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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

November 28, 2023


Another little bag of five shh whiskies

That's right, part two. Does what Dali said about wine also apply to whisky? You know, the idea that 'He who knows how to taste does not drink wine but savours secrets.' In that case, these secret malts should no longer pose a problem... almost.



Secret Speyside 25 yo 1997/2022 (46.9%, Whisky AGE, barrel, cask #SP002, 209 bottles)

Secret Speyside 25 yo 1997/2022 (46.9%, Whisky AGE, barrel, cask #SP002, 209 bottles) Four stars and a half
Always good selections at Taiwan's Whisky AGE. Oh, and it's not because they put slices of oak trunk on their labels that their whiskies are just about wood, quite the contrary. Colour: straw. Nose: awesome floral start, with some clear wisteria and lilies of the valley. Then it continues with citrus, orange blossom water, fresh mango and banana, natural vanilla, fennel seeds, sweet woodruff... All of this is incredibly classy, even a bit feminine, as we would have said about a decade ago. Superb barrel. Mouth: excellent, very fresh, still very citrusy with apple and pear peels, then more on exotic fruits, especially papaya and a bit of passion fruit. Only a few slightly green tannic notes prevent me from going up to 90. Dura Lex, sed Lex. Finish: rather long, this time with grapefruit. The wood marks the aftertaste, with notes of over-infused green tea and pepper. Comments: a soft, fruity, floral, fresh and rather airy Speyside, only the finish is, for this humble taster, a tad too marked. It is said, 'tough love is still love'.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Secret Speyside 12 yo 'Sirens' (52.7%, Whic, bourbon hogshead, maple syrup cask finish, batch 4, 568 bottles, 2023)

Secret Speyside 12 yo 'Sirens' (52.7%, Whic, bourbon hogshead, maple syrup cask finish, batch 4, 568 bottles, 2023) Three stars
A maple syrup finish? Tremble mere mortals, because the End is near… Having said that, I'm rather fond of maple syrup… Colour: straw. Nose: Nose: it is true that we often find notes of maple syrup in our whiskies, so it is not surprising that we do not really detect any dissonances for now. It's more about fresh brioche, almond croissant, marzipan, cassata, hazelnut liqueur... All of that. So, all is well for now. With water: touches of Starbucks coffee latte. We shall survive. Mouth (neat): wow, or how to add sugar to a whisky without adding it directly. To be honest, I like these tastes, I told you, I like maple syrup. I also find notes of late-harvest Riesling, from Alsace or the Rhineland, it doesn't matter. In short, this mixture is very nice and we are not in the territory of the awful rums Bumbu, Don Papa or other quasi-lethal concoctions that should simply be made illegal. With water: it's fine. A bit of cane sugar. Finish: medium length, a bit sweet but not too sugary. It's okay, we stay okay, it's not a sugar bomb. Comments: I don't know if the goal was to offer a whisky for breakfast. Maybe, they do pour lashings of it into porridge, in some parts of Scotland. In short, it's really nice but maybe the world could do without producing millions of extra litres of this kind of good but unlikely experimentation. Next up, redcurrant liqueur?

SGP:641 - 82 points.

There are those who say it's better to offer an almost unknown Speyside distillery as a 'secret distillery' and let the somewhat naive enthusiasts (so not you or me, right?) imagine that it could be M., or GF. etc. I think that kind of conspiracy theory is utterly despicable, really. Not in whisky!

A Speyside Distillery 13 yo 2009/2023 (56.1%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 348 bottles)

A Speyside Distillery 13 yo 2009/2023 (56.1%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 348 bottles) Five stars
In general, and to bring ourselves up to the level of Ozzy Osbourne's poetry, at the Watts' place, they really crank up the volume (S., you should be ashamed). Colour: straw. Nose: it's a pristine young Speyside, full of fresh bread, apples, barley, acacia honey, white chocolate and, hmm-hmm, maple syrup. Nothing to say, except that it's quite perfect and simple. A tiny bit of wet cardboard (a silly Amazon delivery in rainy weather). With water: no more, no less. It's very good as is. Mouth (neat): superb. Malt, orange liqueur, lemon balm, Jaffa Cakes, a bit of hops, black cherry liqueur, and hints of juniper berry and coriander seeds. Yummy. With water: as is often the case, it becomes a bit more lemony. I also detect marvellous notes of woodruff syrup, which I adore. Finish: long, more malty, with dark beer but also, and above all, even more woodruff. Comments: you know, Campbeltown, home of Watt Whisky, is so far from the rest of the world that they can sometimes engage in particular practices without anyone else sticking their nose in. For example, adding woodruff herbal tea to their casks. Of course, I have no proof, but on the palate, it seems very obvious to me. Yes, indeed. Apart from that, I adore this young Speyside.

SGP:561 - 90 points.

A Secret Speyside 19 yo 2003/2022 (51.2%, Whisky Sponge #72, refill hogshead, 228 bottles)

A Secret Speyside 19 yo 2003/2022 (51.2%, Whisky Sponge #72, refill hogshead, 228 bottles) Five stars
Rumour has it that this would be lightly peated Glen Grant. That wouldn't surprise me as I do know that the Sponge is a lover of old Glen Grant, while old Glen Grant could be rather peaty. Colour: straw. Nose: it's quite fermentative, more on wash and mashed celery and turnip, also with very ripe apple, plums of all sorts and all very ripe too, as well as grapefruit. However, I am not sure that the rumour was right, to be honest, I do not find this malt very peaty. But water can change everything... With water: yes, in any case, it becomes much more mineral. Old fabrics, engine grease, an old charterhouse, mild liquorice... Are we sure Mr. Sponge didn't just buy two hundred old bottles of Glen Grant at auction, to pour them very temporarily into an old hogshead for some marriage? Mouth (neat): oh, it's tense, oh, it does resemble an old Glen Grant indeed! I mean a young or middle-aged Glen Grant distilled in the 40s or 50s, really. Here, it is magnificently rich without ever becoming cloying, and the little citrus fruits play their role as a quasi-spice to perfection, a bit as if they were pink pepper. A few touches of camphor and eucalyptus add even more complexity, with a medicinal aspect that often then leads to peat. Let's check that, if you will… With water: I'm not sure I'm finding peat, but everything else remains true, it's old-school Glen Grant. There's also a bit of orange wine. Oh, and manzanilla. Finish: rather long, with a return to the fermenting side. Pink grapefruit and wax in the aftertaste. Comments: really, what is this thing? Let's see, what happened in Scotland in 2003, apart from a visit from the Malt Maniacs?…

SGP:562 - 91 points.

Didn't we say five?

Secret Speyside 10 yo 'Sirens' (51.9%, Whic, ex-Amarone puncheon, batch 2, 823 bottles, 2023)

Secret Speyside 10 yo 'Sirens' (51.9%, Whic, ex-Amarone puncheon, batch 2, 823 bottles, 2023) Three stars
Amarone! One of the heaviest un-fortified red wines in the world. Amarone is a kind of vin de paille or straw wine, this means that they let the grapes dry a bit before pressing them. Like everything, amarones have their ardent supporters and some fierce detractors. That said, I've never seen amarones that had been aged in puncheons. 'Blessed is he who is able to know the causes of things,' as Lucretius said. Colour: slightly apricotty. Incredible, the whisky isn't even remotely pink. Nose: it seems that some form of control was exercised here, since this nose does not totally explode with raspberries and strawberries, but it is true that grenadine remains quite apparent. It's not bad, it remains balanced, we are not completely in the territory of wineskies. With water: the malt puts up some resistance. Notes of Belgian kriek beer. Mouth (neat): here we are really in wine-based cocktails. It bursts with red fruits of all kinds, including dried goji berries, the luck we have is that the famous puncheon itself did not add the characteristic bitterness of some wine casks used for whiskies, like Bordeaux barriques for example. In short, no blasting bell pepper or fig leaf or tomato. With water: it rebalances, phew, but the fruity wine remains present. Finish: quite long, but not suffocating. Blood orange and bubblegum sign off the whole. Comments: what is amusing is that the whisky is very marked by the fruity concentration of the wine, while its colour let on nothing. Generally, if you stain your shirt while drinking amarone, you can throw it in the bin. Or almost. Well, it's far from being my favourite style of whisky, but we stay well above the waterline, I would say. I know that many enthusiasts love this style and I would never cast stones at them. So, well done, Whic!

SGP:741 - 80 points.







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