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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2021 - Part 1


March 2021 - part 2 <--- April 2021 - part 1 ---> April 2021 - part 2


April 13, 2021


Glen Garioch, some older ones

Perhaps not a very useful session, but there. Older vintages of Glen Garioch, such as 1968 (ah the sherried OBs), or 1971 (Samaroli!), or 1975 (remember Slim Cowell?) have got a huge reputation. Most were much peatier than more recent outputs, sadly the 'lavender incident' (to put it mildly) that struck Bowmore in the 1980s did hit same-owners Glen Garioch as well, albeit les consistently. We'll try to avoid those today, with first a few babies from the 1990s before we jump further into the past…

Glen Garioch 26 yo 1991/2017 (51.6%, Maltbarn, for Ramseyer's Switzerland, bourbon)

Glen Garioch 26 yo 1991/2017 (51.6%, Maltbarn, for Ramseyer's Switzerland, bourbon) Four stars
Another one that I had stupidly neglected when it came out. No whisky ship in Luzern this year again, sob… Colour: yellow gold. Nose: oh, buttered porridge and fresh kougelhopf! Also brake dust, concrete, old barrels and dunnage, crushed green bananas, cider apples and just chalk. Typical austere GG, less on orchard fruits than others. With water: fresh panettone and focaccia, we're in Italy this time. Mouth (neat): very unusual, with a lot of orange blossom water, citron liqueur, then beeswax and just paraffin. Green tea, a little fresh-sawn oak. Lovely. With water: this tiny soapy touch that was not unseen in GG, otherwise beeswax, with a few drops of lemonade and one of gin-and-tonic. Party time! Finish: medium, fresh, with a little more ginger tonic and beeswax, plus orange blossom water again. This combo really works. Comments: high class, toeing the 88% line.
SGP:552 - 87 points.

Another older recent bottling that I should have tried before…

Glen Garioch 23 yo 1992/2015 (56.4%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask #HL11308, 243 bottles)

Glen Garioch 23 yo 1992/2015 (56.4%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask #HL11308, 243 bottles) Four stars
Stags and deer always belonged to GG – I agree, to numerous other old brands as well. But that was before Mr Mongiardino, of Moon Import fame, started to become more liberal with his whisky labels and to use cars, octopuses, spiders, costumes or assault rifles – no, not assault rifles. A trend that's become the norm at most indies – and at Ardbeg. Quite. Colour: straw. Nose: same style as that of the Maltbarn, with much concrete, green apples and muesli, but also a curious feeling of petroly riesling, which I find absolutely gorgeous. With water: gets medicinal, with some aspirin, bandages, and really a lot of (bread) dough. Very much 'Glen Garioch'. Some custard too, fresh brioche with some orange blossom water… Mouth (neat): heavy chalkiness, heavier porridge, sour creams, bone-dry white wines, grapefruits, plus yet again this wee feeling of mineral dust. Sucking the sleave of your jumper at school. With water: all on chalky grapefruits and dough, that's how I would summarise all this awesome development. Finish: long, on the same scheme. Comments: pure Glen Garioch. Once again there was a touch of soap too, forgot to mention that. No worries, no Parma violets either.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Let's go down the vintages now and start a proper, albeit short verticale (and jump over the 1980s like Carl Lewis)…

Eastern Highland Malt 1975/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, Fragments of Scotland, 648 bottles)

Eastern Highland Malt 1975/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, Fragments of Scotland, 648 bottles) Five stars
We'll do this one quick because we already assessed it, back in 2005. But this is another bottle and by Vishnu, I cannot resist this opportunity, since we're doing a verticale of Glen Garioch. Probably one of the earliest examples of a 'secret malt' everybody used to know about what it actually was. Mr Samaroli wouldn't hide it anyway. Colour: white wine. Nose: these bottles are an embarrassment to today's world of whisky. What an epic and glorious nose, so complex, so medicinal, so full of 'resinous' fruits, of tar, of Band-aid, germoline, creosote, mentholy bananas (why didn't God actually create that kind?), various waxes, old coats and furs in an old wardrobe, old books, lanoline… Well the list is just endless. Mouth: high power and high concentration, you do feel that this is a powerful young malt that was duly refined in its bottle for more than thirty years, just as Mr Samaroli intended. Amazing medicinal and citrusy notes, plus mints and eucalyptus, roots, myrtle, sorb berries, many waxy elements, some salt, a petroly side, chalk of course, tar, gentian… What a maelstrom. Finish: sadly not eternal, but that's good since we may go on with our little verticale then. Keyword: waxy smoky lemony chalk. Comments: we could (try to) write a book about this one, but no worries, you're safe. I had it at 94 and won't change my score, but I'm sure 95 wouldn't have shocked any friends who know this splendour. An ode to Mr Samaroli's shared beliefs in glass ageing. Or as he used to say, refining.
SGP:564 - 94 points.

It's so cool to be able to do such a verticale, I do feel like I'm in the year 2000 indeed !

Glen Garioch 1973/1987 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.2)

Glen Garioch 1973/1987 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.2) Four stars and a half
I had never tried this one, but I remember Angus did. Let's not read his notes then… This might be rocket fuel anyway, unless, bottle ageing… Colour: gold. Nose: it is rather less smoky than the 1975 (hope that one wasn't harboured in an ex-Islay cask, but that wouldn't have matched Samaroli's ethics), but it is more metallic, with more metal polish, a handful of old copper coins, some coal and some hessian, old tarry ropes, some kind of orange-flavoured marzipan, drops of maraschino, green walnut liqueur while I'm at it, bitter cordial… In fact it's almost as complex as the 1975, just less smoky and medicinal. Intriguing. With water: all waxes and oils in the creation, that's all. Plus indeed metal polish and perhaps green vegetables. As dry as the driest dry white wine. Some old champagnes get a bit like this. Mouth (neat): extraordinarily lemony and petroly, but also really very strong. Bitter beers and perhaps a taste of light, which may happen with some old bottles. Water's needed again anyway. With water: it's a little tough to have it right, you'd almost need an electronic pipette fitted with artificial intelligence (soon at Huawei's). Paraffin and green vegetables? A lot of chalk for sure, and probably a little rubber. Chewing a rubber band. Finish: long, with a feeling of grittiness, with some green tannins, and this soap in the aftertaste (bad OBE in this case)… Comments: this one was glorious at times but very tough, with some old bottle effect starting to pull out a little too much rubber and even plastic. Heart or mind? Okay, mind…
SGP:272 - 88 points.

Checking Angus' notes now… All right, he loved it and had it at 95. Bad OBE indeed, I'm sure.

An official please…

Glen Garioch 1972 (43%, OB, for Oddbins, +/-1995)

Glen Garioch 1972 (43%, OB, for Oddbins, +/-1995) Five stars
I don't think I ever wrote any silly lines about this one, but the reputation is high and most certainly deserved. Having said that I totally fell in love with its sister from 1971, back in 2007 (WF 95). Colour: golden bronze-ish/copperish amber (what?) Nose: whilst 40% are often too weak, 43% sometimes work beautifully and this is a clear example. 100-year-old Yquem, precious palo-cortado (I remember some crazy old decanters by Barbadillo), box of old Cuban cigars, 'old Jag', old books, dark pollen, metal polish, pinecone smoke, balsa wood and incense sticks, tiny white pineapples (the name escapes me), dried bananas… This is really funny; it tends to move towards fab old rums. Very old agricoles? Mouth: this is so totally funny and unusual! There's a very specific mix of tropical fruits, for example, these tiny litchis, small bananas, pomegranates for sure, wild strawberries (and the liqueur made thereof)… and then off to smokier pastures, with black tobacco, black tea, raw chocolate, even grilled beef, all that with a tiny bit of violet sweet in the background. But not that one.  Finish: almost long, rather more on coffee and chocolate, with more old sherries and walnut wines and cigars and… Well, it's time we called the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, don't you think. I'll still mention some wild strawberries making sheep's eyes in the aftertaste – with a wink. Comments: I'm not saying it wouldn't be even better at 45%, naturally, but wow. Now rather than the well-known peaters most good folks often quote, I'd rather say 1940s Macallan.
SGP:653 - 94 points.

Glen Cawdor 16 yo 1968 (43%, Duthie for Samaroli for Valentino Ramelli, 360 bottles, +/-1984)

Glen Cawdor 16 yo 1968 (43%, Duthie for Samaroli for Valentino Ramelli, 360 bottles, +/-1984) Four stars and a half
There are many opinions about Glen Cawdor, some saying it was Springbank, others that it wasn't always the same distillery, and other yet that it was Glen Garioch which, incidentally, could be mistaken for Springbank in some vintages. Well a fairly logical explanation would be that Samaroli used the name Glen Cawdor just to have various 'brands' in his portfolio while he was having a lot of Glen Garioch and the market wasn't ready to 'swallow' it all. What's sure is that he used the very same label for some Glen Garioch too. But I'm not dead sure about all that, if I'm wrong I'm sure I'll get emails from trustworthy sources and shall update… Colour: light gold. Nose: yeah well, the problem is that indeed, this could be Springbank. There's a lot of heather honey, beeswax, hessian, raw wool, old sweet wine, panettone yet again… But it is neither petroly nor ueber-waxy. Having said that, many 1968 GGs we've known had been buried under tons of sherry, so it's hard to say. See how boring those 'secret' single malts are? They already were more than thirty years ago! And instead of enjoying this baby, we're focussed on trying to detect clear distillery markers. Blimey! Mouth: much more 'Glen Garioch' on the palate, that is to say chalky and even metallic, with some plasticine, amaretti, morello cherries, a dry smokiness, raw chocolate, dough, even beans… Some notes of bubbleless Schweppes and chlorophyl. Definitely rather austere. Finish: medium, dry, smoky, austere. Bananas and moderately big chardonnay in the aftertaste, plus this very GG wee soapiness. Comments: these riddles could spoil your pleasure! Anyway, in my opinion this is neither the best Glen Garioch, nor the best Springbank by Samaroli. What Highland Park? Of course not…
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Further down… I mean down the vintages...

Glen Garioch 1967/1997 (40%, Samaroli, cask #659, 260 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1967/1997 (40%, Samaroli, cask #659, 260 bottles) Three stars
See, Samaroli have used that Glen Cawdor label for Glen Garioch later on. The only thing that's a little surprising is why 40%. Maybe did they buy some ready-bottled stock? I'm full of doubts here but this is not 'normal'. Colour: full gold. Nose: wow, so intense, on gentian, turmeric, mangos, bananas, celery, almond croissants and vanilla. It's almost narrow and 'simple', but it is totally perfect. Wonderful freshness but naturally, at 40%, the palate might be, well, let's see… Mouth: perhaps not quite, it's very dry, almost cardoardy here and there, even if the smoke, tobacco, tea and chocolate are all well in place. And I'm afraid the wee soapiness came to the front. It is all a little bizarre, this is not a very old bottle… Finish: short and dry. Comments: not too sure. I wouldn't mention OBE in this case and it is a fresh sample from a good bottle, which hasn't spent decades near a heater (but who would do that?) Nutshell, a rather odd bottle by Samaroli's usual extremely high standards. Well, that's my opinion. But having said that, wow, what a nose (hence my goodish score).
SGP:363 - 82 points.

Good, perhaps a last one at some solid strength?

Glen Garioch 1957/1987 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, for 30th anniversary of Il Salumaio del Montenapoleone, 240 bottles)

Glen Garioch '1957'/1987 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, for 30th anniversary of Il Salumaio del Montenapoleone, 240 bottles) Five stars
Crikey, I'm am just deciphering the label and am realising that this is actually a 1975 and not a 1957! It was that 'Salumaio del Montenapoleone', a restaurant in Milan, that was founded in 1957. Tricky old labels but anyway, 1975 was a great vintage, it's just that my sacrosanct verticale has been chattered. I tell you, this better be good… By the way, it is a single cask. Colour: straw. Nose: very pure, very mineral, with a delicate coastal-type smoke and some wonderful notes of bananas and guavas. A lot of chalk too, whiffs of menthol and pine resin, also yellow peaches, also chardonnay. Around the Montrachets, if you really need an area. Indeed, top-notch wine-malt. With water: perfect zing. Actually more a Sancerre-type of very chalky wine. These kinds of noses just floor me because of their purity and precision. Mouth (neat): splendidly medicinal and mineral, with crystallised citrus and zests plus a perfect 'resinous' smoke. Stunning tightness, this one never loses focus. We'll call it Leica (ha-ha). With water: waxes in force and lemon zests. And yet it's rather fat, deeply textured malt whisky. Hope they haven't broken the mould and that future GGs will come close to this style again. Even if it's perhaps a tad uncommercial. Perhaps. Finish: long, incredibly waxy, clean, citrusy, doughy, perfect. Comments: you could say this is Clynelish, no one will laugh. Indeed, high-definition, grand-cru quality malt. Forgot to say, it does taste of barley too.
SGP:453 - 93 points.

(Merci beaucoup Angus, KC, Lucero)

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


April 12, 2021


Glen Geerie

That would be Glen Garioch. Let's do some fresh young ones first and then perhaps find a few oldies from the Distillery's heyday…

Glen Garioch 'Virgin Oak No. 2' (48%, OB, +/-2019)

Glen Garioch 'Virgin Oak No. 2' (48%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
Better do this one first. NAS and new oak, what could go wrong? I remember the first batch, back in 2013, was extremely tannic (WF 70) but the world is all about progress, is it not? Colour: gold. Nose: the noses are always fine, in this case full of quince jelly, papaya and guava, cider and plum pudding. Tarte aux quetsches, bettelman (Alsatian clafoutis – right), bread pudding, nougat. No complains at all this far, on the contrary. Come on cheeks, tighten up… Mouth: oak-doped for sure, this is more an oak concoction than 'whisky'. This feeling of having downed the whole teapot (I mean its content) plus turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg at the power of two. Some oranges and apples are trying to find their way in this forest but that's really too tough. A spoonful of curry powder. Finish: long, spicy and tannic. Green walnuts, resins and cracked black pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a true lumberjack's tipple. Not quite my style I'm afraid.
SGP:271 - 72 points.

We did that one first because the other OBs we've got should be smoother…

Glen Garioch 17 yo 'The Renaissance 3rd Chapter' (50.8%, OB, 2017)

Glen Garioch 17 yo 'The Renaissance 3rd Chapter' (50.8%, OB, 2017) Four stars
An expression ex-bourbon and sherry that came out three years ago, and which we hadn't noticed. I thought the first Renaissance, a 15 yo, had been rather excellent back in 2014 (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: a feeling of oak-aged pear eau-de-vie at first, which I would enjoy, then rather yellow melons and peaches, then a stroll in the woods, with mosses, damp earth, fern, mushrooms and lilies of the valley. Some freshly squeezed blood oranges, that's so good for our immunity!  With water: gets a little coastal, on beach sand, then strawberries and mint, a summery combo that's most enticing. Mouth (neat): a little bit of peppery oak at first, reminiscent of the Virgin version, but on a most solid body with caraway, walnutty oloroso, those williams pears, and a little bit of resin and even smoke. Pinecone smoke. With water: lovely resinous oranges, shall we say? Some kind of Spanish cordial. Finish: rather long, on earthy bitter oranges. Very good. Comments: most likeable. Why didn't we notice this one back in 2017?
SGP:452 - 86 points.

And one thing leading to another…

Glen Garioch 18 yo 'The Renaissance 4th Chapter' (50.2%, OB, +/-2020)

Glen Garioch 18 yo 'The Renaissance 4th Chapter' (50.2%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
Not too sure when this fourth and last rendition in the Renaissance series came out, 2019 or last year? This is ex-sherry and bourbon as well. Colour: gold. Nose: more oak it seems, more tea, leaves, tobacco, less sherry, but this feeling of wandering throughout some inhabited woods is remaining. More moss and mushrooms, fir honey, more fudgey oak too, then butterscotch, orange cake… With water: the butterscotch won it. Gets very cake-y. Mouth (neat): big, spicy, peppery, a little hot. Dried apples, ale, a drop of teppanyaki sauce, ginger liqueur… Not very easy to pin down, water should help. With water: oranges and ginger coming to the surface. Finish: rather long, spicy, on bitters and caramel, with a pine-y background. Comments: actually a tiny notch gentler than the 17, but of similarly high quality.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Perhaps some natural IBs…

Glen Garioch 11 yo 2008/2020 (55.3%, Lady of the Glen, bourbon hogshead, cask #3194, 320 bottles)

Glen Garioch 11 yo 2008/2020 (55.3%, Lady of the Glen, bourbon hogshead, cask #3194, 320 bottles) Three stars and a half
This one's as pale as an East-German Sylvaner, which is good news. Colour: East-German Sylvaner. Nose: you got to love these makes that are this close to the original distillate, this time on grist, cut apples, green pears, kohlrabi, bubblegum and marshmallows. Malt whisky, just matured, not flavoured. With water: wonderful chalky and medicinal development, reminiscent of the 1970s at GG. Aspirin, lamp smoke, polish, plasticine… Wow. Mouth (neat): some would find this too new-make-y, but I don't. It's really eau-de-vie de barley, akin to that Cadenhead style, circa 1995. Grass, celeriac, apples and various fruit and vegetable peelings, distilled. Stuff for roughnecks and connoisseurs alike. With water: same, more or less. The old GG-style doesn't quite come through this time. Was I only dreaming? Finish: long, raw, hot, new-make-y. Well well well. Comments: the old style only glimmers and falters here, like an old candle in an old monk's study (S., please!)
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glen Garioch 8 yo 2011/2018 (58.4%, Dram Mor, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #2698, 240 bottles)

Glen Garioch 8 yo 2011/2018 (58.4%, Dram Mor, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #2698, 240 bottles) Four stars
Aqua-vitae ex-machina, I suppose. Colour: straw. Nose: ah, some smoke! Coal smoke, burning grasses and leaves, preserved artichokes, green peppercorn, old newspapers, some rosemary, candlewax, garage floor… Yeah, to each his own. With water: hey, chalk! Wonderful. Mouth (neat): oh very good! A touch of coconut for starters (no problems) and then sweet herbs, agaves, greengages, that flatbread they have in many middle-eastern countries, ginseng powder… I think I really like this. With water: excellent, top-notch distillate, fatter and 'rather a little phenolic'. Finish: long, same. Lovely. Peaches. Comments: doesn't 'Dram Mor' mean 'drink a lot'? Not sure I agree with that motto, but this is more proof that they've tried to get back to the ancient style at GG – without the 1980's lavender that is. A superb little mor-e-ish drop.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

And one thing leading to another (again)…

Glen Garioch 8 yo 2011/2019 (52%, Asta Morris, bourbon and rum, cask #AM075, 272 bottles)

Glen Garioch 8 yo 2011/2019 (52%, Asta Morris, bourbon and rum, cask #AM075, 272 bottles) Four stars
Well, this one's been finished in an ex-Bielle cask. I'm not fond of that idea, on the other hand I am a fan of Bielle (that's rum from Guadeloupe). Who said life was easy? Colour: pale white wine. Say Belgian chardonnay. Nose: it's a blend, really. Both spirits are noticeable, that's probably because Bielle's a characterful rum. I'm not saying this doesn't work, I'm just saying it is a blend of spirits. Olives, paraffin, peaches, grist, moss, leaven bread. Oh hell, why not? With water: saponification to the maximum, let's wait… … … … More brine! Olives, anchovies, liquorice wood, tar… Didn't we say Bielle's a very characterful rum? Mouth (neat): hybrid, salty, olive-y, bready, in short metanoia in spirits. Oranges and bananas save it. With water: seawater and lemon juice. Finish: long, same. Olives. Comments: much fun here, but in my humble opinion, this is Bielle finished in Glen Garioch rather than the opposite. Very good transatlantic fun indeed.
SGP:463 - 85 points.

Glen Garioch 2011/2020 (46%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS20009, 330 bottles)

Glen Garioch 2011/2020 (46%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS20009, 330 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather smoky and gristy Glen Garioch, with crushed bananas and dough, fermenting fruits, fresh bread, concrete and flints, baker's yeast, more bananas, then thicker beers. Weizenbier? Some mead too. Lovely nose. Mouth: a tad dirtier, more on bizarre mashes, damp newspapers, scoria, barley wine, perhaps some thyme, green plums, gooseberries, green grapes, grass, green tea… Finish: medium, on the same grassy notes. A smokier signature, with some thicker ale in the background, as well as a little salt. Comments: a rather fermentary and mashy young Glen Garioch. A good, solid drop if you enjoy your malts al natural as much as I do.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Good, seven's a good number, but I think we'll be back tomorrow, with some older GGs…

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


April 11, 2021



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!


Rums on Sunday, looking for malternatives

Will the quest ever be over?

Merveilleux Falernum (19.25%, Ferroni, France, +/-2020)

Merveilleux Falernum (19.25%, Ferroni, France, +/-2020) Four stars
'Spice, rum and magic', that sounds like the name of power trio, circa 1972. Think early ZZ Top. Now let's be honest, I had no idea about falernums, what they were, how you make them, and why they were not the drinks of Roman centurions, despite the name. Sure I could do more research, but life is short. So this is 'falernum'… Colour: orange gold. Nose: like this really a lot. Some kind of complex liqueur, with rose petals, a feeling of gewurztraminer and viognier, church incense, perfumed letters, jasmine, ylang-ylang, pre-Erdogan Turkish delights… I love this nose, really. Mouth: very sweet (probably too sweet) and pretty light (probably too light) but the flavours are right, more or less the same as on the nose, but with this terrible feeling of being able to quaff a bottle every day that God makes. Finish: not too long and probably rather too sugary for me, but technically pretty perfect. Comments: with teppanyaki-ed peanut-covered foie gras, perhaps? Please take my score with a huge grain of salt, I know nothing about… hat's the name again? Right, 'falernum'…
SGP:730 - 85 points.

Off to Mauritius…

Chamarel 4 yo 2014/2019 (58%, OB, Maurice, 2284 bottles)

Chamarel 4 yo 2014/2019 (58%, OB, Maurice, 2284 bottles) Two stars
This is French-style Mauritian rum, so ex-pure cane juice. It's very young, let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: grasses and rubber, plus green melons and apples and a touch of vanilla and wax. Not too sure, this is harsh and narrow. Strange… With water: cane juice and lady's moisturiser, drops of pastis. Mouth (neat): aniseed, liquorice and grasses, we're reminded of some cachaças. Or extreme absinths for tourists. Then preserved peaches and amyl diacetate. It's too strong, really. With water: touches of earth, liquorice wood, wormwood… Finish: long, grassy harsh. Lemon and pastis. Comments: I'm dead sure you could intellectualise it a lot and find it utterly great after seven glasses; this dog don't bark that way.
SGP:441 - 72 points.

Chairman's Reserve 8 yo 2012 'Master's Selection' (46%, OB, for Salon du Rhum Belgique, Ste Lucie, bourbon, cask #413072007)

Chairman's Reserve 8 yo 2012 'Master's Selection' (46%, OB, for Salon du Rhum Belgique, Ste Lucie, bourbon, cask #413072007) Four stars
This baby was made in the John Dore 1 and the Vendôme pot stills. Colour: full gold. Nose: brand new scuba diving suit and old tyres, then wee flowers (woodruff, mullein) plus lime blossom and lemon grass. I know it doesn't sound like this, but it is pretty ex-tra-or-di-na-ry. Mouth: superb. Perfect freshness (mint and liquorice), then tiny herbs (watercress, alfalfa), then the largest bag of liquorice allsorts in the world, sprinkled with a few drops of lemon juice. Hope you see what I mean. Finish: buy the heaviest Dutch liquorice, let marinate in kerosene for three weeks; and congrats! Comments: to think that we used to find Port Ellen 1978 extremely liquorice-y! Now careful, you shall not quaff more than two glasses of this heaviest concoction in a row. It was a good idea to bring it down to 46% vol.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Bielle 2001 (52.2%, La Maison du Whisky Singapore, Transcontinental Rum Line, Marie-Galante, cask #35, +/-2021)

Bielle 2001 (52.2%, La Maison du Whisky Singapore, Transcontinental Rum Line, Marie-Galante, cask #35, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
Bielle, top-five rum distillery in the world. Fact. Arguments and any whining on a postcard, please. Colour: amber. Nose: oh. Very old palo cortado, plus the spent oils from an old Norton, plus pipe juice, plus old mint cordial, old chartreuse (I'm no chartreuse fetishist though), some kind of flower chutney, pralines, a drop of sweet teppanyaki sauce, chocolate, coffee, liquorice… With water: pineapple and broom. Liquorice allsorts. In short, more liquorice. IT seems that this is international liquorice day. Mouth (neat): holy featherless crow, what is this!? In truth it is extremely woody – tropical aging, well well well, catch time or catch wood… - then on menthol and liquorice. Superb but extremely heavy, quite a sledgehammer of a rum, this far. With water: it loves water. After all, Marie-Galante is a tiny island. Teak, liquorice, kippers, olive oil, salty lemons, oysters. Finish: very long, very coastal or pretty oaky depending on the amount of water you'll add. Comments: it's to be wondered, with these very restless spirits, if it wouldn't be better when the most distinguished bottlers would reduce it to appropriate strengths themselves. But stunning Bielle.
SGP:572 - 89 points.

Panama Rum (59.4%. La Maison du Whisky and Swan Song Singapore, Rum of the World, bourbon, cask #PA15SPMD90, 2020)

Panama Rum (59.4%. La Maison du Whisky and Swan Song Singapore, Rum of the World, bourbon, cask #PA15SPMD90, 2020) Two stars and a half
These cask numbers are pure torture. Panamanian rum too, sometimes, but I'm sure that won't be the case this time… Colour: full gold. Nose: sweet warm caramel, fudge, Camel tobacco, light molasses, pancake sauce, vanilla, coconut liqueur. Malibu aged in oak; in short, not the third world war. With water: wee whiffs of benzine, always a good sign. Grass, shoe polish. Mouth (neat): typically sweet and ethanoly. More coconut, but I wouldn't recommend you try to drink this without bringing it down to +/-45% vol. With water: fruit juices and Rivella. That's a drink we have here in Switzerland and Alsace. An acquired taste, as they say at Laphroaig. Finish: medium, a little sour. Comments: I utterly love Singapore and the Singaporeans (my brother used to live in Singapore and of course I used to visit him), but I'm not totally sure this is the best bottling they ever had in the Lion City. However, it's rather fine rum for sure. Panama remains Panama.
SGP:640 - 78 points.

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


April 10, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Assorted pairs and one triple!
Another largish, rather varied bag today. Featuring the return of Glenfiddich, I can't remember the last time I published notes for a Glenfiddich on these pages.


Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix (47.6%, OB, 2010)

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix (47.6%, OB, 2010)
I remember people were doing a fair bit of sniggering when this came out given that the story had a whiff of opportunism about it. However, I remember liking the whisky itself at the time and I don't think I ever tried it since, so let's correct that right now. Colour: pale gold. Nose: you do indeed get the impression there was a fair mix of ages involved. There's quite a few varieties of honey, brioche, crystallised citrus peels, candied hazelnuts, plum eau de vie, straw and linens. I find it a very attractive and easy nose. Mouth: the ABV works well here as I find so often with OB Glenfiddichs that the measly bottling strengths hurt them. Here's there's an oiliness to the mouthfeel with impressions of malt syrup, bergamot, lanolin and green apple peelings which all works very well. Some lemon cough drops, farmhouse cider and a few crunchy cereals. Indeed, it feels almost like a more rustic style of Glenfiddich. Mind you, what's more rustic than a collapsed warehouse roof? Finish: medium and rather peppery, nicely sweet, more of these robust and toasty cereal notes and some citrons. Comments: I still like it, quite a lot in fact. It feels like a full-bodied, extremely 'pop the cork and go' type of Glenfiddich. The ABV does a lot of heavy lifting here, but the assemblage of ages also feels pretty smart.
SGP: 551 - 84 points. 



Glenfiddich 1982 (58.7%, OB 'Private Vintage' for Craigellachie Hotel, cask #3672)

Glenfiddich 1982 (58.7%, OB 'Private Vintage' for Craigellachie Hotel, cask #3672)
Not too sure when this one was bottled, but probably a fair few years ago now
(I tried this one in 2007 - S.) Colour: buttery white wine. Nose: wooft, petrolic, greasy, mineral and very grassy. An extremely naked style of Glenfiddich that reminds you this is a direct fired spirit after all with these big, chunky and raw distillate vibes. Could almost be an early Manager's Dram, it has this kind of powerful, high-octane refill profile. Lots of barley extract, vapour rubs, wee mechanical touches, oily rags and mineral oils. I really like this so far. With water: wonderful now with water, kumquats, bergamots, lanolin, pastry dough, hessian, eucalyptus tea. Extremely aromatic and increasingly mentholated. Mouth: very firm, powerful and oily in texture. Barbour grease, embrocations, sheep wool oils, extra virgin olive oil, mineral oils, camphor and linseed oil. Did I mention oil? Also sunflower seeds, toasted brown bread and further green notes such as parsley and nettles. There is in fact a kind of austere Loire Sauvignon vibe about it. With water: I don't think it's as impressive as the nose. It's certainly very crisp, taut and austere, showing quite a lot of grass, vase water, subtle medicinal qualities and things like acid drops, crushed aspirin and wet moss. A really unusual Glenfiddich. Finish: good length, very chiselled, crisp, mineral, cereal, chalky and with wee hints of citrus piths and white flowers. Comments: I find it extremely amusing that they would select such a cask for the Craigellachie hotel bar. But then, perhaps after half a roast lamb, several magnums of claret and an 8 inch cigar you need some kind of roque kerosine Glenfiddich to cut through? Anyway, the palate was a tad too simple perhaps but otherwise superb!
SGP: 362 - 89 points.



Craigellachie 2011/2018 (67.9%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria Series', cask #900328, sherry hogshead, 100 bottles)

Craigellachie 2011/2018 (67.9%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria Series', cask #900328, sherry hogshead, 100 bottles)
Another from this series which features single casks partially bottled at younger ages and the rest left to mature further. Quite a fun idea I think. So far these younger ones have mostly been good but rather powerful and challenging. Colour: amber. Nose: initially rather leafy and full of freshly brewed coffee. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, strawberry sauce, balsamic and Cointreau. It's also surprisingly approachable at full strength, and I like the sense of 'Craigellachieness' that you get within all these sherried layers. With water: more directly bready, earthy and showing notes of black tea, soot, ginger liqueur and a hint of pomegranate molasses. Mouth: surprisingly fruity and playful. Notes of bubblegum and fruit salad juices, guava, melon, mango and gooseberry. A lovely mix of garden fruits and more exotic touches. Beneath that there's also a few notes of cereal, toasted bread and sweet chocolate sauce. Some darker and spicier fruit notes as well, like fig jam and prunes in armagnac. With water: the fruitiness is balanced by some deeper notes of chocolate, pine sap, camphor and things like plum liqueur, chopped walnuts, pistachio and kirsch. Finish: long, earthy, darkly fruity, gently waxy and getting more mentholated and herbal. Comments: extremely good young Craigellachie, a perfect balance of distillate and cask. I suspect this could be approaching the 90 mark with a few more years maturation.
SGP: 661 - 87 points.



Craigellachie 18 yo 2002/2020 (55.5%, A D Rattray, cask #5, bourbon hogshead, 277 bottles)

Craigellachie 18 yo 2002/2020 (55.5%, A D Rattray, cask #5, bourbon hogshead, 277 bottles)
I don't come across much from A D Rattray these days, which is a shame as they've done many very fine bottlings over the years. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pure cereals and bread dough. One of these almost ideologically 'refill' profile malts. In other words: extremely natural, naked, barley-driven and showing notes like buttered toast, crushed greenery, moss and plain breakfast cereals. This very natural quality is undeniably attractive in this case. With water: gets grassier, slightly rawer and almost grappa like. I even notice wee hints of grape must. Mouth: rather hot and prickly, perhaps almost too naked, to the point it feels rather youngish. Some touches of barley sugar, pollens, plasticine and sunflower oil. Softens a little after a while which is good. With water: certainly easier and lighter with a rather leafy green side. There's also some pollens, scone mix and more soft cooking oil notes. Finish: medium, lightly peppery waxy, more classical Craigellachie notes arriving just in time. Comments: We're almost in similar territory to these old Cadenhead Authentic Collection rocket fuel, bare bones distillate bottlings from the early 1990s. Perhaps a little too raw and naked? It's still very good with water though.
SGP: 351 - 84 points.



Islay 12 Year Old (40%, Waitrose, 1990s)

Islay 12 Year Old (40%, Waitrose, 1990s)
Waitrose is a supermarket chain here in the UK that is beloved of middle class people like me. Think of this as a kind of hyper-premium Ben Bracken of its day. There's an L code printed on the back that begins with 97 which would suggest 1997 as a bottling year to me. Certainly the bottle looks of that time. Colour: gold. Nose: it's just impossible with such bottlings for your brain not to go into 'guess the distillery' mode. There's an unquestionably lovely freshness about this one that's all on drifting peat smoke, beach wood, sand, lemon peel, grapefruit and seawater that simultaneously seems to suggest Bowmore and Laphroaig. But then again, if it was bottled late 90s you would suspect some perfume if it was Bowmore. Some kelp and tar bobbing about in there too. Mouth: you do feel the 40%, but you also feel a rather distinct impression of Laphroaig. Soft, furling peat smoke, TCP, wet rocks, iodine, beach pebbles and some wee hints of dried seaweed and anchovy. Probably extremely good value quaffing juice in its day. It's just a bit flat and sluggish with this 40%. Finish: good length in fact, still rather Laphroaig-esque. Some burnt rubber, charcoal, black pepper, plain peat smoke. A little bit acrid perhaps but otherwise very good. Comments: As I said, I'm afraid I'm far too much of a middle class Waitrose lover to be too critical of this charming wee bottle. Definitely feels like Laphroaig and a charming wee drop that would probably become weapons-grade if you were to consume it as highballs.
SGP: 465 - 86 points.



Islay No 4 11 Year Old 'Batch 1' (48.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1586 bottles)

Islay No 4 11 Year Old 'Batch 1' (48.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1586 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: ah, not a particularly peaty one. Rather this is on sea air, all spice and vanilla sponge cake. In fact it feels quite 'wood forwards' with these slightly sticky notes of custard and cream soda. Mouth: hmmm, not too sure about the wood here. Feels just too much, a little sticky, some pencil shavings with this impression of graphite, slightly sour in places with sawdust. Feels like some pretty active oak has been deployed. I'm not sure I'd have said this was an Islay given blind. Some additional notes of spiced teas emerge, along with pot pourri, cough mixtures and aniseed. Finish: good length and this is quite a bit nicer with herbal extracts, tea tree oil, jasmine and some kind of robust olive oil. Comments: I'm a bit unsure about this one. I liked the finish but the rest feels a bit disjointed and unlikely, I don't think the wood has integrated too well here.
SGP: 642 - 76 points.



Let's try to not end on a downer by turning to faithful Ben Nevis...



Ben Nevis 7 yo 2013/2021 (50%, Thompson Brothers, sherry butts, 1013 bottles)

Ben Nevis 7 yo 2013/2021 (50%, Thompson Brothers, sherry butts, 1013 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: already recognisably Ben Nevis, but here there's a lovely addition of fudgeyness from the sherry, along with a rather more rustic, farmyard edge as well. Camphor, damp earth, wine cellars, putty, leaf mulch and Irish coffee. Excellent! With water: prunes, calvados, bailed hay, tobacco, salted almonds. Pure class! Mouth: the youth is a bit more apparent here but this undeniably impressive. Juicy dark fruits such as sultanas, dates and raisins from the sherry, alongside some rather youthful Armagnac notes, mineral oils, camphor, toolbox rags and bitter chocolate with a little more hessian. With water: oily, camphory, leathery sherry with olive oil, chalk, cured meats, chocolate and some light medical notes. Finish: good length, more leathery and chocolatey sherry with roasted nuts, mineral oil once again and more coffee. Comments: What a brilliant distillate Ben Nevis is, and what an extremely smart wee bottling!
SGP: 562 - 88 points.



Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (48.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #1641, hogshead, 280 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (48.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #1641, hogshead, 280 bottles)
Most of the bottlings in this batch / series have been excellent, high hopes here… Colour: straw. Nose: wow, superbly fruity, one of the most immediately 'luscious' examples of these batches that I can remember. Immediate notes of pink grapefruit, mango, papaya and some wonderfully sharp flecks of kiwi and starfruit. It's this sense of tartness and sharpness that brings poise and a wonderful 'nervousness' to the overall profile. There's also the usual oily cereals and waxes too. There's always been something of an Irish accent about Ben Nevis and this one really recalls some of the more super-fruity late 80s Bushmills and Cooleys. Mouth: yes! Waxes, tangerines, passion fruit sours, mango juice, crushed nettles, pineapple chunks. Stupidly fruity and totally brilliant! Finish: long, this juiciness and fruitiness sticks around like bits of fruit salad pulp buried in your gums - amazing! Comments: sometimes you find a whisky that is just total, no-nonsense fruit juice. This is one such dram!
SGP: 751 - 91 points.



Ben Nevis 26 yo 1975/2001 (53.9%, OB, cask #945, 237 bottles)

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1975/2001 (53.9%, OB, cask #945, 237 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very different, but not completely so. More austere than the 96, but then again, a rainbow is more austere than that 1996! Anyway, more quietly on lemon cheesecake, shoe polish, barley sugars, young sauternes and usually delicate things like white flowers, chamomile tea, moss and vase water. Much more in the style and era of Ben Nevis when malt enthusiasm wasn't really sure what to do with it or where to put it. A very elegant and enchanting nose though I would say. With water: a little greasier, a little fatter and more towards old olive oil, cooked grains, mashed vegetables and barley sugar. Mouth: ok, here it gets more uncertain. Very 'old strange Irish' with these punchy notes of oily rags, metal polish, green malt and plastic. Indeed, these plastic and concrete aspects are a little too much, there's also a tiny shaving of soap somewhere in the depths. With water: ok, it cleaned up a bit, but it's still rather tough on metal polishes, varnish, concrete, aspirin, vase water and various greener and oilier aspects. Finish: quite long, faintly bready, some sour ales, camphor, putty, grass, rapeseed oil, coins. Funny stuff. Comments: I think it is safe to say that Ben Nevis absolutely improved since this era. Anyway, this is by no means a bad dram, it's just something that you probably have to intellectualise to enjoy. A fun session starter to bemuse your pals I suppose.
SGP: 541 - 84 points.



Thanks to Timo and Iain!





April 9, 2021


The Time Warp Session, today Aultmore

We always like to do these wee sessions. And no, the older bottlings do not always win.

Aultmore 11 yo 'Small Batch' (46%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, oloroso, 2472 bottles, +/-2018)

Aultmore 11 yo 'Small Batch' (46%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, oloroso, 2472 bottles, +/-2018) Four stars
All fine and well, but I'm not sure anyone will believe it was an 'exceptional cask' that they brought down to 46%, even if that's a strength we enjoy. What's more, 'small batch' and 'exceptional cask' sounds a bit like an oxymoron, don't you agree? If they're exceptional, why not keep them as singles? (S., nit-picker in chief.) Colour: dark gold. Nose: exceptional, I don't know, very nice for sure, with some bread pudding, ginger cookies, banana cake, heather honey, then rather sherry-like notes, pecan pie, walnut wine, pipe tobacco, even wee whiffs of sweet mustard sauce, sesame oil, then our beloved oranges… After all, could be that those casks were exceptional indeed! Very lovely nose for sure. Mouth: I was afraid we would go down two floors, but despite some slightly, say uproarious spicy tones from some active oak, it unfolds very pleasantly, on various cakes, tobacco, and roasted nuts (rather pecans and walnuts yet again). Rather a lot of bitter chocolate too, which tends to try to come to the front, making it perhaps a tad, well, bitter. Pleasantly bitter. Finish: medium, dry, rather on green walnuts. Always something that I enjoy. Very dry and bitter aftertaste. Comments: I shall call this a very good surprise, but you have to like them dry.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

I wrote some an extremely short note for this one ten years ago, time to do it properly…

Aultmore 1974/1988 (50%, Samaroli, 20th anniversary, 540 bottles)

Aultmore 1974/1988 (50%, Samaroli, 20th anniversary, 540 bottles) Three stars
Samaroli was located in Brescia, a name that really reminds me of Bugatti since one their earliest models was called 'Brescia'. But why am I telling you this? Perhaps because Silvano Samaroli could have been nicknamed 'the Ettore Bugatti of whisky'… (fast and no brakes).  Colour: light gold. Nose: definitely old-school Aultmore, much greasier than current offerings, waxier, more on leather and old ointments, polishes, old bits of metal, garage, a little marrow and venison burger (how very Scottish indeed – are you hungry yet?), gravy… That's all pretty perfect and nicer than I remembered it. With water: whiffs of wet cardboard and old books. Rather great on the nose, sometimes not such a good sign wrt the palate. Mouth (neat): it's true that some of these bottlings are starting to suffer from 'marginally excessive' OBE, with rather a lot of dryness, bitter herbs, leather, a wee feeling of leatherette or even plastic and soap, but all that remains very wee indeed… On the other hand, the core remains solid, fat, almost smoky, waxy, resinous… With water: no, water almost kills it. Cardboard everywhere. Finish: medium, dry. Comments: I had it at WF 88 ten years ago, so it wasn't a total blue chip anyway in my book, but things did not improve. Now, remember that as regard to OBE and oxidation, not all bottles behave the same depending on storage etc. So let's not jump to unnecessary conclusions!
SGP:262 - 80 points (for the nose).

Good, I feel we need another wee 11, as a bonus…

Aultmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #307294, 265 bottles)

Aultmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #307294, 265 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a blend of pear and mirabelle eaux-de-vies, really, with a little hotness in the background. Fruit stones; that's the mirabelles! I suppose we could have this as a 'canard', a few drops poured over a sugar cube. Mouth: all freshness and fruitiness, indeed an eau-de-vie, with hints of grappa this time. Decant this into a thin white bottle with a long neck and write 'tutti frutti' on the label, you'll fool a lot of people. Not that it's nice to try to fool friends, mind you. Finish: medium, with some bready and gristy notes kicking in. Comments: malt whisky al natural, most pleasant, to quaff just like this, without thinking about it too much.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Good, the Samaroli was 14, we could have another 14 too before calling this a tasting session.

Aultmore 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.2%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon, cask #306878, 209 bottles)

Aultmore 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.2%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon, cask #306878, 209 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: oh, pure custard and fresh fruit salad, with a dollop of soft honey (acacia) and an awesome and subtle earthiness. Old mosses, fir needles, and naturally, mushrooms (boletus). Some whiffs of old Jerez vinegar too, that's most lovely too. Yes I've seen it's ex-bourbon. With water: rounder, sweeter, mellower, easier. Ripe melons and quinces, pears, scones, vanilla. Mouth (neat): excellent citrus and grasses! Lime, lemon, peppermint, lemon balm, perhaps a touch of tarragon, probably a little Thai basil, with a little sugar too to make it rounder. With water: a few red berries chiming in, pomegranate… There's also a little more pepper. Finish: medium, fruity and bready. A light fruitcake. Comments: just super-good. Very well distilled, aged, and selected.
SGP:541 - 86 points.

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


April 7, 2021


A quatuor of Speyburn

I do believe Speyburn's one of the distilleries that made good progress recently, it's even become cult around Loch Ness, especially in Drumnadrochit.

Speyburn-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead) Three stars
I believe this is the series that's been replaced with the newer grey Original Collection. Colour: gold. Nose: modern, a bit pushed, which is not very Cadenhead in my book. What I mean is that there are tons of butterscotch and fudge here. I rather like that, but there, it feels a little pushed. Toasted brioche and roasted nuts too. Mouth: simply good, on similar notes of butterscotch and toffee, plus perhaps Christmas cake, café latte, chocolate... Finish: medium, a tad bitter now, with more cracked pepper. Bits of tobacco in the aftertaste – remember when some of us used to smoke untipped cigarettes? Gauloise? Gitanes? Roth-Händle? Belga? Alfa? Comments: from rounded and fudge-y to bitterer.
SGP:361 - 81 points.

An OB please…

Speyburn 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020)

Speyburn 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
The label tells you this is outstanding. We've been warned. Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical deep leaven notes, a little dairy cream, porridge, then rather sour fruits and spices, plus green walnuts, fino sherry, then pomegranates and khakis, blood oranges, Fanta (apologies to anyone involved), even tonic wine. This is very singular, sometimes a little rebellious, and never like other malts. Which is great, naturally. Mouth: oh well, let's say yes, beyond the very surprising spicy arrival on curry and cinnamon. Touches of chicken soup and bouillon, coriander, salt, gravy, soy sauce, turmeric, ginger… In short this is a fighter, for your hipflask rather than for your evenings by the fireside playing chess over the Internet. Tends to become rounder, smoother, and cakier, though. Finish: pretty long, with moe bitter notes, those bits of tobacco again, bitter oranges… Comments: there's something friendly in the wee malt whisky that's so different. One day we'll do a Speyburn vs Fettercairn vs Glenturret session.
SGP:362 - 86 points.

More craziness, perhaps…

Speyburn 2008/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Muscat finish, 140 bottles)

Speyburn 2008/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Muscat finish, 140 bottles) Four stars
These excellent folks in Ukraine are usually finishing their malts in local wine casks, some literally unknown to me. This Speyburn, for example, was finished in 'Muscat Dolce Passione'. Colour: gold. Nose: it doesn't feel too much. Muscaty aromas are easily recognisable, but I'm not finding any here, maybe is that me. I'm rather detecting ripe mirabelles, quinces, honeycomb, those panettones that I just adore, lemon and rhubarb tarte, macaroons, a little café latte… Well, could be that the cask did erase a part of Speyburn's 'funny aromas' (see above) and made it gentler and almost reminiscent of… Glenmorangie? Mouth: all right, Speyburn is back. Crunching pine needles, eating those bits of tobacco yet again, some thick walnut liqueurs, Maggi, wee bits of soapy paraffin, some bouillon… Well this one's not inert, there sure is some action in there. Finish: rather long and pretty bitter. Bitters, artichoke cordial, more paraffin, more bouillon… Comments: two whiskies in one, that is to say a gentle nose and a restless palate. Very good fun, which has to be rewarded, even if I'm not d down three cases.
SGP:361 - 86 points.

Back into time…

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Dumpy, 75cl)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Dumpy, 75cl) Five stars
I believe this one's also been bottled in a tall bottle with that black label – white panel. Colour: straw. Nose: it was a different whisky back in 1975, much more on citrus, especially lemons, plus a lot of chalk. But at 63.1%, you do not get much out of it anyway… With water: I find this rather sublime. An old forgotten bottle of Verveine, some much unexpected olive oil, lemons and lime, and simply a feeling of great white Graves. An old Laville, for example. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): immense chalky lemonness. Incredibly tart and pungent, but the attentive drinker will guess that things should go extremely well once water's been added. With water: and they do. I would ask you to call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade. Long story short, an avalanche of tighter citrus and grassy, bitter herbs. Quite sublime, if a little challenging. Finish: very long, on the same notes. Extremely fresh, with a little mint as well. Comments: this is the joy of these tastings. Once in a while, you stumble upon something completely unexpected. Now, go find a bottle of this…
SGP:471 - 92 points.

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


April 6, 2021


Five official Glenturrets and an IB

It's true that we've found quite a few 'bizarre' Glenturrets in the old days. It's also true that I've heard good things since the new owners took it over from Edrington, a few years ago, but I was still to try the new bottlings. What's more, Glenturret belongs to Lalique, the famous crystal makers that are located in Winger/Moder, in the north of our dear Alsace. Having said that, the owners of Lalique are Swiss.  They also own the famous Villa Lalique restaurant (two-star but easily worth three stars IMHO), home to one of the greatest sommeliers, Romain Iltis, who pioneered the concept of verticality in wine. Which does not, mind you, consist in drinking a lot of wine and/or spirit while managing not to fall flat on your face. Anyway…

Glenturret 'Triple Wood' (43%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 'Triple Wood' (43%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Three stars
The obligatory NAS, aged in ex-bourbon, ex-American oak sherry, and ex-European oak sherry. Colour: gold. Nose: I believe it's kept some Glenturretness, with this singular mix of shoe polish, mustard and balsamic vinegar, on the other hand it is ten times less feinty than older makes, and not cardboardy at all. Notes of pipe tobacco and cigars, pinches of wok spices, pine resin, a little metal polish, then a growing menthol. Intriguing and certainly reminiscent of a walk in a fir forest. Mouth: a big boy, spicy and sour (in a good way). Cracked pepper, then really a lot of tobacco, with some mustardy walnuts and touches of turmeric and ginger. Cranberry chutney. Finish: I was expecting a little game, it's there right in the finish, with all the rest. Comments: a pretty spicy proposition. I'm not sure they changed the recipe,  but I sure like this way better than the older one at 40%.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Glenturret 12 yo (46%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 12 yo (46%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Four stars
This is fully ex-European oak, so I suppose we should expect even more spices. Colour: deep gold. Nose: further towards old spicy woods, barks, thuja and cedar, cigars, pinewood, teak oil, also rather a lot of Seville oranges. And once again, I'm finding some menthol, and nods to some old amontillado. Alsatian (of course) walnut wine. Mouth: very nice bitters and resins in the mouthcoating arrival. More bitter oranges, cough syrup, cinnamon drops, really a lot of various peppers, then more savoury touches, Bovril, horseradish, turmeric this time again, green grapefruits… Well this one sure is a good conversationalist. Huge presence. Finish: long, mustardy, with a large sack of bitter oranges and old walnuts. The horseradish is back in the aftertaste, together with an earthiness and perhaps drops of stout. Comments: nothing to do with the old 12 from twenty years ago, which used to navigate around the 70-line in my humble little book. Sure you have to enjoy spicy whiskies – I do.
SGP:371 - 85 points.

Glenturret 15 yo (55%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 15 yo (55%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Four stars
Apparently, this should be more 'refill', so perhaps rather distillate-driven. The old 15 from the 1990s was very average and pretty dissonant, in my opinion. Having said that, dissonance is not obligatorily a flaw, just think Thelonious Monk. Colour: light amber. Nose: marmalade, mead, heather honey, dried beef (Grisons meat – hoppla), then chocolate and praline, roasted chestnuts, buttered fudge… Quite strangely, this one's rather gentler and rounder, despite the higher strength. Let's see… With water: no, walnut wine, cinchona, Campari, Indonesian cigarettes (kretek) and whiffs of old books in an old library, with old leather armchairs. Mouth (neat): rather the 12, only with more honey and jams. Having said that, the spices keep biting you a wee bit. Touches of German strawberry wine (well, the only ones I've ever tried were German). With water: really close to the 12, with more Seville oranges and more green spices. Rather a lot of turmeric, green peppercorns... Finish: long, similar. Some earthy fruitiness in the aftertaste plus probably quite some umami sauce. Comments: my heart is torn between the 12 and the 15.
SGP:471 - 85 points.

Since Glenturret's the oldest working distillery in Scotland (is it not?), let's have an older one… Curious about what Bob Dalgarno has selected here…

Glenturret 30 yo (45.7%, OB, Maiden Release, 750 bottles, 2020)Glenturret 30 yo (45.7%, OB, Maiden Release, 750 bottles, 2020)

Glenturret 30 yo (45.7%, OB, Maiden Release, 750 bottles, 2020) Five stars
This is fully ex-sherry. Really curious, really very curious, in truth I cannot wait…  Colour: gold (I had thought it would be darker). Nose: I'm deeply sorry, and I hope I won't spot a black Mercedes with four Albanian henchmen inside soon in front of Château Whiskyfun, but I would have said Macallan, really. Say the old 30 blue-label-blue-box. What a nose. Honeys, hit apples (I'll explain what that is another day), old cigars, small figs, honeycomb, very soft spices (nothing to do with the younger quasi-monsters), wee whiffs of church incense, quite a lot of gianduja, roasted pistachio… it really is a perfect nose, very complex and subtle. Way less rustic than older 'old' Glenturrets if you ask me. Mouth: certainly. I'm glad the peppers, cinnamon and turmeric would be back, while some awesome tropical touches would keep growing in your glass (in a way), mangos, maracuja… Also some Canadian ice cider and possibly riesling vendanges tardives. Those are not easy to find but the best ones are ueber-stellar. Finish: medium, pretty fresh and complex. I'm afraid I'll quote that famous brand starting with Mac once more. Juicy golden sultanas in the aftertaste. Comments: some kind of acidity here, which is hardly possible but there, it's all in our minds anyway. It's a pristine drop, extremely elegant. I love it. As soon as I manage to get to Villa Lalique, post-Covid, I order a triple-measure of Glenturret 30 as the apéritif. And then, naturally, cappuccino de pommes de terre à la truffe.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Bonus, some peaters. Let's be honest, not many distilleries on the mainland manage(d) to make peaters that 'could' actually compete with the islanders. Brora, Longrow, and?...But you never know…

Ruadh Maor 8 yo 2011/2020 (47.5%, Carn Mor, hogsheads, 837 bottles)

Ruadh Maor 8 yo 2011/2020 (47.5%, Carn Mor, hogsheads, 837 bottles) Two stars and a half
So this is peated Glenturret. Between us, I'm not totally sure it's such a good idea that all distilleries would now make both unpeated and peated variants of their makes. We do believe in house styles, don't we? Colour: white wine. Nose: pure smoked porridge, with oatcakes soaked in lapsang souchong and orange zests smoked over burning pinewood. New wellies, new Pirellis. This is certainly not unpleasant, but was it necessary? To be discussed… Mouth: tar, rubber, lemons (it's crayzay how peat generates lemonness, just ask Laphroaig). I repeat, tar, rubber, lemons. Gets acrid and really gritty. Hello? Finish: long and all on coal tar and stuff. Comments: not only punishment in a glass and there sure is a fun side to this slightly sadistic juice, but you really have to love rubber and tar. And hey, didn't we recently enter the post-peat era?
SGP:457 - 79 points.

Glenturret 10 yo 'Peat Smoked' (50%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 10 yo 'Peat Smoked' (50%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Three stars
I thought the earlier, pre-Lalique batches had been pretty good (WF 80-ish) but let's see…  Colour: light gold. Nose: much rounder, easier, more fruit-coated, also with more garage-y smells, old Volkswagen, bicycle inner tube, breads and mint (I know, odd), greasy gauze, citron liqueur and limoncello, pencil eraser… Well it goes into all directions, really. Water may help… With water: niiice! Raw wool, leaven bread, grist, chalk, spent lees, tarmac… No quibbles, this is focused. Mouth (neat): good, almost easy, very compact this time. Tar, marmalade, lime juice, and rather ashes this time, which makes it a tad drying. With water: takes it rather a little well but do not go below 45 or it'll  get too drying. Oh well do not add any waters. Finish: long, rather good, not too 'mainlandy' (I know), a tad green and gingery. Comments: these ones are not that easy to handle and it's not like if there was no Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bowmore or Caol Ila left in the world. So it is a little 'why?' but I do find it 'good'. Just not totally necessary.
SGP:557 - 81 points.

The 30, of course.

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


April 5, 2021


Another bag of bastards

Or when we just don't quite know about what we're drinking. After all, we now know about the very places where they grow our tomatoes or carrots, or raise the cows, while more and more whiskies have to be anonymous!

Blend On The Run 29 yo (45.6%, WhiskySponge, blended malt, 314 bottles, 2020)

Blend On The Run 29 yo (45.6%, WhiskySponge, blended malt, 314 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
This was last year's 'Christmas Lockdown special'. Seeing this label, could be that we've lost The Sponge for good and forever. And don't we all know that Sir Paul died a long time ago? Oh, and I had forgotten that there was my humble face on this label… Colour: deep amberish caramel. Nose: not one of those blends where you can spot the main components, this is a true blended malt, with many influences, from a camphory smokiness to roasted nuts and tobaccos, as well as the usual dried figs, dates, bananas and just, well, a Christmas cake indeed. Rather sherry-driven, with the expected leafiness. Wee whiffs of truffle cream, some earth too, horse saddle, cracked pepper... You could go on and on and on. Mouth: I'm reminded of some older sherried 'As We Get Its' here, and of some much spicier Glenfarclas. A very wide range of flavours, with both pipe tobacco and cigars, chocolate and coffee, truffles and leather, walnut wine, a sherried coastal smoke, drops of sweeter Teppanyaki sauce, Marmite, PX, many spices, cloves and caraway, plasticine… Finish: very long, rather herbs and spice-driven, I suppose you could make a nice marinade out of this fat baby. Comments: a thick boy, we could almost call this one 'leave and let dye' (ha-ha), 'but I like it' (that was another band, S.)
SGP:563 - 89 points.

Blended Malt 19 yo (45%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, blended malt, 2021)

Blended Malt 19 yo (45%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, blended malt, 2021) Two stars
Yeah, and? Colour: amber. Nose: late 1980s Macallan. Good not great, with some cardboard, hay, crushed nuts, grasses and leaves, supermarket wholegrain bread, tapioca and grist, Swedish bread… Boy is this dry! Mouth: a little better, spicy, peppery, bitter, on Schweppes and cheap industrial gin. Me not quite comprendo why this, but me not ask for explanations. Sour cherries. Finish: medium, bitter, leafy leathery. Comments: the incarnated limits of maltdom. No origins, not very good, and totally a lame duck within an otherwise superb set of whiskies from Elixir's, as if they had wanted to say 'see, we can do bad ones too if we want to'… Well, only a personal opinion, to be discussed over a magnum of Pol.
SGP:361 - 72 points.

Scarabus 'Batch Strength' (57%, Hunter Laing, Islay, 2020)

Scarabus 'Batch Strength' (57%, Hunter Laing, Islay, 2020) Four stars and a half
Love love love Hunter Laing, but I'm asking you, what the hell does 'batch strength' mean? Having said that, the 10 yo at normal strength was glorious. Colour: white wine. Nose: crystal-clean coastal smoke, in the style of those Finlaggans from the olden days. Tincture of iodine, sweat smoke, smoked kippers, gherkins, oysters, whelks, crabs, kelp, cucumbers. With water: marvellous high-precision blade-y coastal peated malt whisky. Very pure and 'millimetric'. Mouth (neat): just super-great-very-good. White asparagus, glue, olives, brine, barnacles. I mean, in the words of Captain Haddock, blistering barnacles! With water: perfect. Hate it that such young whisky bearing a neo-Victorian label and a very lousy name would be this good. It's the end of it all! Finish: perfection rolling out. Salt, lemons, seashells, brine, olives… Comments: reminds me of those cheap aguardientes you can buy incognito in Cuba when no one's watching (which, granted, doesn't happen very often). Very pure and pretty perfect.
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Peat Cubed (57.9%, Elements of Islay, for La Maison du Whisky, 2020)

Peat Cubed (57.9%, Elements of Islay, for La Maison du Whisky, 2020) Four stars and a half
I mean, what? Now it seems that this is a marriage of Laphroaig, Caol Ila, and Octomore. You can't have enough fun these days anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: okay. Mercurochrome, whelks, fudge, liquorice wood, manzanilla. Simplistically nice. With water: fresh plaster, chalk, concrete, sour ale, rainwater… Mouth (neat): very good, young cake-y and salty peat. Smoke and masala, bamboo shoots, salted lemony brine, pickled lemons and gherkins, white Hampden... indeed things eventually join. With water: lime juice and gherkin brine. Finish: long,  a tad rounder. Balsa wood, lemon, mezcal, olives, capers... Comments: age? Distilleries? Vintages? Excellent stuff, nonetheless. As I sometimes said, hate it that I like it. Nah, brilliant composition, but let's talk about nitrosamines next time, okay?  
SGP:367 - 89 points.

The Nameless Four 12 yo 2007/2020 (47.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Highlands)

The Nameless Four 12 yo 2007/2020 (47.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Highlands) Four stars
A single malt from the Highlands. Any clues on the label? Well there's some kind of Cruella De Vil on it. Macallan? Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh fruitiness, with some chalk, cider apples, gooseberries, then blood oranges, lime blossom, lamp oil, and a little fresh bread. Ultra-fresh indeed, reminding me of some batches of 'C.' Mouth: slightly salty, grassy, on green walnuts at first, salted peanut butter, then green fruits (granny smith) and a hint of fresh coriander. Finish: a tad hottish for 'C.' so not too sure anymore. Rather long finish. Comments: nameless but certainly not tasteless.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

The Whisky Trail 38 yo 1980/2019 (44.2%, Elixir Distillers, for HNWS Taiwan, blend, cask #28, 273 bottles)

The Whisky Trail 38 yo 1980/2019 (44.2%, Elixir Distillers, for HNWS Taiwan, blend, cask #28, 273 bottles) Five stars
It's rather uncommon that a blended Scotch would bear a cask number. Could be one of those ex-Edrington casks of 'M.' that are popping out every once in a while these days. Colour: deep amber. Nose: we've mentioned dried bananas before and this starts all on that and old rum, so you could almost call this 'bananas flambéed', while clear notes of brandy de Jerez are also joining the dance after a few seconds. Hot chocolate, raisins, chocolate cake, old armagnac, touch of gunpowder, pinecones, brownies, crème de menthe… We're almost nosing an old V.O.R.S.. Classic old-sherry-style nose that that distillery starting with 'M.' used to be known for in its heydays. Mouth: bags of nuts, moss, chocolates, zests, old woods, marmalade, mint and eucalyptus… This is almost a blend of very old rum agricole, very old brandy de Jerez, and really old armagnac. I like it very much, if not three times more. I've seen somewhere that this came out of a proper 'solera' sherry butt, which would not surprise me indeed. Finish: long, dry, rather on Russian-style tea and tobaccos. Always this mentholated signature in the aftertaste, which I always liked a lot since it would leave your palate very fresh (and ready for the next one, ha-ha). Comments: an impressive, pretty opulent drop for sure. Well sourced and selected. I could have mentioned chartreuse as well.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

C.U. good folks.


April 4, 2021


Five rums for Easter

Do not expect any specific link to Easter, it's just that Easter happens on a Sunday and that Sunday is malternative day at Whiskyfun. This is going to be very varied this time again, we've long abandoned the idea of doing more coherent sessions, such as 'Dunder Special, Five Hampdens' or 'Your dentist will hate you, Thirty-seven Diplos'. Let's start from France this time again…

Dillon 2003/2019 'Single Cask' (43%, OB, Martinique, cask #901)

Dillon 2003/2019 'Single Cask' (43%, OB, Martinique, cask #901) Three stars and a half
This is a pretty old one by Martiniquain standards. It was fully matured in French oak. The Distillerie Dillon's located in the capital city, Fort de France, and now belongs to French group La Martiniquaise, also owners of Depaz, Saint-James, Cutty Sark and Glen Moray Distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: this is agricole, it's got the Martinique AOC, and a nose to match, aromatic yet not heady at all, nor ridden with tropical fruits. It's more all cigarette tobacco, raisins, dried dates and figs, with drops of mint essence, some cedar wood for sure, incense, fudge, very ripe bananas, and not such a vast amount of spices. Probably not virgin French oak. Mouth: much, and mean much spicier, starting right with a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg, going on with black chocolate and ground coffee, then rather old cognac, a feeling of old oloroso, and a good dose of leather. A lot of bitter oak, but that's not unusual and certainly not unpleasant. We're just not used to these amounts in whisky. Finish: rather long, extremely dry. Bitter chocolate, tobacco, nutmeg. Touches of oranges in the aftertaste, also a lot of black pepper. Comments: the palate was a little extreme, but quality's pretty high, in my opinion.
SGP:471 - 84 points.

Let's move to

El Pasador de Oro 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2020)

El Pasador de Oro 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2020) Three stars
Your attention please, this was finished for a few months in Cognac wood in the Charentes region! These dissonant set-ups (dissonant on the paper) always scare me, but let's keep an open mind.  Colour: rich gold. Nose: the name Guatemala is scary too indeed as far as rum goes, but I have to say this seems balanced, not overly sweet and 'stupidly luscious' and rather on roasted nuts, milk chocolate, and marzipan-filled dates. Once you've tried that you're trapped forever. Notes of mocha too, that's pretty lovely. Let's hope the palate will 'behave'… Mouth: there is a sweetishness but nothing troubling, while the body's a little thin perhaps. However, I'm instantly reminded of my favourite Cuban, Santiago 11 yo. So I like it despite this caramelly and obviously rather molassy profile. Nice little touches of tar. Finish: medium, almost gaining body, with notes of triple-sec (which isn't sec/dry at all, always wondered why these terms). Comments: good and smart work here, and a good surprise. I was having the lower end of the 70-80 part of the scale ready!
SGP:630 - 82 points.

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (62.1%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, 285 bottles)

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (62.1%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, 285 bottles) Three stars and a half
These Travellers tend to lose me as I sometimes find them 'cross-category', both light/thin and heavier/thicker. Colour: golden amber. Nose: too strong, I'm not sure the high-ethanol lets many things pass. Orange cake, perhaps? With water: all things oranges coming out, always a great sign in my book. Cointreau, marmalade, bergamots, a little nougat too… And more orange cake. Mouth (neat): it's rather oranges galore, it seems, but boy is this strong. A feeling of liquid rum baba. With water: pure orange juice! Plus some kind of sweet flat bread, there are so many breads in this world, I do not manage to keep track, but I adore most. Finish: medium, on cakes and oranges. Popcorn in the aftertaste. Comments: not much to add.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Sample Eleven Extra-Matured (54.8%, Kintra Spirits and The Rum Mercenary, blended rum, +/-2020)

Sample Eleven Extra-Matured (54.8%, Kintra Spirits and The Rum Mercenary, blended rum, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
A blend finished in a Worthy Park cask. We're seeing these kinds of combinations in whisky too. Colour: straw. Nose: right, it's like if you make, say pasta with olives. Or garlic rice. In short, WP stands out loud and clear, perfect top dresser here. Olives, tar, earth, seawater, and just a wee slice of vanilla cake. With water: just more of all that, with an awesome fermentary side. Mouth (neat): same, this must have been WPE! More olives, capers, anchovies, brine, tar, liquorice, lemons… Excellent! Hold on, was it a blend of Worthy Parks that's been finished in Worthy park?  Seriously, I'm also finding oranges in the background, once again. Moist orange pound cake glazed with Grand-Marnier, something like that. With water: once again, water just makes it easier, and perhaps just a notch more orange-y and less on the mighty WP. Finish: long, saltier. Excellently fresh. Comments: brainwave. Possibly my favourite bended rum, not taking the 'single blends' into account. Almost 90.
SGP:463 - 89 points.

Let's stay in Jamaica with our last rum today…

Appleton Estate 1995/2020 (63%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles)

Appleton Estate 1995/2020 (63%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles) Five stars
Last year we've tried brother 1994 (WF 91) and sister 1999 (WF 87) but this little 1995 had slipped between our paws, for no known reasons. What's to be remembered is that all three are pot still rums, a first at Appleton. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: litres of maraschino (Velier's influence?) plus some immaculate Spanish chocolate, a fresh-opened box of Cuban cigars, and a wide range of tiny old ointments, with camphor, eucalyptus, menthol, propolis, resins, petroleum, seaweed, green clay… Some cedar wood too. With water: carbon dust, ink, coal, olives, new electronics, more ointments (natural tar)… and loads of oregano. I find this just awesome. Mouth (neat): Velier's house style, ultra-powerful, with heavy concentrations and shock-full amounts of liquorice. Crazy. With water: yes, it's green, bitter, acrid, ultra-liquoricy, and mucho lovable if you enjoy this heavily liquorice-driven style. Finish: long. Liquid salted liquorice, with the tiniest acetic touch (balsamico). Comments: distilling liquorice, that's an idea. Seriously, this was extreme, probably too bitter technically, and I'm sure some would claim it's flawed, but this baby's got a 'John-Bonham' side that you just cannot resist. Cra-zy.
SGP:374 - 91 points.

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


April 2, 2021

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

March 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Virtual Feis Ile 2020, Edition 4, 451 bottles) - WF91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-1995) - WF93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Millstone 5 yo (43%, OB, Holland, American oak, +/-2020)  - WF88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Armagnac 45 yo 1975/2020 (47.9%, Asta Maurice, cask # AMF001, 150 bottles)  - WF90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Macallan 12 yo 'Double Cask' (40%, OB, +/-2020)  - WF77


Sorry about that April Fools Day prank yesterday (and thanks to all friends who believed it was real, I'm chuffed to bits!)


April 1, 2021


We are chuffed to bits!



We are absolutely delighted to hear that we've been named Icons of Whisky's Whisky Website Design of the Year 2021 in the 20 years or more category. It's really an honour, so gigantic thanks to Whisky Mag for this flabbergasting recognition; on the Web, yellow is the new white! I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Whiskyfun team (well, Angus and the cats) as well as all our ever-growing gathering of friends and readers all around this little planet. We shall raise a glass of Brora newmake with everybody to celebrate. Oh, and a few anonymous Speysiders... Cheers, santé, slàinthe!


A few anonymous Speysiders

A recurrent theme at WF Towers. On the other hand we've already found quite a few stunners within this ever-growing category. Let's kick this off with a very uncertain (to put it mildly) brand new bottling from London...

April Fool 'Extremely Young' (51.7%, The Whisky Exchange, Speyside Single Malt, First Release, 1st fill bourbon, 869 bottles, 2021)

April Fool 'Extremely Young' (51.7%, The Whisky Exchange, Speyside Single Malt, First Release, 1st fill bourbon, 869 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
This baby had first been advertised as an 'extremely young whisky' until this morning, when the very honourable bottlers in London announced that this 'single malt from Speyside' was actually 30 years old, while just two minutes ago, an
anonymous phone call from a certain Mr. Billy A. to WF HQ revealed that, as the papers came in, they realised that the casks had been sheltering some two-year-and-a-half old 'Japanese whisky' instead – actually a blend of Indian, Canadian and Scotch spirits, the kind that many unscrupulous brokers have been trying to get rid of before April 1, 2021. Even worse, they found out that all casks had been flavoured finished with some thick concoction branded 'Pedro, from Huelva', while one cask was even marked 'C.A.N.A.C.O. Lagavulin'. A brand new marketing stunt, apparently, CANACO being the acronym for 'Cask Aged Near A Cask Of'. But nothing scares us, let's try it… Colour: light gold. Nose: you do feel the williams pears usually associated with young whiskies – whichever the actual age of this baby – then barley water, overripe apples, custard, ripe Provence melons, ripe greengages, and, well, just a whole fruit salad. We're well in spring; as Bill Evans used to say, we must believe in spring. With water: even fresher, the fruit salad going more for citrus, especially all kinds of oranges. And is it still allowed to mention IPA? And cassata mix, custard, raisins, zests... Mouth (neat): lovely, very fruity, and yet with good breads and cakes. Rather towards bananas and oranges, then orchard fruit (more ripe greengages, pears) and some tight, lemony spices. Extremely refreshing but never forget that the strength is, well, 51.7% vol. With water: excellent, a notch breadier again. Fresh raisins rolls 'not too dark'. Finish: medium, fresh and fruity, with these tiny herbs in the aftertaste. Green tea, mint… I know, tea is hardly a tiny herb, it's a camelia! Comments: the Pedro was totally undetectable. Not sure there was any, another promise not kept! And how is this 'extremely young?' Sounds like an ad for L'Oréal. Oh and it drinks much too well.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

UPDATE: what's more, new pictures this morning revealed that the label is probably radioactive

While we are at it, let's have a few more undisclosed… things…

Speyside Blended Malt 30 yo 1989/2020 (56.8%, Le Gus't, blended malt, fino butt, cask #1852, 535 bottles)

Speyside Blended Malt 30 yo 1989/2020 (56.8%, Le Gus't, blended malt, fino butt, cask #1852, 535 bottles) Five stars
A little bird told me this could be Burnside, whilst another little bird told me Burnside was Balvenie. But do we still believe birds in the age of Facebook, Twitch and TikTok? Colour: straw. Nose: I would swear the fino is pretty obvious, but then again, the power of your mind… You know, mustard, curry and fresh walnuts… With even a feeling of distant peat smoke, like a stroll near a kiln. Then more traditional meads, ciders, mirabelles starting to ferment (way before distillery time), plus just, well regular mirabelles and apricots. Which is pretty 'B' in my book. With water: wee whiffs of bicycle inner tube, then custard and mirabelle pie. Fresh plum pudding. Mouth (neat): rounder and fruitier, but the fino-y side remains there in the middle, with a little smoked mustard. Making this up, not sure anyone ever tried to smoke mustard, unless that's slang somewhere. You never know. In any case, there's a feeling of Ben Nevis now… Gasp, this baby's not easy to follow… which is just great. With water: incredible how this fino leads you to the West Coast. You tell be this is from Fort Williams or Campbeltown and I reply 'okay'. It's even a little salty, waxy for sure, and naturally, full of fresh walnuts. Finish: rather long, coastal and salty, and very coherent. The waxes are superb. A few sour fruits, cherries… Comments: rrrrrrright up my alley. Wonderful, all distillers should use much more fino wood. But I suppose fino (15% vol.) doesn't travel as well to the bodegas as oloroso (18% vol.) or PX/moscatel (sugarbombs). Pure speculations on this strange day.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Those were fabulous 30yos, let's see if we find one or two more old Speysiders (not to mention that you now have old casks from Speyside Distillery that some indies would label… the same).

The Old Speysider 27 yo 1992/2019 (46.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE111, 257 bottles)

The Old Speysider 27 yo 1992/2019 (46.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE111, 257 bottles) Five stars
These good people rather floored me recently, with some of their 'Silent Swedes'. Colour: straw. Nose: maracuja, ripe apples, pear liqueur, mangos, orange blossom honey, honeydew melon, marshmallows, and a good glass of gewurztraminer vendanges tardives. This is undisputable. Mouth: to be honest, I'm reminded of another vintage, older by some twenty odd years. Glen Grant, Caperdonich, Glenlivet, even Glengoyne… 1972! Amazing fruity and 'beehive-y' whiskies, while this one's in the same vein, extremely seductive (is that word still okay?) and simply resembling a wonderful fruit salad with just drops of that secret sauce that would make any fruit salad stand out, honey + olive oil + a hint of pepper. No, the proportions are a secret and if I ever tell you I'll have to divorce. 75%, 20%, 5%. Finish: medium, a tad grassier and more on teas, which was to be expected. Comments: 100 on the drinkability index. Amazing fruity drop. I'm lucky my dear wife never reads WF.
SGP:741 - 90 points.

Secret Speyside Distillery 1994/2020 (48.1%, Whisky Nerds, hogshead, cask #30, 324 bottles)

Secret Speyside Distillery 1994/2020 (48.1%, Whisky Nerds, hogshead, cask #30, 324 bottles) Four stars and a half
I have a good feeling yet again… Colour: gold. Nose: more active wood in this one, more spicy breads, ginger cookies, rye… You would almost believe this is American. Having said that, it tends to calm down, with rather more overripe apples, pumpernickel, pipe tobacco, then rather some kind of citrusy waxes. Scented candles. A little earth too, curious about this cask's former content. Mouth: yeah well this is excellent too. Rather on jams and liqueurs this time, with a metallic touch and quite some earthiness yet again. Some mead and some tobacco – I remember some whisky-flavoured pipe tobacco in the old days, but the name escapes me. Macallan Classic Cut? (don't bother, just another silly joke). Finish: long, rather sweet – not sickly sweet - and more on honeys and sweet-spiced marmalades. Comments: not a light drop, but everything was pretty perfect, if a little jammy? Now let's talk about the cask…
SGP:652 - 88 points.

We've mentioned 1972, but in the spirit of contradiction…

Speyside Distillery 47 yo 1973/2020 (45%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 338 bottles)

Speyside Distillery 47 yo 1973/2020 (45%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 338 bottles) Five stars
Every year, with these series of secret old Speysiders, we're thinking 'these are the last ones, the well must be dry'. And yet… Colour: gold. Nose: and there, a beehive, many honeys, many overripe apples and pears, some old menthol-based embrocations and ointments, some marzipan and barley syrup, and this fear, hope the palate won't have got to the other side… Mouth: and every year, they have not. Superb honeys of all kinds (especially manuka, which doesn't happen often), a flowery side, some funny, very subtle meaty notes (wee bits of Parma ham, perhaps), a little liquorice, many old sweet wines that have got dry since they digested their natural sugars (great very old Sauternes, for example, or Trockenbeerenauslese from Rheingau…) Oh one day I'll tell you that story about when I came back from Bonn with a wee bottle of Johannisberger Erntebringer TBA and left it in the kitchen. The next day, the sauce for the chicken had been the best I ever tasted. That was 30 years ago and see, I haven't divorced. Finish: medium, clean and fresh, with only wee hints of 'tired old wood' but those are only undiscernible murmurs, as they say in horror movies. Now I wouldn't have waited for one more year (which I already said last year, and shall say next year again, probably). Comments: seriously, I wouldn't push these glories to 50.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Perhaps a tighter young one as the sag wagon…

Ben Mhor 11 yo (55%, James MacArthur, +/-2005)

Ben Mhor 11 yo (55%, James MacArthur, +/-2005) Four stars
This is 'Pure Speyside Malt' and said to be Burnside, a.k.a. Balvenie. Hey, anyone able to discern Glenfiddich in any bottle of Burnside deserves to be rewarded with both the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle. They all own some sorts of medals in the UK anyway, do they not? (love you, hugs and peace!) Oh and we're missing James MacArthur! Colour: straw. Nose: a rather raw, chalky arrival on the nose, with some grasses, flour, then I would say porridge and poor man's muesli, then watermelons. It is not extremely aromatic, to say the least, but water may help… With water: nice, soft, simple, on fresh croissants. Never forget that fresh croissants are the equivalent to Beluga caviar or proper Wagyu beef to any Frenchman. Mouth (neat): I find this good, a tad brutal, but well in the style of the official 15 yos 'single casks' that used to boggle our minds since the years and the vintages were never matching. Like, 15 years old 1977-1999. No, really. Good green plums, barley syrup, vanilla fudge, even a little butterscotch… What's sure is that this palate is many times more expressive than the nose, as long as water wasn't added. With water: charming, really, very 'natural', with many bready and barley-y flavours that would rather be for malt enthusiasts, if you see what I mean. Serious natural stuff. Finish: long, chalkier. Crunching barley. Comments: no ooh-aah seen-my-PX whisky at all, let's just hope some distinguished bottlers will keep bottling these very honest, un-pumped-up malts. I thought this one was absolutely excellent in this style – where are you, Arthur?
SGP:461 - 86 points.

(Merci Tim)

March 2021 - part 2 <--- April 2021 - part 1 ---> April 2021 - part 2




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Eastern Highland Malt 1975/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, Fragments of Scotland, 648 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1972 (43%, OB, for Oddbins, +/-1995)

Glen Garioch '1957'/1987 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, for 30th anniversary of Il Salumaio del Montenapoleone, 240 bottles)

Glenturret 30 yo (45.7%, OB, Maiden Release, 750 bottles, 2020)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Dumpy, 75cl)

The Whisky Trail 38 yo 1980/2019 (44.2%, Elixir Distillers, for HNWS Taiwan, blend, cask #28, 273 bottles)

Speyside Blended Malt 30 yo 1989/2020 (56.8%, Le Gus't, blended malt, fino butt, cask #1852, 535 bottles)

Speyside Distillery 47 yo 1973/2020 (45%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 338 bottles)

The Old Speysider 27 yo 1992/2019 (46.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE111, 257 bottles)

Appleton Estate 1995/2020 (63%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles)