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

June 9, 2023


Another short trip across Europe
(France, England, Norway)

Since we've got a 'famous French engineer' who's just advised all citizens to only do four trips by plane within their entire life because of global warming, and as I believe I've already done a few hundreds, we'll indeed remain in Europe this time, since we could take the train (although our train workers here are almost always on strike – life is easy, isn't it). Anyway, as usual, we'll kick this off from France, figurativel.

Norwegian lutefisk (Adam_d)



Kornog 6 yo 2016/2023 (60%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, France, refill PX butt, 668 bottles)

Kornog 6 yo 2016/2023 (60%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, France, refill PX butt, 668 bottles) Four stars and a half
Brittany's Kornog is the peated version of Glann ar Mor. Naturally, the best Kornog ever was the Sponge's 15 yo bottled for the 18 years 4 months and 7 days of (yeah right, but of course, no shame) but this one could come close. Colour: straw. Nose: this time again, the most important word here is 'refill'. This is very coastal, with a lot of sea air, oysters, bits of tyres after the start of a grand prix (cheers Jean), surely some mercurochrome, smoked almonds, and rather some mushrooms and undergrowth at the sherry department. No boisterous leathery raisins, hurray. With water: exceptional porridge (with nips of whisky inside), deep chalk, some smoky muesli (can you smoke muesli?) and loads and loads of raw wool. We're almost at House of Bruar, in the tweed section. Mouth (neat): I wouldn't even have mentioned PX. Very peppery start, with a very leafy smokiness (burnt bay leaves?) and some horseradish. It's really strong, perhaps too strong when unreduced. With water: super good, citric, deeply earthy, and extremely coastal. The pepper got gentler. Finish: long, rather saltier, with some tar, lemon and wasabi. Nice combo, please pass the sushi. The aftertaste is saltier yet. Comments: is Kornog the best French whisky, together with Hautes-Glaces perhaps? Nah we hadn't scored ours, that would have been inelegant.

SGP:466 - 89 points.

Having said that, there is another pioneering Breton whisky and that's Warenghem's Armorik. Let's have some…

Armorik 2016/2022 (61.2%, Spirit Paradise, France, peated, refill sherry, cask #3328)

Armorik 2016/2022 (61.2%, Spirit Paradise, France, peated, refill sherry, cask #3328) Four stars
This one by our talented friend Philippe. I would recommend you visit the distillery next time you're in Bretagne, it's gotten large, well-organised and welcoming. Colour: straw. Nose: it's clearer, cleaner, more lemony, but even at this high strength, you do feel that the peat was not just a patch, while it is at several distilleries-that-never- did-peat-and-suddenly-started-doing-some. Same smoked almonds, with a touch of acetone. With water: it's very fresh, simple in the very best sense of that word, with clean smoked apples, lemons, fresh walnuts, fresh almonds, grapefruits… And rather a lot of seaweed. We're even about to mention Breton langoustines and lobsters. They have great lobsters in the north of Brittany.  Mouth (neat): excellent! I know they don't like it when you quote a Scottish distillery, but this reminds me of young Ca… Oh no I won't. Very zesty, not fat, clear… Hints of white unaged cider. With water: more purity, green apples, cider apples, granny smith, and certainly rather a lot of ashes. The famous endangered expression 'licking an ashtray'. Finish: medium, blade-y, tight and tart. Very green apples, fresh walnut skins… The usual saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: a pure peater in its own right, really not far, as far as quality is concerned, from the fatter and deeper Kornog.

SGP:456 - 87 points.

While we're in Brittany, let's cross the Channel…

Filey Bay 'Double Oak #2' (46%, OB, England, bourbon and virgin oak, 2,000 bottles)

Filey Bay 'Double Oak #2' (46%, OB, England, bourbon and virgin oak, 2,000 bottles) Four stars
Just love the official tasting note, "Toasted Oak - Cream Soda - Fruit Gums - Hot Cross Buns". Brainwave. Colour: gold. Nose: agreed, cream soda and fruit gums, but also coconut water, touches of turmeric and ginseng powders, fresh-sawn tree branches, baking soda, cassata, marshmallows, crema catalana, brown sugar… Mouth: certainly sweet, even very sweet, very bonbony, but there is some structure beyond the banana foam and Red Bull ™. Croissants aux amandes, halva, peanut butter, nougat, vanilla cake… Touches of melissa and verbena keeping it straight and tight. Finish: medium, fruity, lively, this time with toffee apples and poppy + lavender sweets. Comments: I'm afraid I never had the chance to stumble upon any 'hot cross buns'. How about some Alsatian easter lammalas?

SGP:641 - 86 points.

Cotswolds '20 rue d'Anjou' (60.8%, La Maison du Whisky, casks #585,608,632,1160, 480 bottles, 2020)

Cotswolds '20 rue d'Anjou' (60.8%, La Maison du Whisky, casks #585,608,632,1160, 480 bottles, 2020) Four stars
I agree I should have tried this one earlier. It' a blend of 2nd fill bourbon, PX, oloroso and virgin oak. Colour: deep gold. Nose: strong, varnishy, grassy, tough. I'm sure that's the high strength. With water: it was the high strength. It got expectedly gentler, with those mangos and bananas that come with virgin oak, these moist golden sultanas that come with PX, these walnuts that oloroso can display, and the smarter complexity that's attached to refill. Mouth (neat): sweet and craft, with some varnish and glue, grass extracts, curry, mint and mustard, harsh cinnamon mints… This is some hidden advertisement for Evian or Highland Spring, is it not? With water: just sweeter, easier, with coconut balls, pineapples, bananas and oranges. Finish: medium, sweet, led by sweet virgin oak. Comments: another one that's just excellent, if a little more difficult to handle.

SGP:651 - 85 points.

Amazing what they do all over the world. Only twenty years ago, you were happy when a whisky 'from the rest of the world' could be swallowed without flinching and without making holes in your underpants (as we used to say rather gracefully). But good, let's swim to… why not Norway?

Vardberg 'Born' (60%, OB, Norway, release #1, 300 bottles, 2023)

Vardberg 'Born' (48%, OB, Norway, release #1, 300 bottles, 2023) Four stars
This brand new one from 2 ex-bourbon and 3 ex-sherry butts. The name of the lovely distillery is, repeat after me, Berentsens Brygghus (totally love it). It's located on the south-west coast of Norway. I think this is their first release, and find it extra-cool that they would have bottled a first release at some rather frightening 60% A.B.V. Colour: light gold. Nose: roasted almonds, Schorle, old quinces and rather massive notes of white nougat. Touches of muscovado, burnt demerara sugar, perhaps… And a dab of metal polish. Interesting and even nice, but at 60% it's probably all distorted anyway. With water: swims towards vanilla fudge, Mars bars, millionaire shortbread, these sorts of things. Mouth (neat): caramel, more nougat, brown ale, macchiato… A little Starbucksy this far. With water: white chocolate, maple syrup, Kinder Bueno… Finish: long, chocolaty. Comments: I think this one will awaken our inner child. Rather fascinating. We'll see, in the future, if this is truly Berentsens Brygghus's house-style, which would be both smart and very good.

SGP:551 - 85 points.
Update: I first thought it was the version at 60%.

Myken 4 yo 'Pinkernell's Limburg Edition no.2' (65.4%, OB, Norway, bourbon cask, 2023)

Myken 4 yo 'Pinkernell's Limburg Edition no.2' (65.4%, OB, Norway, bourbon cask, 2023) Four stars
We know they're crazy up there. Last time, they made us drink deuterium oxide, this time they're trying to kill us a second time with a very lethal strength of 65%+. What's next? A lutefisk finish? Colour: light gold. Nose: don't even consider nosing this without water. Perhaps barbecued fudge wrapped with hay? With water: fresh root vegetables, celeriac, turnips, kohlrabi, a little ink, peppermint and… hold on, smoked fish? Did they, indeed, throw fish into it? Not that we shall complain, there's fish in old Bowmore and Lagavulin too (I mean, notes of fish). Mouth (neat): this is almost civilised, with wood essences and earths, plus a porridgey and salty side, but the high ethanol quickly catches up with you. With water: there, yes, finally, we tamed it, this is lovely. Salty, spicy, with notes of hardwood, plus juniper, clove and caraway, as well as a little Chinese fish sauce (I'm sure they make that too up there near the arctic circle), pine oil, peppercorns, some pink grapefruit too… Finish: good, long, salty and citrusy. Citrus is running the whisky world, as we all know. Comments: sure it is a little young, but high-end mezcal is young too (self-dialectic, that's the lousiest form of writing, S.) Good, I think we're ready for the lutefisk finish.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

Hold on, we've got some room for a last one, let's swim back to England…

Wire Works 'Small Batch' (47.7%, OB, England, lightly peated, STR & bourbon, 4,251 bottles) Four stars
Another first at Château Whiskyfun, whisky from White Peak Distillery, which is located, as I understand it, in an old wire and cable plant in Derbyshire, England. Colour: gold. Nose: didn't we just mention mezcal? You could say mezcal reposado, or tequila for that matter, which we just treasure (I mean, good mezcal). You may add bananas, clover honey, woodruff, elderflowers and kumbawa (not kumbaya!) The light peat does feel but it's really subtle, as if some ex-peater wood was in use. Tiny whiffs of citrusy cologne, or lemon-favoured gin. Honestly, this is beautiful. Mouth: smart. Not too sure about what they've been STRising, possibly sweet wine barrels, but this banana + honey + apricot + light coastal smoke combination is hard to resist. Probably a little sweet, but you undoubtedly need sweetness when a whisky is this young. Because I don't think this is old. The strength is extremely smart too, it's potent enough while you don't need a quantic-computer-driven pipette to get to the ideal strength, which is always very difficult to do when you're on your own. Unless you are a street vlogger and don't really care, naturally. Finish: medium, sweet, easy, jammy, honeyed, faultless. Smoky cappuccino in the aftertaste. Comments: the whisky world is changing and it is a thrill to see it change. They almost created what Glenmorangie 18 years old should be, and I am neither pushing things, nor joking. Lazy arrogance never worked on the long run. Oh, and the bottles are beautiful, once they're empty you get a lovely bud vase.
SGP:643 - 87 points.

I think we'll do more of these three-country tastings in the future.

(Thank you, Klaus and Olav)







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