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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2019 - Part 1


March 2019 - part 2 <--- April 2019 - part 1 ---> April 2019 - part 2


April 14, 2019



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!


Plastic surgery (Da doo rum rum)

Indeed, recycling my stupidest jokes. Now I have excuses, as I’ve got quite some flak sent to me because I had kind of liked Stroh 80 last time. Go blog about booze, they once said (before anyone called that ‘blogging’)…

Ron Espero ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)

Ron Espero ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)
By jove, some Dominican rum! I’m totally sure our friends over there are capable of making some excellent rum, but it seems that their production has been kind of hijacked by some crazy brand-builders who know that everything the general public wants is sugar. Now, with a name like Espero, there's still hope... Colour: gold. That’s nice. Nose: sawdust, coconut and vanilla, that’s less nice. Can you bourbonise rum too? That’s all, folks. Mouth: some horrible coconut and banana liqueur. Weak, poor, watery, extremely light. Finish: a kind of sugary sourness that would wreck your teeth. I’m sure the makers are in league with Colgate. Comments: madre de dios, is this bad!
SGP:810 - 29 points.

While we’re doing sugars…

Plantation Trinidad ‘Original Dark’ (40%, Plantation, Trinidad, +/-2018)

Plantation Trinidad ‘Original Dark’ (40%, Plantation, Trinidad, +/-2018)
This is ‘double aged’, you understand. What’s this new trick? And I have to say I never quite understood why my dear compatriots at Plantation/Ferrand always felt this compulsory need to bury the finest rums under tons of sugar (granted, or proprietary secret sugary sauces – if anyone says ‘but Champagne does it too’ again I’ll reach for my gun – sadly I haven’t got any gun). Even if, granted again, Joe Public keeps begging for sugar. I may have just given the answer, right. Colour: gold. Nose: very lovely nose, phenolic, petroly, very cane-y, almost perfect. A lot of tar, plastics, oils, in short, what we like in rum. Very well selected, Plantation! Mouth: good, there is some sugar, too much sugar, any added sugar is ‘too much’ anyway, but there are nice flavours underneath… But sadly, it becomes bittersweet, sour/sweet, vulgar, and simply bad. They wrecked another fine juice, I’m afraid. Finish: medium, sour, sweet, cloying. Comments: makes me think of that other guy who bought a wonderful ‘69 Porsche 911 and immediately changed the air intakes, added some custom-style spoilers, and painted it green and pink.
SGP:741 - 49 points.

Legendario ‘Dorado’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2018)

Legendario ‘Dorado’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2018)
We know what 38% means, it means junk. But onwards with hurrahs and glory, we fear nothing, especially since this is genuinely Cuban, while we love Cuba and the Cubans! (save your breath, S….) Oh while we’re at it, next time you’re in La Havana, go to the Saratoga Hotel, climb to the bar (not the rooftop) and ask for the Cuban whisky. They still have half a bottle, while the juice has become extremely rare. Anyway… Colour: gold. Nose: ermnlmnrsm… In general, sweet spirits do not exactly smell sweet. But this one does, it actually reeks of burnt sugars and assorted warm molasses. Which doesn’t bode well… Mouth: ah, no, it’s not that terrible. Some coffee, cane juice, Kahlua or Tia Maria, burnt cake… But it falls apart and gets too sugary indeed. Very weak structure, needs a lot of ice. Finish: short, but with nice caramel and liquorice. Comments: this is not our beloved Santiago De Cuba 11 yo, by far, but there is something honest to this humble little rum, even if I’d say the brand’s 'Añejo Blanco' is much better (WF 77).
SGP:420 - 62 points.

Look, something’s really bugging me with that Plantation Trinidad, let’s give the brand another chance…

Plantation Jamaica 2002 (42%, Plantation, +/-2016)

Plantation Jamaica 2002 (42%, Plantation, +/-2016) one star and a half
They call this one ‘grand terroir’, so I suppose it’s fully true to its origins, that is to say long-fermented, batch-distilled and, above all, natural and fully un-doctored. I believe it’s a blend of Long Pond and Clarendon. Colour: light gold. Nose: rather wonderful, full of olive brine, pickled fruits, gherkins, fermenting oranges, some tar, some liquorice, notes of tinned anchovies… In short, it’s pretty terroiry indeed and shock-full of Jamaican goodness. Very well composed, Plantation! Mouth: well well well, the arrival is rather nice indeed, very Jamaican, estery, with fermented fruits again and just the right amounts of olive-y brine, tapenade and even tar and earth. Beetroots (old Napo would have enjoyed this). But then, the expected and much feared sugary treatment starts to creep out and slowly invade your palate, leaving an unpleasant sugary feel. Like if someone would have served you one espresso with four or five sugar cubes inside. Now the good news is that they seem to have showed a bit of self-restraint with this one, or maybe is it the characterful distillate that manages to stay afloat? Finish: short, sadly sugary. That does not work at all. Comments: we’ve seen much, much worse and more liqueury, but once again, the sugar feels. But this time, it’s not exactly a Frankenstein of rum. Phew…
SGP:731 - 69 points.

Yeah, phew, I think we need a little pick-me-up...

J. Bally 2005 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2017)

J. Bally 2005 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2017) Four stars
Other vintages have been excellent in my book and would usually cruise along the 85-mark. Not talking about the single casks at cask strength, some were brilliant, a few excessively oaky but that’s only my own opinion. Anyway, let’s check what the French do better… Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather wonderful, perfectly balanced, with strictly nothing in excess. In other words, there’s just the right amount of cane juice, of praline, of vanilla, or oranges, of pineapples and mangos, of oak spices (ginger and cinnamon), and of tobacco and chocolate. Indeed, balance is the keyword here. Certainly not an ‘in-your-face’ rum, which is very refreshing, philosophically speaking. Mouth: indeed, no mad doctor rum, rather a grassy, very cane-y, earthy, and extremely liquorice-y rhum. We’re talking natural liquorice. That creates a feeling of very earthy menthol, perhaps mezcal and gentian, with a lovely freshness. I enjoy this a lot, we’re close to malt-whiskydom. Finish: medium, sweeter and spicier. We’re talking Grand-Marnier with cloves and ginger. More oak in the aftertaste, that had to happen. Comments: very good, I think, complex and elegant. I really enjoy all the liquorice, but naturally, should you hate liquorice, you’d better turn to something else.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Once more, with rum and unless you already know a little bit, watch out for any heavy sugaring – or first talk to your doctor (no, not to the friendly brand ambassadors!)

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


April 13, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Tamdhu Old And New
There’s been worse titles I suppose...


Tamdhu 15 yo (43%, OB, 1980s)

Tamdhu 15 yo (43%, OB, 1980s)
I’ve always liked this bottling, Serge wrote notes for a German market version back in 2006 and gave it no less than 90 points. So, let’s have a crack at this UK version. Colour: light amber. Nose: harmonic is the word with these old Tamdhus. A beautiful and elegant entanglement of sultanas, raisins, pastries, soft waxes, herbal teas, resins, furniture polish and a few syrupy old fruit liqueurs. A leafy and tobacco-accented sherry runs beneath and holds everything together with aplomb. Some subtle notes of old Cognac surface after a while. Mouth: surprising richness and texture for 43%, it’s also surprisingly towards coffee sweets, caramel wafters, coconut, vanilla custard, mint choc chip and wee hints of hessian cloth, rancio and darjeeling tea. More leafy earthy tones, more tobacco, more soft dark fruit notes. Beautiful old school, gently sherried malt whisky. Finish: long and with a brittle spiciness encased in waxes, honeycomb, green and mint teas, a few soft tropical fruit notes and a little white pepper. Comments: I cannot disagree.
SGP: 661 - 90 points.



Tamdhu ‘Dalbeallie Dram’ (62.1%, OB for Speyside Whisky Festival, sherry, 1000 bottles)
Named after a local train station apparently; a bit of story with little detail - welcome to Scotch Whisky in 2019. Colour: amber. Nose: modern sherry, lots of pencil shavings and ginger bread, some rather nice darker fruits as well. Black cherries, boozy trifle, a little hot dry earthiness. With water: some flowers (lilies) and mocha with praline, cheap milk chocolate, leaf mulch and redcurrants. Still rather dry and woody. Mouth: pretty hot and with more of these pencil shavings up front. New wood, plasticine, cocoa, green wood, bark, pine resin, some cherry cola cubes. With water: paprika, black pepper, turmeric - pretty spicy but still a bit tough and dry with a sawdusty aspect. Not too pleasurably if I’m honest. Finish: medium in length, earthy, dry, a little sooty and some more graphite, pencil shavings and black tea. Comments: The older one just crushes this new high strength NAS. This one really feels like it’s been almost bullied by these modern ‘sherry’ casks - it’s miles away from the balance and harmony of the 15. It’s not terrible, it just feels a bit unbalanced and there isn’t a huge amount to enjoy here I find.
SGP: 571 - 77 points.



In retrospect we could have called this session ‘Tamdhu and Tamdon’t’.



Thanks Jon!




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


April 12, 2019


Kids in America

Ah, Kim Wilde… … … Now back to American whisky, the problem is similar to that of Ireland or Japan, unless you’re a deep expert you’re never sure whether it’s the name of a proper distillery that’s on the label, or just a very stupid brand slapped on a bastard bottle with some sourced spirit inside (which can make for good whisky, naturally, but there).

McAffee’s Benchmark Bourbon ‘Old Number 8’ (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2018)

McAffee’s Benchmark Bourbon ‘Old Number 8’ (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2018) Two stars
A big number such as an ‘8’ on a label, sure that smells of dirty tactics, but you never know… This is made by Buffalo Trace, apparently. Colour: gold. Nose: fine, easy, nicely spicy and vanilla-ed, with a bready background and some easy whiffs of gingerbread. Also, maple syrup and all-flower honey. A fine, simple nose, no complains so far. Mouth: crushed bananas, vanilla, then softer spices, sweet bread, popcorn, and some gingerbread again. Sadly, it’s all very thin, there isn’t much body and that’s the low strength. Finish: short, with some marmalade, caramel and cinnamon. A sugary touch in the aftertaste, as well as these wee touches of lavender that are often to be encountered in younger bourbons. Comments: very okay, easy, well made, no complains. So, 8 years old indeed?
SGP:430 - 76 points.

Ezra Brooks ‘White Label’ (40%, OB, Blended Whiskey, +/-2018)

Ezra Brooks ‘White Label’ (40%, OB, Blended Whiskey, +/-2018)
Remember Heaven Hill’s Ezra Brooks is officially some ‘Honestly Handcrafted Bourbon’. Not very motivating if you ask me, but it’s cheap, so let’s go… By the way, everybody says it’s a bourbon, but this label says ‘Blended Whiskey’ while some older labels used to say ‘Bourbon Whiskey’. But then again, it’s very cheap…  Colour: gold. Nose: oh my, the Benchmark was a miracle, this is extremely modest, with whiffs of new plank and vanillin, low liqueurs… And that’s pretty all, I’m afraid. Mouth: sugar syrup, sawdust, candy floss, vanillin. Very thin. Finish: almost none. 7up, perhaps? Comments: not ‘flawed’ or ‘bad’, but as far as flavours and aromas go, it’s severely impaired, this poor little El-Cheapo. Why they would export this, I have no idea.
SGP:510 - 50 points.

Woodford Reserve ‘Double Oaked’ (43.2%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2018)

Woodford Reserve ‘Double Oaked’ (43.2%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2018) Three stars
Double Oaked? I mean, have they used some new oak twice? That’s extremely scary and frankly, pretty repulsive. Worrying for sure, but let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: vanilla on eleven, caramel on twelve, and fresh sawdust on thirteen. Violets and oranges rather on ten. The worst part is that I rather like this, and that I feel a little shame, consequently. But shh, I ain’t tell you nothing. Mouth: yeah well, indeed I hate it that I rather like it, despite the massive amounts of sawdust. Losing your self-esteem is never good, but there, I had said I would just write what I think, some time back around the year 2000, so there. Burnt caramel, vanilla and oak in perfect sync. Pretty regressive, probably, and I might need to wear a hood if I ever order this in a bar or a pub, but there, yes, I like it. Need to call my analyst. Finish: medium, on huge amounts of fudge and caramel. Comments: the equivalent to a Big Mac with triple bacon and double cheese. You just despise the idea, and yet, when you’re alone and no one can see you…
SGP:720 - 80 points.

Widow Jane 10 yo (45.5%, OB, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, cask #1791, 2018)

Widow Jane 10 yo (45.5%, OB, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, cask #1791, 2018) Two stars
Widow Jane, is that a widow as in Veuve Clicquot? Looks like this is sourced whisky with a good story, good marketeers, good distributors, and friendly staff. Oh and this is New York City, baby. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather fresh, rather on the oaky side (as expected), and pretty self-restrained, almost ‘malt’ at times. And yet you feel the rye, notes of maize bread, butterscotch, baked apples with a lot of butter and caramel, and earthier grains, not too sure about which ones. Some very nice notes of honey sauce, or very moist molasse-y pipe tobacco in the back. Mouth: much more on bonbons, lavender, violets, orange drops, cranberry juice, and sawdust. Pomegranates. Oaky/spicy background, without full integration. Finish: medium, sugary and liqueury. Loses a lot of points at this stage. Sour fruits plus sawdust, Belgian kriek beer... Comments: could be that the nasty and sexy Woodford Reserve killed this one a wee bit. Totally love NYC, though.
SGP:630 - 75 points.

Evan Williams 2010/2018 'Single Barrel' (43.3%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey)

Evan Williams 2010/2018 'Single Barrel' (43.3%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey) Two stars and a half
Aren’t these getting younger? Ten, nine, eight, some even seven… Hope they’ll stop at, say five. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s the oaky style, displaying huge amounts of fresh sawdust, vanillin, corn syrup, then rather fir cones and the usual cinnamon cakes. It’s actually pretty shy beyond that, as if the distillate was almost silent. It’s a style, as Leonardo used to say. Mouth: good bourbon, easy, softly spicy, oaky of course (cinnamon, vanilla, yada yada yada), and relatively shy, once again. I mean, beyond the massive amounts of sawdust. Sucking wood. Finish: short and extremely plankish. Caramel and corn syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: quite good but it’s the weakness that puzzles me. Sweet oak 10 – Distillate 0.
SGP:620 - 77 points.

Okay cowboy, a last one…

William Larue Weller 12 yo (45%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2018)

William Larue Weller 12 yo (45%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2018) Three stars
More stuff by Buffalo Trace. Do you still have buffalos in America, by the way? This is a wheater, meaning that there’s much more wheat (not kidding) and less rye in the bill. Enjoyed this expression quite a lot back in 2015. Colour: deep gold. Nose: goodness gracious sweetness roundness… This is full of honey, maple syrup and buttered bananas. You cannot resist this, it is impossible. It is so simple, so easy, so nice… (despite the boring notes of coconut butter that are starting to rise to your nostrils). Mouth: a little heavy on the oak, but they all are, aren’t they. But I do enjoy this spice mix that almost gives it a wee wine-y side, which takes the biscuit (excuse me?) Mulled wine, aniseed, cinnamon, a little tapioca, even some maize flour. Now it could not climb too high in my book either, the base/spirit remaining a little sweetish and weak. But it’s very good bourbon. Finish: short, a little too oaky for me, but the caramelized side makes it. Comments: good smooth oaky stuff. The best today; I mean, my favourite.
SGP:631 - 82 points.

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


April 11, 2019


A barrow of Blair Athol

I’ve always liked Blair Athol, with its stories about old tour guides, lovely scenery, soft whisky, meadows, business mergers and acquisitions, busses, and of course black fungus. Let’s see what we have and try a few…

Blair Athol 12 yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, +/-2017)

Blair Athol 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Earlier batches have been pretty good in my opinion (like, 2005, WF 85) but the older ‘black labels’ from the 1970s were even better. In case you’re wondering, the mascot on the label is some kind of beaver, as far as I can tell. Colour: gold. Nose: liquid cake, as they would say at Pitlochry’s tearooms, where you would usually meet many very friendly ex-distillery workers and other engaging senior citizens. Brioche, Golden Grahams, almond croissants, soft malt, cigarette tobacco, shortbread… It’s really very cake-y. Mouth: in keeping of the nose, just much drier, almost bitter at times. A lot of black tea, which is very fitting isn’t it, bitter chocolate, crunching coffee beans, those sorts of things. If you like genuine ‘black’ chocolate, you’ll love this. Some dry walnut wine too, ‘ideas’ of fino sherry, etcetera. Good body at just 43%. Finish: a little short and bitter. Big maltiness in the aftertaste, as well as some wood smokiness. Comments: I believe it got drier than earlier batches over the years, not too sure. I like it anyway.
SGP:442 - 84 points.

Blair Athol 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn’s Choice, 413 bottles)

Blair Athol 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn’s Choice, 413 bottles) Three stars and a half
We should get closer to the distillate here, at this young age! Colour: light gold. Nose: this one’s even more barley-y, except that it’s also got much more vanillin. Notes of sponge cake, then stewed fruits. Peaches, plums, quinces… Quite some muesli too, which is normal. Exactly what anyone would expect from such a wee bottle. Mouth: good! Some beer, naturally (ale, bitter) and some more barley and cakes, with a layer of black tobacco and a few cloves. Some oranges as well, and something more rustic than in the F&F. Chicory? Roasted barley? Finish: rather long and pretty spicier. Cloves, a touch of aniseed. Comments: very fine, and already rather impressive at just 7. But is 7 the age of reason for malt whisky? I think not quite.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Blair Athol 14 yo 2004/2018 (59.8%, James Eadie, refill sherry, cask #99, 529 bottles)

Blair Athol 14 yo 2004/2018 (59.8%, James Eadie, refill sherry, cask #99, 529 bottles) Three stars and a half
This one could be a little brutal… Colour: straw. Nose: a lot of ethanol this time, really. It’s raw, with some varnish too, apple spirit… I suppose water is more than needed here… With water: beer again. Weissen, malt, porridge, flour… Mouth (neat): very strong, half barley-y, half-fruity. We’re talking sweets, jelly beans, and, since this is the right period, little Easter eggs. With water: exactly what you would expect from some young Highlander ex-very-refill. A lot of malt, bread, cereals, raw popcorn, even rye, and some grass in the background. Without compromises (hold on, that line rings a bell…) Finish: rather long, cereally and fruity (apples, pears, plums…) Comments: this baby did not quite feel ‘14’, but its youthful rawness works well. What’s more, you’ll find plenty of funny hipflasks at Pitlochry’s tourist shops.
SGP:441 - 83 points.

Blair Athol 30 yo 1988/2018 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry, cask #6847, 519 bottles)

Blair Athol 30 yo 1988/2018 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry, cask #6847, 519 bottles) Five stars
This one came out in December last year. Signatory have bottled quite a few stunners in their 30th Anniversary series, some completely crazy if you ask me. Let’s check this little Blair Athol (isn’t Blair Athol Edradour/Signatory’s nearest neighbour?) Colour: deep gold. Nose: of course. Mangos, honeysuckle, lime blossom, Timut pepper, pink pineapples, lightly smoked tea, whiffs of natural rubber, some umami, one small cigar and we’re done. Forgot to mention rose petals and perhaps a wee glass of Fleurie. A dazzling nose. With water: exceptionally full of the most precious tobaccos. There. Mouth (neat): superb. Quite bizarrely, it would make you think of old Bushmills at some point (those mangos that we already found on the nose), then of fresh Sauternes, with some lush apricot jam, maracuja, liquorice, dried apricots, tangerines… What a whirlwind! I’d even dare mention sémillon, but you would say I’m pushing the envelope, and perhaps you would be right. Perhaps the most extravagant Blair Athol I could try. With water: rosehip tea, Corsican citron, pink pepper, grapefruit, passion fruits… Finish: long, fresh, floral and fruity. Very solid structure. Comments: well, in fact, this one reminds me of some of those wonderful old official ‘black labels’. They share the same DNA. Just totally impeccable.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

(Merci Fabien)

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


April 10, 2019


A bunch of GlenDronach

What’s cooking at GlenDronach? Let’s see…

GlenDronach 15 yo ‘Revival’ (46%, OB, 2018)

GlenDronach 15 yo ‘Revival’ (46%, OB, 2018) Three stars
That’s right, the newer batch of the popular 15 Revival, a.k.a. the revived Revival, which we haven’t tasted yet, most regrettably (boo). Could be that there was a little bit of apprehension since I used to love the earlier batches of the Revival (no less than WF 92 in 2009). Colour: full gold, so lighter than the first Revivals, which were amber. Nose: well, I like this, it’s full of quince jelly, dried figs, pipe tobacco, smoky raisins and roasted nuts. What it does not have anymore is this combination of camphory and meaty notes that used to make the Revival extra-complex. So, the newer one is rather more ‘focused’, I would say, without being monolithic. Mouth: a very leathery arrival, peppery, and green. Then some burnt sugar, tobacco, grass, oaked plum spirit… And more leather. Did they finish this baby in goatskin? Finish: medium, maltier, with some sherry and tobacco. Green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: rather good whisky for sure, but I would say it kind of fell in line. Nothing to do with the older Revival, but it’s true that, as rumour used to have it, the older 15 was actually much older (than 15). Nah, I’m rather a little disappointed, there.
SGP:362 - 81 points.

Let’s see what

GlenDronach ‘Cask Strength’ (55.3%, OB, batch 7, 2018)

GlenDronach ‘Cask Strength’ (55.3%, OB, batch 7, 2018) Two stars
Well, there’s some PX again in this one. Not that I would like to insist too much but to me, heavily PXed whiskies are like M&S’s Cheese Rollitos. Apologies. Now 2015’s Batch 5 was very good (WF 86) so there’s hope… Colour: gold. Nose: varnish, curry, crushed cherries, new humidor, IKEA, grass, peach leaves, green coffee beans. Wood not well integrated, it seems, but water should help… With water: no. Some soapy touches that wouldn’t go away (while they usually do under these circumstances). Feels really too raw and young. Mouth (neat): orange squash, pepper, green leaves and stems, bitter oak, raw all-fruit spirit (tutti frutti, but you couldn’t even make a song here). Hard, almost painful. With water: a bit better, just a bit. Some oranges coming out – oranges would save many malt whiskies. Finish: medium, bitter, green, raw. Comments: rather disappointed again, let’s wait for Batch 8. But should we taste Batch 8?
SGP:361 - 74 points.

Uh-oh… Que pasa ? Did new owners Brown-Forman change something? No good stock left? But let’s persevere and use a little trick…

GlenDronach 21 yo ‘Parliament’ (48%, OB, +/-2018)

GlenDronach 21 yo ‘Parliament’ (48%, OB, +/-2018) Four stars
Yeah well, this one’s been patched with PX as well, but the age sounds right. I used to have this 21 at around WF 85. Colour: deep gold. Nose: strictly nothing to do with the two poorer ones. There’s proper heather honey here, as well as some pipe tobacco, dried figs and sultanas, melon liqueur, apricot jam, even bananas flambéed, cinnamon cake, a little maple syrup… So, it’s much rounder, almost a little liqueury it seems, but let’s see what happens on our palates… Mouth: it is a little unusual for it has a very discreet metallic and bittersweet touch at first, before it gets grassier and much drier than what the nose suggested. More plum spirit, vieille prune, sloe… And after thirty seconds, it would become jammy again, rounder, with many raisins and mirabelle jam. Tends to get much spicier then. Heavy cinnamon from the oak. Finish: rather long, caramelized, with more oak spices as well as some bitter chocolate. Cloves, allspice… Comments: I used to prefer the Revival over the Parliament, by far. Looks like things have changed and went back to some kind of normality.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Well, I also had a whole pile of single casks to taste today but I think I’ve spent too much energy already. Next time, if you don’t mind.

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


April 9, 2019


How about some Port Ellen?

Because long time no new Port Ellen on little WF (come on, any excuses!) Well, it’s true that there was no Special Release in 2018, only some official single casks for pushy billionaires here and there. But Signatory Vintage have come to the rescue, which I find amazing! Now, first the usual aperitif if you don’t mid…

Port Ellen 15 yo 1974/1990 (40%, Antica Casa Marchesi Spinola)

Port Ellen 15 yo 1974/1990 (40%, Antica Casa Marchesi Spinola) Two stars
Okay, I’ve tried this one before, but thought it was pretty bad, back in 2007 (WF 75). Time to revisit it from another bottle, don’t you think? It’s G&M stock imported by Sestante (very strange people at that time) and sold on to an enoteca if I’m not mistaken. The Spinolas are a huge family over there in Italy. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very typical, partly medicinal and partly floral, which creates a funny combination. I almost wrote ‘combinazzione’. Petrol, earth, tarmac, old magazines, brake pad, moss, old pu-erh tea, then a tropical development akin to that of an old Laphroaig, with mangos and perhaps a touch a tamarind… Now it’s also very light, almost evanescent, which isn’t very common with Port Ellen, even when bottled at 40% vol. Let’s check the palate… Mouth: well, no, it’s a little disjointed, and that’s not because of the low strength. A lot of cardboard, the feeling of drinking ink, some stale lapsang souchong, and a layer of caramel that just feels wrong here. Not that that used to be unseen with these batches at that time, but different time, different values. It’s all a bit of a shame because there are also wonderful notes of crushed sardines, tarry teas, salted fudge, or baked oysters. Finish: rather short, but very salty, as if you’ve just had chowder. Sadly, the aftertaste rather shelters notes of plastic. Comments: I could change my score by one or two points, but why bother?
SGP:346 - 75 points.

Good, I think we’re ready…

Port Ellen 35 yo 1982/2018 (55.1%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #2040, 567 bottles)

Port Ellen 35 yo 1982/2018 (55.1%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #2040, 567 bottles) Five stars
Paw! Colour: straw. Yes, only straw, greatest of news. Nose: there are three words in the name of the cask: refill, sherry, and butt. The one that’s important is ‘refill’, in my opinion. Indeed, there’s no embarrassing raisins in sight, no half-sulphur, no prunes on a binge, and no unnecessary spices. Rather a very subtle, almost whispering coastalness, with ideas of langoustines, kelp, crab, drops of petrol, and the most complex softer olive oil, the one that’s made out of those small pink olives, the name escapes me. Wonderful complexity here. With water: charcoal, beach bonfire, cigar smoke, lanoline, paraffin… It remains rather incredibly soft and elegant. Hope the palate won’t have gotten weak and flat (yeah right). Mouth (neat): well, given the soft nose, I had thought the palate would be easy and almost smooth indeed. I lose, game, set and match. In truth this is a wonderful example of a Port Ellen that became akin to some kind of peated and tarred limoncello. Add bits of seashells and olives, and there, you have it. Indeed, it’s not a matter of complexity, it’s a matter of cohesion and fullness. With water: please call the Anti-maltoporn Brigade, sofort! Once again, it’s not spectacular, it’s not very complex, it’s not even loud on the markers (tar and such), it’s just a splendid, perfectly chiseled whole. Port Ellen. Finish: and there, it gets more extravagant, more citrusy, almost youthful. Only there, in the aftertaste, we shall feel one or two raisins from the sherry. Comments: seriously, it’s incredible that it would have remained this vibrant, despite the thirty-five years in that old butt. But then again, it was refill…
SGP:467 - 93 points.

Good, after the aperitif and the plat de résistance, perhaps a digestif? Let’s check what we still have in the yet-untasted PE box… Oh, more sherry, for example…

Port Ellen 28 yo 1982/2010 (59%, Jack Wiebers, The Cross Hill, sherry cask, 122 bottles)

Port Ellen 28 yo 1982/2010 (59%, Jack Wiebers, The Cross Hill, sherry cask, 122 bottles) Five stars
Sadly, I believe this was only a sherry finish, but you never know… Colour: full gold. Nose: ah well, this has some oomph and some knack! It is not very ‘PE’, rather rounder, full, rather going towards modern Laphroaig as far as styles are concerned, with this vanilla cinnamon and ginger mixed with a rather raw peatiness. It’s really beautiful and full, even if it feels a tad ‘pumped-up’ indeed. That’s the finishing. With water: cool, the coastalness comes out. Swimming pool (includes chlorine), mentholated custard, fresh almond paste, fresh walnuts… And good news, a sherry that behaves! Rather feels like manzanilla, actually. Mouth (neat): whaaat! It’s totally not Port Ellen, but it’s spectacular whisky, the 100 percent opposite of Signatory’s latest effort. Thick spices, peat, teas, tobacco, leather, more leather, even more leather… We’re almost sucking new cowboy boots here, and that works. Whaaat!? With water: what, some Swiss cheese? While that would work? I so hate it to like a finished PE this much. And it’s not even a complex one, it’s even pretty vulgar. Despicable. Ridiculous. Totally unbalanced. And yet totally marvelous. Finish: yeah, oak. Comments: at some point you need to just trust your nose and taste buds, and stop overanalyzing your whisky. While in the word ‘overanalyzing’, there is…
SGP:557 - 92 points.

(Gracias mucho Angus, Greg and Paul)

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


April 8, 2019



Wee battles, today Kilchoman

Angus has sent this little tasting note for us to retaliate. Some Scottish friend mailing some notes from Scotland about a Scotch whisky done for some Scots, doesn't all that rather make sense?



Kilchoman 2006/2017 10 yo (54.3%, OB private cask for Nation Of Scots, cask #329, bourbon, 226 bottles)

Kilchoman 2006/2017 10 yo (54.3%, OB private cask for Nation Of Scots, cask #329, bourbon, 226 bottles)
I’ve no idea what ‘Nation Of Scots’ is, well, apart from actual ‘Scotland’. Colour: white wine. Nose: an excellent and rather sweet and syrupy peatiness. Some tar extract, sardines in oil, kiln smoke, burning heather, kippers, BBQ charcoal and English mustard powder (sorry Nation Of Scots). Treads a fine but compelling line between the seashore, the peat bog and the farmyard. I find it pretty excellent. Develops some nice mechanical notes like WD40, engine oil and hints of boiler smoke. There’s also some cow shed, chimney soot and coastal inflections such as wet beach pebbles and sea shells. With water: a softer smokiness now, more subtle mineral aspects, bath salts, chalk, hessian, grass, mint and squid ink. Keeps developing this very fragrant, fresh, heathery and medical profile. Really excellent. Mouth: pure, ashy, lemony crystalline peat. Really quite big, emphatic and powerful. Preserved lemons in brine, also olive oil, antiseptic, mercurochrome, salt water, seaweed and caraway distillate. What I love is that it’s very much its own character, it doesn’t make you think of any of the other more well established Islay makes. With water: very briny, salty, sooty and smoky now. Some anchovy paste, black olives, dried rosemary, cod liver oil and aniseed. Getting towards a more classical and general ‘Islay’ profile now, but still excellent. Finish: long and with lots of deep peat and wood smoke, putty, ash, tar, embrocations, ozone, smoked fish and cigar ash. Pretty briny and coastal in the aftertaste. Comments: It seems that Kilchoman at 10 years of age is really starting to find its feet. I love that this one really has its own style apart from just ‘modern generic peaty whisky’ which I think is an easy trap to fall into. Great work Anthony and team!
SGP: 377 - 90 points.




Okay, thank you Angus. So, proper retaliation, let’s see… Perhaps this older wee celebratory bottling that I haven’t tasted properly yet?...

Kilchoman ‘10th anniversary’ (58.2%, OB, 3000 bottles, 2015)

Kilchoman ‘10th anniversary’ (58.2%, OB, 3000 bottles, 2015) Four stars
A slightly tricky bottle as it says ‘2005-2015’, which could make us believe it’s a 9 or 10 years old of some sorts while it’s actually a vatting of several vintages from 2005 to 2012. Including a part, if not the totality of the very first cask. It’s a mix of sherry and bourbon casks – hope no PX, let’s pray…  Colour: straw. Nose: we’re bathing in a large bucket of peated porridge, while someone’s just bought some new Wellies and someone else is having a large glass of Ardbeg Ten in the neighborhood. With water: really a lot of vanilla, custard coming out. Banana cake, perhaps, some milk chocolate, whiffs of pot ale, more ashes, charcoal, almost a basaltic character at times… Mouth (neat): got to like this very oily texture and these massive amounts of lemon juice, ashes and chalky clay. A little salt as well, but not too much. It is also very faintly bandage-y. No, bandages with an a, even if there is a little latex as well, indeed. With water: smoked grapefruits, more chalk, and much more green pepper. Plays with the insides of your cheeks. Just a wee touch of green oak. Finish: long, very peppery and smoky. Smoked green peppers, in other words. Hints of high-strength absinth in the aftertaste. Comments: a tad ‘simple’, but that could be seen as an asset in this context, after all it’s very young malt whisky on average. And very peaty.
SGP:467 - 86 points.

Angus, looks like you won this one.

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


April 7, 2019


Another bag of Armagnac

Armagnac is growing on us, isn’t it… It’s true that there are many more good ones, while only twenty years ago, it was rather all about boisé and ‘Sunday sauces’. Let’s see what we have…
Old add for Armagnac, circa 1980. "Seriously, would you say we look like businesmen?" >>>

Château de Laubade ‘Intemporel Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Château de Laubade ‘Intemporel Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Two stars
Indeed, those 40% vol. just suck. Mesdames et Messieurs, arrêtez ça s’il-vous-plaît, ça fait vraiment pingre! Colour: full gold. Nose: towards Cognac. Melons and peaches in perfect sync, juicy golden raisins, wonderful orange blossoms, and then woosh, really nothing! Is it dead? Where did it go? Hello? This is really frustrating. Mouth: very good, on praline, butterscotch, honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, toffee, old Sauternes, rose liqueur, patchouli… And then again, it would nosedive after just one minute. Some kind of coitus interruptus, really. Finish: very short, weak, almost non-existent. Comments: splendid juice, literally murdered. If Armagnac ever wants to sit at the big kids’ table, they should just drop heavy reducing. Other than that, it’s a stunning juice (which makes me even angrier).
SGP:321 - 75 points.

Quick, more oomph!...

Domaine Loujan 2000 (46.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Domaine Loujan 2000 (46.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Yeaeaeaeah, there, this is smarter, well done folks… Yet I had never heard of Loujan, it’s the fine folks at Master of Armag… I mean, Master of Malts who have it. Colour: amber. Nose: modern Armagnac, that is to say Armagnac with vanilla and rather more tobacco. Not saying this was re-racked in newish oak, but the end result is nice anyway, going towards malt whisky, but without being too exuberant. Whiffs of old roses, orange blossom, tinned litchis, sultanas, apricots… Mouth: good for sure. Fresh, on apricots and oranges, maple syrup, a wee touch of tequila, cloves and caraway, Spanish melon liqueur (drop the cheaper stuff for tourists please), then rather quince jelly, cinnamon, walnuts, liquorice… I believe this is the right path, it’s just a little roughish. Finish: rather long, a little gritty and tannic. All the rest is rather perfect. Comments: fresh Armagnac for contemporary hipst… I mean drinkers. Well done, it’s very good.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Eenie meenie… oh sugar!...

Domaine de Baraillon 2004 (49%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Domaine de Baraillon 2004 (49%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Four stars and a half
Too early in this session, too early! And we haven’t even found a picture, so I've put one of D'Artagnan instead. But great house, Baraillon, great house. Colour: full gold. Nose: what? Coffee and tobacco? Quince jelly and roasted pecans? Butterscotch and black nougat? Is this even legal? Mouth: a tad rough(ish) but that is normal. Armagnac needs a bit of Gascon fieriness, it could never become just a smooth and soft aged spirit for lost clubbers. More black nougat, walnut cake, dark maple syrup, perhaps drops of rum molasses, Demerara sugar… It is a thick Armagnac indeed, as if they had used some deep-charred oak or something. But that’s impossible, just impossible. Finish: very long, almost malty. Some raisins. Totally malternative in any case. Comments: indeed, Armagnac for total malt enthusiasts. Some could start crying after having tried (20cl of) this, up there north of Hadrian’s Wall… In my book, it’s just a wee tad too caramelly, or it would have reached the 90 mark. Close, but no cigar.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

Château de Briat ‘La Cuvée du Baron’ (44%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Château de Briat ‘La Cuvée du Baron’ (44%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Four stars
Very cool people, reassuringly Old-France. He’s the Baron de Pichon-Longueville, mind you, Bordeaux enthusiasts may know that name. Colour: amber. Nose: wood glue and varnish at first, then roasted nuts aplenty, then cakes, then earth, then humus and mushrooms. A proper, normal, un-doctored development, absolutely not oak-doped. Cool. Mouth: fresh, fruity, slightly sour, and pretty aromatic. So, more on gewurztraminer (of course gewurztraminer isn’t allowed in Armagnac), some muscat, rose jelly, then quinces, halva, nougat, praline, and stewed peaches (that’s the sour part). Very good, simply very good. Finish: medium, extremely pleasant, fruity, slightly cake-y. Our beloved Jaffa cakes. Comments: super good, extremely quaffable, beats most similarly aged Speysiders. Perfectly malternative in any case. £60 mind you.
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Domaine de Baraillon 1998/2013 ‘Folle Blanche’ (45%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1998/2013 ‘Folle Blanche’ (45%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
Good, I know, Baraillon again. But you see, this is kind of private, and it is pure folle blanche. While folle blanche, as you may know, is the most characterful grape variety down there in Gascony. Colour: deep red amber. Nose: this should not be allowed. Some incredible blue mountain coffee, high-end marmalade (even Fortnum’s patrons couldn’t afford it), charcoal, and flowers. Ylang-ylang, orange blossom, honeysuckle… Mouth: bow and pray. Good, I’m joking, there are a few unpolished sides to this one, too much dryness, too much coffee (ground beans), too much liquorice, too much sticky pine sap, and too much chocolaty pipe tobacco. All the rest is perfect. Finish: long, dry, on coffee and chocolate. Very heavy chocolate. Comments: truly an artisanal spirit, totally un-designed, just raw, just natural. And just extremely good – and challenging at times.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

(Grazzie, Francesco)

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


April 6, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Springbank Quartet
Now that’s a good idea! Perhaps some sort of classical quartet of Springbank/Cadenhead staff should be formed. It would add a nice twist to their regular Karaoke nights. I nominate Mark Watt for lead oboe.


Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, -/+ 2018)

Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, -/+ 2018)
Always good to follow this classic. However, in this instance, I’m afraid I don’t know specifics of batch/bottling codes etc... Colour: light gold. Nose: typical mix of salted peanuts and seashore notes, although I find it rather a yeastier version. Notes of proving dough and sourdough starter. Some leafy notes of tobacco, a touch of mint, cider apples, hay, pebbles. All very good and characterful. Mouth: sharply coastal - if you see what I mean - waxes, citrons, cooking oils, nuts, seeds and a splash of ointment and seawater. Mustard, seaweed, various stocky, brothy notes, some dried tarragon and a hint of lychee and rosewater. Akin to a dry Gewurztraminer perhaps with these slightly petrolic notes in the background. Finish: good length, slightly biscuity, salty, medical, flinty and gently earthy. Comments: Not the best of recent batches perhaps, but still great and very dependable.
SGP: 462 - 87 points.



Springbank 22 yo 1993/2015 (45%, Moon Import 35th Anniversary, cask #99, hogshead)

Springbank 22 yo 1993/2015 (45%, Moon Import 35th Anniversary, cask #99, hogshead)
Colour: gold. Nose: fresh linen by a seashore! Salted almonds, sheep wool, heather, sea greens, olive oil, cough medicine. Straightforward, rather lovey Springbank goodness. Rather a lot of hessian, rope, some new leather and light tarry notes. With a little time it develops more towards lemons, gorse and coconut. Some beach pebbles and sand. Mouth: nicely saline and citrus on arrival. Olives, seawater, cough medicine, dried herbs, beach wood, mustard powder and gentle waxiness. Some plasticine, soot, more hessian and camphor. Finish: medium in length. Slightly oily, salty, medical, sooty and still with this nice background waxy tone. Comments: Good solid Springbank, I like the subtle medical thread running through this one. Not all 93s were up to this sort of scratch in my book.
SGP: 462 - 89 points.



Springbank 22 yo 1995/2018 (48.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 27.111 ‘A Coal Bucket Full Of Marshmallows’, refill sherry hogshead, 277 bottles)

Springbank 22 yo 1995/2018 (48.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 27.111 ‘A Coal Bucket Full Of Marshmallows’, refill sherry hogshead, 277 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: rather typical, very good mix-90s Springbank. That is to say, lots of wet pebbles, sandalwood, hessian, ozone, waxes, salty old rope, maritime zing, lemon peel and, in the background, a nice old workshop aroma. Lots of oily rags, steel wool, furniture oils, tool boxes and metal polish. In time it becomes sharper and saltier, some notes of beef stock, soy sauce and carbolic soap with a wee splash of old riesling. Excellent with a nicely chiseled sharpness and plenty coastal freshness. Mouth: salted caramel and peanut brittle, bitter orange, light antiseptics, herbal throat sweets, medical ointments, some sandalwood, coal dust and bouillon. Beautiful flavours but perhaps a tad ‘light’ in weight and texture. Finish: a bit short, you feel it kind of fall away off the back of that rather soft body. Still, some nice gently lemony, herbal and saline notes linger in the aftertaste. Comments: It’s a very good, quaffable and honest mid-90s Springbank. The flavours are easily 90 point material, however it just lacks a bit of overall oomph and power in the delivery and texture and so loses a couple of points there. Still, I’m sure if you crack it open and drink a few drams while gazing out over the Mull of Kintyre on a sunny day you could get it up to about 92!
SGP: 462 - 88 points.



Springbank 23 yo 1990/2013 (49.8%, SCOMA ‘The Peat Bog’, cask #205, bourbon, 215 bottles)Springbank 23 yo 1990/2013 (49.8%, SCOMA ‘The Peat Bog’, cask #205, bourbon, 215 bottles)

Springbank 23 yo 1990/2013 (49.8%, SCOMA ‘The Peat Bog’, cask #205, bourbon, 215 bottles)
Said to be Longrow, as the name would indeed suggest... Colour: pale yellow. Nose: ... quite. This is indeed a wonderful mix of tar, embrocations, crushed seashells, squid ink, smoky grist, kiln smoke, kippers, ointments and antiseptic. Anchovies in brine, seawater, mercurochrome, pink sea salt, beach pebbles and sand. A wonderfully chiseled, almost brittle mineral structure. Lemon juice, raw oysters, carbon paper, petrol and bonfire ash. In time it starts to display more chalky notes, bath bombs, mineral salts and things like crushed aspirin and baking soda. Pretty terrific stuff! Mouth: raw, freshly kilned, peated malt! Gristy and oily, full of ground green pepper, mustard powder, antiseptic, wood ashes, lanolin, gauze and more subtle notes of clay, putty and lemon jelly. Some TCP, preserved lemons, sooty aspects and hot smoked white fish. Gets increasingly salty and lemony with time. Finish: long, gently ashy, medical, lemony and still with plenty warming notes of peated malt lingering. Comments: Top notch Longrow. Very pure coastal character throughout and with a pretty forceful smokiness as well. Slightly different from others of that era, I like it a lot.
SGP: 365 - 90 points.



(Thanks Dirk)




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


Forgot to publish this earlier... - S.


Whiskyfun fav of the month

March 2019

Serge's favourite recent bottling:
Springbank 22 yo 1996/2018 (55%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead, cask #1850-54, 249 bottles) - WF 93

Serge's favourite older bottling:
Macallan 10 yo ‘100° proof’ (100° proof, OB, +/-1978) - WF 92

Serge's favourite bang for your buck bottling:
None in March

Serge's favourite malternative:
Foursquare 14 yo 2003/2017 ‘Destino’ (61%, OB, Barbados, 2610 bottles) - WF 89

April 5, 2019


A very huge Glentauchers session
part three and last

Perhaps something a little unusual today, that is to say a flattish little verticale of Glentauchers, all by the same bottler. Let’s see what we have, knowing that this won’t be easy as most whiskies should be pretty similar.

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26 yo 1990/2017 (51.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26 yo 1990/2017 (51.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles) Four stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: this one’s a little acetic, rather on cider and vinegar at first nosing (just drops of vinegar, really), but as expected, it then would get a little rounder, more on cut fresh apples, ale, custard, Japanese roasted tea (hojicha or hochicha), popcorn and puffed rice... With water: touches of gewurztraminer, perhaps, rose petals, litchis, muscat grapes... That’s pretty nice! Mouth (neat): very punchy, rather on apple compote, tea, oak, cider, plums, gooseberries... With water: really good natural Speysider, firm and tense, fruity, with quite some green oak around it but all that’s very fine. More ale and assorted beers, roasted tea again, touches of cardamom, cinnamon... Finish: long and a notch calvadossy (if that’s a word). Some chalk in the aftertaste, which we’ve seen before. Comments: very good, all natural malt whisky, with a perfect, if not extremely complex, fruitiness around all things apples.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26 yo 1990/2017 (52.6%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 420 bottles)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26 yo 1990/2017 (52.6%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 420 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one from three bourbon hogsheads. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s both more metallic and chalkier, grassier as well, with notes of fresh concrete, aspirin, plaster, cut cactus, green apples, raw cider, copper kettles and tin boxes, then an easier, fruitier side, around oranges and tangerines. A medicinal side as well (balms). With water: a little hessian and menthol, otherwise overripe apples and compote. Quite superb, I think. Mouth (neat): a creamy fruitiness, around citrus-flavoured gummi bears, then ginger tonic and cinchona. I’m also finding notes of greengage jam, which takes me back to my childhood. With water: once again touches of Calvados and sweeter cider, also limoncello and green melons. Some fresh rhubarb too, and yes, some greengages! Love greengages! Finish: rather long, more citrusy. A little green tea and green wood. Comments: rather more fruits in this small batch. Level is high.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 27 yo 1990/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 27 yo 1990/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles) Five stars
Isn't it good that we will have had the three main ranges in the same vintage? I mean, CAD’s AC, SB and SC? Or is that all a little too... say masturbatory? Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s tenser, more on mosses, grasses, fresh coriander and mint, parsley, dill... Then mushrooms, oils (argan), pine needles, angelica, a touch of paraffin... With water: exceptionally nutty, on more argan, fresh almonds, pine nuts... Mind you, this is almost Scottish pesto! Mouth (neat): the other ones were pretty perfect but this is something else, more brutal in a good way, almost spike-y, peppery and very lemony, with some fresh ginger and ginseng (really), a very lovely pine-y side, fir sap drops, some thyme for sure... This was some barrel! But it’s not that easy to tame... In truth it reminds me of some Clynelishy Glentauchers we tried last time, remember? With water: gentler, but also waxier. Indeed, it is reminiscent of Clynelish. Finish: a little more jumbled, shall we say, but we just wouldn’t care since we’ve already poured another measure. Comments: looks like we have a winner. But this isn’t over yet...
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Let’s change vintage...

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26 yo 1989/2016 (48.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26 yo 1989/2016 (48.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: What a difference a year makes... This is much softer, rounder, more on stewed and preserved peaches, custard, softer honeys, praline, Nutella (with sincere apologies), then a little hay, apple peels, fresh almonds. Bizarrely, I’m finding this one a little more ‘commercial’, but indeed that just doesn’t make any sense. I agree, not the first time... Mouth: very good, just a little uncertain, between some greenish tannic oakiness, and some round, compote-y fruits, foremost of which are plums and apples. A little dissonant, perhaps? Finish: rather medium, a little sour. Unripe fruits, green tomato jam... perhaps. Comments: I’m afraid this one was sitting in the death seat after that perfect 1990 single cask. My fault, probably, but as Theresa May would say, a verticale is a verticale.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

We'd better go back a few years...

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 38 yo 1976/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 38 yo 1976/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half
Why I have not tasted this one before, I just couldn’t tell you. Probably because the name’s not Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Springbank, Clynelish or Highland Park. But that’s a mistake, as based upon the current state of whiskydom, many Premiers Crus are in the process of becoming Bourgeois while some Bourgeois will become Premiers Crus sooner or later. Including Glentauchers. But more about that in a few weeks, hopefully... Colour: gold. Nose: love it when old malts start to showcase all herbal teas and dried flowers known to man. Chamomile, honeysuckle, linden blossoms, woodruff... also apricots, heather honey, dog rose, precious scented soaps (it-is-not-soapy!)... With water: goes towards church incense and last year’s apples. Mouth (neat): to think that this was probably meant to go into some stoopid high-end blends for bored maharajas (what?) Cedar wood, small pears, guavas, tobacco, some pretty tannic honey (fir)… With water: no, careful, add just one drop or it would become too sawdusty and cardboardy. You know, that feeling of stale old tea. Finish: rather medium, pleasantly spicy and sour. Those old apples, ice wine, more herbal teas... Comments: I was ready to go higher but thought it was just a little too fragile, while it’s having a kind of spiritual issue with water. Nah, it the oak.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Drumroll, here’s the podium...
1. Glentauchers 19 yo 1997/2017 (51.5%, Jack Wiebers, Fighting Fish, 154 bottles)
2. Glentauchers-Glenlivet 27 yo 1990/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)
3. Glentauchers 27 yo 1991/2018 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, sherry, 473 bottles)
De nada!

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


April 4, 2019


A very huge Glentauchers session
part two

Didn’t we say there would be more?

Glentauchers 20 yo (50.9%, Chorlton Whisky, refill bourbon barrel, 178 bottles, 2018)

Glentauchers 20 yo (50.9%, Chorlton Whisky, refill bourbon barrel, 178 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
The fine people at Chorlton’s wouldn’t tell you about the vintages of their whiskies, but they’ve got the prettiest labels in the business, so I say they’re absolved. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh that strawberry yoghurt! And crushed bananas, acacia honey, citron liqueur, then pears and apples, gorse, oranges... With water: a touch of lapsang souchong, a wee bit of mud, otherwise light honeys, green orchard fruits, plums, and a little rubbed mint. Always have some mint in the garden or on the terrace/balcony, or in the kitchen. Mouth (neat): brilliant. Cider apples, grapefruits, chalk, plasticine, paraffin, oranges, a touch of eucalyptus. And yet this is not Clynelish, and neither is it Pulteney. Truly a Highland-style Speysider. With water: absolutely lovely citrusy, firm, with just a touch of butterscotch to round it off. Finish: medium, rather orange-forward, which always works in any finish of any spirits. Comments: bright whisky, only good things to say. Better than many ‘average’ well-known Speysiders in any case, just unknown from the public.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Glentauchers 21 yo 1996/2018 (46.7%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #18-2101, 152 bottles)

Glentauchers 21 yo 1996/2018 (46.7%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #18-2101, 152 bottles) Three stars and a half
In theory, this cannot be bad. Colour: gold. Nose: a little more vanilla in this one, a little more roundness, other than that it’s a textbook fruity/creamy Glentauchers that’s displaying vast amounts of melons and apples, as well as unexpected medicinal and smoky tones, possibly from a refill ex-Islay cask. Or not, I may be dreaming. What’s sure is that this is a lovely nose. Mouth: not fully Glentauchers for sure, this is almost some blended malt in disguise. Like, 3% Laphroaig in the mix, or Caol Ila. Not saying anyone’s blended anything, actually, but there sure was some ‘previous content’ in the cask. We won’t complain, mind you, this works well, but when you’ve just had around ten ‘pure’ Glentauchers, that thing becomes very obvious. That’s also why I always prefer to taste in flights, and do not really believe in ‘solo’ tastings. Finish: rather long, slightly peaty. Smoked grapefruits? Comments: there are wee dissonances, but it’s very good. The Sex Pistols were good too (okay, that's debatable, but this is neither the place nor the time.)
SGP:642 - 84 points.

Glentauchers 19 yo 1996/2016 (54.5%, Grindlay’s Selection, cask #7811)

Glentauchers 19 yo 1996/2016 (54.5%, Grindlay’s Selection, cask #7811) Four stars
Not a bottler we’re seeing too often, but there are many dilettante bottlers who are doing a great job. Wasn’t Sherlock Holmes a dilettante too? Colour: pale gold. Nose: yep, classic pure natural citrusy and slightly chalky well-aged Glentauchers. Cider apples, green pears, limes, clay, branches and bark, something rooty... With water: some plasticine this time. Not that it became waxy ala Clynelish (sadly). Mouth (neat): I remember Grindlay have had an excellent HP and believe me or not, this baby reminds me of unsherried HP, with these mineral, coastal, citrusy, and slightly fatty/herbal/smoky tones. With water: no, seriously, I would have said indie HP. The owners would have further pushed the oak/casks. Apple peel, samphire, kelp, grapefruit skin, and even, guess what? Heather honey! Finish: rather long, just a tad bitter, firm, with some tobacco. A different Glentauchers and indeed that may come from the cask’s previous content. Not too sure. Comments: in truth this is excellent. What’s more, we haven’t come across a single dud so far.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

Glentauchers 20 yo 1996/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #11635, 223 bottles)

Glentauchers 20 yo 1996/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #11635, 223 bottles) Three stars
Possibly a totally neutral/natural one again?..  Colour: straw. Nose: the cask was rather active this time, as we’re finding quite a lot of vanilla. No worries, no dumb coconut though, but a little sawdust, white chocolate, and some tea cake. Warm scones. With water: shortbread and Walker’s oatcakes. Any whisky taster’s best friends!!! (together with water, naturally). Mouth (neat): all very good, creamy, malty, lemony, with some USA oak. Refill barrel, really? Tastes like first fill bourbon. Can we see the papers? (hey D.L., just a silly joke!) With water: very good, just a tad too peppery, nutmeggy, or even oaky. Finish: long, a tad bitter. Comments: the oak feels this time. It’s very good whisky, but the oak shouldn’t feel this much – although I wouldn’t say this is oak juice, as can be seen elsewhere where distillers have become woodcarvers. But refill, really? Cross your heart?
SGP:461 - 80 points.

Oh, a younger one again...

Glentauchers 2005/2013 (52.5%, Archives, sherry, cask #900392, 167 bottles)

Glentauchers 2005/2013 (52.5%, Archives, sherry, cask #900392, 167 bottles) Three stars and a half
Of course I should have tried this one a long time ago. Having said that, love what Archives are doing year after year, great people. A De Molen and we’re good, friends. Colour: gold. Nose: fruits, tangerines, rum, bananas, not a lot of sherry (better like this, doc.) A very discreet metallic side, also cigarette tobacco and overripe apples, warm praline, roasted pistachios... Some action in this one. With water: first time I'm finding copper coins and metal polish. Those are aromas that I enjoy, having said that. Mouth (neat): yeah, very good, and funnily on the rum-side. Wait, sherry cask... was that sherry from Georgetown? Kingston? Basse-Terre? With water: careful, do not drown it, or it’ll get a little Fanta-y. And when multinationals take control... … … Finish: medium, rather on pineapples and grapefruits, with this wee metallic side again, in the back of the background. Pepper too. Comments: this one lost me a wee bit. I agree I should repent openly.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Seriously, it’s much easier to taste twenty or thirty Bowmores, or Clynelishes, or Highland Parks, than doing that with a malt that’s not that idiosyncratic, such as Glentauchers. I’m not saying I deserve a medal, but a bit of engagement on social media would be welcome. There, I said it, please support us (as long as it costs you nothing!)

Glentauchers 20 yo 1997/2018 (51.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #391, 204 bottles)

Glentauchers 20 yo 1997/2018 (51.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #391, 204 bottles) Three stars
There’s nothing on TV, let’s go on... Colour: straw. Nose: oils, sunflower, apple compote, barley, earth, a wee glass of pils beer. Perhaps not earthshattering, let’s see how it evolves... With water: pear liqueur, cider, apples, barley syrup, soft marzipan. We need more action. Mouth (neat): nah it’s good, easy, between mint, liquorice, vanilla, malt, and grapefruit marmalade. It was a pretty good, rather active barrel. With water: apple juice, cider, stewed rhubarb, a little white pepper. Finish: medium, drying, a little tea-ish. Comments: good but not too sure about this one. Not sure I’ll remember it tomorrow morning, while I’ll be having my espresso and my croissants. What’s this, again? Strathmill? Aultmore? Macduff? What, Dailuaine?
SGP:451 - 80 points.

Fun, we need f.u.n.!

Glentauchers 10 yo 2007/2017 (55%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #900302, 237 bottles)

Glentauchers 10 yo 2007/2017 (55%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #900302, 237 bottles) Four stars
This is a bottling by some Austrian friends, and in Austria they have their Inländerrum called ‘Stroh’. Kills you. I agree, they had Mozart too, but still, let’s remain careful... Colour: coffee. Nose: gunpowder, roasted chestnuts, burnt chocolate cake, truffles, espresso indeed, pipe tobacco, leather. Ha-ha. With water: more leather, roasted chestnuts, walnut stain, English brown sauce (pre-Brexit 52th State delicacy – 51th? Who cares?), Bovril... Mouth (neat): good yet insane. Bouillon, beef marrow, pepper, smoked eel (and why not?), very bitter chocolate, lapsang souchong, tar, drinking brake fluid. What would Nikki Lauda think? Or Jochen Rindt (my hero when I was a wee lad)? With water: Kaffee-Schnaps, orange liqueur, Kraüterlikör, Kummel... Indeed everything’s pretty Germanic. Finish: very long, meaty, chocolaty, salty, pipe-y. Huge walnuts in the aftertaste. Comments: right, not too sure the distillate had much to say here, but we had a lot of fun. Hoppla.
SGP:372 - 85 points.

Do we have room for a last one? Probably not, but this is Whiskyfun dot com.

Glentauchers 27 yo 1991/2018 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, sherry, 473 bottles)

Glentauchers 27 yo 1991/2018 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, sherry, 473 bottles) Five stars
Have you heard that G&M have lost the lovely Juliette? And do they realise that we’re into whisky for the people, and not for the booze, however good it is? Colour: gold. Nose: it’s about caramel, butterscotch, and cappuccino this time. About stewed pomegranates too, about sweet and sour aromas (some kind of Thai dish, perhaps), about bags of prunes, dried dates and dried figs, about old Sauternes, and about barrows of all kinds of raisins. With water: brandy de Jerez, palo cortado, two-stroke engine (Kawasaki, for example), parsley and sorrel soup, watercress... I’ll say it, I think this is stunning. Mouth (neat): rich and creamy, you could believe this is a crazy brandy de Jerez, minus the tons of sugar our Spanish friends are adding to their beloved spirit while no one’s watching. I’m wondering, could any friend try to let 500g pipe tobacco infuse in some cheap vodka for a few weeks and then report? (I agree, all vodkas are cheap anyway—or ought to be cheap). With water: seriously, this is brilliant bittersweet sherry maturing. It’s hard to do better than this, but of course, this bottle will now need thirty years of extra-maturing in glass. Of course you shouldn’t sell any aged spirit that’s just been bottled, that’s pure savagery. Wood + glass is the way, just check what proper epicureans are buying for a lot of money at auctions. Finish: long. Comments: super great sherry stuff, but I agree, it could have been any other moderately-known Speyside distillery.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

We *might* do a last Glentauchers session tomorrow, if God lets me live. Wish me luck.

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


April 3, 2019


A very huge Glentauchers session

Another second-tier name that’s catching more light these days, maybe because casks are not very expensive and widely available while some bigger names have become pretty rare. Which means that most indies have a lot of Glentauchers these days, some being proper fruit bombs as far as we can tell. Let’s have a large bag, if you agree, starting with one or two lighter apéritifs...

Glentauchers 12 yo 2005/2017 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry, 1092 bottles)

Glentauchers 12 yo 2005/2017 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry, 1092 bottles) Four stars
With hugs to Jean Marie. Colour: pale gold. Nose: typical fresh and preserved fruits, especially peaches and apricots, with a layer of roasted nuts (praline) and raisins. Mirabelle tarte, just two or three struck matches, a note of rose petals ala Linkwood. A touch of earth as well, mucho lovely in this light and pretty elegant context. Mouth: very good, on similar notes of pies and cakes and tartes, baked peaches, raisins, chocolate, Turkish delights, and touches of burnt cakes. Brownies. Finish: medium, rather fresh. Bitter chocolate, notes of baked pears, a touch of heather honey. Comments: classic ex-sherry young Speysider, malty, cake-y, really good, perfect 85-point material.
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Glentauchers 1996/2016 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail

Glentauchers 1996/2016 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Distillery label) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: pretty similar, that is to say fruity and fresh, with orchard fruits (apples running the show), as well as a wee tropical side (mangos) and fewer raisins than in the Jean Boyer. A little more barley, porridge, then more and more muesli and just a touch of cardboard. Mouth: that’s the thing with these bottlings at 43% vol., we often complain but they’re also easier to sip without fuss. Very good fruitiness here, with ripe plums, greengages, apples, oranges, and once again a little muesli. This works very well, the whole being extremely pleasant and bright. Feisty notes of toffee apples. Finish: medium, rather on kiwis this time, with a little chalk. Very nice. Grapefruits. The aftertaste is a little cardboardy. Comments: I think not all vintages have been this nice.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glentauchers 11 yo 2007/2018 (58.9%, North Star Spirits, PX finish)

Glentauchers 11 yo 2007/2018 (58.9%, North Star Spirits, PX finish) Three stars and a half
I know, only a PX finish, but you never know, we’ve come across some that were working, more or less. Well, better than socks and sandals, in any case. What’s more, Angus liked this one (WF 83). Colour: white wine. Nose: used matches, burnt walnut cake, mashed potatoes, grist, apples, muesli and no raisins whatsoever. Are they hiding? With water: gristier and mashier. More muesli, porridge, stewed fruits, touches of acacia honey. Mouth (neat): creamy/sweet arrival, with oranges, raisins and honey, the PX came to the front this time. Pomace, green grapes... With water: the PX has been corrected, so to speak, but traces of sugar do remain in some corners. Having said that, some may recognise the distillery. Finish: rather long, more citrusy. Blood oranges, perhaps. More chalk in the aftertaste, grape pips... Comments: this baby survived the PX flavouring!
SGP:651 - 83 points.

Glentauchers 12 yo 2005/2017 (63.7%, Chieftain’s, Taiwan, first fill oloroso sherry cask, cask #900384, 616 bottles)

Glentauchers 12 yo 2005/2017 (63.7%, Chieftain's, Taiwan, first fill oloroso sherry cask, cask #900384, 616 bottles) Four stars
63.7%, that’s high! Shall we find a little gunpowder?... Colour: copper (which suggests a finishing). Nose: it’s rather light given the strength, earthy, with hints of crushed strawberries perhaps... But at such strength it’s hard to get much, so, let us proceed accordingly... With water: a walk in the woods, mushrooms, moss, fruit peels, also notes of molasses, rather sweet sherry than oloroso, Viennese chocolate, orange squash... Well I think I like this much more than I should (oh not again, S.!) Mouth (neat): good! Sherry brandy, strawberry liqueur, pink bananas, pepper... I agree that’s not very ‘whisky’, but let’s dig deeper... With water: absolutely not your usual ex-oloroso juice, but then again, I enjoy this funny concoction that’s ridden with blood oranges, crushed bananas, strawberries, and even good rum. Finish: long, clean, yet pretty rich, fruity, largely on red berries and the jams, liqueurs and spirit made thereof. Comments: Ian Macleod, what was the trick here?
SGP651- 87 points.

Let’s check a more neutral bourbon cask...

Glentauchers 19 yo 1997/2017 (51.5%, Jack Wiebers, Fighting Fish, 154 bottles)

Glentauchers 19 yo 1997/2017 (51.5%, Jack Wiebers, Fighting Fish, 154 bottles) Five stars
Together with a few other fearless bottlers such as Moon Import, Jack Wiebers have been at the forefront of ‘doing whisky labels that have strictly nothing to do with whisky’. Indeed, many are doing that today, they would sometimes pull good laughs... Colour: white wine. Nose: nah, that’s true, we still like them better when they’re clean and pure. Leaves, teas, custard, apple peels, sunflower oil, a growing mentholness... What more do the people want? With water: gets chalkier. Aspirin, clay, plaster, sand... Mouth (neat): how good is this? Totally classic, ultra-clean, mineral, full of white and yellow fruits, paraffin, rhubarb, sauvignon blanc, lemon... With water: more wax, chalk and paraffin, we’re almost in Clynelishy territories. Superb lemon and green apple notes. Finish: long, very tense, tart, ultra-clean, very lemony. Earthier and waxier aftertaste, let’s go light some candles. Comments: an amazing little bottling by our bearded German friend. Too bad there are (well were, I suppose) this many bottles.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Glentauchers 14 yo 2002/2016 (45.8%, The Single Cask, cask #15827)

Glentauchers 14 yo 2002/2016 (45.8%, The Single Cask, cask #15827) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: not that far from the Fighting Fish, just rounder and smoother, but that’s the lower strength. A little more vanilla as well, otherwise ripe apples, hint of pears, a coastal touch (oysters, where do those come from?), and just pure raw barley. Mouth: yeah, very good, with this unexpected coastal side yet again, some chalk, lemons, apples, barley, grapefruits, white melons, then just a tiny touch of icing sugar... Finish: rather long, much grassier. I always liked grassier finishes, they usually leave your palate as fresh as a baby’s lips. Only the aftertaste is a little subpar, curiously tarry. Nothing against tarry aftertastes, but maybe not in a middle-aged Glentauchers. Comments: no, really, it’s an excellent one yet again.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Where are we? You say we’ve had six of them already? Good, one more and see you next time...

Glentauchers 21 yo 1997/2018 (48%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 154 bottles)

Glentauchers 21 yo 1997/2018 (48%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 154 bottles) Four stars
They never fail at Maltbarn’s, do they? Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, mint, earth, apples, porridge, custard, fresh gnocchis, strawberry yoghurt (that smell you could come across in or around malting plants – Port Ellen Maltings anyone?), broken branches... I remember a Glentauchers by Claxton’s that was extremely similar. Mouth: perfect. Oranges, apples, double-cream, barley syrup, pink grapefruits... Indeed, just perfect. Finish: long, fruity, grassier towards the aftertaste. Melon and green tea. Comments: that’s the thing with excellent whiskies, you need no literature. Yeah you’re right, which I couldn't provide anyway.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Crikey, we’ve still got around twenty Glentauchers to taste. We’ll see, we’ll see...

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


April 2, 2019


Another box of HPs

As it says.

Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Five stars
€35 at Carrefour in France, so this is rather an entry-of-the-entry-level HP. No need to say that we like the fact that they did not drop the age statement, while wondering if they did not reach the limits of Vikingdom. Scars? What’s next, Viking Dishwasher? Nah, love them, really, it’s all a bit second-degree anyway, is it not. Is it? Colour: gold. Nose: no or very little sherry seasoning here, so it’s rather bright, showcasing the trademark heather honey and this mineral side that we always enjoyed. Salty beach rocks, shells, ripe apples and quinces, beach bonfire afar, honey drops, wallflowers (sublime!)… But I like this very much! Mouth: very good, very very good! Even the lower strength does not pose problems here. Perfect honey, lemons, salt, smoked shells, clay, oysters, grapefruits… Finish: medium, superbly fresh, complex, and fruity. Even more honey in the aftertaste, that is perfect. Comments: hey Orkney, we need a CS version of the very same juice! Fantastic interplay between the minerality, the honey and the citrus. Probably my favourite BFYB this month, although the month isn’t over yet.
SGP:652 - 90 points.

Crikey, that one was meant to make for a wee aperitif, while it’s rather been a serious challenger. Let’s pay more attention… And find another wee aperitif…

Highland Park 14 yo 1988/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, refill sherry, cask #MM733)

Highland Park 14 yo 1988/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, refill sherry, cask #MM733) Five stars
Used to like these orange boxes… Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s got more leather and tobacco, as well as a little more rubber, most probably from the sherry. On the other hand, it’s one of these HPs that are going towards Springbank, with these medicinal and mineral touches that are bordering plastic and plasticine – and which I enjoy a lot. Also grapefruit skin, seawater and kelp, heather honey (grassier honey), a drop of gasoline, and perhaps one of brake fluid. Mouth: it’s big, it’s tense, it’s very mineral and waxy, coastal, rooty (ginseng), spicy (turmeric, nutmeg), and rather salty. All that’s coated with proper honey and lemon juice, which is excellent. Finish: rather long, and even more Springbanky. It’s well Springbank that we just had, is it not? Funny touches of sea salt playing with your lips. Comments: fantastic. Sad to have missed this one when it came out, but it’s true that just everyone was busy with the newly acquired Bruichladdich at that time.
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Shall we ever manage to find a wee aperitif? Isn’t it too late?...

Orkney 9 yo (63.1%, Chorlton Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 191 bottles, +/-2019)

Orkney 9 yo (63.1%, Chorlton Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 191 bottles, +/-2019) Four stars
Sure we couldn’t claim that this is HP, but it isn’t Bladnoch either, is it (and, Sherlock?) Colour: white wine. Nose: a softer, rounder style, with more cakes and fruit syrups and jams, but at this strength, anything noses sweet. So… With water: mead, barley syrup, whiffs of cigarette tobacco, a little chocolate. In truth, it could as well be the other one, as it’s rather softer and rounder than the usual HPs. No, not Stromness. Mouth (neat): fine, lemony and sugary. But hey, 63% vol. With water: well, the HPness is up and kicking, with lemons, chalk, cough medicine (drops), and some camphor. And it is excellent. Finish: long, grassier, more mineral and chalky. And medicinal in the aftertaste. Comments: a tad brutal, and that’s not only the high strength, but quality’s as high as expected. Moreish, as they used to say in pre-Brexit London Clubs.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Single Orkney Malt 11 yo 2007/2019 (58%, Asta Morris, cask #AM131)

Single Orkney Malt 11 yo 2007/2019 (58%, Asta Morris, cask #AM131) Four stars
No proper picture that I could find at this point, I am sorry. Had to improvise. Indeed this is brand new. Colour: straw. Nose: take cough medicine, add lamp oil, add fresh grated vanilla, add liquid furniture polish, add sea water, add limoncello, add diesel oil, add carbon paper, add liquid honey. Blend well. There, you did well! With water: rubbed citron peel and new Ducati saddle. Yeah, pushing things a bit… Mouth (neat): excellent. Lemon liqueur, liquid wax again, plasticine, limestone, grapefruits… With water: same-ish, a tad more mineral, chalky… And rounder as well. Agave syrup, perhaps. Finish: long, waxy, pretty perfect again. A little rounder than the Chorlton, but that may be the two extra-years. Limoncello again in the aftertaste. Comments: did anyone ever ask us European Citizens if we wanted to keep the U.K. within our union?? Why take that for granted??? Err, well, yes, digressing, this little Asta Morris was just excellent.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

Good, some older ones now, perhaps…

Highland Park 29 yo 2018 (40.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, hogshead, 198 bottles)

Highland Park 29 yo 1989/2018 (40.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, hogshead, 198 bottles) Four stars and a half
It’s always a little tricky when strengths dropped this low, especially when the whisky’s not extremely old, but I have to say we’ve had both wonders and disappointing juices. Never ‘in the middle’. Colour: white wine. Nose: lovely. First ripe strawberries on praline and whipped cream, then star fruits, bergamots and apples, then assorted honeyed notes, while it would never totally become ‘beehive-y’. Some fresh hay, cut flowers, fruit peel… seems to be a little fragile, but not sure about that… Mouth: it’s alive, it’s alive! What’s this sorcery? While they did not, I’m sure, reduce it? No oak in excess, at all, rather a blend of lemony herbal teas with greener fruits (kiwis again) and just a touch of coastality. Coastalness. Oh drop that. Finish: not short, quite amazingly, and very fresh. Herbal fruits, green earl grey, only the aftertaste is a tad too green and tannic for me. Just a wee tad (tea). Comments: it was less mineral and petroly than the youngsters, for sure. A whole different style.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Highland Park 29 yo 1989/2018 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry butt, cask #18/084, 613 bottles)

Highland Park 29 yo 1989/2018 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry butt, cask #18/084, 613 bottles) Four stars
I was telling a good friend of mine that refill sherry was way better than first fill, and he replied that you had to do first fill in order to have refill later on. Made sense, but actually, no, good wood technologists would fill the first fill casks with cheap grain whisky in order to take the unwanted oaky/wine-y stuff off (well, formerly unwanted stuff), before filling the cask with precious malt whisky, like they used to do with first fill bourbon, let alone with crappy virgin oak. So, refill rules anyway, don’t listen to those poor drunken marketeers who are only screaming ‘oak oak oak’! Colour: gold. Nose: nice, just a tad leathery, with cigar boxes and touches of cured ham. And the obligatory heather honey, naturally. With water: the minerality’s coming out. Chalk and clay, plus bigger, obvious notes of bergamots. Please try the Bergamotes de Nancy whenever you’ve got a chance! (I won’t say it again!) Mouth (neat): textbook marmalade-y HP, with many spices and even more dried fruits such as figs and dates. But once again, the distillate’s much less characterful that its modern counterparts, exactly what happened at, say, Bowmore as well. In my humble opinion. With water: loses a bit of knack, perhaps, which happens much more often with sherry casks than with bourbon or refill hogsheads when you add water. In my humble experience, as always. Finish: long, both more lemony and salty and more spicy. Ginger, curry, Thai basil… Lime in the aftertaste, all impeccable. Comments: we like them even more ‘natural’, but this baby was still way below the boundaries of normality, as far as malt whisky is concerned (not too sure about your conclusions this time, S.)
SGP:462 - 87 points.

A last one, an let’s make it an even older one

Highland Park 8 yo (100° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 FL.OZS, mid 1970s)

Highland Park 8 yo (100° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 FL.OZS, mid 1970s) Five stars
Quick, call the Anti-maltoporn Brigade, as these wee ones are legendary… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s more massive, it’s fuller, more compact, less subtle, and yet superb. Rubber bands, new car, roasted chestnuts, earthy tea (pu-her and such), old marmalades, Spanish ham (belotta stuff), old embrocations and ointments (who knows what they used to put into those things)… and then, as often with the older bottles, more pine-y notes, saps, resins, camphor… With water: sit and listen to this whisky. Not that the story will always be the same, mind you. Mouth (neat): totally a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Huge mentholness, immense sappy side (fir liqueur), all dried fruits anyone could think of (starting with figs, as almost always), and then a total maelstrom of tiny spicy flavours. Caraway seems to be fly amongst them, as well as pink pepper. Careful, these ones will almost always dominate you, there isn’t much you could do against that. With water: they get Asian. Sauces, chutneys, creams, spicy stuff… Finish: I’m reminded of some old Cuban cigars they used to make when the Russians were still delivering ‘what was needed’ to make them. No, not drugs. Comments: legends of whisky. Naturally, the age statements were actually brands, in this case ‘8’ did not mean that it was ‘only 8’. Huge whisky.
SGP:552 - 93 points.

(Merci Angus and merci Lucero)

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


April 1, 2019


This is madness!
Friends, just got this in WF's mailbox this morning and while we never, ever publish any press releases, I thought this was a rather crazy move and decided to publish it in extenso despite an embargo. This is a mad, mad world...




Press Release / Apr. 1, 2019, at 07:00 am
(STRICT EMBARGO until Apr. 2, 2019, 07:00 am)






Macallan Hologramico



NEW YORK, NY – The Macallan, the world’s most admired single malt Scotch whisky, has just unveiled a stunning new series of releases to be added to its highly regarded portfolio of ultra-exclusive whiskies, The Hologramico Collection.



Two spectacular first editions, The Macallan 60-Year-Old ‘Peter Blake Hologramico’ and The Macallan 60-Year-Old ‘Valerio Adami Hologramico’ will be launched at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong in Shanghai on May 1, 2019. Their original editions, designed by British pop artist Peter Blake and Italian painter Valerio Adami and both distilled in 1926, have been auctioned off for a combined total of $2.1 million at Bonhams Hong Kong last year, but the new Hologramico Collection will give all whisky enthusiasts and discerning collectors alike the opportunity to acquire those amazingly rare pieces of art for just a small fraction of their original value.



The world’s most valuable and collectable whisky brand is expected to add further editions to the Hologramico Collection later this year, such as The Macallan In Lalique 65-Year-Old Hologramico, The Macallan 1824 M Hologramico or The Macallan Royal Marriage Hologramico. Last but not least, there will also be an exclusive never-seen-before new edition launched in Amboise, France to celebrate the 500 years of Leonardo Da Vinci, The Macallan Mona Lisa in Lalique And Louis Vuitton Hologramico.



- ENDS -



The Macallan 60-Year-Old ‘Peter Blake Hologramico’ ($199), a strictly limited edition of 888,888 downloads only.
The Macallan 60-Year-Old ‘Valerio Adami Hologramico’ ($179), a strictly limited edition of 848,888 downloads only.
Available May 1, 2019 on Apple App Store, iTunes Store and Google Play.
Mobile and tablet, minimum iOS 10.0 or Android 5.0.
Compatible with any 3D Holographic Projectors (Owikar, Giwox, Cooko, Nebula…)
Compatible with Amazon Alexa. Alexa knows about the weather in Craigellachie and can invest in The Macallan for you (feature should be available around December 2019)



For further information, sample or image requests please contact: yolanda@storiesthatsell.co.uk



Founded in 1824 in the heart of Speyside, The Macallan was one of the first distilleries in Scotland to be legally licensed.
Since then it has built a reputation as one of the world’s finest single malt whiskies.  The story of The Macallan is built on the Six Pillars, each influencing the whisky in its own distinct way.  From the spiritual home of Easter Elchies House; curiously small stills giving richness to the pure spirit; finest cut or the best of the best of the distillation, to exceptional oak casks which account for up to 80% of the final flavor in the whisky; natural color and finally peerless spirit, The Macallan itself.
Wood sits at the heart of The Macallan. The vital contributing influences of Spain, North America and Scotland, together with true mastery, set it apart from the rest. For more information on The Macallan, visit www.themacallan.com/en-us. The Macallan can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.




March 2019 - part 2 <--- April 2019 - part 1 ---> April 2019 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Blair Athol 30 yo 1988/2018 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry, cask #6847, 519 bottles)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 27 yo 1990/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)

Glentauchers 27 yo 1991/2018 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, sherry, 473 bottles)

Glentauchers 19 yo 1997/2017 (51.5%, Jack Wiebers, Fighting Fish, 154 bottles)

Highland Park 8 yo (100° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 FL.OZS, mid 1970s)

Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Highland Park 14 yo 1988/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, refill sherry, cask #MM733)

Port Ellen 35 yo 1982/2018 (55.1%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #2040, 567 bottles)

Port Ellen 28 yo 1982/2010 (59%, Jack Wiebers, The Cross Hill, sherry cask, 122 bottles)

Domaine de Baraillon 1998/2013 ‘Folle Blanche’ (45%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)