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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2011 - Part 2

April 2011 - part 1 <--- April 2011 - part 2 ---> May 2011 - part 1


April 30, 2011


April 29, 2011


80 whiskies

Around the World in 80 Whiskies
#8-18: another, larger flight of American whiskies

Today we’ll have a few other Americans at (relatively) low strength. Not feeling obliged to play with water is often a relief ;-). It's very diffuclt to keep up with who distills but doesn't bottle what, who bottles but doesn't distill which and who does both in America so Sku's great page is a very helpful resource indeed. I think I should try to memorize the whole damn list, and that you should bookmark it.

Jim Beam

Jim Beam 5 yo ‘white’ (40%, OB, bourbon, +/-1975) Three stars I've got this baby on my shelves since a long time, time to crack it open. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know), today’s ‘white’ is 4yo whereas the 5yo is the green label. Colour: full gold. Nose: quite nice! It’s a tad rawish and dry for a bourbon but it’s packed with aromas from the ‘toasted bread’ family, with even a smokiness that I didn’t expect. It’s also a tad sour – is this sour mash? Notes of cider, compote, coffee… Also rocks, mint, soot... Maybe some OBE? Mouth: hey hey, this is nice! Punchy, fruity and grassy, with a lot of grains and touches of marshmallows. The problem is that it becomes very dry after that, and even drying. Chalk and tea tannins. Finish: quite long but very cinnamony. Comments: not everything is great here (the finish isn’t) but it’s a very nice dra… excuse me, shot. These old bottles are worth buying, they’re usually very cheap at auctions. SGP:442 - 81 points.

Rebel Yell

Rebel Yell (40%, OB, bourbon, +/-2008) Two stars Billy Idol's preferred, I guess. Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is almost silent after the Beam, at least for a while. Much less happening and it’s also a little cardboardy and too grainy. Whiffs of fermenting hay, charcoal, butter... Maybe it’ll be nice on the palate? Mouth: big body, big fruits, big bubblegum, marshmallows and then plums and eau-de-vie. A little kirschy. Simple but quite pleasant. Finish: rather long but not very focussed. Cardboard and marshmallows plus something burnt in the aftertaste. Comments: exactly my definition of a 75 points whisky. Pleasant and drinkable, without major flaws. SGP:631 - 75 points.

Gentleman Jack

Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack (40%, OB, Tennessee whiskey, +/-2008) Two stars and a half Okay, no bourbon. I’ve read this was heavily filtered. Colour: gold. Nose: interesting! Rather un-bourbony and quite waxy, grassy and mineral, which are notes that are usually more to be found in the Highlands of Scotland. Yet, there is quite some vanilla and touches of burnt syrup. A little cardboard again, toasted wood... The whole is pleasantly light and void of any heady caramelly notes. Mouth: sweet and sexy, with an oily mouth feel, starting with notes of strawberry and pineapple sweets that make the whole liqueurish. Goes on with more liquorice and a little curry, and always this oily mouth feel. Is there sugar? Finish: medium long, still sweet and fruity, also with more pepper and hints of bitter chocolate. Comments: nice nose and palate but both are hugely different. Two whiskies in one? SGP:351 (nose) and 620 (palate) – 78 points.

Ewan Williams

Evan Williams 1994 'Single Barrel' (43.3%, OB for LMdW, bourbon, cask #366, bottled 2004) Three stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: fattier than the other ones, slightly greasy, buttery and sour, making me think of some Belgian trappist beer. Then more apple peelings, fresh strawberries, wet gravels and plain oak (fresh sawn). Little extravagance here, it’s no aromatic wonder and is very shy with the vanilla. Mouth: excellent attack, rich, sweet and peppery at the same time. Notes of mead, strawberry jam, black cherries, cloves, paprika… Becomes spicier, with also more of the expected vanilla and maple syrup. Finish: rather long, very nicely balanced, with touches of raspberries and some juniper in the aftertaste. Comments: an elegant one, rather complex. I like it and shall try to taste more recent batches in the future. SGP:531 - 84 points.

Ah, the Evan Williams saucy ads... This one ran four or five years ago...

Evan Williams ad

Geirge Dickel 12

George Dickel #12 (45%, OB, Tennessee whisky, +/-2008) Two stars and a half This is spelled whisky and not whiskey. The spelling doesn’t mean a thing anyway, contrarily to what many lazy ‘unspecialised’ journalists or bloggers write/wrote. Colour: full gold. Nose: this is very sweet and very smooth, luscious as they say. Bags of big fat golden sultanas and then quite some vanilla and whiffs of freshly baked orange cake. Ah, delicacies… Mouth: very creamy and very fruity. Pomegranates and oranges. Gets then much drier, losing the fruitiness and becoming a little tea-ish. Cocoa powder. Finish: medium long, more on sweet spices. Cardamom and cloves. Cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: a changing whisky, from extreme fruity creaminess to dryness. SGP:531 - 78 points.


Bulleit Bourbon (45%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2009) Three stars and a half This was 'hand-crafted for the discerning explorer in all of us.' Shackleton again? Colour: full gold. Nose: interesting! Quite the opposite of the Dickel, as it starts more on dried herbs (verbena, parsley), with a lot of hay. Develops more on orange (slightly overripe) and green bananas, before it comes back into line with quite some vanilla and fresh oak.  Mouth: exactly the opposite of the Dickel. This palate is very fruity, very eau-de-vie-ish, with big notes of triple-sec (make that Cointreau or Grand-Marnier), then ginger liqueur and mint liqueur. A whole bar. Finish: quite long, gingery and cinnamony. Comments: very nice character. Lots happening in this one – and I like the packaging (but won’t take that into account ;-)) SGP:641 - 83 points.

Virginia Gentleman

Virginia Gentleman '90' (45%, OB, bourbon, +/-2007) According to the label, this was distilled in Kentucky and redistilled in Virginia, which may make this a bourbon from Virginia. Colour: full gold. Nose: well, this gentleman is rather shy. Notes of wet gravels and toasted oak, some raw alcohol (all-purpose tutti frutti) and only then some pleasant albeit very classical notes of vanilla, honey and corn syrup. Some cornflakes as well, burnt wood... Mouth: a creamy, hyper-sweet and mega-fruity palate. Jell-O or jellybeans, jams, marshmallows, strawberry drops, liquorice allsorts… It’s not unpleasant but you have to like that. Finish: same, for quite some time, and then a cardboardy, slightly burnt aftertaste. Comments: not bad but there’s too much sweetness for my taste. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been disappointed ;-). SGP:741 - 65 points.

Old Charter

Old Charter 13 yo 'Proprietor's Reserve' (45%, OB, bourbon, +/-2005) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: we’re in Speyside! Another bourbon that isn’t very bourbony. Could be some, say Longmorn from first fill bourbon wood. A lot of ripe plums (and the pies made thereof), apple pie (big ones), figs, custard and then many soft spices/herbs such as ginger and green cardamom. Earl grey tea. Superb nose! Mouth: yet again, this could be a Speysider from first fill bourbon. Many ripe yellow fruits and bags of soft spices. Quite some cinnamon and nutmeg too. Finish: maybe a little sheer. Comments: a surprise. Excellent for playing tricks on your connoisseur friends. SGP:651 - 87 points.


Woodford Reserve 'Distiller's Select' (45.2%, OB, bourbon, 2009) Three stars This baby can be found in many supermarkets here in France. Colour: full gold. Nose: of course, it’s difficult after the Old Charter. This is much simpler, a little narrow, gently spicy and oaky. A little chocolate too, vanilla, café latte and white pepper. Simple but well made. After ten minutes waiting to scrap the ‘death seat effect’: much more extractive. Vanilla, corn syrup and sweet ginger. Mouth: rich, extremely sweet and oily. Sweet American oak bonanza (here vanilla, coconut, corn syrup, ginger). Finish: long, drier, with a surprisingly bitter aftertaste. Comments: technological, therefore very well made and perfectly flawless. SGP:641 - 80 points.

Van Winkle 12

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 yo Lot B (45.9%, OB, bourbon, +/-2008) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: this is a complex one, it’s not overly extractive and no vanilla bomb. Sure there’s some vanilla but there’s also some nice notes of tangerine liqueur, sesame oil (nice roasted notes), even argan oil (don’t know what that is? Stop moaning, google is your friend ;-)), nuts, marzipan… Very nice indeed. I like the balance and the absence of ‘vulgarity’. Mouth: very concentrated this time, with the oak’s spices to the front and some cappuccino and honey just below the spices. Also some orange liqueur and quite some ginger. A lot of ginger, and a lot of liquorice and white pepper. It’s big, very spicy bourbon. Finish: long, spicy, clean. Pepper and cardamom all over the place and some Irish coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: another spectacular one, with nose and palate that are quite different (seems to happen more with bourbon than with scotch). A very spicy palate. SGP:542 - 85 points.

Sazerac 18

Sazerac Rye 18 yo 1983/2001 (45%, OB, Kentucky straight rye) Four stars and a half I quite loved the 1984/2002 (WF 88) so we're having high expectations here. Colour: full gold. Nose: tons of ripe fruits and slightly heady flowers. Peonies and lis, ripe strawberries, ripe peaches and then some honey, very ripe bananas, a little mint and liquorice, touches of cloves, orangettes (orange zests dipped in milk chocolate), mangos… It’s an avalanche! I especially love these notes of old-style mint and herbs liqueur. Impressive nose, very complex. Mouth: it’s maybe not quite as complex and ‘peacocky’ as on the nose but we have these big notes of stewed peaches again, raspberries, liquorice allsorts, blackberry jam (a sin!) and then a more typical development on honeydew,  vanilla, ginger and cough syrup. Excellent. Finish: long, maybe a little drying now (strong black tea, cardboard). Comments: it seems that this batch was fruitier than others, but I may be wrong. What’s sure is that it’s a totally excellent drop despite the finish. SGP:542 - 89 points.

Are we done with the Americans now? Hmm, not sure, as I like so many of them. We’ll see… stay tuned (62 whiskies of the world to go!)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: right, this may be another piece that's not exactly for every ears but William Parker is a genius! This is his fairly trippy Morning mantra (from 'Double Sunrise Over Neptune'), with Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay on vocals. Oh, and what a simple, pulsating double bass can do! Please buy all of William Parker's music...

William Parker

April 28, 2011


80 whiskies

Around the World in 80 Whiskies
#5-7: another three American whiskies

Good, the very nice Americans that we had yesterday made me scream for more. Let’s try a few unusual ones for a change… Maybe not all of the same level!

Johnny Drum 12

Johnny Drum 12 yo (43%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2007) Two stars I think this is sour mash whiskey. I never had any Johnny Drum before, but I’ve seen that the brand was related to the old Willett …. And the old Willetts… !!! Colour: amber. Nose: it’s nice, very honeyed, with quite some marzipan and pleasant notes of olives. Goes on more on apple peelings and fresh butter. It’s even fairly delicate, nothing to do with the monsters that we had yesterday. I also like the fact that it isn’t varnishy/oaky at all. Nice grassiness, somewhat ‘unbourbon’ in my view. Mouth: well, it’s much simpler now, a tad sweetish and sugary, lacking body and definition. Other than that, it’s to my liking ;-). Reminds me a bit of Jack Daniel’s (not my fav whisky ever to be honest). Finish: medium long, quite caramelly. Comments: a little sad, I loved the nose but I find the palate too average. Now, it’s not expensive whiskey so nothing to complain abaout. SGP:550 - 76 points.

Johnny Drum 15

Johnny Drum 15 yo ‘Private Stock’ (50.5%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2007) Three stars Colour: amber. Nose: oh, it’s one of these bourbons that smell like molasses-based rums. Nothing wrong here, quite the opposite. Perfect oak, very strong but very elegant as well (no wham-bam vanilla), a little coffee , muscovado sugar, touches of sultanas, fudge, chocolate… All that is very elegant, I insist. A great surprise so far, let’s only hope that the palate will stand the course this time… Mouth: well, it sort of does. It’s not any more complex than the 12 but the extra-punch keeps it afloat while the notes of black olives and thick caramel make it rather interesting. It’s also a little varnishy and bitter. With water: hmm… not bad, not bad. Some mineral notes, quite unexpected. Apple pie as well, some cinnamon…  Finish: long and sweet, with an obvious tannicity. Comments: an interesting bourbon, certainly less ‘modern’ than many well-known brands. SGP:551 - 80 points.

Kentucky Vintage

Kentucky Vintage (45%, OB, Bourbon, batch #1-18, +/-2007) Four stars and a halfThis is made by the same people who are behind Johnny Drum. It’s ‘small batch’ and, as several other American whiskies that I’ve seen, bears the word ‘vintage’ while no vintage is specified (and while it’s obviously no vintage item - but let’s not quibble). Colour: full gold. Nose: very similar to Johnny Drum 12, which is great news. Olives, soy sauce, grass, apple peelings… Very ‘unbourbon’ again. To give you an idea, this could be an old Glen Mhor from refill sherry. Serious. Mouth: same feeling as with Johnny 12, it’s sweeter and a little duller than on the nose but it works here because both the texture and the very nice leathery/leafy notes balance that sweetness. And I like these notes of honey sauce and tobacco, and even the faint saltiness. Finish: long, spicy and sweet (cranberry juice), then drier in a nice way. Comments: I don’t know if I should like this, but I do. It’s somewhat ‘non-commercial’ in style, which always works, just like with wine. Super and not expensive at all, around 25€ I think. Imagine! SGP:451 - 88 points.

Update: if, like yours truly, you're a beginner wrt bourbon (I'm a perpetual beginner!), our friend Sku has got a great page where he lists all these American brands/bottlers. Anyway, this is it for today, maybe we’ll stay in America next time… or not. 73 to go, stay tuned.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: how would you categorise the music of Carl Hancock Rux? Maybe it's not really music? Poetry? There's something of both Fela Kuti and Gil Scot-Heron... Anyway, let's forget about boxes and listen to Trouble Of This World - and buy Carl Hancock Rux' music.

Carl Hancock Rux

April 27, 2011


80 whiskies

Around the World in 80 Whiskies
#2-4: three American whiskies

I’m no bourbon specialist at all so if you’d like to know more about American whiskies, you should check other web sites such as Malt Advocate or bourbonenthusiast.com and many others.


Blanton's Original (46.5%, OB, Bourbon, single barrel, +/-2010) Three stars It seems that this was the first single barrel bourbon ever back in 1984. Do all these barrels offer nuances? Colour: deep gold. Nose: bursts with varnish and nail polish remover at first nosing, then quite some vanilla and truckloads of marzipan. Also glazed chestnuts, maple syrup, various honeys and then quite a lot of fresh sawn oak. After a few minutes: a lot of mead – a little sour - and whiffs of pencil shavings. Mouth: easy, quite rich and mouth coating, with a very spicy attack that surprises me (usually spices come after the sweetness in my experience). A little curry, maybe wasabi… Then comes the sweetness, banana liqueur, coconuts, dried pineapples… It’s rather good stuff. Finish: quite long, with a woodiness (pencil shavings again). Comments: an easy one despite the spiciness but you have to like these sweetish notes that go along. SGP:751 - 81 points.

Four Roses

A funny but fairly unlikely (by today's standards) advert for Four Roses Premium that ran in 1972. Other times...

Four roses

Four Roses 'Single Barrel 2010' (59.9%, OB, Bourbon, 2010) Three stars Made at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg. Colour: rich gold. Nose: very perfumy and very rich but kind of ‘light’ (I’m sure it’s the wrong word, but never mind…) despite the heady whiffs of varnish that we already had in the Blanton. After that, a maelstrom of vanilla, honey, oak and white chocolate as well as touches of strawberry jam. With water: little changes, maybe more herbs such as fresh parsley and chives. New planks. Mouth (neat): super-punchy, mega-sweet and quite oaky at first sips. Liqueurs with pepper and touches of tinned litchis. If I add that it’s maybe a tad feminine I’m sure I’ll lose a lot of friends, so I won’t. Err… What’s sure is that it’s highly extractive. With water: added hints of lavenders and violets, the whole being very sweet. Finish: long, sweet and oaky. A lot of cardamom. Comments: I like this, no doubt, but I tend to think that it’s sometimes some oak liqueur. An excellent oak liqueur. SGP:742 - 82 points.

TH Handy

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey 2010 (63.45%, OB) Four stars and a half By Buffalo Trace. I loved a version at 67.4% (WF 90) but this recent one was bottled at a measly 63.45% ;-). Colour: rich gold. Nose: less sweet, more profound, more ‘tertiary’ than the 4 Roses, more complex – despite an oakiness that very high and that’ll always surprise malt drinkers in my opinion. An unexpected rancio and notes of stewed fruits, a little coal, caramel, coffee-flavoured fudge, vanilla, even a little game… Is all that the rye? With water: superb! Damp earth, rare mushrooms (I mean, not the average sh****y cheapo mushroom) and a lot of oak and graphite. Right, pencils. Mouth (neat): yooh-ooh-ooh, this is strong! Is this legal? But I love this earthiness and all these spices, the notes of gentian, maybe mushrooms, ‘sweet earth’… With water: same. Very creamy, fruitier at this point and very ‘rye’ (I’m starting to begin to know a little bit about rye whisky). Finish: very long, with maybe a little more drying oak and pepper. Rather bitter aftertaste. Comments: I was about to go above 90 here but the bitterish finish made me change my mind. Barely. SGP:562 - 89 points.

Good, only 76 whiskies to go... Were shall we be next time? Stay tuned...

MUSIC - Recommended listening: let's go to Portugal today, with a little 'fado-tango' by Christina Branco. It's called Oh! Como Se Me Alonga Da Eno Em Amo and it's, well pretty beautiful. Please buy Christina Branco's music.

Christina Branco

April 26, 2011


Around the World in 80 Whiskies

Friends, after I had finished my shortish ‘Canadian’ session the other day, I had a sudden brainwave (okay, a little idea): why not go on with ‘foreign’ whiskies and do something such as ‘Around the World in 80 Whiskies’? By 'foreign', I mean 'from the rest of the world' as the Scotland-centric Scots say. Of course, we’re ‘in Scotland’ almost every day but how about Spain? Brazil? Africa? India? Taiwan? The good old US of A? Or Ireland? What’s more, I may keep tasting our usual Scotch malts as well every other day, so that the idea doesn’t become kind of invading...


So, if you agree, let’s rummage a bit through WF’s ever-growing sample library and try to find something interesting for today. Hmm, I think I'll start quietly, with only one Canadian today after the seven other Canadians that we just had, but please be sure that some other 'foreign' sessions will be much wider...

80 whiskies

Around the World in 80 Whiskies
#1: (only) one Canadian single malt whisky

This one was another bottle with a story, as it was a way for Glenora Distillery to cock a snook at the mighty Scotch Whisky Association after a long legal fight around the use of the suffix ‘Glen’. You may read the whole story at Davin’s excellent Canadian Whisky website. BTW, I’ve heard the Bretons are now considering bringing a lawsuit against them too… Just kidding, let’s try the whisky…

Battle of the Glen

Glen Breton 15 yo 'Battle of the Glen' (43%, OB, Glenora Distillery, Canadian single malt, 2010) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine (very pale for a 15yo whisky). Nose: starts very fresh and rather grainy, on a combination of fresh hazelnuts and lemon, with a little oat in the background. Whiffs of metal as well (tin box), damp chalk, a little linseed oil… It’s all very gentle, not too far from some Lowlanders but without the big fruitiness. It’s lost the roughness that younger bottlings could display in my experience, it’s also gained a Scotchness, so to speak. Ahem. After a few minutes, it became rather grassier, with some soy sprouts and just

Mouth: bigger and maltier than on the nose, sweeter too, and probably less complex. Pleasant oily mouth feel. Some barley sugar, orange drops, touches of soft spices (ginger), a little coriander… It’s getting even more ‘Lowlandish’ after a while. Pleasant bitterness in the background (apple peelings). Maybe not too ripe apricots? Finish: medium long, with more spices (pepper) and a green bitterness. Tea tannins, grapefruits. Comments: the bitterish finish may be its weakest part but it’s very okay malt apart from that. It’s certainly more to my liking than the regular 10 or ‘Ice’. Now, at CAN $150 a bottle, that is to say 110 Euros, well… Maybe that’s a little steep. Now, lawyers can be expensive. SGP:351 – 78 points.

We'll see were we'll go next time. 79 whiskies of the world to go, stay tuned!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: him, at his almost jazziest, doing Blessed Relief (that was on 1972's Grand Wazoo). Please buy his music.


April 25, 2011


Glen Albyn

Tasting two old Glen Albyn

I must apologise because this will be another useless session as both bottles are unobtainable these days (except at auctions) but I thought it would be funny to oppose the two leaders of independent bottling around 1980. And Glen Albyn could be very… whacky!

Glen Albyn 19 yo 1963 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, old brown label, +/-1982) Three stars There used to be a ‘licensed’ Glen Albyn 1963 by G&M that was fabulous (WF 91) so we have high expections… Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, it’s the kind of old-style malt that I enjoy so much. Right between some beautiful waxy/honeyed notes, some superb mineral ones (flints) and quite some petrol, metal polish and motor oil. There’s also some ink, tonic water, orange zest, whiffs of old books, leather, shoe polish, ashes, peat… Also roots and grass… It’s all a little austere (the honeyed notes didn’t survive) but quite beautiful. It’s on the palate that it could get worse, let’s see… Mouth: hmm, this is what I had feared. The attack is very nice and pretty much in line with the nose but the middle is seriously weakish. Wooosh! A little marzipan, a little cardboard and just pinches of cinnamon and white pepper. Finish: not much, but there’s a faint saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: as often with these old bottles at low strength, it all happens on the nose – and what a nose! SGP:363 – 80 points (nose like 90, palate more like 70).

Glen Albyn 18 yo (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy, +/-1980) Five stars Although it doesn’t say so, this was probably a 1963 as well. Colour: dark amber. Nose: some chocolaty sherry all over the place! To the point where it’s one of these grapy whiskies that smell exactly like some great Armagnac – for a while, because it starts to resemble some old English-style rum after a while. Sure old aged spirits tend to converge but this one is really spectacular in that sense. Prunes, sugar cane, mint, old wood (polished furniture) and just a little camphor. Big sherry but it’s all balanced, which is almost a miracle. Thirty years in glass may have helped… Mouth: less sultry than expected but a tad roughish, grapy, Armagnac-alike indeed in the attack. The good news is that it becomes smoother after that, with some marmalade, cherry liqueur, notes of herbs (savory? Watercress?) and, as often with this kind of profile, a lot of chocolate, both milk and dark dry one. Finish: long, on the same combination. Oloroso galore. Comments: maybe there isn’t much of Glen Albyn that manages to shine through but the sherry is beautiful. One of these excellent old dumpies – and there were many. SGP:552 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more 'stunning music from the world' today with Turkey's superstar Sezen Aksu singing Kutlama. Doesn't tango invade everything these days? We won't complain... Please buy Sezen Aksu's music...

Sezen Aksu

April 24, 2011



Tasting two old Coleburn

Coleburn is another closed distillery that I haven’t tried many times (there are only 9 Coleburns on WF!) So far, my preferred bottling was a recent 1983 by The Whisky Agency (WF 92). Time to improve all that a bit with an ‘old young’ version and a ‘fairly recent old’ one. Let’s see if either one will manage to supplant that superb 1983…

Coleburn 12 yo 1969 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli, Flowers, 300 bottles, +/-1981) Four starsI like the mention 'The never bottled top quality whisky series' on the label. I think both Cadenhead and G&M had bottled some Coleburn before 1981 but we shan't quibble thirty years later, shall we? Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts moderately aromatic and unexpectedly medicinal, on notes of Alka-Seltzer and cut grass, with also quite some soot and ash. There’s also a little butter, porridge, graphite oil (or pencil lead?) and just touches of cocoa powder. Writing that this is austere would be an understatement. Sure we could intellectualise all this and claim that it’s ‘authentic old-style Highlands malt’ but frankly, these whiffs of aspirin are ‘too much’ for me. But maybe will the palate be completely different? Mouth: right, maybe that’s no true miracle but indeed, this is much more to my liking now, despite the spicy blast that happens. A lot of pepper, cloves and cinnamon, maybe even a few chillies, some mustard, juniper berries, then more lemon, peppermint, green cardamom… Then there’s a grassy stage, and then some sweeter and rounder fruity notes arrive. Mainly orange liqueur. Finish: long, on a pepper and lemon duet. The chillies are back in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s one of these old bottlings that aren’t too easy to assess, mainly because nose and palate aren’t quite on the same wavelength. SGP:362 - 85 points.

Coleburn 34 yo 1967/2002 (50.4%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 287 bottles) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: not much happening in there. The wood talks a bit, with some lactones, vanilla, whiffs of flour and a slight mustiness in the background but that’s pretty all. Let’s call to water for help. With water: more damp cardboard, earth, ink and soot. It’s actually quite nice! Mouth (neat): a lot of green oak in the attack and a spiciness that isn’t far from the Samaroli’s. Some green curry, mustard, ginger (a lot), pepper… Someone may have invented the word ‘unsexy’ for this one. With water: much better! More lemon, mescal, grass, lemon liqueur, touches of fructose (or icing sugar)… The whisky woke up! Finish: medium long, pleasantly lemony but with a mustardy aftertaste. Comments: another difficult one, I don’t think this style is still to be found in today’s Scottish output. Has its charms, as they say. SGP:262 - 80 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: how the late Don Pullen could be such a genius is still a mystery to me. Let's listen to him solo in the very lyrical, wandering and at times highly 'percussive' Evidence of things unseen (from the eponymous album, recorded 1983), then get our breaths back, say thank you Don and buy all of his music - ten times each please.

Don Pullen

April 22, 2011



Tasting two young Pulteney

Old Pulteney ‘WK209 Good Hope’ (46%, OB, NAS, 1l, +/-2011) Four stars A travel retail exclusive, the sequel to WK499 ‘Isabella Fortuna’, sold mainly in airports (which is bizarre when you bear the name of a ship). It seems that this was already dispatched to – and tasted by – many eminent whisky bloggers. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a typical young, fresh and coastal Pulteney, starting on brine and lemon juice, with also several garden fruits such as apples and gooseberries. The whole give it a slightly acidic profile. Behind all that, more vanilla and corn syrup add a roundness. Also touches of dill and celery. Nice and lively, balanced and fresh. Reminds me a little of the recent young Balblairs (not the old ones). Mouth (neat):  sweet attack, with some malt, apple pie, brine and maybe touches of kiwis. Some liquorice wood as well, a little pepper, mustard, hints of kirsch and other stone fruit eau-de-vie, almonds... It's good, no doubt. Finish: medium long, with even more brine. The saltiness is quite striking here, as big as in some old-style young Bowmores. A kind of peatiness in the aftertaste. Comments:  not a very complex one but a very 'efficient' Pulteney in my opinion, ‘straight in his boots’. Very briny and more to my liking than the WK499. SGP:452 - 85 points.

Old Pulteney 1998/2011 (52.5%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #1217, 301 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: it's well a Pulteney but this is more austere than the OB, more on green apples, earth, a little humus, almonds... A discreet one so far. With water: big saponification happening, let's wait. Remember, there are often soapy notes that arise when you add water, that's why it's always better to wait a bit when you've added water. The soapy notes need two or three minutes to go away... Which is what happens here, leaving room for a lot of apple juice and a little almond oil. No more brine. Mouth (neat): more or less the same profile as the OB's, only with more apples and even pears and a little less brine. Nice and clean. With water: almost the same whisky as the OB now but a little simpler and less profound (while the OB wasn't exactly profound.) Finish: medium long, a little brinier, with a slightly mustardy aftertaste. Comments: very good, flawless malt whisky, thanks to the original spirit, but I wouldn't say there's a lot happening in this baby. SGP:452 - 83 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more of the stunning jazz of German pianist Wolfgang Dauner and his friends. Lots of fun in Nothing to Declare (with Coltranian accents!) - that was on the album 'Output', recorded 1970 for ECM. Please buy Wolfgang Dauner's music.

Wolfgang Doner

April 21, 2011



Tasting two Glenesk

Glenesk was another rather obscure distillery. I’ve only tasted 8 so far and that won’t improve much anytime soon as the distillery (also called Hillside) was closed in 1985 and demolished ten years later.

Glenesk 1984/2008 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, refill sherry hogsheads) Two stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: unexpectedly aggressive despite the modest strength and rather rough, with big grassy notes at first nosing. Develops more on putty, almonds, a little rubber (bands), liquorice and a greenness that becomes… greener and greener. Grass juice, white tequila… Also whiffs of brand new tyres and shoe polish. Not a very sexy whisky but hey, it’s rare! Mouth: a little more appealing on the palate, with a certain saltiness in the attack, some muscovado sugar, cornflakes, orange marmalade, cinchona, maybe a little maraschino… Good body, good mouth feel. Finish: shortish, grassy again, slightly bitter but a little sugary at the same time… Comments: I don’t think it’s a must but it’s not unpleasant malt at all in my opinion. It’s just not very sexy… SGP:261 - 78 points.

Glenesk 1971 (46.6%, Part Nan Angelen, 662 bottles, +/-2005) Three starsColour: pale gold. Nose: exactly the same style as the 1984, ultra-grassy and even drier than its sibling. There’s also quite some paraffin, graphite oil, bags of cut grass… Having said that, it develops nicely on fresh almonds and hazelnuts, with also a little fresh butter. Less tarry and rubbery than the 1984 but a little tar there is. Very ‘un-modern’. Mouth: again, more or less the 1984 with more oomph. There’s also an interesting mustardy side to it, some pepper, cane syrup… Something very old style. Also something that reminds me of buffalo grass vodka. Maybe that’s buffalo grass? ;-) Finish: quite long, austere, grassy and mustardy. Funnily, the aftertaste is all on wasabi. Comments: green indeed. An interesting malt that reminds me of the famous Hillside Rare Malts but the latter was more brutal. SGP:272 - 82 points.


MUSIC - Recommended listening: a bit of Norwegian 'new' jazz funk (or is it funk jazz?) today with Kinny and Horne aka Caitlin Simpson and Espen Horne doing Forgetting To Remember (from their eponymous CD). Please buy Kinny and Horne's music.

Kinny and Horne

April 20, 2011


Ben Nevis

A mini retro-verticale of old low-strength Ben Nevis

This may be fun – or maybe we’ll go completely off the road, we’ll see… Why a retro-verticale? Because we’ll have the younger first.

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1965 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice Old brown label, +/- 1984) Two stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: as expected, this is very ‘different’. In truth, it’s smelling like some old rhum agricole at first nosing, much, much rougher and wilder than what it should have been. It’s even very spirity, extremely grassy, with just touches of burnt wood and marshmallows lingering on. That was just before it switched towards more candied and caramelly tones, with whiffs of cheap liqueurs and Cointreau. Bizarre, very bizarre, although it becomes a tad easier and more classic after a few minutes. Curious about the palate now… Mouth: much less reckless now, with a very nice attack on coffee and marmalade but some burnt notes are soon to appear, together with some cardboard as is often the case with these old bottlings. Tea. Becomes as dry as some cheap blends (not saying all blends are cheap, of course they aren’t). Finish: medium long, at times pleasantly citrusy but other wise ‘burnt’ and cardboardy. Comments: as often, some aspects are great but some others are quite crippling. Not that it matters but that’s why it cannot be 80-point material in my book. SGP:251 - 79 points.

Ben Nevis 39yo 1966/2005 (40.2%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection) Two stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: acetone and glue, glue and acetone. Oh, and varnish. I don’t think I’ve ever nosed a malt whisky that was so much on varnishy notes. Okay, it does improve after a short while, with very nice notes of passion fruits and mangos ala 60s Bowmore but the varnish from some heavy oak extraction never really goes away. A true shame, because this old Ben Nevis could have been a stunner. Also hints of oolong tea, which is great. More than hints, in fact, after a few minutes it smells just like some cold oolong. Mouth: how unusual! Starts with a combination of oranges and Swiss cheese, all that on a bed of cut grass. Unlikely? You bet! Becomes very waxy after that and extremely grassy, to the point where one cannot not wonder if it isn’t flawed whisky. After a few seconds, we’re all on paraffin. Finish: long but very paraffiny and these cheesy notes are still there. Bizarre, how bizarre! Comments: as I may have written before, Ben Nevis is never boring. This bottling sure isn’t, but it’s anything but classic old malt whisky. That isn’t enough to make me like it – unlike the great 1967 sherry wood by the same bottlers that I scored 90 points tow years ago. SGP:361 - 77 points.

Ben Nevis 42 yo 1968/2010 (40.0%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, Bourbon Hogshead, 101 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: ha-ha! There’s the same citrus character as in the Hart, with several tropical fruits as well such as, yes, mangos and passion fruits. Those notes are less big than in the Hart Bros but on the other hand, there’s no varnish so this is considerably nicer. Also the same great notes of high-end oolong, hints of sorrel, lime juice, crushed fresh mint leaves and tangerines. Light and beautifully fresh at 42 years of age, and very elegant. Let’s only hope the palate will easier than both the G&M’s and the HB’s. Mouth: hmm… It’s certainly less whacky and kind of cleaner than the others, but on the other hand the oakiness is rather bigger. You know, this feeling of ‘over-infused tea’. Apart from that, the citrusy notes are very nice, and so are the mangos, grapefruits and green bananas. There’s more and more cinnamon on your tongue after a while and a feeling of big tannicity. Finish: medium long, in the same vein. Comments: the best within the flight and by far, no question about that. It is, in fact, extremely good old malt whisky but the tannins have taken control in my opinion. Or am I too sensitive to tannicity? SGP:471 - 84 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all bottlings that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Lula Reed's way of singing was kind of rough but man that worked... Let's listen to I'll Drown In My Own Tears (recorded 1951, with Sonny Thompson's Orchestra) and then buy all of Lula Reed's music.

Lula Reed

April 19, 2011


Dallas Dhu

Tasting a few Dallas Dhu

Today we’ll start with two 1971s, one having been bottled twenty years after the other. Then we’ll have a 1975 that should be a little more powerful and lastly, a more recent Dallas Dhu, a 1981 at high strength that was bottled by Blackadder. Like several other old distilleries that were closed around 1983, Dallas Dhu’s output has been very varied, sometimes a tad ‘strange’ in my opinion and sometimes very good. My favourite Dallas Dhu so far was a 1981 by Douglas Laing (WF 91). But I’ve only tasted 23 Dallas Dhus until today…

Dallas Dhu 16 yo 1971/1988 (40%, Sestante) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: ah, this starts well! This baby smells just like pure honey at first nosing, mead, honeycomb… There’s also some plum jam, maple syrup, orange blossom and only touches of cinnamon and camphor. Screams ‘old style’ but it’s also amazingly aromatic at only 40% vol. and after all these years in glass. Keeps developing for a long time, becoming more resinous and spicy but always in a mellow way. Quite some liquorice too. A great selection made twenty-three years ago. After fifteen minutes, it really starts to smell like an old Sauternes. Really. With such a nose, the palate shouldn’t be flat and dry… Let’s see… Mouth: right, it’s not as smooth and silky as on the nose and there is something dry and drying in the attack (cardboard, strong tea, cinnamon) but it’s under control. Sort of. Anyway, that’s a shame because there are many flavours from a beehive in the background, honey, beeswax… Also quite some grassy/spicy notes, thyme, maybe capers (no too sure)… Too bad this isn’t as luscious as on the nose, we’d have had a winner. Finish: short to medium, with the sweet notes being back and a little less grassy and bitter notes, although they’re back in the aftertaste. Comments: a 92+ nose but a 80-82 palate here. We’ll go for 87 if you don’t mind. SGP:561 - 87 points.

Dallas Dhu 36 yo 1971/2008 (46.2%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Hogshead, cask #4106, 161 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: well, it’s the opposite of the Sestante. Much more dry, grassy and flinty, smelling a little bitter or acrid, with whiffs of lamp oil, cut grass, paraffin, butter and cut cactus. As unsexy as malt whisky can be, but it has its charms. Let’s try it with a little water: it became a little smoother, mainly on almond oil, marzipan and fresh putty. A little white chocolate as well. Cinnamon. Mouth (neat): there are afterglows of sweet resinous notes (cough syrup) but other than that, it’s very dry and very grassy, and not complex enough to stand that profile. A difficult one, especially since it’s also slightly soapy. With water: much nicer for sure, but still bitter and drying in your throat. Pleasant lemony tones. Finish: medium long, with obvious tannins in the aftertaste (over-infused green tea). Comments: this one was probably very good some time ago but I think it went over the hill. With whisky, not all that’s old is good. Having said that, I enjoyed some part of it, that’s why I won’t go too low… SGP:271 - 77 points.

Dallas Dhu 33 yo 1975/2008 (48.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 45.25, 'The sting of a bee', Refill Barrel, 176 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: pretty much in the same style as the DL, very austere, grassy and flinty, with maybe a little more lemon and probably a little less paraffin. It’s also a tad more medicinal, in the antiseptic way. It’s all very pungent at ‘only’ 48% vol. With water: bizarrely soapy and buttery at the same time but it really improves after a few minutes, with quite some menthol. Of course, you have to like menthol. Mouth (neat): marginally better than the DL. Probably creamier and slightly rounder but very resinous and spicy, biting, peppery, oaky… You have to like that. With water: became better for sure but there’s also a little more cardboard. Other than that, it’s a nice combination of lemony and herbal notes. Benedictine? Finish: rather long but oaky and tannic, which is, good news, fairly balanced with the mentholated notes. Comments: more than okayish in my opinion but only because it’s an old Dallas Dhu. SGP:361 - 79 points.

Dallas Dhu 28 yo 1981/2010 (55.8%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Hogshead, cask #423, 130 bottles) Five stars This baby won silver at the MM Awards 2010. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re back to the style of the Sestante, with quite a lot of honey and even pollen as well as a little mint and, yes, camphor behind all that. Mirabelle pie, various jams, vanilla custard and just a little sawdust and mustard. Very faintly plankish at some point (yeah, sawdust). With water: same kind of development as with the SMWS, with more menthol and also tangerine liqueur. It’s got something oriental (baklavas, orange blossom). Mouth (neat): this power malt has something of the DL and SMWS (the ultra grassiness) but it’s also got some very nice citrusy tones. Lemon balm, coriander, crystallised citrons, hints of lavender sweets (the good ones)… Excellent body. With water: yes! Many well-known herbs liqueurs in there, green chartreuse, Jägermeister, Zwack Unicum… Wait, don’t throw away! (I’m joking!) Finish: quite long, herbal, spicy, pleasantly bitterish. Sometimes bitterness is very nice, sometimes it’s repulsive. A matter of proportions I guess. It’s perfect here. Comments: great selection, bottled just before it could have started to become ‘too late’ in my opinion. SGP:361 - 90 points.
(with thanks to Geert, Konstantin and Olivier)

More distillery data Our tastings: all bottlings that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: maybe she hasn't got the strongest jazz voice ever but her sax makes it. She's Sweden's Sofi Hellborg, doing Maybe I Was Dreaming (from her 2008 CD Drumming is Calling). Please buy Sofi Hellborg's music!

Sofi Hellborg

April 18, 2011



Seven 1998 Laphroaig à la hussarde

A la hussarde means something like 'recklessly' and is an expression that dates back to Napoleonic times, when we Alsatians used to speak only Alsatian while we were already part of France. So Napoléon's ministers were complaining about the fact that our ancestors refused to learn French and the diminutive emperors answered this: “let them speak their language, as long as they sabre the French way!” So, these Laphroaigs will be tasted 'à la hussarde’ (the hussar-way) because I'm late with my Laphroaigs anyway, and because I just cannot let them invade my shelves any further! So, let's 'kill' seven of them, à la Alsatian hussar.


Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 (46%, Signatory for Waldhaus am See, cask #700347, 857 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: a rather rich young Laphroaig, with a lot of brine and a moderate peatiness. Some soot as well, patchouli, smoked fish, old dry white wine (riesling) and motor oil. Perfect. Mouth: creamy, rich, peaty, very phenolic. We aren't too far from some older versions of the official 10 CS, without the tropical notes (no passion fruits or mango here). Excellent nonetheless. Finish: long, with more lemon and sweet candied ginger. Comments: wow, this is excellently rich. A great alternative to the usually sharper and zestier 1997-2000 Laphroaigs. SGP:457 - 90 points.

Laphroaig Whisky cask

Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 (46%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon cask) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: much more 'narrow' and austere, ultra-clean, ultra-classic Laphroaig. Peat, almond oil, seaweed and lemon juice. Mouth: an easy, sweet, almondy and sooty Laphroaig, probably a little more medicinal and mineral. Some green apples too, kippers... Finish: long, sharp, peaty. Comments: an ultra-classic young Laphroaig in its naked glory. There are many out there, but they're all very good. SGP:347 - 86 points.


Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 (59.6%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon cask) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: much more closed than the 46, almost mute for a while. Having said that, there's more vanilla. More farmy notes as well after a while. With water: very similar to the above 46%. Maybe a tad more medicinal? Mouth: ultra-punchy, fruity and acrid at the same time. Wham-bam peat and such. With water: same whisky as the version at 46% vol. Finish: long, rather candied. Smoked lemons and kippers? Comments: it's a youngish Laphroaig, that is to say a great whisky. SGP:448 - 87 points.


Laphroaig 10 yo 1998/2009 (57.1%, Whiskybase, bourbon hogshead, 113 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a tad silent, sharp, very mineral, ashy and slightly lemony. Also a lot of antiseptic and mercurochrome. Unexpected hints of roses. With water: more soot, metal polish, ashes and garden bonfire. Sharply smoky indeed. Also wet dogs (sorry, dogs). Mouth (neat): excellent, ultra-classic, extremely satisfying and uncomplicated Laphroaig. Soot, ashes, brine, kippers, cider apples and bitter almonds. With water: a little sweeter. Candied ginger, lemon marmalade and sweet spices. Excellent. Finish: long, balanced, candied and peaty. A little pine sap and cough syrup and a very ashy aftertaste. Comments: as good as it gets at this age. SGP:458 - 89 points.


Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2011 (57.2%, James MacArthur, bourbon, cask #700233) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: a little blocked by the high alcohol. Whiffs of sawdust? With water: ah, it's the closest to raw peated barley so far. I must say I like that, it smells just like when you're touring the distillery. Mouth (neat): a rather fruitier version (when compared with the Whisky Fair), with notes of cherries and apples and rather less kippery notes. Still, it's very briny and smoky. With water: more soot and ashes and brine and smoke but the cherry-like fruitiness never really goes away. Finish: quite long, with earthy and rooty tones. Gentian. Comments: all right. Love the gentiany notes - don't some people say that gentian smells like a hospital? Medicinal indeed... SGP:358 - 87 points.


Laphroaig 1998/2011 (59.6%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #700272, 152 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: somewhere between the Whisky Fair and the James MacArthur. Hints of muscovado sugar, vanilla, a little antiseptic... With water: same 'close to the barley' feeling as with the James MacArthur, although this is a tad rounder and more vanilled. More coastal notes as well, sea breeze... Mouth (neat): the roundest and the sweetest so far, but it's very peaty as well - and certainly no round and sweet whisky (are you sure you're all right, S.?). Custard, a little honey, soot, ashes, tar and lemon liqueur. Slightly earthy too. With water: gets a little simpler, maybe a little too candied and vanilled? It's as if water had lowered the Laphroaigness - so to speak. But excellent it remains... Finish: long, with more pepper this time, and even chillies. Comments: a rollercoaster of a Laphroaig. Not very coherent, but very entertaining. Isn't that the corollary? SGP:557 - 87 points.


Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 (59.9%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon hogshead) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: more or less in the style of the Whisky Fair version, only a little earthier. Austere. With water: wow, even more austere! Exhaust pipes and Perrier. Mouth (neat): superb earthiness in this one! Quite some mint as well, liquorice... And it's a powerhouse. So, with water: oh yes! There's this magnificent combination of fresh lemon juice, kippers and smoked salmon, cigar ashes and oysters that's so beautiful in some Laphroaigs. And the peatiness is mega-huge. Finish: extremely long, lemony, peppery, ashy... Comments: a triple bang here. A true peat monster, but not only that. SGP: - 91 points.

Conclusion: the Waldhaus and the Whisky Fair were 'the best easiest' while the Whisky Agency was the most brutal - yet my favourite.Hussar indeed. Reminds me of a Kawasaki H2 that I used to ride from time to time quite some decades ago... So, all great whiskies 'of course' but the problem with such a session is that even some triple-XXX-end-of-the-world chillies will now taste like marshmallows for at least three days. Only the newest Octomore may 'climb over' such a session but I haven't got it yet... Raaaah.

More distillery data Our tastings: all bottlings that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: warning, I put my hands on an old hard disk of mine that I haven't been connecting for ages. Loads of rare old stuff on that one, including Alain Markusfeld's Le Gluemour (recorded 1973). The good old days, really! Please buy Alain Markusfeld's music...


April 17, 2011



Tasting two sister casks of Miltonduff

Of the 30+ Miltonduffs I could taste so far, only two 1966s made it to 90+ in my book. Maybe that’ll change today?

Miltonduff 30 yo 1980/2011 (44.5%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon, cask #12427, 240 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a sweet nose all on vanilla, apple compote and light ‘breakfast’ honey, with only touches of liquorice and wormwood in the background. Al little porridge as well, bananas, muesli, touches of mint… It’s an easy-going nose, rather soft and pretty delicate. Mouth: sweet, more expressive than on the nose, starting with a little butter, vanilla and several sweet spices. A curry? Good body but a profile that’s maybe not hyper-defined, so to speak. A little lemon grass as well, white pepper, touches of grapefruits, candy sugar… A little green oak as well. Finish: medium long, with a little more ginger, pepper, vanilla and lemon. A maltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: very good in my opinion but maybe it’s a little ‘blurred’, with little aromas really standing out. SGP:331 - 85 points.

Miltonduff 1980/2011 (44.7%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #12429, 259 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: a little more happening in this one on the nose, with a slightly bigger grassiness, more herbs and soft spices. Quite some apples again, green bananas, coriander, some fresh parsley, white wine (un-oaked chardonnay), caraway and only some faint yoghurty notes. Nice nose. Mouth: once again, more oomph in this one, with more citrus fruits, oranges and apples. A little more vanilla as well, more spices… The pepper is bigger, for example. Also something faintly sour. Yoghurt and apple sauce? Finish: rather long, with more dry notes. Cinnamon and touches of herbal liqueur. Comments: I like this one a little better because it’s got a little more oomph and a profile that’s rather better defined, but both are very close. SGP:441 - 86 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all bottlings that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: it can happen that on Sundays, someone feels a sudden need for Schubert. This is Christa Ludwig singing a sublime Der Hirt auf dem Felsen D965 in 1966, with British clarinettist Gervase de Peyer and Australian pianist Geoffrey Parsons. Please buy all the music of these extraordinary musicians.

Christa Ludwig

April 15, 2011


Allt A Bhainne

Tasting two sherried Allt-A-Bhainne

Allt-A-Bhainne (or Allt à Bhainne, or Allt A’Bhainne) is seldom bottled as a single malt. Time to try two expressions today, knowing that out of the only 13 versions I’ve tried so far, only one made it to 80 points, a 1991 by G&M.

Allt-A-Bhainne 17 yo 1993/2010 (57.9%, James MacArthur, sherry, cask #40658) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts quite nicely, on an unusual combination of bubblegum and chalk, with some aniseed and maybe even wormwood in the background. There’s also a little Seville orange, hints of fresh oak and quite some liquorice wood. It’s pretty nice so far and easily ‘nosable’ at almost 58% vol. The sherry is pleasantly nervous. With water: more grass and more herbs, all that being very nice. Chives, parsley… More sweet sherry as well, orange marmalade, touches of pepper and faint whiffs of ‘farmyard after the rain’. Some vanilla as well. Yes, it’s a nice one. Mouth (neat): punchy, very fruity, with some bubblegum again, marshmallows, orange drops and zests (lots) and yet again a little aniseed. Very strong. With water: it became much smoother, rather perfectly balanced, with everything from some oranges and always these grassy notes. Finish: long, with even more oranges and only touches of green pepper. Comments: a nice, clean sherry cask. Takes water very well! My favourite Allt-A-Bhainne so far – but then again, I didn’t try many. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Allt-A-Bhainne 1980 (60.5%, Cadenhead, white label, +/-1993) Three stars Colour: full gold. Nose: whaah! Starts on long abandoned cow stable and quite some wine vinegar, then we have new plastic (supermarket pouches as we had a few years ago), aspirin tablets, the same chalkiness as in the 1993, some spearmint, some chocolate, rotting oranges, herbs, game, oyster sauce… Once again it isn’t really brutal despite the high strength but it’s really, well, unusual. With water: it became even more farmy and gamy. There’s also much more mint, lemon, leather and flints/gunpowder. Quite rebellious, so to speak… Mouth (neat): rich, creamy and certainly less unusual than on the nose. A powerful tannicity, cardamom, grass, bitter oranges, truckloads of liquorice and touches of caramel. Quite a beast, this one! With water: it became rather beautiful albeit quite simple, all on pepper and orange zests. If you like the bitter kind of sherry… Finish: long, very peppery. Comments: a very wacky/dirty sherry cask! Full of imperfections in my opinion but I won’t deny it’s got ‘something’. The palate was surprisingly excellent once reduced. SGP:552 - 80 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all bottlings that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some greasy funk blues today with Syl Johnson advising Don't Do It! sometime in the 1970s. Please buy Syl Johnson's music.

Syl Johnson

April 2011 - part 1 <--- April 2011 - part 2 ---> May 2011 - part 1

heck the index of all entries:
Nick's Concert Reviews



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Dallas Dhu 28 yo 1981/2010 (55.8%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Hogshead, cask #423, 130 bottles)

Glen Albyn 18 yo (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy, +/-1980)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 (59.9%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon hogshead)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 (46%, Signatory for Waldhaus am See, cask #700347, 857 bottles)