince jelly… With water: yes, brighter, more on brine and yet more on oak. Finish: rather long, sour-sweet and salty-smoky. Vanilla and resinous tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: these two babies have given us a hard, yet pleasurable time. More proof that comparison is reason, even if that makes you pull your hair out at times. Thank you, Sponge.

SGP:556 - 88 points.

Perhaps back to crazy younger ones, just to make sure…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (54.8%, The Whisky Cask Company, Bordeaux cask, cask #900043, 332 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (54.8%, The Whisky Cask Company, Bordeaux cask, cask #900043, 332 bottles) Three stars and a half
Matured, or finished in a Château d'Arsac cask, Arsac being a fine largee-volume cru bourgeois in Margaux (108ha). Colour: apricot. Nose: whether Arsac or Château-Margaux, the end result is the same, you're getting raspberry liqueur mingled with smoked seawater. In this very case, and since scones and muffins would be chiming in, we'll declare that it rather works. There. With water: liquid cake, kougelhopfs, Schwartzwalder, pipe tobacco, well, you see, no serious machine… Mouth (neat): total winesky but I'm not against this. Liquorice and strawberries, liquorice allsorts, cherry cake, the moistest panettone… With water: same. I'm sure you could bring it down to 5% vol. and still come up with the same results. Finish: more pepper. Comments: I had thought this would be a sledgehammer. Not my preferred style, but they did rather well. I mean, Margaux and malt whisky, imagine!

SGP:765 - 83 points.

The thing with peat and wine is that peat in itself has already become a way of aromatising malt whisky (nobody burns peat to malt barley anymore, except in very few proper kilns). So peat + wine means superposed aromatisation, really a tricky stunt to handle if you want to avoid any 'Hawaiian Pizza Effect' (HPE, yet a new silly acronym!) Or PAVWC (Pasta Alle Vongole With Cheese; if our Italians friends ever catch you doing that, you're dead). Anyway, let's go on…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (51.1%, Adelphi, cask #302779, 256 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (51.1%, Adelphi, cask #302779, 256 bottles) Four stars and a half
I've still got good eyes and yet I cannot seem to find the kind of cask on the minimalistic, quasi-Soviet label. Well, according to the colour, it is not a fourth-fill barrel… Colour: brown amber. Nose: fudge and caramel, exhaust (NOT sulphur), Ovaltine, copper polish, old walnuts and beef jerky. Looks like the cask had something to say. With water: the previous content too. Chlorine, walnuts, sorrel soup (love that mucho)… Mouth (neat): extremely thick, as if we were having pipe tobacco on canapés. Heavy dried prunes too, the craziest Ténarèze, morels, and three tons of old walnuts (we're not talking rock and roll here). With water: bresaola and Grisons meat, also prunes, more prunes, and even more prunes. Finish: long and thicker yet, concentrated, rather on cassis and blackberry jellies. Some old-style Jell-o when we weren't adding enough water, remember? Comments: Phineas Taylor Barnum's very own bottle of, what was it again? That's right, Caol Ila. Loved it!

SGP:466 - 88 points.

Probably the opposite…

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.2%, Duckhammer's Rare & Fine Spirits for We Dram Clan and Whisky Jace, hogshead, 121 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.2%, Duckhammer's Rare & Fine Spirits for Wu Dram Clan and Whisky Jace, hogshead, 121 bottles) Four stars and a half
Phoo, who's the actual bottler, who's bottling what and for whom, who's the distributor, it's all getting a little complicated at times, at least we know who's tasting it (barely). Colour: white wine. Nose: millimetric tincture of iodine, seawater, new rubber, almonds, ashes and oysters. Classic young CI so far. With water: same, plus damp earth and raw wool. Mouth (neat): just tight smoky seawater and apple and lemon juice. Extremely bright, getting medicinal. With water: no-quibble oysters, lime juice, seawater and cough syrup (drops). Finish: long and appropriately smoky, with more lemon and green apples. Some kind of greasiness in the aftertaste, perhaps even wool – not that we're eating sweaters mind you. Well, we did at school, in a way. Also brine, as always. Comments: possibly the brightest (and simplest?) Caol Ila we've had within these three days. It's just that it's the style we like mucho mucho.

SGP:466 - 88 points.

Good, two more and we're done with Caol Ila, until the year 2037. Quite.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (56.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, barrel, cask #313845, 304 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (56.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, barrel, cask #313845, 304 bottles) Five stars
Love it that they would have added a portrait of President Putin to the label. Now we've already tried a sister bottling, cask # 309952, and just loved it (WF 89). Colour: straw. Nose: crisp and pristine, with first lemons and vanilla, then smoke and seawater, then olives and oysters. They may have hundreds of thousands of such casks over there, we'll always love them. Both the whiskies and the people! With water: new fabric, wool, chalk, seashells, iodine… Mouth (neat): rhubarb juice, seawater, lime juice, oysters, ashes, plain smoke, pepper. With water: lovely unexpected herbs, parsley, basil, coriander, also borage and sorrel… I just adore this! But it is bone dry… Finish: long and back to lemons, sage, oregano, and vin jaune from Jura. Comments: exquisite young Caol Ila, this time totally flawless. Whether there's been some sorcery behind this or not, I don't know, but all what counts lies in your glass. Amazing young Caol Ila, ready for the metaverse (of course not, I was joking, they can stick it up… etc.)
SGP:567 - 90 points.

And so a last one, let's make it an old one. My God, we haven't even delved into the 1990s yet, mind you. Shame, shame, shame…

Caol Ila 32 yo 1990/2022 (51.5%, OB, Casks of Distinction, Wu Dram Clan, Pierrick Guillaume and The WhiskyNerds, refill American oak hogshead, cask #6223, 181 bottles)

Caol Ila 32 yo 1990/2022 (51.5%, OB, Casks of Distinction, Wu Dram Clan, Pierrick Guillaume and The WhiskyNerds, refill American oak hogshead, cask #6223, 181 bottles) Five stars
The final bouquet, in other words. We've got a few other old CIs yet-to-taste, but they're all unavailable in shops and so they can wait, according to WF's unpublished yet official set of rules. BTW, Pierrick Guillaume was the manager at Laga and CI. Colour: gold. Nose: amazing what Caol Ila can generate when it ages, such as so many kinds of oils (pumpkin first, then sunflower and grape pips), and flowers (geranium), and fats (lardo di Colonnata), and nuts (pecans, almonds), and old things (books, furniture, waxes...) What it hasn't quite got anymore is smoke, having said that, I would suppose it got transmuted in some way. The kind of gentleness that only proud old malts can display. With water: as almost always, more wool, chalk, also soft figs (the big ones) plus overripe apples and beeswax and mead. Mouth (neat): great old wine territories. Eucalyptus, chalk, acacia beignet, orange cordial, Fernet… The texture is rather incredible, almost muscular this time. With water: careful with that pipette, Odette! Indeed this is not pastis and I'm not sure anyone should add any waters to this ole glory. Lovely nut skins yet, walnuts, but some bitterish woods in the back, some tea tannins coming to the surface, and bitterish leaves and stems popping out. Conclusion, no water ought to be added here. Finish: long and lovely when neat. Adios, water. Patchouli, lime tea, smoked salmon, yuzu, caviar… Comments: hard to taste. In truth it is a little f****r that does whatever it wants and that literally hates water, blistering barnacles! Blundering bazooka! Orang outang! Cercopithecus! Vegetarian! Miserable molecule of mildew! Sycophant! Putin! Steam roller!...

SGP:466 - 92 points.

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

 

November 23, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful, part two

Always with young ones, which really abound these days… The last one yesterday was a 2010 for LMDW, so let's start this with another 2010 for LMDW. They have a huge catalogue this year…

Olives

 

 

Caol Ila 12 yo 2010/2022 (56.8%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, for LMDW, Antipodes, Moscatel finish, cask #311735, 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2010/2022 (56.8%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, for LMDW, Antipodes, Moscatel finish, cask #311735, 270 bottles) Four stars
A moscatel finish, how to say… Let's see if this will be a sweet bomb. Colour: deep gold. Nose: no proper sugarganza, rather pencil shavings and mead, then big, fat, moist golden raisins, as well as gorse and wisteria. We're still around self-restraint but you do feel that things could… explode. With water: they never do, this remains kind of gentle, well-mannered, with more mead, touches of fruity cognac, and just a hint of mustard and tobacco, which would rather make us think of… Madeira. Mouth (neat): the sweet wine feels much more on the palate and comes with some kind of smoky curry and chutneys, plus bucketloads of rich honey. And yet, it's not cloying in any way. Mind you, it's neither Don Papa nor Bumbu. With water: some sugar coming out, muscovado, some sweeter beer, and perhaps some moscatel. Finish: medium, with the smoke and ashes coming to the front now. They took their time. Also clove and nutmeg. Comments: I feared too much.

SGP:666 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (54.8%, Thompson Bros. for Nickolls & Perks, dechar/rechar wine hogshead, 298 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (54.8%, Thompson Bros. for Nickolls & Perks, dechar/rechar wine hogshead, 298 bottles) Three stars and a half
Isn't it crazy what they do to casks, and to whiskies. Quasi-STR. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, a floral Caol Ila, with also broken branches, asparagus peel, pickled ginger (bring the sushi), sandalwood, Szechuan pepper…  Something's clearly different in there. Also coastal oranges, I mean oranges and seawater. With water: oh, back to normality, with the trademark ashes, citrus, seawater and oysters. Ointments in the background. Mouth (neat): very unusual. Much green smoke and cedarwood, so pencil shavings, turmeric and ginger, perhaps a little pineapple (dried)… With water: rather more pineapples, grapefruit, and some biggish ginger and turmeric. Eucalyptus in the aftertaste. Finish: long, very spicy. Comments: very nice variant, a wee bit like the official Distillers Edition, but bigger.
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo 2009/2022 (56.3%, Whisky Sponge, second fill sherry butt, 374 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2009/2022 (56.3%, Whisky Sponge, second fill sherry butt, 374 bottles) Four stars and a half
A unicorn, according to the label. A 12 years old unicorn? Actually, they say it is a 'cooonicorn'. All right then. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the sherry was still pretty active the second time, but tobacco and walnuts can do no wrong to whisky. The rest is at its best (shh), with seawater, oysters, citrus, camphor and tiger balm. With water: need a little time to settle down. Oh super, old coins, copper polish, dried meats, walnut wine, ale, fino sherry… Mouth (neat): excellent, if just a tad spicy/oaky (what a second fill indeed!) Salty lemons, seashells, a little ginger and nutmeg, bitter oranges… With water: excellent. Triple-sec plus walnut wine and seawater, with a little sage and liquorice. Works. Finish: long, even spicier. They say second fill, but it feels like a softer first fill. Anyway… Comments: what this one's really got, and that many didn't quite display this far, is balance. And probably more fruits.

SGP:656 - 88 points.

Aila Col 2009/2022 (56.3%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #Twj-Islay-2001-2, 338 bottles)

Aila Col 2009/2022 (56.3%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #Twj-Islay-2001-2, 338 bottles) Four stars and a half
Okay, is this pure cocketry or are they, indeed, going to have to use silly or secret names for Caol Ila too? But after all, The Whisky Jury also did an 'Eye Land Pork'… Colour: straw. Nose: it's a pure one that won't need much literature. Sunflower oil, lemons, oysters, ashes, seawater, three olives (per glass, James). With water: and cucumber juice? Mouth (neat): basic but the base is very high. Salty lime juice, ashes, gherkins, some fatness (suet) and spiced kippers. With water: touches of maracuja and banana in addition. Finish: long, balanced, on more of all that, with oranges and cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: we may have reached another plateau. A 9 and a 12 are not the same thing, whichever the wood.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2021 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, refill sherry butt, cask #317885, 849 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2021 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, refill sherry butt, cask #317885, 849 bottles) Four stars
850 bottles out of a single cask, even at 46%, that's well done! Colour: white wine. Nose: sunflower oil and olive oil, plus anchovies and whelks, plus almonds and wood and coal ashes. Very OB-ish, very nice, refreshing, easy. Mouth: very dangerously drinkable. Brine, ashes, citron juice, olives, kippers, seashells, granny smith, drop of crème de menthe. Finish: rather long, saltier and ashier yet. Lovely caipirinha-y signature. Comments: these should come with a warning. You say they do?

SGP:556 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2020 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 14251, 338 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2020 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 14251, 338 bottles) Four stars
It's an old particular, but it's not particularly old. Right, right. Colour: white wine. Nose: same style as that of the SigV, fresh, coastal, with some oils, seashells, a little tar, ashes, brine, oysters, lemon juice, sauvignon blanc… Mouth: even more so, but I would tend to like this one a little better yet, for it's greener, more on granny smith, wakame, extreme oysters (open sea), and olives. Olives will save the world and bring peace everywhere. Finish: rather long, with a salty manzanilla-y character. Only the aftertaste is a tad bitter and a little too much on bark. Comments: great drop, only misses the 88-line because of the aftertaste.
SGP:566 - 87 points.

Asta Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (52%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM141, 732 bottles)

Asta Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (52%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM141, 732 bottles) Four stars and a half
Belgians adding frogs to their labels, we've seen it all now. We'll start to add shrimps to ours! Just one question, if they ever bottle a Bowmore in the near future, will they name it 'Asta Martin'? Colour: straw. Nose: not a first fill butt. It's pure, albeit fattish, paraffiny Caol Ila, with some notes of mirabelles (hey?) and then seashells and tart apple juice. With water: exactly where a young Caol Ila should stand in my book. Lemons, citrons, brine, white beer, fresh bread, smoke, oysters… Mouth (neat): excellent, with excellent citrus, some icing sugar, excellent limoncello, and excellent honey. Not too sure where and why all this sweetness, but it's lovely. With water: indeed, excellent, super-tart and zesty, salty, and yet with a fatter, oilier fruitiness. I'm afraid we'll have to mention limoncello once more. Finish: rather long, salty and sweet. Green pepper, wax, seawater... Black pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: bordering the 89-line. Excellent young Caol Ila.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.5%, Smuggler, bourbon hogshead, cask #310478, 312 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.5%, Smuggler, bourbon hogshead, cask #310478, 312 bottles) Four stars
We're in Switzerland this time; hoppla grüezi! Remember, we say we Alsatians are Belgians who never made it to Switzerland, unless that would be just the other way 'round. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: gooseberry and green apple juice, wool and chalk, almond paste, leaven and baker's yeast, gherkin brine… Not much wood influence to say the least, while I hear no complains (from my part). With water: fully on raw wool. Mouth (neat): tight and tense, hyper-vertical (the Jungfrau, I tell you), all on brine and lime juice, mezcal, seawater… With water: careful, it would cut you. Raw kirschwasser, more seawater, carbon and ink, ashes aplenty, salty doughs… Finish: long and ultra-tight. Comments: eau-de-vie de peaty barley plus granny smith. Not the easiest Ci around, but hab' ich gern. I mean, I like it rather a lot.

SGP:456 - 87 points.

Why not an OB before we call this a session…

Caol Ila 14 yo (53%, OB, The Four Corners of Scotland, Distillery Exclusive, 2022)

Caol Ila 14 yo (53%, OB, The Four Corners of Scotland, Distillery Exclusive, 2022) Four stars and a half
This exclusive baby was matured in refill and freshly charred hogsheads. The Four Corners are Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Clynelish and Cardhu. Colour: white wine. Nose: another purer Caol Ila, with some paraffin yet again, carbon, new leatherette, apple juice, gentle smoke (this time), almonds, and rather less coastal elements, perhaps because of those 'freshly charred hogsheads'. But there is rather a lot of cough syrup. With water: linseed oil, wool, Barbour grease, new wellies and porridge. Prettish Scottish, no? Mouth (neat): awesome salty sweetness, with some tropical fruits from those fresh-charred hoggies – probably – and many oysters and many lemons. Excellent. With water: terrific, saltier yet, with olives stuffed with almonds or anchovy paste. I mean both, but separately. I know what I'm trying to say. Finish: long, more on ashes and olives. Comments: fantastic drop, another one to cellar for, like twenty years. Quasi-90. Who blended it?
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Nine, that's a good number. But we may have a third CI session soon, they've been really piling up…

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

 

November 22, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful

A figure of speech, naturally, but we have got really big ambitions today, given that I've been neglecting my CIs lately… But let's see what we have and try to find an easy youngster as our apéritif…

Samphire

 

 

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (45%, Samaroli, The Whisky Barrel 15th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #315282, 490 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (45%, Samaroli, The Whisky Barrel 15th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #315282, 490 bottles) Four stars
The label's named 'Lord of The Isles', which reminds us of something… Colour: very pale, almost white. Nose: getting to the core, with some pretty almondy kirschwasser, tincture of iodine, a little engine grease and probably more oysters than in the ocean. That almondy kirschiness is rather huge. Mouth: salt, oils, whelks, almonds, paraffin and bitter apples. Very dry and actually rather fino-y. 'En Rama', naturalmente… Finish: long, dry, almost bitter (well, with notes of bitters) and tarry. Propolis. Comments: another wee Caol Ila that's anything but 'a softer Islay'. Austere, with very few fruits, not even citrus, except zests. Big, big smoke.

SGP:367 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (55%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, LMDW Antipodes, first fill sherry butt finish, cask #104, 646 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (55%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, LMDW Antipodes, first fill sherry butt finish, cask #104, 646 bottles) Four stars
Some first fill sherry finish on a young CI; as some would say, 'glups!' Colour: deep amber – office coffee. Nose: toffee and pipe tobacco, plus metal polish, cardboard and beef jerky, but even if 55% vol. is not that high, it's a bit too powerful. With water: the toffee remains the boss but the peat is chiming in, together with bitter herbs and a whole bag of pine needles, some raw wool, turmeric, pipe tobacco again... Mouth (neat): massive fudge and malt bars (Ovaltine bars, Mars bars as well). Huge and calling for water… With water: still heavy, you could use it as a sauce (Worcester or Tabasco) or, alternatively, make your own oloroso by adding two spoonfuls to any glass of white wine. Right, I haven't tried that but if you do, please report back, thanks. Finish: long and rather all on black toffee and more beef jerky. Comments: pretty beastly.

SGP:456 - 85 points.

Can we have a gentle one please?

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (57.3%, The Whisky Show 2022, hogshead)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (57.3%, The Whisky Show 2022, hogshead) Four stars
The label's got a secret message, which would be 'Climate Crisis, What Are We Doing?' Perhaps should we drink wine or water instead of anything distilled? Colour: pale gold. Nose: I'm starting to wonder if these 2013s aren't a little young, because this one too is a tad rough around the edges. But other than that, everything well in place, seawater, oysters, zests, even olives... With water: and wool, chalk, mud, touches of leather (which would go away after 12 years, I'd wager). Mouth (neat): ultra-classic lemony and salty smokiness, with some bitter apples and green tea. With water: young Caol Ila as in young Caol Ila. Some grassy, bitterish herbs and leaves in the background. Finish: long, salty, a little more medicinal and always very leafy. Comments: it seems that these 2013, all very good of course, are not blessed with an abundant fruitiness, are they.
SGP:366 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, +/-2022)

Caol Ila 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, +/-2022) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: these ages take reduction particularly well, this has much more sea breeze, lemons, crabs, seaweed, beeswax, olive oil… Mouth: indeed, this is pretty perfect, salty, briney, with more oysters, many more smoky and tarry ashes than in the biggish 2013s, seawater… Finish: medium, a tad grassier now, with a salty aftertaste. A very salty aftertaste. Comments: It's not that I always need easiness and approachability, but in the case of very young Caol Ila, I believe this profile, although not the grandest ever, is welcome. And good for making smoky Scotchitos (Caol Ila, lime juice, barley syrup, Perrier – proportions are up to you). Say 85+ for this wee one.
SGP:456 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (56.7%, Thompson Bros. for Royal Mile Whiskies, rejuvenated hogshead, 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (56.7%, Thompson Bros. for Royal Mile Whiskies, rejuvenated hogshead, 270 bottles) Four stars
Rejuvenated = dechar + rechar here. Colour: straw. Nose: you do feel custard, vanilla cream, that's the rejuvenation. Caol Ila takes it well. Then brine, lime, seashells, coal tar, ointments, seaweed… With water: old fabric (old tweed), old magazines, paraffin, dunnage, swimming pool, and certainly less vanilla, as if water had eradicated the effects of that rejuvenation. Mouth (neat): excellent, with citrus upfront this time, then bitterer herbs, ashes, green pepper, some green curry perhaps… With water: a few bitter herbs, some limes and lemons and grapefruits, salt, cracked pepper, and a tiny drop of that stronger chartreuse, which they call 'Elixir Végétal'. Stuff for grown-ups, I tell you. Finish: long, on similar notes. Comments: another fighter. Bonus point for the citrus.

SGP:466 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.58%, Whisky Nerds, sherry hogshead, cask #5846, 326 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.58%, Whisky Nerds, sherry hogshead, cask #5846, 326 bottles) Three stars and a half
Who remembers chalkboards at school? They were much more reliable than iPads, if you ask me. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of flints, limestone, even sulphur stone at first, then sour wine, preserved artichokes, sauvignon blanc (which I often find very Coal Ila), then the flintier-and-yet-fat Meursault you could think of. With water: raisins, barbecue lighting fluid, even lighter fluid (or ol' Zippo), more flints… Mouth (neat): once again it would start with a little sulphur, let's say leathery raisins, then open up with some cigarette tobacco and hoisin sauce. Then we have even more raisins. With water: good fun with this pretty mineral and yet very raisiny sherry cask. Finish: long, more on tobacco and tarry tea. Sooty aftertaste, with also notes of eggplant. Comments: probably not for everyone, but there were only 326 bottles anyway. A tiny notch deviant, perhaps.

SGP:566 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 2010/2022 (57%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, rum cask finish, cask #1902, 360 bottles)

Caol Ila 2010/2022 (57%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, rum cask finish, cask #1902, 360 bottles) Four stars
Caol Ila and rum, clash or not clash, what do you think? Let's see… Colour: white wine. Nose: earth, humus, seashells, olive oil, new blue jean, musty old wine cellar, fresh plaster… Well, no clash this far, on the contrary… With water: well, it does 'nose' like if the rum was a Jamaican, or a Trinidadian, perhaps. Which means that there couldn't be any clashes, both profiles being kind of close, in a way. Earth and smoke and brine and olives, you know. Mouth (neat): a wee soapiness at first but that was very fleeting, then rather salty lemons and smoky capers. Did anyone ever try to smoke capers? Not even in Italy? With water: citrus and wool, samphires... Finish: long, very briney, tight, much more vertical than I had thought when I did read 'rum cask finish'. Comments: very smart duet.
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL16013, 240 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL16013, 240 bottles) Four stars
Can you call it an 'Old Malt Cask' when the malt's this young? Right, I suppose the cask itself was old… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: immaculate, with new kirschwasser, whelks again, clams, seawater, linseed oil, new tyres. What's not to like? With water: new sweater, rainwater, wool… Mouth (neat): very fresh, millimetric, lemony, salty, ashy. Gherkin brine. With water: excellent, with lemons jumping into your glass. Other than that, we have more chalk. Finish: medium, saltier. One oyster in the aftertaste. Comments: young fresh untouched Caol Ila (as nature intended, shall we add). They're very good too.

SGP:556 - 86 points.

A last one, we shall go on another day…

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for LMDW, refill bourbon hogshead, #53.410, 'Smoked Sea Salted Liquorice', 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for LMDW, refill bourbon hogshead, #53.410, 'Smoked Sea Salted Liquorice', 270 bottles) Four stars and a half
That The Society would do such exclusive bottlings is new to me, but all powers to La Maison Du Whisky here. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: crystal clear sweet smoky nose full of ripe apples, lapsang souchong, smoky custard and marzipan. Rather feels like 15, if you ask me. I mean 15 years old. With water: pure wool, chalk, ashes, lime and oysters. This is extremely 'Caol Ila'. Mouth (neat): very close to the OBs, with more citrus this time, more freshness, some fennel seeds, wasabi, seawater, brine… And green olives. Hoppla, as we say over there. With water: winner. Iodine and medicinal stuff. Finish: one that cuts you into two halves, as we sometimes say. Totally bladey. Comments: high-definition Caol Ila, as in 'Caol Ila'. No prisoners.
SGP:457 - 88 points.

What we notice is that even when they're wildly different, young Caol Ilas remain pretty consistent. But as we just said, we shall go on another day, because there's plenty more where those came from (as Pearl Bailey used to sing)…

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

 

November 21, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

November 20, 2022


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!

This is Sunday, here's yet another bag of rums

There's plenty and we shan't complain. Let's kick this off with a wee apéritif, as usual…

Belize

 

 

Carùpano 12 yo 'Reserva Exclusiva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2022)

Carùpano 12 yo 'Reserva Exclusiva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
We've only ever tried Carùpano 6 yo, which was a Reserva 'Especial' rather than 'Exclusiva'. Adjectives are the salt of marketing. Now that 6 was rather cheapish (WF 70). Colour: dark gold. Nose: no wait, this is very all right, very rounded, chocolaty, with some rum baba, bananas flambéed, raisins, fresh-crushed cane juice, fudge and caramel, and just Rowntree's best. Mouth: really, it's kind of okay, you do find the cane, bananas, pineapples, light molasses, cappuccino, Viennese coffee… There is some sugar for sure, but it's been done with moderation. Finish: a tad short, rather honeyed, with some more cane juice and candy sugar. That's it, they've used candy sugar. Comments: no quibbles, it's rather fine sweet rum, just a little wobbly in the knees, if you see what I mean.

SGP:630 - 77 points.

Mauritius 12 yo 2010/2022 (53.4%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, Port cask)

Mauritius 12 yo 2010/2022 (53.4%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, Port cask) Three stars
This stems from Grays Distillerie, a name that I had bever heard of before (which doesn't mean much, I agree). Now that Port thing is scary. Colour: Port. No really, Port red. Ruby, if you like. Nose: huge Port, even if this isn't pure touriga nacional. It is some in-cask blend of rum with Port, simple as that. Not saying that doesn't work, having said that, both drinks even seem to tango well together. Peonies, raspberry liqueur, blackberry jam, ganache, Mon Cheri, molasses, strawberries stewed in Demerara syrup, guignolet, Nuits-St-Georges… With water: even more sweet red wine. Towards amarone at times. Mouth (neat): cherry jam with indeed some muscovado, cinnamon, star anise, more raspberries and blackberries, Port, pinot noir… With water: there's even this gamey side of Pinot Noir. Yeah I know Port is not made out of Pinot Noir. Finish: long, sweet, Port-like. Cherry stems and leaves in the aftertaste. Clafoutis. Comments: the Romans were having it right when they called the drink 'vinum'. In my book the Port was louder than the rum. Good fun, we just need to find a name for these in-cask premixes. Seriously, it worked.
SGP:740 - 82 points.
Update
: Grays is New Grove, thanks Rowald

Travellers 2007/2022 (64.6%, l'Esprit, Belize, cask #BB 19, 258 bottles)

Travellers 2007/2022 (64.6%, l'Esprit, Belize, cask #BB 19, 258 bottles) Four stars and a half
Long time no Travellers from Belize on little WF. The honourable bottlers remind us that this is single-estate rum. That's a proper origin! Colour: amber. Nose: fudge and nougat at cask strength ;-). Scones, cane juice, biscuits, pumpernickel, shortbread, toffee… With water: a very delicate rubber coming out, some leaves and hay, dried flowers, tangerines, beeswax… It is all delicate indeed, elegant, you would have said 'feminine' back in 1995… Mouth (neat): oranges and caramel… These Travellers are reminiscent of Foursquare, they're just a notch lighter. But no further chances taken at almost 65% vol. With water: very good! A velvet hand in an iron glove, would we say. Delicate cakes, ginger biscuits, madeleines, Jaffa cakes, some tangerine marmalade… Finish: medium, rather on nougat and Bailey's (apologies). I would guess you could make some kind of Alexander out of this Travellers, no? Comments: take your time, don't rush it, be ready for murmurs and subtleties, and it'll grow on you. I think I forgot to mention puréed chestnuts (with vanilla, whipped cream and meringue).

SGP:441 - 88 points.

Let's quickly check if I was right when I was mentioning Foursquare…

Foursquare 2002/2022 (52%, l'Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB 8, 198 bottles)

Foursquare 2002/2022 (52%, l'Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB 8, 198 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: boy was I wrong, but that's because this is a Foursquare that's giving pride of place to its ex-pot still component. Green oranges, capers and olives, gentian, varnish,  fermenting bananas, linseed oil, cigar smoke… Well, we love it but it is simply not a prototypical Foursquare. Un-self-blended Foursquare, or simply a higher proportion of pot still? With water: plastics and waxes, new sneakers, new iPhone (fool!)… Mouth (neat): yeah right, a Jamaican Foursquare. Pure pot still, with tar, olives, liquorice, rotten, ach, well, rotting fruits, varnish, sake and shochu, even baijiu… Tell me about a spirit of the world! With water: smoked bananas, olives macerated in coal tar, pickled bits of grapefruit… Finish: long. Takes water extremely well. Comments: we've been fooled. This is like trying Port Charlotte while thinking it was Bruichladdich, see what I mean? They'll get a letter…

SGP:553 - 90 points.

T.D.L. 22 yo 2000/2022 (57.5%, Swell de Spirits, Private Garden n°1, Clos des Spiritueux, Trinidad, 356 bottles)

T.D.L. 22 yo 2000/2022 (57.5%, Swell de Spirits, Private Garden n°1, Clos des Spiritueux, Trinidad, 356 bottles) Five stars
15 years in Trinidad, then 7 years in the UK (so most under Boris). T.D.L. means Trinidad Distillers Limited, so pretty much Angostura. Colour: full gold. Nose: not bold, but very floral and honeyed. Rum made by bees, in other words. Some pomegranates and prickly pears, pink bananas, clover honey, dandelions, wisteria, bits of mango, and first and foremost, preserved peaches, which would lead to… fresh old cognac. This is rather fascinating, to tell you the truth. You travel fast with this one. With water: feeling even more obvious. Glorious. This simply cannot only be TDL, let alone Angostura under another name. Im-pos-si-ble. Mouth (neat): very intriguing. Some sorcerer may have blended away various spirits, perhaps Rosebank plus TDL indeed, plus a fruity Bons Bois, plus a drop of Ténarèze to add oomph and knack. Smart work (but hey officer, this is fiction!) With water: I say no more. Some cane reminds us that there's rum in there. Finish: medium, jammy, complex, floral (floral finishes are uncommon)… Peaches in honey are dancing in the aftertaste. Comments: Mr Swell, we need to talk. This is not only a joke ;-).

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Good, let's rather have one from a small island and then call this another proper rum session.

Fiji 21 yo 2001/2022 (62.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Antipodes, cask #51, 213 bottles)

Fiji 21 yo 2001/2022 (62.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Antipodes, cask #51, 213 bottles) Four stars and a half
Love LMDW's conceptualisation every year, in 2022 it is all about 'antipodes'. Well, Fiji sure lies in the antipodes of France. Excellent rugby, by the way, while this should stem from the very good South Pacific Distillery, in Lautoka. High hopes here, Fiji sure is the Jamaica of the… antipodes. Colour: amber. Nose: when patchouli and tar meet, together with olives and liquorice. A bit strong, to say the least, but you would believe you're in Monymusk/Clarendon. With water: ink, damp magazines, coal dust, turpentine, varnishes, and of course olives. Smoked olives. Mouth (neat): excellent glue, varnish, very heavy pine resin and something reminiscent of nail polish (with strawberry flavour). With water: anchovies and peaches chiming in. Finish: long. Comments: we've heard whenever the Fijian rugby players would catch and kill an enemy, they would then dump him into the Distillery's muck pit. Or is that only rumours? Great, great estery rum nonetheless, one of the best in the world.

SGP:563 - 89 points.

I just wanted to check something, quickly…

Worthy Park 'Select' (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2022)

Worthy Park 'Select' (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2022) Four stars
Never forget that Worthy Park is single-estate rum. Who else is truly single-estate in rum? And in whisky? (pff, ROTFALOL…) This WP is the simplest expression of WP there is, but WP is WP. Right, enough acronyms, let's just hope Worthy Park Select has nothing to do with Laphroaig Select… Colour: gold. Nose: we would have loved more oomph, but they sell this for way less than 30€. Lovely notes of linoleum, ink, brine, olives, paint… While indeed, and that was what I've been feeling in the first place, it is very similar to the Fijian (and conversely). Mouth: just very good, not even light, oily and olive-y, with good grittiness, overripe bananas, a feeling of diesel oil, nutmeg and pepper, very salty oysters (of open sea), olive oil… Finish: perhaps not exactly the best part, but that's more than normal at 40% and with this kind of profile. Just ask Laphroaig Select. The aftertaste is a little hazy and out of sorts, but there. Comments: class, this cheapish entry-level WP, just take another sip before the finish.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

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

 

November 19, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Mixed duos again
A pretty varied mix today, with a couple of interesting old bottles thrown in for good measure.

 

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2021 (52.5%, North Star, bourbon, 247 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2021 (52.5%, North Star, bourbon, 247 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: heather honey, lilies heavy with pollen, vanilla creme brûlée and even a few drops of youthful Sauternes. Given time I also find herbal notes and impressions of old mead, it starts to become even rather medicinal too. A really lovely nose so far. With water: more flowers, pastries, honey, green apple and hints of heather and gorse flowers. Mouth: a pretty active cask no doubt, but the sweetness manages to feel quite natural and full of flower nectars, pollens, lemon custard and more impressions of various dessert wines. Add to that some eucalyptus, clover and more flower honey. Then it's on chunkier notes of stout beer, freshly baked breads and tiger balm. With water: jelly beans, crushed nettles, tinned pineapple and things like malt loaf, milk chocolate and juniper. Finish: good length, some hints of coffee and cocoa along with more sweet nectars and breads. Comments: really impressive! An active cask but a charismatic distillate that matches it perfectly. Great selection by North Star and great work by Ardnamurchan.

SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Ardnamurchan 5 yo (53.5%, The Whisky Exchange 'April Fool', 1st fill bourbon barrels, 1575 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 5 yo (53.5%, The Whisky Exchange 'April Fool', 1st fill bourbon barrels, 1575 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: it may be the 'large batch' effect here, but I find this one a little less defined and globally a little drier. Still a lot of focus on breads and beers but without so much honeyed richness.  Flower stems, grassy olive oil, some juniper and hops. With water: apple pips and cider apple funkiness with lanolin and citrus teas. Mouth: ok, here the sweetness arrives loud and clear, that wonderful Ardnamurchan 'honeyed' quality that seems to straddle many of their bottlings. Also a feeling of some peat in the mix, tea tree oil, aniseed, hints of antiseptic and herbal mouthwash. Then more familiar pollens and beers. With water: fatter, waxier, more beers, citrus oils, spiced marmalade and a little camphor. Finish: medium, some slight but warming oak spiciness, pumpernickel, heather ales, herbal teas and mead. Comments: a chunkier and slightly more tricky take, but this is still excellent and ballpark same high quality. I just prefer the unashamed exuberance of the North Star cask by a notch.

SGP: 462 - 87 points.

 

 

Strathmill 11 yo 2011/2022 (58.7%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #80587501, wine barrique + PX octave finish, 54 bottles)

Strathmill 11 yo 2011/2022 (58.7%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #80587501, wine barrique + PX octave finish, 54 bottles)
A Strathmill matured in a wine cask with a PX octave finish! Please allow me to quickly update my last will and testament. Also, when your first instinct is to just use copy and paste, you know you are in the realms of the world's longest cask numbers… Colour: orangey amber. Nose: jams, preserved fruits in syrup, sultanas, date loaf and caramelised muscovado sugar. Very nice so far… With water: develops a lovely note of mango, then damson jam and a hint of prune and fig roll. Mouth: extremely sweet and featuring a myriad of fruit chutneys, pomegranate molasses, strawberry jam and even a feeling of youthful Ozzy shiraz! Let's add water… With water: feels slightly more cohesive with water, still very sweet and even a bit cloying but this style certainly has its fans. Just a bit intense for me. Finish: surprisingly long, with a more of these big sweet and jammy notes, nut also a glimmer of bread and beer too. Comments: the LOTG guys are really becoming quite clever with these highly technological re-rackings and cask jugglings. I don't think there's any Strathmill DNA left, but then did Strathmill ever really possess any DNA or personality to begin with? Probably the perfect make on which to conduct these kinds of crazy double maturations / finishes. This is too much for my taste, but if you like them sweet and supercharged then you may do your best to find one of the mere 55 bottles that exist… Hard to score, as ever.

SGP: 641 - 82ish points. 

 

 

Strathmill 21yo 1994/2016 (52.1%, OB 'Casks of Distinction'. cask #3230, hogshead, 180 bottles)

Strathmill 21yo 1994/2016 (52.1%, OB 'Casks of Distinction'. cask #3230, hogshead, 180 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: funny stuff, a mix of green herbs, mashed vegetables, cooking oils and some savoury impressions of things like cooking stocks and roast potatoes. Has something I would characterise as slightly old school about it, these wee notes of ink, aspirin and mineral oil make you think of older, distillate driven malts. With water: going now towards vase water, more mineral oils, sunflower seeds, scrunched newspaper, dried herbs, crushed ivy and wet grains. Mouth: continues in the same vein as the nose, vegetal and mineral qualities but also now rather a lot of shoe polish, lanolin, plasticine and ink. Even things like vinyl and motor oil come to mind. Very curious and certainly not boring! With water: rather pure and distillate driven now. Really focussed on flints, mineral oils, new leather, pepper, even salty notes coming through. It's an extremely specific and un-sexy style, but also very charming. Finish: good length, rather herbal, white pepper, dried flowers, carbon paper, canvass and white tea. Comments: I can see why they would have chosen this cask, it's got plenty charm to go around, you just have to enjoy these very specific, distillate driven styles. Feels like the kind of whisky Cadenhead would have bottled as pure petrol at eye-watering strength in the early 90s, only now refined by additional decades in similarly naked wood. One of the more interesting Strathmills I'd say.

SGP: 461 - 87 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 8 yo (70 proof, OB, -/+1975)

Isle Of Jura 8 yo (70 proof, OB, -/+1975)
One of the early official bottlings for the UK market that should date to somewhere around 75-78 I suspect. An old fashioned but rather charming label. Colour: pale gold. Nose: overripe exotic fruits, oily toolbox rags, slightly rotten funky peels and a good slug of bouillon stock! Funky and fun, in typical Jura fashion, but also with this very definite, almost bacterial fruitiness that puts this firmly in the '1960s Jura' category in my book. Mouth: nice fruits, waxes, olive oil, preserved lemons in brine, some mineral salts and herbal touches. But also some OBE with these more vegetal and metallic sides, although I wouldn't say it's too extreme or distracting. You can tell this is fantastic and really charismatic distillate, it's just a little let down by the 40% ABV - as ever was thus the case with these old bottlings. In time I also find more of these pulpy, overripe exotic fruits and some big notes of smoked teas such as lapsing souchong. Finish: medium and nicely herbal, medical, slightly leathery, towards old toolboxes again and with a slightly resinous, sappy note. Comments: very old school whisky that is slightly let down by a low ABV and some old bottle effect, but it manages to stay the course and is extremely fun and a rather moving wee window on the past. At a more muscular bottling strength this would probably sail past the 90 mark I suspect…

SGP: 552 - 87 points.

 

 

Jura 1975/1994 (53%, Scotch Malt Sales for Japan)

Jura 1975/1994 (53%, Scotch Malt Sales for Japan)
Another old bottle from Scotch Malt Sales that is very scarce over here in Europe - sorry, Britain! SMS had many amazing selections over the years, although some mid-70s Juras can be a tad unlikely… Colour: gold. Nose: one of those undeniably old school profiles that makes you think of waxes, clays and paraffin. Some ointments, plasticine, carbon paper and sooty coal hearths. Many similarities with the old 8yo OB, but just less overtly fruity I'd say, to me that's the key difference between 1960s and 1970s Jura. Also touches of metal polish and peppery watercress. With water: still nicely peppery and waxy, goes towards shoe polish, cupboard spices and a touch of aniseed now. I also find it slightly more coastal. Mouth: same feeling, lots of soft waxes, overripe orange peels, impressions plasticine, soot and graphite oil. It's also going more mechanical towards WD40 and bike chain grease. Still these wee overripe fruity components do add some balance though. Funky stuff. With water: works very well with water, the fruitiness takes on a slight exotic tinge, there's more honey, the waxes persist and it feels a little more rounded and cohesive. Finish: medium with heather honeys, waxes, pebbles and mineral oil. Also still some lingering feelings of metal polish and olive oil. Then a little tea-ish in the aftertaste. Comments: old school and charismatic stuff undoubtedly. Although, at times I'm also reminded of some of these early 90s batches of Jura which have been with the indy bottlers recently. Jura clearly makes a fun and funky distillate, it's a shame that popular perceptions of it haven't quite absorbed that.
SGP: 462 - 87 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 9 yo 2012/2022 (54.5%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #306693, hogshead + sauternes finish, 278 bottles)

Blair Athol 9 yo 2012/2022 (54.5%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #306693, hogshead + sauternes finish, 278 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: I think sauternes and whisky usually work very well and that's the case here for starters, lots of figs, damsons, cigar humidors, digestive biscuit and runny honey. With water: red fruit teas, quince and jasmine flower with a little more of these milk chocolate and sultana notes. Mouth: sweet but also rather earthy and again with things like sultan, unlit cigar, walnut wine and even a little camphor and brown bread. With water: now we're firmly into caramel wafer territory, along with roasted pecans, more brown bread but spread with treacle this time, and a rather funky earthiness. Finish: good length, earthy, herbal bitters, dark chocolate, espresso and more tobacco. Comments: a finishing that works very well I think, especially if you enjoy this particular funky/earthy/sweet profile.
SGP: 651 - 85 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 8 yo (80 proof, OB 'Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd', UK, -/+ 1960)

Blair Athol 8 yo (80 proof, OB 'Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd', UK, -/+ 1960)
There's some batch variation as this livery was used for quite a while, but quality is usually very high in my experience. This was a bottle I opened for the Old & Rare virtual show tastings earlier this year. Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely fatty and mineral, immediately makes you think of similarly aged old Clynelish bottlings with all these notes of bouillon, animal fats, marrow and herbally-tinted waxes. Then it goes more towards medicines, hessian cloth and shoe polish. What I love with these old bottlings is how the higher ABV really helps to minimise the more tricky aspects of OBE. This one has some old bottle qualities but they're rather elegant and add to the complexity of the profile. Mouth: soots, metal polish, natural tar and still many of these greasy and oily old mechanical toolbox vibes. Also suet, marrow and olive oil galore with a big slug of old school cough syrup! Just terrific! Finish: long, medicinal, some sweet tar extracts, long aged herbal liqueurs and hints of slated honey and aged mead. Comments: pure old school wax juice! These whiskies are always so worthwhile re-visiting because they just remind you so powerfully, every time you taste them, the flavours and styles that have disappeared from Scotch whisky as a drink. Nothing tastes like this anymore.

SGP: 463 - 92 points.

 

 

Thanks to Cicada!

 

 

 

 

November 18, 2022


Whiskyfun

Top of Strathmill, a triplet of sherried ones

Always an utter joy to taste these underdogs, but are there any underdogs left in Scotland? I believe not. We'll first have a fairly young one, then too oldies.
(Picture The Press and Journal that reminds us that in 2014, flash flooding caused the River Isla to burst its banks and trapped three Strathmill workers inside the main building. They had to be rescued by boat)

Strathmill

 

 

Strathmill 15 yo 2006/2022 (60.5%, Signatory Vintage for whic, Edda, finished in first fill sherry butt, cask #4, 679 bottles)

Strathmill 15 yo 2006/2022 (60.5%, Signatory Vintage for whic, Edda, finished in first fill sherry butt, cask #4, 679 bottles) Four stars
I don't know who Edda is, but he sure looks a little scary. Which is not the case of this wee Speysider, despite the almost murderous strength. Colour: reddish mahogany. Nose: a family pack of Mars bars and half a glass of blueberry eau-de-vie, then loads of chocolates macerated in stout, with drops of old balsamico added to the mix. Add the obligatory walnut wine and you've got a picture of this nose (as far as I can tell). With water: even more chocolate, plus some thick old rum and a little chicken bouillon.  Mouth (neat): very oily texture. Syrupy start, on chocolate and thick honey sauce, getting then rather saltier and meatier. American-style barbecued ribs, I would say. With water: some very heavy stout, infused with raw cocoa and those blueberries again. Finish: long, rather on chocolate and balsamico. Touch of pipe tobacco and oak in the aftertaste (shavings). Comments: is it customary to mix chocolate and balsamico, dear Italian friends? (please no shoot!)
SGP:661 - 87 points

Strathmill 32 yo 1990/2022 (54%, Skene Whisky, butt, cask #1635)

Strathmill 32 yo 1990/2022 (54%, Skene Whisky, butt, cask #1635) Five stars
Colour: white wine. It was a very, say sylphlike butt. Nose: extremely pure, without any proper sherry notes, and we shan't complain about that, rather with fruit peel and moderate flowers, perhaps even tulips and pansies, and some crystalline maltiness. We always like these because they let the fine work of time shine through. Very delicate floralness, small white berries, a slightly hoppy side, a little chalk… With water: fresh croissants, acacia flowers (almost none this year, sob…) and brioche dough. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, barley-y, with apples, pears and oranges, greengages, pilsner, and a very soft oakiness. Notes of elderberry and mullein syrups, which I just adore. With water: even better. Drops of green apple liqueur, Champagne, preserved peaches and soft beers. Lovely honeyed touch, way in the back. Finish: not too long but perfect, on sweet doughs and beers. Comments: Strathmill! Very smart cask selection here, if I may.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

Strathmill 1990/2022 (54%, Swell de Spirits, Field Trip #3, refill sherry butt, 80 bottles)

Strathmill 1990/2022 (54%, Swell de Spirits, Field Trip #3, refill sherry butt, 80 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: this sometimes happens, this is almost, if not exactly the same marvellous old Strathmill as Skene's. You could always find tiny variations, but that would be your mind playing tricks and turns. So, whether I'm right or wrong, I shall declare that it is the same cask, which might have been shared. Which would suggest that there wasn't only one smart whisky company, there were two of them. Mouth: same comments even if these may have also been very close sister casks, like identical twins. But doubt it… Finish: same. Perhaps a little more lemon in this one? I'm dreaming… Comments: a long time ago, a very smart friend who was suspecting a case of shared cask, and to make sure they were the same whiskies indeed, blended the contents of his two Riedels together and only then jumped to conclusions. But that was very, very late at night… Anyway, kudos Mr Swell de Spirits, it is a fantastic Strathmill indeed; and indeed, the dragonfly on the label suits it well.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

… no more underdogs around indeed, big brands, watch these!

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

 

November 17, 2022


Whiskyfun

Another mixed bag of Scottish blends and disguised singles

There's more, as many more good parties seem to be willing to build their own brands without relying on existing Distillery names (whose owners are becoming more and more reluctant anyway). Anyway, let's play this randomly, for more fun…

(Photograph Morgan Motor Company)

Morgan

 

 

Angel's Whisky (46%, Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, blended malt, +/-2022)

Angel's Whisky (46%, Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, blended malt, +/-2022) Four stars
Brought back from lovely Warsaw; It was whisky or pierogi, well whisky travels better, but I love pierogi too (rather steamed or boiled than fried for me, thanks). Colour: gold. Nose: barley field, Fruit Loops, pecan pie, apple pie, caramelised popcorn, white nougat, maple syrup, butterscotch… you got it, it is a wonderful malty, cakey malt whisky, a malt a little, if I may,  but I'm probably wrong, in the style of BB&R's own compositions. Mouth: excellent all-rounder, with good power, honeys, more butterscotch, sweet malt, fudge, marmalade, drops of light stout… I don't think you could make them any more 'classic' than this. Finish: medium, on honey, marmalade, and just malt indeed (Ovaltine/Ovomaltine). Comments: we could all quaff double-magnums. It's good that they wouldn't do double-magnums (you say they do?)
SGP:551 - 86 points.

BB&R, he said…

Speyside Reserve (44.2%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, blended malt, +/-2022)

Speyside Reserve (44.2%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, blended malt, +/-2022) Three stars
Is orange the new white? That would be good for little WF, ha… Colour: white wine. Nose: a slightly grassier composition on the nose, with also a touch of sulphur (nothing too extreme). Lovely mead and honey beyond that, and Kellogg's cornflakes. Mouth: this time again it is a little grassier than the Angel's, with a little more paraffin too (related to a little sulphur here?) and a little burnt cake, brown toasts, a hint pf artichoke… Finish: medium, on similar flavours. Comments: I had thought this would be rounder and more consensual. It's pretty good, but I'm not sure I'd down a double-magnum this time.

SGP:462 - 80 points.

N.A.S 30 yo (45.1%, Decadent Drinks, blended malt, sherry wood, 2022)

N.A.S 30 yo (45.1%, Decadent Drinks, blended malt, sherry wood, 2022) Five stars
NAS stands for Notable Age Statement, while the Malt Maniacs, many moons ago, would have started using that acronym that the whole industry just adores rather for 'No Age Statement', which we keep doing at Whiskyfun. Good, what we know is that this old blended malt does shelter many cask ends from Signatory Vintage's, some pretty older than just 30. Colour: deep gold. Nose: good one, not only does the whisky here nose old, it does also feel 'old-school', as if they had rebottled old bottles, if you see what I mean. I'm dead sure that's not what they've done, but you do find old waxes and oils, polishes, old silverware and old tools, marrow and suet, old wines, old woods, old embrocations, balms, old wardrobe in an old attic… And all that. Mouth: you would really believe this is an old bottle, really. Such as one of those early dumpies by CAD… Something metallic, some saltiness, ointments, cookies from an old tin box, old wines, raisins, old books and dusts, old tobacco… This play with age and time is really something. There's even old triple-sec in the background. Finish: not that long but sooty, with resins and raisins, more older wines… Only the aftertaste has got a little 'too much' cardboard, but we're splitting hairs. Comments: couldn't some old malt that you would further keep in demijohns for quite a few decades share this kind of profile? Let's make things clear, I love this one, it is a very smart bottling, a new bottle for people who like old bottles, how smart is that indeed? Like a Morgan car. Now, please Mr Decadent Drinks, reproduce this profile….
SGP:552 - 91 points.

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (52.3%, HNWS Taiwan, single malt, Madeira, cask #1459, 288 bottles)

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (52.3%, HNWS Taiwan, single malt, Madeira, cask #1459, 288 bottles) Four stars and a half
Right, this could be Clynelish, or Glenmorangie, or Macallan, or Highland Park, or many other names. It's that since this has met with Madeira, it's not even sure that the Distillery would stand out, let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: meow. Pilsen beer, beeswax, lime blossom, hops, raw wool, porridge, iron fillings, mangos and grapefruit skins, chicory coffee, tangerines, cappuccino… I find it ravishing. With water: humus, mushrooms, greenhouse earth, heather honey, clay, mud… Mouth (neat): first grade or above. Stunning citrons, wax, etc. With water: some salt! Anchovies, olives… This is intriguing, could be HP too, jeez! Finish: long and briney. Waxed olives. Comments: forgot to say, it seems that the spirit has fully digested the Madeira. In theory, the custom is rather to label hidden Highland Parks as 'Orkney' (and variations) or Whitlaw, or Man of Hoy, or else. The jury will never come back in. Still, should be the wildcat's malt.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Old Perth 1996/2021 (55.8%, Morrison Distillers, Vintage Collection, blended malt, sherry, 936 bottles)

Old Perth 1996/2021 (55.8%, Morrison Distillers, Vintage Collection, blended malt, sherry, 936 bottles) Four stars and a half
The last Old Perth I've tried was an NAS 'Number 4' from 2016. Pretty good, but this should be something else, mind you this is 25 (you're right, or 24). Colour: amber. Nose: cherry stem tea, smoked meat, roasted nuts, black toffee, black tobacco, bitter chocolate, espresso… In short, it is rather heavily oloroso-y this far, with also some smoke and metal. With water: also patchouli, bidis and eucalyptus. Pretty peace and love, that, while that's just what we need these days. Mouth (neat): very rich, tight, rather exclusively on bitter chocolates filled with lemon liqueur – or something like that. Thin mints too, morello cherry liqueur, nocino, possibly Bowmore, and just really a lot of bitter chocolate. This is for chocolafficionados! With water: long, chocolaty, smoky, with a salty and coffeeish aftertaste. In general, salt + coffee is a vomitive combo, but not in this case! Finish: very long, fully on oloroso and stout beer. And chocolate. And smoke. And brine. Comments: just another one that I love, with its heavy stoutness (is that a word?) Such a shame that they cannot tell too much about the contents…
SGP:373 - 89 points.

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (53.7%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, sherry hogshead, 150 bottles)

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (53.7%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, sherry hogshead, 150 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: with this leafy and leathery sherry, it's even harder to be sure about the original make. Having said that, I'm thoroughly enjoying those leaves (cherry, peach) and the massive notes of pipe tobacco. With water: muddy, farmyardy, leafy, with some wood smoke and a little burnt sulphur. Mouth (neat): cherry wine, grapefruit juice, herbal teas, some gunpowder, tobacco… With water: artichokes, chocolate, spent matches, sour wine, and miso, perhaps… Finish: medium, with this sour minerality. Comments: it was a 'leafy' sherry cask. Still very good, but I think I'll have to try this one again, in my book it doesn't exactly match this bottler's extremely high reputation. Or it's just me. In either case, their Secret Highland 12/2007 had been rather extraordinary (WF 90).

SGP:472 - 80 points.

Ding-a-ling, a last one…

Single Cask Blended Scotch Whisky 48 yo 1974/2022 (45.7%, The Maltman, HNWS 17th Anniversary, refill sherry hogshead, cask #15, 165 bottles)

Single Cask Blended Scotch Whisky 48 yo 1974/2022 (45.7%, The Maltman, HNWS 17th Anniversary, refill sherry hogshead, cask #15, 165 bottles) Four stars and a half
So, as it is a single cask, what I gather is that this baby was possibly blended at birth, or sometime between 1974 and 2022, or that it's technically a single malt and administratively a blend that cannot tell its name. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: whenever I find black olives and Cuban cigars in any nose, I'm simply happy. Dried figs too, dates too, very old cognac too, old rancio too, very old Sauternes as well, and puréed chestnut equally. Mouth: the theory that old spirits converge is proven once more, this could have been an old rum just as well and very seriously, I would have said 'one of those old Domaine de Courcelles from La Martinique'. Or an old cognac, just a tad unpolished. Wonderful figs, old sweet wines (old rancio again), prunes aplenty, tobacco, and no proper grain whisky that I can detect, but it's true that you had those old ex-sherry Invergordons that were pretty much malt-alike. What's sure is that this is not a very blendy blend. Finish: medium, all on dried fruits, sweet wines, and just raisins. Ready for Christmas. Comments: I've tried it again, close your eyes and you're on a beach in Martinique, glass of 'très, très, très vieux' in hand (while listening to Kassav', try 'Syé Bwa').

SGP:651 - 89 points.
 

November 16, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Cardhu

There was a Cardhu amongst this year's Special Releases. Let's first find a sparring partner, it's not that we're spoilt for choice…

Cardhu

 

 

Cardhu 'Gold  Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Cardhu 'Gold  Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
We've tried the Gold Reserve that came within the Game of Throne series (a little pedestrian in my book) but I don't think we've properly tried the regular Gold Reserve. Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts with sunflower oil and a little hay, then we have pear and apple cakes, a little shortbread, williams pears, vanilla, ripe bananas, acacia honey, a little nougat and popcorn, brioche… All that is very soft and rather 'mono-cluster', but there's probably nothing wrong with that. Mouth: it doesn't quite have the polish and the softness that was to be found in the nose, this is rather grassier, with some tea and a little marmalade, biscuits, perhaps a wee cup of Tio Pepe, banana skin, hops, marzipan… Finish: relatively short, more austere, with rather more grass. The aftertaste on oranges is rather nicer, sweeter. Comments: a Gold Reserve it may be, but it's probably not exactly Fort Knox flavour-wise.
SGP:541 - 77 points.

Cardhu 16 yo 'The Hidden Paradise of Black Rock' (58%, OB, Special Releases 2022, Elusive Expressions, 2022)

Cardhu 16 yo 'The Hidden Paradise of Black Rock' (58%, OB, Special Releases 2022, Elusive Expressions, 2022) Four stars
More of this year's very esoteric and lavishly illustrated Special Releases. This one matured in refill American oak and was then finished in Jamaican rum. They've also filled some of those very lovely 20cl bottles, as they did in the past with some Port Ellens and some… Loch Dhu. And the Classic Malts, naturally. No, nothing to do with shrinkflation. Colour: white wine. Nose: a little fruity glue at first, or nail polish, with some peach and strawberry syrups, then indeed a few tropical fruits from the rum, mostly pineapples, as well as fresh raisin rolls. This was finished in Jamaican pot-still rum but I'm not fining anything really 'funky'. Probably not what they would have tried to come up with in the first place. With water: perhaps, indeed, a little olive oil, which would make the texture rather a little thicker on the nose. Some good folks are making chocolate using olive oil, which I find rather good too. Nice nose, nonetheless. Mouth (neat): really to my liking, rather spicy but more malt whisky than rumsky, if you see what I mean. It's just a little hot. More raisin rolls. With water: the rum's influence got more obvious, with more pineapple, a little more olive oil, Juicy Fruit… Finish: medium, on allspice, honey and, perhaps, papaya ice cream. A touch of viognier too but indeed, viognier can get very tropical. A wee salty smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: you could argue that we need no one's help to make our own rumskies (try 85% young Highland Park or Clynelish with 15% young Hampden or Worthy Park, for example) but it's good. Wat's more, I don't think 'Cardhu needs rum' was the message in the first place, was it?

SGP:641 - 85 points.

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

 

November 15, 2022


Whiskyfun

More Chichibu for taste or for fun

 

Because Chichibu's always either fantastic, or funnier when they use extravagant casks such as that Intergalactic ex-Belgian stout barrel that they had committed three years ago… Or when they use crazy red wi… err…

Usagida

Chichibu 2013/2022 (62%, OB, Ichiro's Malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka for Whisky Mew, Usagida Merlot cask, cask #9647)

Chichibu 2013/2022 (62%, OB, Ichiro's Malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka for Whisky Mew, Usagida Merlot cask, cask #9647) Four stars and a half
The Usagida Winery seems to be located in the region of Nagano (UPDATE, it's in Saitama close to Chichibu, thanks HIdeo!), so you could say that at least, they've used Japanese merlot and not, say a little Pomerol. I believe this is full maturing, not just a finishing. Please fasten your seat belt… Colour: apricot. Nose: a lot of nail polish at first, then cherry jam and cherry wine, then clafoutis and chutneys. Good, that's sorted. With water: some earth, oyster mushrooms, rolled raspberry jam tart, more sour cherries, a drop of sherry vinegar, almonds… Mouth (neat): rather morello cherries, more varnish, kriek, pepper… But it is strong and really tickles your lips. With water: more whiskyness, but the cherries, especially s jam do remain in the neighbourhood. Finish: rather long, malty, krieky (as they would say in Belgium). Comments: someone should shoot a whisky version of the movie Sideways one day, and not miss Chichibu. Not too sure it was shining through that I was actually enjoying this very singular merlotted baby.

SGP:652 - 88 points.

Yeah, if only all whiskies matured or finished in red wine would be like that… Not talking about STR. Well, let's further check that…

Chichibu 8 yo 2013/2022 (61%, OB, LMDW, Japanese wine cask, cask #9664, 262 bottles)

Chichibu 8 yo 2013/2022 (61%, OB, LMDW, Japanese wine cask, cask #9664, 262 bottles) Four stars and a half
The cask number is close to that of the Whisky Mew's, so it could be that this would be another cask from Usagida Winery, but LMDW's mentioning a Japanese varietal, so it cannot be merlot. The labels are made by famous Japanese artist Aki Kuroda. Whisky and art gang togither! So, let's check that Japanese grape… Colour: rather apricotty as well. Nose: there, nail polish again, glue, varnish, but it's then rather geared towards mirabelles and damsons, pies, sour beer, weissen, fino, fresh walnuts… With water: rounder than the merlot, without any vinegars or chutneys this time, rather more mirabelle pie. Mouth (neat): high power fino indeed, walnuts, more white beer… With water: excellent. Touches of banana cake, beyond all this Tio Pepe. Extremely curious about that Japanese wine, we'll check it when LMDW will have put this one online, I would suppose they will tell. Finish: rather long, indeed rounded and pretty cakey. The wine gets barely noticeable, except in the aftertaste, perhaps, with a few yeasty touches. Comments: similarly high level. So, what's this Japanese varietal?

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Chichibu 8 yo 2013/2022 (61%, OB, LMDW, virgin oak barrel, cask #2856, 176 bottles)

Chichibu 8 yo 2013/2022 (61%, OB, LMDW, virgin oak barrel, cask #2856, 176 bottles) Four stars
We've already noticed several times in the past that Chichibu was in a close relationship with virgin oak – and that virgin oak liked potent spirits (while despising lighter makes). Colour: full gold. Nose: typical piney notes that sometimes come with virgin oak, even a little sandalwood and eucalyptus, but that's also the higher strength. With water: lemons and citrons chiming in, some linseed oil and turpentine too, while the pinewood would remain in the front seat. Mouth (neat): very high impact, more pinewood, pine needles, tar liqueur, some kind of sweet rubber perhaps… But the vanilla seems to be ready to be unleashed, afar in the background... With water: much less changes than expected, apart from oranges popping out. Was it not mizunara oak? Finish: long, with some vanilla now, plus tangerines and always some pine resins and tar. Comments: that virgin oak feels a little bit here. Wonderful whisky, nonetheless, but let's hope we'll now find 'just some bourbon'.
SGP:471 - 86 points.

Chichibu 7 yo 2014/2022 'Peated' (64.3%, OB, LMDW, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, cask #3812, 187 bottles)

Chichibu 7 yo 2014/2022 'Peated' (64.3%, OB, LMDW, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, cask #3812, 187 bottles) Five stars
Bourbon and peat! This could work…  Colour: gold. Nose: peat and cut grass, plus pepper and smoked meats, but it's starting to burn... With water: we love Chichibu when it's immaculate like this. A perfect little angel, with just wool, peat, grist and chalk. Mouth (neat): most probably superb, but that's pure speculation given that it's really too hot. There seems to be a little wax too, but careful with that wax, Eugene! (ooh that was lousy, S.)… With water: there. Garden smoke, lemons, green apples, eucalyptus, and indeed a little wax. Finish: long and spicier, with rather a lot of green pepper and zests. Comments: well chiselled peat, in all simplicity…

SGP:466 - 90 points.

Chichibu 6 yo 2015/2022 'Heavily Peated' (63.9%, OB, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, cask #4660, 214 bottles)

Chichibu 6 yo 2015/2022 'Heavily Peated' (63.9%, OB, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, cask #4660, 214 bottles) Five stars
It's good that they wouldn't have poured their peatedmost make into ex-merlot wood, if you ask me. Colour: white wine. Nose: game, set and match, please call the Japanese Anti-Maltoporn Brigade. Gentian, olives, mezcal, seawater. With water: and there, the magic four, earth, chalk, grist and wool. Mouth (neat): smoky perfection, it seems (because once again, it burns). With water: smoky perfection indeed, bladey, vertical and yet pretty fat (this is Chichibu, after all), with lemons and limes kicking in now. Finish: long, pure, bright, luminous. Perfect lemony, earthy, coastal peat. Oysters and tabasco in the aftertaste – even nicer. Comments: pristine Chichibu, simply top rung. That's it for today.

SGP:457 - 91 points.

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

 

November 14, 2022


Whiskyfun

Japan-bound today

Quite. Kicking this off with a little blend as an apéritif… We'll have a rare digestif at the end.
(picture, Shirakawa Distillery - found at Nonjatta, naturally)

Shirakawa

 

 

Hatozaki (40%, Japan, blended, +/-2022)

Hatozaki (40%, Japan, blended, +/-2022) Three stars
'Aged up to 12 years' according to their French website. Ha! There's also a distillery, Kaikyo, where they are supposed to do the… blending. We've already tried the Pure Malt and it was okayish (WF 77), but if this is fully Japanese, I for one am from Planet Mars. Colour: white wine. Nose: very light but not unpleasant, with touches of smoke, earth, beer and fresh bread, with a hoppy side. At least it is not ridden with caramel, coconut or vanillin. Mouth: it is a good young blend, for sure. Same comments, not caramel and no excessive graininess, rather bread, malt, touches of williams pear, apple pie, and a very light smoke. Finish: good length, saltier and slightly smokier yet, with green apples in the aftertaste. And a little hop again. Comments: the very circumvolutory literature on all websites is nicely done, or how to make everyone believe it's distilled in Japan without ever claiming it is. Pretty good copywriting in that respect, and a pretty, pretty good blend at that (I'm afraid). I think I like it better than the pure malt.

SGP:342 - 80 points.

Miyagikyo 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (47%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022)

Miyagikyo 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (47%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022) Four stars
According to the very honourable whisky experts at La Maison du Whisky, Nikka have used some special yeast that would have helped aromas of peaches and apricots to develop in this very limited NAS edition. Let's check that… Colour: gold. Nose: how do we get those peaches and apricots out of our head… Let's say that would rather be peach wine, 'un-ullaged' savagnin from Jura (or lighter manzanilla if you like), chalk and grist, hoppy beer (double-IPA, ha), a few rose petals… We're bordering gewurztraminerness, but after all, savagnin and gewurz' do belong to the same family. Mouth: peach tarte or apricot cake? They caught me! You do feel it is not an old whisky, and the wood certainly does a larger part of the jobs (drum and bass), but pink pepper (Szechuan) and, once again, a strong IPA do still sing and play lead guitar. Finish: rather long, on the same flavours. Sweeter aftertaste… apricot jam? Comments:very good.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Yoichi 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (48%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022)

Yoichi 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (48%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022) Four stars
Too late, I've read the description again, this time it's a story about yeast generating Ginjo sake-like aromas. Incidentally, I love sake… Colour: light gold. Nose: the Miyagikyo was rounder, cleaner and leaner, this one's more fermentary indeed, with a pretty unusual combination that would blend smoked fish, menthol, those peaches again, and indeed sake and shochu. The menthol wins it in the end and brings eucalyptus along. Mouth: some would call it Ardmorian, perhaps. Very grassy, with some peach leaves (can't seem to get peaches out of my head) and a little rubber, plus that peat smoke, and some vegetal earth, mushrooms, some mustard, dry Madeira… Some Ardmore indeed, but also Fettercairn or Glenturret. Some action in there. Finish: longer than the Miyagikyo's, smokier 'of course, spicier, peppery, mustardy. Some smoky liquorice in the aftertaste, as well as a little salt and mint this time again. Comments: excellent, less civilised, more tertiary than its brother – or do we say its sister.

SGP:563 - 86 points.

Perhaps some of Mars's Komagates with their funny 'aging cellar' angle…

Komagate 4 yo 2017/2022 'Shinshu Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #3705, 195 bottles)

Komagate 4 yo 2017/2022 'Shinshu Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #3705, 195 bottles) Four stars and a half
Shinshu, or Mars Shinshu, is where Komagate is distilled, which means that this was matured where it was distilled. Colour: gold. Nose: fat and powerful, tense, pure, rather all on natural vanilla and ripe bananas, plus guavas and oranges. But no chances taken at 60+, I mean 63%+, let's add water… With water: pure lace, totally high-definition lemony vanilla, plus humus, fresh mushrooms, chlorophyll and touches of spearmint. Mouth (neat): the zesty purity that we also find in ex-bourbon Chichibu. Citrons, vanilla, lemon drops, barley and a little ale. We're about to mention IPA again… With water: there, this stunning earthiness again, some un-vulgar coconut, meadow honey, sesame, edible pansies, vegetal earth… Finish: drops of tonic water and turmeric, green Wulong, chartreuse (just what's needed), otherwise vanilla, barley and honey. A little coconut again in the aftertaste. Comments: not even 5. This is almost embarrassing…

SGP:551 - 89 points.

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Yakushima Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #2063, 188 bottles)

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Yakushima Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #2063, 188 bottles) Five stars
Ouch, 50ppm peat! Yakushima is located in the extreme south of Japan. Colour: full gold. Nose: good Golly, once again there is this purity, which the Yoichi did not quite achieve. Massive pine smoke, new Wellies, massage balm and sauna oils, and literally tons of eucalyptus syrup. This comes handy and perfect against this year's flue, I say. With water: emphasis on eucalyptus and sauna oils. High-precision nose, once more. Mouth (neat): incredible. Take Ardbeg 10 at C/S, take some older Port Ellen 10 at C/S, and blend away. Add crème de menthe. With water: not too sure about that crème de menthe, but I stand by my blend. Finish: long, on the same combo. Comments: wait, Ardbeg 10 C/S at the indies, say 150€. Port Ellen 10 C/S at auctions, say 2,500€. 150 + 2500 = 2650/2 = 1,325€. I say this very young Komagate comes cheap.

SGP:467 - 90 points.

After Shinshu and Yakushima, naturally, there is… Tsunuki!

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Tsunuki Aging' (60%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #5183)

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Tsunuki Aging' (60%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #5183) Three stars and a half
20ppm peat this time. The only little thing I'm not really getting is why you would use such different makes if your aim was to showcase the differences that various aging locations would have imparted to your malt whisky. But I suppose there's something I've missed… Wrong logic, perhaps. Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah, it's somewhat in midstream on the nose, not totally a peater, not an un-peated either, it is almost as if they had blended peated with unpeated. Don't get me wrong, it's still very lovely, but I'm not a total fan of smoked bananas. Unless… With water: new rubber and eucalyptus. Bananas stewed in retsina and mint syrup… Yeah well… Mouth (neat): it works much better on the palate, but it remains a little odd. Mentholy spices, rubber, mint and lemon, something sour-sweet… This is curious. With water: more camphor, and then the core distillate is seizing the helm. We're relieved. Phew! Finish: long, mentholy, rubbery… Some ginger and… rum in the aftertaste. Comments: beware, this one's highly reactive to water, so extremely difficult to assess properly. We'd probably need 25cl (of this whisky), 2l (of water) and a whole afternoon to do that. What's sure is that we tried these Komagates in the wrong order. Expectedly, the 50ppm killed the 20ppm. Pff, ppms…  

SGP:565 - 83 points.

A last unusual Japanese please… We'll have a bunch of new Chichibus next time.

Shirakawa 1958/2022 (49%, OB, Japan, 1500 bottles)

Shirakawa 1958/2022 (49%, OB, Japan, 1500 bottles) Five stars
Shirakawa Distillery, which used to belong to Tomatin's parent company, Takara Shuzou, was located in the Fukushima province and started producing malt whisky, strictly for blending, in 1951, until 1969. You may buy a bottle for £25,000; mind you, that's only the price of a Chinese electric car or of a double espresso in Zurich. It is clearly the 'oldest' Japanese single malt ever bottled, now it was sheltered in a stainless steel tank when they found it, not too sure when the casks were disgorged. What's sure is that this is both the only and the oldest Shirakawa ever bottled. All right, and the youngest, there, if you like. Colour: gold. Nose: starts with wee resins and really a lot of copper and silver polish, pinecones, verbena, beeswax, tiny drops of turpentine, fern, camphor… In truth it would then unfold like an eagle spreading its wings, with many dried fruits, oils, herbs… In fact, there's everything.  Mouth: some slightly scary resins at first, but that was nothing, once again it would unfold very gracefully, becoming extremely complex, on dried fruits, herbs, figs, you name them… Finish: incredibly long, with perhaps just a touch of old wax and cardboard. Some very elegant fruitcake and some more savoury, umami-y, amontillado-like touches in the aftertaste. Comments: the true miracle is perhaps not that they found a stash of Shirakawa, it's that it would be this good. Now, perhaps is that the reason why some Japanese gentleman, a long time ago, decided to keep this batch and to save it from the thirsty blenders. In the glass, it is perhaps not totally different from some old Macallans distilled around similar years.
SGP:662 - 91 points.

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

 

November 13, 2022


Whiskyfun