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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2019 - Part 2


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



April 30, 2019


A wee bag of Tamnavulin

We haven’t tried as many Tamnavulins as we wished, but I seem to remember some pleasant citrus notes. Let’s see what we have, probably some old and some newish bottles…

Tamnavulin 1993/2013 (54.6%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 13003, 175 bottles)

Tamnavulin 1993/2013 (54.6%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 13003, 175 bottles) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: sugar syrup and apple juice, plus a touch of chalk and some porridge. A little minimal so far, and little citrus in sight. With water: a little soap, or is that paraffin? Raw wool, barley, grist, wood dust, brioche dough… Nicer than it sounds, actually. Mouth (neat): there, lemons and oranges, as marmalades and as squashes. Other than that, it’s all a story about porridge, dough, barley, and bread leaven. And about grass. With water: gentle sweet barley and oranges, muesli, lemon, some paraffin again. Remains a little raw. Finish: medium, very cereally, always with this dry waxiness. Comments: it’s nice, but perhaps not totally unforgettable. Forgot what I wanted to add…
SGP:451 - 80 points.

Tamnavulin 17 yo 1978/1996 (59.6%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #8065, 510 bottles)

Tamnavulin 17 yo 1978/1996 (59.6%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #8065, 510 bottles) Three stars and a half
An old bottle from some much earlier maniacal days. Colour: gold. Nose: pleasant raisins on this waxy base again, which rather leads to beeswax and honeycomb this time. A little tobacco and leather too, that’s nice in this context. With water: gentler, on cake, brioche, kougelhopf, panettone and buddy cakes. Mouth (neat): huge marmalade, both lemons and oranges, plus ginger liqueur and certainly quite some black pepper, which makes it a tad prickly, as if it was ginger tonic. Leather. With water: freshly squeezed oranges with a dollop of honey thrown in. That’s nice. Finish: medium, a tad gingery again, otherwise rather all on oranges till the end of the aftertaste. Comments: a very fine old dram. What these Tamnavulins did not quite display so far was a huge complexity, but we’ll have more...
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Tamnavulin 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #5377, 247 bottles)

Tamnavulin 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #5377, 247 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: here we go again, waxes, citrus peel, fresh barley, grapefruits, a little balsam, yellow melons, barley syrup, yellow peaches… Oh how we enjoy ‘simple’ hogsheads! With water: a beehive, that’s an aroma cluster I always cherished. Indeed, honey, wax, pollen, nectar, but little propolis this time… Mouth (neat): this is extremely good, if not very complex, once more. Fruit salad, soft oak, vanilla, coconut (the hoggie was still sexually active – I mean active), oranges, angelica… All very good indeed, while the age is perfect. With water: same, just even brighter and getting frankly citrusy this time, some other fruits having given up (peaches, apples…) Touches of bananas, sometimes to be found in American oak. Finish: medium, clean, very fruity, with a wee Irish side, perhaps. Bushmills? Comments: an excellent Tamnavulin. They’re not very common, are they.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet 26 yo 1992/2018 (51.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 234 bottles)

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet 26 yo 1992/2018 (51.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 234 bottles) Four stars
Don’t they release whiskies from just all distilleries? Isn’t that cool? Colour: straw. Nose: very close to the TSMOS, which is not very surprising. Perhaps just a tad greener and tarter. I’m thinking kiwis and I’m think rhubarb. Other than that, it’s almost the same whisky, and we shan’t complain. With water: really very close. Perhaps more meadow flowers here? Mouth (neat): indeed the cask seems to have been a tad less active this time. Rather no coconuts and bananas, rather more green apples and plums. Greengages. With water: closer together again. Very good. Finish: medium, very good, perfectly fruity, bright, fresh. Comments: good moderate wood, good age, good whisky. An equation that no one can fake.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

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


April 27, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Ichiro’s Many Malts
Chichibu seems to be causing quite a stir these days, and rightly so in my view. While I don’t always enjoy the many and varied wood/maturation types that they deploy over there, the distillate is never short of impeccable and they’re masters of transparency in all that they do. Let’s try a few examples, plus one or two bonus drams today - if you please. First up though, an aperitif...


Ichiro’s Malt And Grain World Blended Whisky (58.8%, OB for Liquorland Kimura, Virgin French Oak, cask #7255, 310 bottles)

Ichiro’s Malt And Grain World Blended Whisky (58.8%, OB for Liquorland Kimura, Virgin French Oak, cask #7255, 310 bottles)
Not a 100% Japanese native but more of a mongrel of various nations it seems. Colour: gold. Nose: hot white pepper, varnish and wood glue at first. Big, clean, modern, spicy oakiness indeed. Lots of coconut sweetness, bubblegum, warm sawdust and pencil shavings. The kind of profile that can be exhausting very quickly but the sweetness errs on the side of natural here which helps things along nicely. Develops some nice notes of moss, ferns, lemon icing and coconut milk. With water: really pure sawdust now. Also some more mossy notes, gravel, wood char and a new packet of yellow dusting cloths. Mouth: here it’s a tad more challenging. The oak is rather punchy and aggressive, takes a few seconds to simmer down. Then there’s hot plastic, boiled lime sweets, some mandarin peel and more of these sweet coconut notes, although there’s a tad more artifice to the sweetness this time. With water: cooking oil, trail mix, a hint of sugar syrup and plenty fresh, newly sawn oak! Finish: medium. All on suncream, condensed milk, a wee drop of mint julep and some more sugary cocktail syrups. Comments: Not my cup of thing I’m afraid. Too many splinters for my taste. Having said that, it’s a perfectly fine, high-octane blend and would no doubt make a very refreshing highball...
SGP: 841 - 78 points.



Chichibu 2011/2016 (62.4%, OB for USA, cask #1367, port pipe, 618 bottles)

Chichibu 2011/2016 (62.4%, OB for USA, cask #1367, port pipe, 618 bottles)
The barley variety for this one was called ‘Braemar’ apparently. Colour: light amber. Nose: prickly and peachy in equal measure. That is to say, rather peppery and hot while at the same displaying notes of peaches in syrup, rum ‘n’ raisin ice cream, strawberry wine, cloves and spiced custard. Also some unlikely things such as Tizer and Irn Bru mixed together (It’s been done, I promise), juicy fruit chewing gum and a suggestion of Greek Retsina wine. I find it rather charming. With water: more pine notes such as pine cones, precious hardwood saps, big, earthy, strong black teas and some darker fruits such as figs and prunes. Also gets leafier and more towards tobacco. Mouth: The first thing is that it’s reminiscent of grappa, remember, even in Japan, a pipe is a big cask and four years is still pretty young so the distillate is still a rather loud and boisterous toddler. But it’s already clean and fruity and bready so it works well. Some allusions to the raw barley, sourdough and crusty brown bread. But then also raspberry cordial, elderflower, mint leaf and prune juice. A strange character indeed! With water: really good now! Syrupy, sweet green tea, lemon cordial, fresh barley, a good young VSOP Cognac, sweet custard, lime leaf, tarragon, mint extract and tea tree oil. Also some hawthorn and wormwood. Finish: long, leafy, lots of bitter lemon, coal dust, fruit loop sweeties, some youthful white port and resurgent bready touch. Comments: A bit scattershot at times, but it pulls itself together with a splash of water and you can’t help but fall under its very entertaining spell. Now, full term in Port is another matter entirely from finishing or re-racking I suppose...
SGP: 661 - 87 points.



Chichibu 7 yo 2010/2018 (59.6%, OB, cask #2633, cream sherry hogshead, 285 bottles)

Chichibu 7 yo 2010/2018 (59.6%, OB, cask #2633, cream sherry hogshead, 285 bottles)
Also distilled from the Braemar barley varietal. You don’t see too many ex-cream sherry hoggies about, this should be interesting... Colour: amber. Nose: oh! But what’s this? Sweet raisins, sultanas, fig jam, mint leaf, pear syrup, hessian, herbal teas, wild strawberry, a sliver of pecan pie and some bitter chocolate! A superb nose. Lush, old school sherry richness and all these wee notes popping out all over the place. Add glace cherries, fruit loaf and sweet liquorice! With water: develops in a sort of ‘new world’ direction, that is to say: lots of breads, cereals, light spices and toasted seed notes. Some lemon peel too. Pure, clean and very lovely. I feel like water is effectively brushing away the sherry and bringing out the distillate - not unlike the helicopter-induced speed-excavation of the velociraptor skeleton at the beginning of Jurassic Park (we’ll watch it one day Serge, I promise!). Mouth: mocha, chilli infused hot chocolate, sweet cherry beer, star anise, limoncello, brown bread and lime cordial. Superb! With water: a very direct spicy/bready mix. Some residual raisins and sultanas, damp leaves, espresso and general red-tinged fruitiness. Finish: long, bready, getting rather meaty as well with notes of Bovril, game and then instant coffee and Brazil nuts. Linger, leather and earthy. Comments: very very good! This kind of cask at circa 10 years of age will really be quite something.
SGP: 671 - 88 points.



Chichibu 9 yo 2009/2018 (63.1%, OB, cask #2352, white wine cask, 245 bottles)

Chichibu 9 yo 2009/2018 (63.1%, OB, cask #2352, white wine cask, 245 bottles)
9 years old? Time is well and truly airborne it would appear. Also, this one was distilled from barley variety called ‘Tipple‘. Is that a Japanese offshoot of the ancient indigenous Scottish variety ‘Bevvy’ I wonder? Colour: deep gold. Nose: turbo charged mature Sauternes! Behind that there’s apricot conserve, baked apples, glazed pastries and Cinnamon Graham’s breakfast cereal. These various garden and orchard fruit notes increasingly manifest as liqueurs and syrups giving a very textural feel to the nose. Add to that some sultanas, a little fig, tobacco leaf and perhaps a wee touch of melon too. With water: eases into itself perfectly with water developing notes of satsuma, kumquat, sweet muscat and various pollens and wildflowers. Mouth: the alcohol is indeed rather feisty but the sweetness and richness of the fruits is also very ‘present’. Spiced fruit chutney, toffee apples, plum sauce, five spice, some kind of exotic fruit-infused mead and more wee notes of cinnamon, all spice and crystallised orange peel. There’s an increasing earthiness as well and even a tiny glimmer of rancio. With water: Pow! really comes into its own with water. Orange blossom, rosewater, incense, mandarin liqueur, poppy seeds, various fruit jams and heather honey. Finish: long, lightly sappy, full of warming wood spices, some hops, red liquorice, eucalyptus and menthol tobacco. Still a beautiful, lingering natural sweetness. Comments: I’d be intrigued to know the kind of white wine cask this was matured in. That aside, however, this is a terrific wee Chichibu: sweet, savoury, succulent, textural and complex. But water is pretty essential I’d say.
SGP: 751 - 90 points.



And now for something slightly similar...  


Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries + Peated (61.3%, OB, bottled 2018, 129 bottles)

Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries + Peated (61.3%, OB, bottled 2018, 129 bottles)
A vatting of regular Chichibu, peated Chichibu and aroun 5% Hanyu, so I’m told. Colour: white wine. Nose: peated malt sitting in malt bins is the initial impression, which means we’re pretty close to the raw ingredients. It’s gets better still with these notes of lemon barley water, oily sheep wool, lanolin, brine, ink and new leather. There’s also suggestions of goats cheese rolled in ash, straw, herbal tea and pure sea salt. Purity is very much the watchword so far. With water: gets very ‘fermenty’ with water. Towards sourdough, active yeast, lemon juice, whelks and other raw shellfish notes. Notes of wet kelp and rope as well. Mouth: big, rather immense and very chiselled stuff. We’re getting towards this blade-like, pin sharp profile more akin to a good Caol Ila. Only here there’s also an added layer of farmy funk that drifts in after a while. Some beach pebbles, mechanical oils, engine grease and dried seaweed in strong ramen broth (man I really want some ramen now, dammit!) With water: pure kiln smoke, soot, kippers and peppered mackerel. Strong soy sauce and miso (ramen again!), more ashy notes and a rather bright lemony aspect. Finish: long and throwing up more mineral, pebbley notes. Some green olives, preserve lemons, smoky grist and light tarriness. Comments: Like so many of these bottlings from the Chichibu ‘stable’ I find this one a tad all over the place in some ways but not in a negative way. This to and fro between cask and spirit - or in this case peat and malt - is often adding complexity, charm and entertainment to the proceedings. I suspect, over the next decade, we’ll start to see Chichibu itself settle down a little in style and start to emerge as something really special and idiosyncratic with a more assertive distillery character. I know this is a blended malt, but it’s the Chichibu component that really sings loudest and most beautifully.
SGP: 475 - 88 points.



Let’s finish with a cheeky wee Hanyu.  


Hanyu The Joker ‘Multivintage’ (57.7%, OB ‘Card Series’, 3690 bottles)

Hanyu The Joker ‘Multivintage’ (57.7%, OB ‘Card Series’, 3690 bottles)
A vatting of vintages from 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 2000 from a variety of cask types. Colour: light amber. Nose: certainly an older whisky profile after all these youngsters. It’s also what I’d term a more classical Japanese style. That is to say hot paprika, polished hardwoods, firecrackers, pot pourri, exotic teas, light soy sauce, meat stocks, sandalwood and hints of old medicines. With water: gets fatty, oilier, sootier, more towards mushrooms, leaf mulch, butterbean paste and damp tobacco leaf. A slight grubbiness emerges. Mouth: slightly mushroomy and rather earthy with bitter chocolate, black tea, herbal extracts, soot, lime leaf, mild curry powder and things like black pepper, truffle and graphite oil. It’s very good but a tad tough, which is something that I find with most Hanyus. With water: more wood spices, caraway, fruity chilli, paprika, leather, strong black tea, five spice, star anise and bitter herbal extracts like Unicum. Some gingerbread, horseradish and cumin. Finish: good length although not the longest. Towards dried tropical fruit chunks such as mango and papaya as well as red fruit teas, lime cordial, wood shavings, light tar extracts and more herbal, menthol, medical touches. Comments: I find these Hanyus a tad frustrating. There are aspects which are excellent such as the complexity and depth of flavour. But they can also tend towards being too hot, too extractive and too much hard work. It’s funny how far away we are from the blended malt and yet we’re in the same ball park as far as quality is concerned if you ask me.
SGP: 462 - 88 points.



Many thanks to Mr Phil of Dornoch Hotel Bar Castle Distillery!  




April 26, 2019


Off for the weekend.
Going back to Limburg am Spey after quite a few years.


April 25, 2019


A little bit of Tomintoul

It’s one of those ‘T’ malts, the ones that we were often forgetting about in the old days. I mean, we didn’t know a lot about anything that was happening after Talisker. But things have changed, partly thanks to that famous peated Tobermory – that’s right, Ledaig. And thanks to some old bottles of Tormore, but that’s another story…

Tomintoul 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Tomintoul 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
When we last tried this little expression, around ten years ago, I thought it was pretty mundane (WF 75). But they’ve changed the packaging (good one, S.) Colour: pale gold. Nose: floral, buttery, slightly metallic. Mashed potatoes, dandelions, sunflower honey, barley, hints of old tin box full of old herbal teas. A rooty touch too, celeriac, carrot… Mouth: it is fine, gentle (that’s their motto anyway), slightly toasted, with roasted peanuts, some molasses, Golden Grahams, peanut butter, and rather more burnt sugar after one minute. Malt bars, some kinds of energy bars (the Bon Accord in Glasgow is an energy bar too, ha). Finish: short, getting just a little bitter, like many other single malts in the same ‘entry-level’ category. Notes of Guinness. Comments: well, I like this newer batch better than last time, but perhaps am I softening a bit. No, of course not (insert appropriate insults here).
SGP:341 - 78 points.

Tomintoul 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2018)

Tomintoul 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
First time I’m seeing a 14 years old. Colour: straw. Nose: drier, more cardboardy than the 10, less fresh. Some medicinal touches (bandages), some grass, some wood (plywood)… Well it is not exactly what I would call a whisky to nose.  Mouth: more oomph, more presence, more wideness, less dry grassiness. In other words, good news, even if I would not call it Mister Deep. Some toasted bread, some oak… No, actually, it tends to become really dry and even bitter. Good rooty/earthy background, though, but you have to like them dry. Or on ice, I suppose. Finish: medium, dry, rather cardboardy. Cinnamon. Better aftertaste, maltier. Comments: same ballpark, even if I tend to enjoy the 10’s freshness a little better.
SGP:341 - 78 points.

W.M. Cadenhead, please come to my assistance…

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 12 yo 2006/2018 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon, 240 bottles)

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 12 yo 2006/2018 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon, 240 bottles) Three stars
Let’s prepare for some naked rawness. Really curious about this little-known lighter distillate (beyond the oak that we’ve just seen) … Colour: white wine. That’s a good start… Nose: well, it’s just as grassy and dry as the OBs. Porridge, ink, grass, iron, mashed chickpeas… With water: I don’t know. Mash, dough… Mouth (neat): ah, there, some fruits! Apples, pears, plums, then sweet barley and grass, mashed carrots, a touch of vanilla, one of muscovado sugar, and some stewed turnips perhaps? Baldrick’s favourite. With water: more fruits. Toffee apples, greengages… But it’s not a fruit bomb. Finish: medium, grassy. Apple peeling. Comments: not a very characterful malt, but it’s rather nice and friendly. Not a lot to say, really. Fair.
SGP:441 - 80 points.

Good, let’s call upon heavier artillery, and older bottles…

Tomintoul 39 yo 1972/2011 (45.7%, The Whisky Agency, Perfect Dram, bourbon, 112 bottles)

Tomintoul 39 yo 1972/2011 (45.7%, The Whisky Agency, Perfect Dram, bourbon, 112 bottles) Four stars
Let’s see if this one still roars. Colour: gold. Nose: all these old Tomintouls used to be delicately fruity, and this is no exception. I’m finding ripe melons and apricots, then a layer of soft aromatic herbs and flowers (pansies, perhaps), and then a little heather honey and maple syrup. Indeed it’s all rather delicate and, as we used to say in the old days, a little feminine. I suppose we’ll need another word… Mouth: heavy on oak and pinesap, but what’s behind that is pretty cool, that is to say a curious combination of old herbal liqueurs, saps, cordials, and medicines. Some cinnamon for sure, or rather some kind of cinnamon/menthol mix. Snuff. Finish: long, spicy, but still tense and tart, with some kinds of resinous lemons coming out now. Fine and funny. Comments: some action in this old one. I doubt anyone could find a bottle anywhere, but this kind of sappy oakiness is pretty spectacular. Some friends would either love it or pour it over vanilla ice-cream.
SGP:571 - 85 points.

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



April 23, 2019


Perhaps a little Deanston today?

A name that’s making great progress year after year. Let’s first have a young all-natural one, then what could be yet another odd winesky A.K.A. the Scottish premixes, and then an older one.

Deanston 10 yo 2008/2018 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 270 bottles)

Deanston 10 yo 2008/2018 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 270 bottles) Four stars
Colour: sauvignon blanc. Nose: sauvignon blanc. Yep. And limestone, grapefruits, muesli, gunflints, fern. Really a lot of flints – this is a genuine flinty whisky! With water (huge viscimetry!): perfect candle wax, paraffin, fresh barley, fresh white asparagus (season’s just starting…), chalk… Pouilly-fumé anyone? Mouth (neat): mirroring the nose, descriptor for descriptor. I could copy-and-paste but I’ll spare you that. With water: that. And yet more grapefruits. Finish: long, really very flinty. We’re almost sucking flints and assorted pebbles. Nice bitter/grassy aftertaste. Comments: this little Deanston is full of rectitude, shall we say, but not only for whisky masochists (ex-cu-se me?) Perhaps a little segmenting at times, as they say in Paris, but I like it (as they say in London).
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Deanston 9 yo 2008/2017 (58.7%, OB, Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured, 3240 bottles)

Deanston 9 yo 2008/2017 (58.7%, OB, Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured, 3240 bottles) Two stars and a half
Three-thousand-two-hundred-and-forty bottles of ex-claret Deanston? That’s what I call having faith in the future. Colour: orange amber. Nose: nice-ish. Buds and leaves (cherries and blackcurrants), peonies, then rose petals and muscovado sugar, heather honey, fresh walnuts… Much less horrendous than I had expected, but I know they know how to do these at Deanston. That is to say, with moderation. With water: some creamy vanilla (should be French oak, though), whiffs of young bourbon (same comment), sweets, a pack of jelly beans, something very game-y and tobacco-y…  It is quite a beast. Mouth (neat): well, this is odder. Eating leaves, violet sweets, raspberry drops, bitter cactus, sweet chilis, bone dry Madeira, mustard, some walnut wine… This is clearly a winesky in my book. With water: I find this bittersweet side a little disturbing. Pepper and nutmeg plus blackcurrants and cherries again. Very young claret from a greener, tenser vintage. There 1975. Finish: long, spicy, grassy, bitter. Not very easy. Comments: really more than okay, and I thought the nose was nice. I found the palate a little more unlikely. Remember, when they were using Bordeaux casks in the old days, those were usually transport, not château. If I’m not mistaken!
SGP:461 - 78 points.

Deanston 19 yo 1999/2019 (53.1%, Asta Morris, bourbon, cask #AM130)

Deanston 19 yo 1999/2019 (53.1%, Asta Morris, bourbon, cask #AM130) Four stars
Before all that Brexit stuff, AM used to mean Aston Martin in my book. Asta Morris, why not!  As long as it’s not Austin Morris… Right, right, to the whisky… oh and there’s a frog on the label, is that some subliminal message? ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: same territories as those of the Cadenhead, only with more porridge and muesli, sourdough, fresh orchard fruits and mint leaves, rhubarb, perhaps sorrel, surely watercress, a few drops of manzanilla (soft mustard, walnuts, brine)… All very fine so far. Sesame seeds, perhaps. With water: gets chalky. Have we mentioned Pouilly-fumé before? Mouth (neat): wonderfully fresh, full of mint and aniseed, then pears and pineapples as well as more muesli and some kind of sour syrup. Canadian apple wine, perhaps? With water: it’s almost a carbon copy of Cadenhead’s youngster. Perhaps a touch of sweet ale here? Cider for sure. Finish: long, a little sharp – which is great – and still a little eau-de-vie-y. Say wee plums. Some lemon too. Comments: a tad austere, but that’s one of its main assets. Probably rather for seasoned malt enthusiasts; I think I’m pretty seasoned (that’s right, S., that’s right.)
SGP:461 - 87 points.

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


April 21, 2019


Simply more rum

Today let’s try to slalom between the nasty sugar-doped ones, if you don't mind. But let’s see, after all they exist and we cannot only taste the good ones. That would make the whole idea of a whisky/spirit blog rather shaky, no?

Los Valientes 15 yo ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Mexico, +/-2018)

Los Valientes 15 yo ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Mexico, +/-2018) Three stars
The name refers to some old heroes of some kind of revolucion, which is always very bad news with rum. Now it also seems that it’s a blend of pot-stilled cane juice and columned molasses, which sounds good. Having said that, I don’t think we could trust the age statement. Indeed, with most rums, ages are just numbers (take that, Scotchland!) And this is made by the makers of Mocambo – while I rather enjoy Mocambo. Colour: amber/brown. Nose: yesss! Smoked chocolate, charcoal, burnt wood, espresso, black cigars (Maduro – I’m sorry), with a little pinesap and menthol in the back of the background. There’s also a growing earthiness, a bit in the style of those Madeiran agricoles. Mouth: there is a little sugar but that’s fine here, really fine. Excellent chicory, coffee, ganache, chocolate, with even a discreet maltiness somewhere. What’s not that nice is that as always, the sugar tends to come to the front and wreck a bit the whole experience. But no worries, we’re far from any, say Zacapa levels. Finish: medium, earthy and chocolaty. Quite a lot of muscovado sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: really good, even if we do not quite reach the high levels of the Mocambos ‘barrica unica’. Those are fantastic. Oh and build no walls!
SGP:652 - 81 points.

Depaz ‘Rhum Vieux Agricole’ (45%, OB, Martinique, +/-2018)

Depaz ‘Rhum Vieux Agricole’ (45%, OB, Martinique, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
It is well from some plantation (Montagne Pelée), that’s not just ‘a word’ here. These rhums are usually 3 years old or a little more. Colour: gold. Nose: quite a lot of liquorice-y oak, then this typical agricole side, hard to describe, as well as some fresh and overripe bananas and pineapples. What I enjoy is that there was a lot of coconut in earlier batches (old livery), while this one seems to be straighter. Mouth: fine, cane-y, a tad chocolaty and a little too oaky/soapy for me, with notes of hand cream and toothpaste. In short, some unexpected perfumy touches, no ideas about where they come from. Geranium. Finish: medium, with the same slightly strange flowery/perfumy side. Hibiscus? Comments: still some good, solid, honest agricole rum IMHO.
SGP:641 - 78 points.

Rhum J.M ‘Multimillésime 2003-2004-2005’ (42.5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 13,000 bottles, +/-2016?)

Rhum J.M ‘Multimillésime 2003-2004-2005’ (42.5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 13,000 bottles, +/-2016?) Four stars and a half
You got that, this is a vatting of three vintages. As you may know, fresh cane juice is distilled very quickly, so vintages make as much sense as with wine brandies, for example. That’s not quite the case with grains that are usually dried and often not used in the year of harvesting. Colour: deep gold. Nose: fantastique. Makes you speak French. Exceptional honeys, beeswax, chocolate, raisins, cane juice, turmeric and ginger (lightly), ground mocha, tobacco, metal (old copper coins), roots (fresh carrots), mint, sage… Oh wow! Mouth: very high class, oaky but in a perfect way, with a very specific combination of liquorice and fresh walnuts (works a treat), more honey, touches of blood oranges, cinnamon, liquorice allsorts, almond cake… IT is perfect rhum, really. Finish: medium, honeyed, smoother. Marmalade and liquorice, then roasted pecans and cashews, with something oriental. Korma sauce. Comments: loved this one, I think it’s very impressive. It’s just that they should rather bottle these batches at 45 or 46% vol., to make them total hits beyond the friendly rum folks.
SGP:552 - 89 points.

Hampden Estate 2014/2018  ‘Secret Cask’ (44%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, batch #L01062018)Hampden Estate 2014/2018  ‘Secret Cask’ (44%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, batch #L01062018)

Hampden Estate 2014/2018  ‘Secret Cask’ (44%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, batch #L01062018) Five stars
This one was matured in new American oak. The price is very fair, I think (49 Swiss francs, gruezi!). Colour: pale gold. Nose: once you’ve been infected and this style runs through your veins, you cannot fight anymore. It’s like with old Ardbeg. Amazing brine, seawater, olives, new plastic, ink, kippers, Barbour wax, shoe polish, and ‘stuff’… Mouth: at first you’re a bit surprised by the relative lack of power in the arrival, but that’s a mistake because the wave is coming. Seawater and olive brine plus ink and polishes and all that, with just a touch of apricoty vanilla (and why not?) from the fairly sweet oak. Excellent. Finish: long, very coastal. Olives, lemons, seawater, oysters, old tarry ropes. Yeah, and ‘stuff’. Comments: Hampden = my desert island rum. Perhaps even my desert island spirit – but do they do double magnums? And at 44% vol. you don’t even have to toy with your pipette and your bottle of Vittel.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Water and a pipette? Let’s try that…

Hampden Estate 17 yo 2001/2018 ‘Secret Cask’ (61.3%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 380 bottles)

Hampden Estate 17 yo 2001/2018 ‘Secret Cask’ (61.3%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 380 bottles) Five stars
I totally love it that the very honourable bottlers would mention that this old Hampden at this crazy strength was racked in some ‘Ex North British Grain Distillery Bourbon Hogshead’. As if that would change anything ;-). Colour: straw. Nose: millimetric, ultra-precise, diesely, tarry, hugely brine-y and very cane-y. Utter perfection so far. With water: same. No problems, on the contrary. Actually, you do feel North British’s influence and… Of course I’m joking. Mouth (neat): very high esters, sharp Spanish olive oil (try the one that Clos Mogador are making in Priorat, it’s stunning but hard to find), the most mineral Austrian rieslings, the saltiest Dutch liquorice, and the most wonderful Breton belon oysters. Oh and the best German Spargel/asparagus from Baden. Viva Europa and just s***w any inward-looking, mentally defective forms of nationalisms! (S., please, I know it’s your blog but this is not the place!) With water: great, but extremely varnishy. Love that in this context, but some friends may find this a tad extreme. Not yours truly. Finish: very long, on airplane model cement and fallen olives. That’s right. Comments: one of the very few Grands Crus of rum in my opinion. Crazy stuff. What’s more, and I know this is controversial, but I do appreciate the fact that some (probable) European ageing prevented it from becoming pure oak juice, even if that part is a little less romantic, and less impeccable as far as Facebooked marketing stories go. But as always, the truth lies in the glass. I wanna marry this rum, but North British grain (probably maize!), pfff…
SGP:373 - 93 points.

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


April 20, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Arran Vs Orkney 
Finally, once and for all we’ll discover which of these famous Scottish Islands is the best! 


Arran 21 yo 1995/2017 (49.5%, Cadenhead 175th for Berlin Shop, hogshead, 270 bottles)

Arran 21 yo 1995/2017 (49.5%, Cadenhead 175th for Berlin Shop, hogshead, 270 bottles)
Colour: orangey gold. Nose: orangey indeed. Blossom honey, orange peel studded with cloves, some grated nutmeg, chamomile tea, fruit loaf and stem ginger in syrup. A rather glossy nose with plenty of crystallised fruits and things like quince, poire williams and mixed citrus peels. There’s a nice note of furniture polish as well which gives it an impression of being slightly older than it is. Custard and sweet wines too. All very lovely. Mouth: sweet and very syrupy. Then some deeper and rather peppery wood spice aspects. Pot pourri, cinnamon bark, tobacco pouch, old leather, young dessert wines. Pretty excellent in my book! Crystallised orange peel, sultana, lime leaf and a wee nibble of rancio. Finish: medium in length and rather towards the wood but it’s clean and fragrant with hardwood shavings, saps, dried herb mix and sandalwood. A hint of star fruit in the aftertaste. Comments: Quite simply, a really great wee Arran that is wise beyond its years but still alive and a wee bit mischievous. One of my favourite Arrans ever in fact. 
SGP: 551 - 89 points.



Arran 22 yo 1996/2019 (49.6%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, hogshead, 276 bottles)

Arran 22 yo 1996/2019 (49.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 276 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: this one is more savoury and fragrant. More immediately towards sandalwood, lemon peel, bracken, heather, plum jam, gooseberries and rather a lot of fresh pastries such as croissant, brioche and fruit muffins. Fruity cereal bars, muesli, golden syrup and flapjack. Some elegant heathery notes in the background as well, alongside some melon, guava and banana bread. Another really excellent mid-aged Arran. Mouth: lots of fruit lozenges and hard boiled fruit sweeties. Mint tea, orange soda, light hessian notes, pink grapefruit, fizzy sherbet and vitamin tablets in soda water. Whereas the 95 was more wood-dominated, this 96 is all on easy going fruits and pastries. Green apples, pears, more gooseberry and a wee scattering of dry cereals. Finish: good length, all on dried herbs, bouillon stock, fruit syrups, honeys and some tobacco leaf and old shilling ales. Comments: Despite the obvious differences in profile between these two - which I really enjoy - I find it extremely hard to pick a favourite. They’re both pretty excellent and very pleasurable drams. 
SGP: 641 - 89 points. 



Over to you, Orkney...



Orkney 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.5%, North Star, hogshead, 370 bottles)

Orkney 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.5%, North Star, hogshead, 370 bottles)
I haven’t checked the co-ordinates so I’m not sure if this one also hails from that infamous illicit Orkney still at Mrs Cameron’s house...? Colour: white wine. Nose: lots of chalk, bandages, pebbles and lime. Something slightly funky and earthy underneath as well. Continues with distant peat smoke, ink, crushed sea shells and plenty of freshly milled grist plunging into a mash tun full of seawater. Superbly fresh and characterful stuff! With water: develops this rather fresh linen and fabric side. Beach sand, bath salts, mineral oil and putty. Mouth: slightly tart, bitter herbs, quinine, lemon barley water, sea salt, very light antiseptic notes and things like beach pebbles and crushed aspirin. More raw barley and some heather and hessian notes. Some crab meat, light medical notes and soft waxiness. With water: again gets drier, more fragrant, more towards linens, oils, light herbal notes, citrus fruit peels with slightly bitter pith notes and more mineral aspects. Finish: long, herbal, medical, lemony, sooty and getting increasingly mineral. Comments: Some of these stocks are just superb! These casks at 15-20 years old will be totally thrilling I think. I hope someone is saving a few... 
SGP: 362 - 89 points. 



Highland Park 27 yo 1986 (45.1%, SMWS 4.202 ‘Salt and pepper’, refill hogshead, 261 bottles)

Highland Park 27 yo 1986 (45.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.202 ‘Salt and pepper’, refill hogshead, 261 bottles, +/-2014)
Colour: light gold. Nose: bruised cider apples, heather honey, soft seashore notes and a little herbal medicine at first. The height of loveliness and very much on the lighter, easier side of Orkney. Lots of sea greens, gorse, heather, beach pebbles, gomme syrup and wee touches of pineapple and mint. A scatter of toasty cereals as well. Perfect age and strength make this very approachable, the kind of gentle and evocative character that can only really come from patience and refill wood. Mouth: simple and easy but rather beautiful in its elegance and subtly. Gentle wood smoke, white pepper, warm kiln air, mineral smoke, flints, lemon rind, tiger balm and soft sooty notes. A few green fruits, some pink peppercorns now, guava, mandarin, exotic spices, sultana and gentle medical touches. Finish: good length. On green teas, soft seashore notes, mineral oil, lemon infused olive oil and buttery cereals. Comments: Quite simply another very good Highland Park, captured at a supremely quaffable age and strength. The kind of bottle that can mysteriously evaporate during a rainy evening stuck in a Kirkwall hotel with an oversized Alsatian winemaker. 
SGP: 462 - 90 points. 



Orkney wins by a midgie’s eyebrow! But let’s be boringly political and call it a draw.





April 19, 2019



Wee battles,
today Allt-a-Bhainne




Allt-a-Bhainne 26 yo 1992/2018 (51.6%, The Single Malts Of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, cask #36, hogshead, 279 bottles)

Allt-a-Bhainne 26 yo 1992/2018 (51.6%, The Single Malts Of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, cask #36, hogshead, 279 bottles)
Whisky people used to say there was always at least one ‘great’ bottling from every distillery. The search continues in the case of Allt-a-Bhainne. Although, in all fairness, the search goes on with quite a few of them really. So that sentiment is largely nonsense. Indeed, people used to say lots of things... Colour: oaked chardonnay. Nose: gentle to the point of timidity at first nosing. Grass, olive oil, some shy green fruits, apples, pears, distant custard. If someone did one of those little pots for a nosing kit labelled ‘nice malt whisky’ they might use this. Some butter, some cereal, some more general garden and green fruitiness. With water: fruity mueslli, sweet porridge, lemony, cereal, lightly grassy, some youthful dessert wine. All perfectly fine. Mouth: easy arrival on bubblegum, juicy fruits, fruit salad sweets, runny honey and some sweet cereal notes. All very clean and pleasant but it’s just a tad hollow and generic is the only problem. More light custard notes, some lemon peel and apricot jam. With water: sweet, easy, green apple, some white chocolate, mint tea with lemon. Simple but very easy. Finish: medium, getting ever so slightly dryer, a twist of white pepper, some citrus pith, cornflakes and maybe a bit of vanilla. Comments: If you just want some very easy, simple, inoffensive malt whisky flavoured malt whisky then this will do the job. It’s just not particularly exciting or interesting. The search continues...
SGP: 431 - 80 points.




Well, we’re having the very same Allt a Bhainne here at WF Towers, so why not taste it as well? Knowing that we shall not read Angus’s comments before we’re done, in true Malt Maniacs fashion?

Allt-a-Bhainne 26 yo 1992/2018 (51.6%, The Single Malts Of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, cask #36, hogshead, 279 bottles) Three stars and a half
I often tell that old story and shall tell it again. Around 2005 there were rumours that Allt a Bhainne had been mothballed, so I contacted the PR department of the French owners and asked them whether that was true or not. A few weeks later, the answer came in: “Are you sure it belongs to us?” Same story at another French company by the way, around the same period or a little earlier. I was enquiring about any possible special single casks, as they had just bought a famous distillery on Islay. Their answer has been this: “You must have it wrong, indeed we just bought a Scottish Distillery, but the name’s Glenmorangie, not the one you just mentioned”. It was Ardbeg. Anyway, things have changed indeed… Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s very fresh, mostly on plums and peaches, as well as gooseberries, perhaps. In the background, some sweet barley, or perhaps maize. Barley syrup. With water: very fresh, a tad grassier, fully on green and yellow orchard fruits. Mirabelles and greengages. A touch of paper and ink in the background – indeed, magazines. Mouth (neat): a tad prickly, green, on cider apples and grapefruit skin. Tart and green indeed, you could believe it’s some ex-re-re-re-refill Bladnoch. With water: rounder, rather more on plums and pears. A touch of cinnamon, grist, porridge… Finish: medium, on dough and the same fruits. Overripe apples and pears. Comments: I’ll check Angus’s score later (I’ve seen it but I swear I’ve forgotten what it was), now given that it’s very good but a tad middle-of-the-road-ish and maybe lacking character, that would rather be…
SGP:541 - 83 points.

And so, I win! (that was easy)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Allt-A-Bhainne we've tasted so far


April 18, 2019


Perhaps some Cragganmore

There aren’t many around, that’s an euphemism. But we still manage to do a proper wee Cragganmore session every year, don’t we!...

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars and a half
Not a very recent bottling but there, that’s what we have. Colour: pale gold. Nose: like! I think it’s better-defined than older bottlings, fruitier, fresher, less cake-y/malty perhaps… Some oranges, quinces, pink rhubarb (stewed), pomegranate jam… There’s also something clearly floral, with rose petals, litchi, orange blossom…  Mouth: oh no! It lost its freshness and got rather bitter, too grassy, cardboardy, with notes of ground coffee (already brewed)… Really a shame. I believe the low strength is the guilty party here. Finish: short, a tad nicer thanks to pleasant notes of oranges, Jaffa cake… Comments: many Classic Malts remained as good, some ever better than earlier versions, but I’m not sure that’s the case with little Cragganmore. Next year, perhaps?
SGP:351 - 78 points.

Cragganmore 21 yo 1989/2011 (54.5%, John Milroy Selection, refill hogshead, cask #2882)

Cragganmore 21 yo 1989/2011 (54.5%, John Milroy Selection, refill hogshead, cask #2882) Two stars and a half
Imagine Master of Malt still have samples of this rather obscure bottling. Colour: straw. Nose: grass and cardboard, carbon paper, porridge, fresh bread, green asparagus (not the same thing at all as white asparagus, that’s a fact). Really very austere and shy. With water: some finer, maltier touches, baguette, wholegrain bread, notes of damp hessian, grist… Mouth (neat): fine arrival, wackier development. Lemon powder, some stuff by The Coca-Cola Company, limoncello… All that is very fine, it’s just that the whole’s a little wobbly, with this cardboard here and there. With water: some liquorice, a littler linseed oil, stems and leaves, some vanilla… Finish: medium, a touch bitter. Orange skin. Comments: not the easiest malt whisky ever. But the Milroys, that’s the good old times…
SGP:361 - 79 points.

Cragganmore 33 yo 1985/2018 (53.4%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary , hogshead, cask #1241, 199 bottles)

Cragganmore 33 yo 1985/2018 (53.4%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary , hogshead, cask #1241, 199 bottles) Four stars and a half
I find it extremely cool that Signatory would have kept some old Cragganmore! Not that they grow on trees… Colour: pure gold. Nose: wham! Old bourbon, vanilla, earl grey, box of cigars, miso soup, camphor, lavender (touches, do not worry), pine sap, drops of yellow Chartreuse… Perfecto! With water: ho-ho-ho, it’s turning around, with bandages, old ointments, mercurochrome, pine sap, camphor, eucalyptus, Vicks’ very best, assorted pain relieving rubs… Mouth (neat): it’s funny that it would start rather bourbony again (and I mean Papy-y stuff and such), as well as rather plankish – but not problems at all here. Vanilla pods, some herbal teas (many of them), cedar wood… Hope it’ll swim well, could be tricky given the oak… With water: it gets gentler, rather cake-y and a little sour in some corners… All that in a good way. Finish: rather long, flirting with the limits of oakiness at times, which, in my book, will prevent it from making to 90. Oh well, you’re right, who cares…  Comments: it’s not impossible that this old Crag’ was better when Signatory celebrated their 20th, but we’re really getting too fussy down here, aren’t we.
SGP:451 - 88 points.

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


April 16, 2019


Irish downs and ups

It looks like we have a few Irish on the tasting table. I was having high hopes quite some years ago, but there’d been way too many ‘fake’ own whiskeys since back then. Sourcing is fine, but trying to let the public believe that you made your whiskey yourself is just demoralizing and bad for the whole category if you ask me. And not many people will be ready to surf the Web (remember when we used to surf the Web?) for hours and hours to unearth the truth. Same with Japanese malts by the way, but so, we said some Irish…

South Boston Irish Whiskey (40%, OB, Irish, +/-2017)

South Boston Irish Whiskey (40%, OB, Irish, +/-2017)
Better have a world map at hand now, because this is Irish whiskey imported and bottled by a certain ‘GrandTen Distilling’ company in South Boston, Massachusetts. Not sure whether it’s a blend, a malt, or a pure potstill, but their website would certify that ‘the traditional Irish method favors malted barley in the mash bill and copper in the pot still’. Okay, good, fine, thank you. A blend. Colour: pale gold. Nose: glue, grass, ink, banana liqueur, cardboard, wood alcohol, all that while then amp wasn’t working. Pretty weak. Mouth: no, it’s weak and disjointed, with a sugary side, cheap liqueurs, and then this feeling of cardboard and sawdust you’ll find on any supermarket’s lower shelves. I mean, in the bottles that are dying there. Finish: very short, with a little sugar and burnt wood. Comments: only in long drinks and only with a lot of ice. Some poor blended Irish – but I do love Boston!
SGP:530 - 40 points.

Good, I think we’re done with the apéro…

Cooley 11 yo 1992/2019 (49.5%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, barrel, 162 bottles)

Cooley 11 yo 1992/2019 (49.5%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, barrel, 162 bottles) Four stars and a half
Good, aren’t they better at making or bottling whisky than at math, in Campbeltown? And naturally, all online merchants to repeat the mistake ad libitum, as if no one would notice. So, 11 yo or 1992? Or, wait, some relabeled old bottle and actually no mistake? Because it IS a new bottling. We’ll find out, but first, let’s try this baby, while remembering that the early peated Cooleys had been instant hits back in the days. Colour: white wine. Nose: very peculiar, very unusual. Old tin box, copper kettle, mango peels, then some kind of camphored and mentholated porridge, a new pack of menthol cigarettes (Mum’s Kools back in the 1970s), and massive amounts of farmy molecules, old shed, yard mud, hay, clean cattle, cut grass… Mouth: starts with big lemons and simply peated barley, then that smoked porridge that someone will make and sell one day (you say that already exists?) It’s a tad binary, but in a perfect way. I remember when we first tried the peated Cooley around the early to mid 2000s, that was blind and that happened on Ardbeg’s car park during the festival. Big surprise (come on, the crime has been expired!) Finish: rather long, smoky, farmy, and rather less lemony. Big menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: some say that mathematics is never going to lead us to a higher truth. Unlike whisky/whiskey.
SGP:456 - 89 points.
UPDATE: Thanks to several friends, especially to Roland and Julian, we found out that the cask had been exported from Ireland to the UK (Campbeltown) at the age of 11, while under Irish whiskey law, only years spent in Ireland do count for the appellation. Which implies that should have CAD displayed an older age, such as the actual age, the whiskey would have lost the ‘Irish’ appellation. Funny, isn’t it!

Irish Malt ‘Very Old’ (49.6%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 123 bottles, 2016)

Irish Malt ‘Very Old’ (49.6%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 123 bottles, 2016) Four stars and a half
Called a summer dram on the label, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re rather going towards those famous ueber-fruity Bushmills, and indeed this ones ridden with passion fruits, mangos, pink bananas, guavas (very obvious, those guavas), then rather western orchard fruits, around plums, while the tropical fruits would rather bow out, which is funny. Perhaps not Bushmills in that case… Mouth: oh very good, if a tad varnishy at first. A perfect blend of pear and banana juices, with a dollop of guava juice again and touches of very fresh almonds, almond milk, or even oat milk… And a little barley syrup. Finish: fresh, fruity, with notes of pineapple this time. Perhaps a little sage? Comments: excellent, if perhaps not as majestic as those fantabulous 1988-1992s that the indies were having not too long ago. Oh and Teeling’s…
SGP:741 - 88 points.

Speaking of which… (well done S., very well done, really, we’re all impressed.)

Madra 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.4%, The Whisky Cask Company, bourbon, 156 bottles)

Madra 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.4%, The Whisky Cask Company, bourbon, 156 bottles) Five stars
A new one by our friends in Bern, capital city of Switzerland! Colour: gold. Nose: huge fruits! More fruits than in fruits, bananas, maracuja, papayas, guavas, the whole lot. What’s also really amazing is the way many smaller herbs and teas start to come out after those massively fruity first whiffs, with chamomile, very honeyed flowers (wallflowers), hay, lime blossom, honeysuckle, dandelions… It’s totally spectacular. Some are still wondering why Diageo have sold all those casks at that time, because they sure are of ueber-OB quality. Mouth: oh! Totally in keeping, full of tropical fruits, nut oils (hazelnuts, almonds, sesame, pine) and just absolutely marvelous. Possibly one of the very best irish whiskeys ever, really (together with a few sister casks that have already been bottled in the not too distant past). One could drink this all night while watching the most distressing series on Netflix – and still be happy. No I haven’t tried that. Finish: medium, a tad more herbal, always very elegant, with these wee mentholy touches that do come with age (I mean, in whiskies). Oranges. Comments: what’s Madra? Other than that, what an Irish stunner (sad to see it leave the EU, remember Bushmills’ in Northern Ireland)!
SGP:751 - 92 points.

Calls for a sister cask…

Capall 26 yo 1991/2018 (50.5%, The Whisky Cask Company, first fill bourbon barrel, 175 bottles)

Capall 26 yo 1991/2018 (50.5%, The Whisky Cask Company, first fill bourbon barrel, 175 bottles) Five stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: crikey, I may like this one just as much, and yet it is much more herbal and grassy, less emphatic, less of a fruit bomb. There’s a little more dough and porridge as well, more damp earth, more sunflower oil, more mint, more camphor, and less wham—bam mangos and tralala passion fruits. With water: indeed, more on peels and fresh herbs. Lovage, rhubarb, green melons… Mouth (neat): no wait, we’re on fruits again, it’s just that it feels much stronger and a tad rougher. How bizarre that’s only .9 more degrees! Or a psychological effect, perhaps, as there’s clearly a kind of border at 50% vol. With water: ah, fruits up, all neat and tidy, just like a pretty little chorus line. It’s extremely good whisky. Finish: long and extremely complex. I’m even finding a little salt mind you, green bananas, butternuts, plantains, wild cardoons (I think this is the first time I’m using that descriptor, may not use it again!) Comments: one day, we’ll all say ‘we were dumb not to snatch up all those old Bushmills while they were still easily available’. Anyway, different profiles, same extremely high levels. I really is baffling that I’ve never encountered this level in any official Bushmills. Unless I haven’t been paying attention, which is not impossible.
SGP:651 - 92 points.

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


April 15, 2019


Three little Imperial

That’s the thing with older whisky commentators, I haven’t quite realized yet that Imperial’s become a lost distillery! To think that it’s been demolished six years ago, how time flies. Let’s see what we have…

Imperial 1997/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Distillery Label)

Imperial 1997/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Distillery Label) Four stars
Hope they’ll never stop making these old-school Distillery/Licensed labels! Colour: gold. Nose: sometimes the 43% are really a blessing (while 40% just never really work). Indeed, I really like this lightness, the freshness, and yet the complexity, and yet the easiness. Wonderful notes of marmalade, cigarette tobacco (I often quote Camels but that’s Camels as they used to smell thirty years ago, haven’t smelled any since back then!) then puréed chestnuts and a few smaller mushrooms in the woods. Say, wait… Blue clitocybes a.k.a. laccaria amethystina? They’re excellent and often come around boletus. Will have to start mushroomfun.com one day. Mouth: interestingly old-school, you’d almost believe it’s a bottle from the 1970s, with quite a lot of OBE. So more mushrooms, roasted nuts, a touch of wax and oil (rapeseed), then rather roasted chestnuts and some kind of earthy, almost smoky nuttiness. Smoked almonds? Once again, the lower strength works perfectly well, I wouldn’t ask for one single extra-%. Finish: medium, complex, earthy, nutty, with some tobacco and drops of acidic coffee. And some OBE! (nah, nothing to do with the British Empire, even if this distillery was called Imperial, err, well…) Oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, while I remember some earlier semi-official Imperials by G&M had been much more unlikely.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

Imperial 21 yo 1997/2018 (50.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #2472, 215 bottles)

Imperial 21 yo 1997/2018 (50.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #2472, 215 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: fully on raw barley, paraffin, candle wax, and grated orange peel. That’s not a lot of aromas, I agree, but they do the job so far. With water: diesel and boat engine oil, plus raw wool and hessian, with only touches of pineapple and grapefruit in the background. Did Imperial have a subsidiary on the coast? Now it would rather go towards bubblegum after five minutes. Wine gums. Mouth: very good, very interesting, pretty unusual. As always, you can’t tell if there’s something from the cask’s previous content, in this case plain and pure peat, but what’s sure is that it’s much smokier than your average ex-refill Speysider. And more lemony. Rather feels like an excellent blended malt, there, I said it. Unless they used to do very small peated batches at Imperial? With water: well, not so sure anymore. Whatever, it’s very good. Juicy Fruits, jelly beans, pomelos… and not much smoke that I can still get. Maybe was that me. Finish: medium, fruity, almost bonbony, and yet never, ever dull. Banana sweets. Comments: intriguing, and excellent.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2018 (44.4%, Carn Mor, Celebration of the Cask for The Whisky Barrel, bourbon barrel, cask #4191, 42 bottles)

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2018 (44.4%, Carn Mor, Celebration of the Cask for The Whisky Barrel, bourbon barrel, cask #4191, 42 bottles) Four stars and a half
42 bottles? That’s very micro, and yet it’s no octave. Cool. Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, old leathers, patchouli, old wardrobe, even mothballs (just one tiny ball), some caraway, wormwood, absinth, chartreuse, tobacco, pinewood, fern, humus… This is very complex, something’s happened with this cask. Mouth: what’s this sorcery? It’s excellent if a little dichotomic, with some bright fruits on the one side (grapefruits first) and some curious very peppery/herbal elements on the other side. Behind that, the same pine-y profile as on the nose, with various essential oils, some pinesap, some menthol cigarettes (or some snuff), and all that. Finish: long, even more on mentholy spices. Grapefruit fighting back in the aftertaste. Comments: blimey, it’s very unusual, very interesting, and very good to boot… And there are/were only 40 bottles. Life’s not fair.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

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

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



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Capall 26 yo 1991/2018 (50.5%, The Whisky Cask Company, first fill bourbon barrel, 175 bottles)

Madra 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.4%, The Whisky Cask Company, bourbon, 156 bottles)

Hampden Estate 2014/2018  ‘Secret Cask’ (44%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, batch #L01062018)

Hampden Estate 17 yo 2001/2018 ‘Secret Cask’ (61.3%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 380 bottles)