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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2021 - Part 2


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


April 30, 2021


Arranzilla, part two!

They've been good the day before yesterday…

Arran 10 yo (46%, OB, 2019)

Arran 10 yo (46%, OB, 2019) Three stars and a half
I think I remember the first Isle of Arran 10 years old as if it was yesterday. I think it was in 2005 or 2006. I also think they've upped their game since those epic times. Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's clearly on citrus, going from straight lemon to more elaborate bergamots, mandarin and kumquats. Behind that lemony barrage, more soft breads, brioche, light beers and just barley. Some Diageo-era expressions of Bladnoch spring to mind. I mean, before it was Diageo. Mouth: things have been reversed, bread and pastries first, then citrus, then overripe apples and pear cake. That's all very pleasant, if a wee tad simplistic – but not in a bad way at all. Touches of green peppercorns then, perhaps, as well as the tiniest metallic note. Pant button, when we were kids. Finish: medium, relatively soft, leaving your mouth as clean as a baby's. Earl grey. Comments: this goes down extremely well, it's no hassle and gets swallowed just as easy as the Nicomachean ethics. Right.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Lochranza 1996/2018 (50.2%, Private, Nigel & Lynn Arnold, cask #1511)

Lochranza 1996/2018 (50.2%, Private, Nigel & Lynn Arnold, cask #1511) Four stars and a half
Lochranza is Arran. Colour: deep gold. Nose: absolutely lovely, more 'island style', with some mirabelle jam and a little metal polish, touches of tar and liquorice, a drop of ocean water, rocks, earth, tyres… Makes me think of that distillery further south on the other side of the Kilbrannan Sound. Indeed, starts with an S. With water: just more of all that, emphasising on tar. Which may not be very Arran. Mouth: very empyreumatic, smoky, tarry, with some meaty sherry and more shoe polish than in some North-Korean barracks on the eve of Kim Jong Un's birthday (how very silly again, S.) With water: excellent tarry sherriness, with perfect tangerines too. Dried tangerines. Finish: long, on more metal polish and tar, walnuts, peat… Comments: this one's pretty mysterious and, actually, rather Longrowy. Excellent. Oh and I don't remember they were doing peat at Arran, back in 1996.
SGP:563 - 88 points.

Arran 1999 (50.6%, OB, Small Batch, +/-2019)

Arran 1999 (50.6%, OB, Small Batch, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: first feels like Sauternes on the nose, with apricots, quinces, mirabelles, honey… more custard pie then, Danishes, orange blossom water, some vanilla fudge and butterscotch… This one too I find very lovely. A malt that's pretty creamy on the nose. With water: closer to the barley, the earth, the grist and even the yeast. Mouth (neat): super good, with more sherry – or a feeling of sherry, with some leather, with some ginger, with some cinnamon, in short with some more present spicy oak. But no problems this far. With water: gets a tad drying now, perhaps. Chalky as far as texture is concerned. Finish: medium, with a little eucalyptus this time, and always this chalky, gritty texture. Comments: I was more fan of the nose. Another very good Arran nonetheless, in my opinion.
SGP:551 – 83 points.

Arran 13 yo 2005/2019 (50.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, Madeira finish, cask #18, 363 bottles)

Arran 13 yo 2005/2019 (50.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, Madeira finish, cask #18, 363 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: some bready, almost sour notes here, with even something slightly acetic – from the Madeira, I suppose. A feeling of dry white wine, which is absolutely not unpleasant, struck matches too… Let's see what water will do to it. With water: leather, dried porcinis, mustard sauce. All right then. Mouth (neat): well the Madeira's pretty loud indeed. Oak, vinegar, mustard, bone-dry white wine and pepper, with Arran's trademark creaminess struggling a wee bit to come to the surface. Some saltiness. With water: same-ish. Finish: same, with oranges that save it in the end. Comments: perhaps not my favourite amongst the Whic's otherwise excellent range. Still loyal.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

Arran 19 yo 1996/2015 (51.1%, Le Gus't, puncheon, cask #1634, 365 bottles)

Arran 19 yo 1996/2015 (51.1%, Le Gus't, puncheon, cask #1634, 365 bottles) Four stars
Indeed I still had this wee French bottling in the queue. I have a good felling since these good people do really fly to Scotland to select their casks and are not content with perusing large Excel files. Now that was before Covid, right. Colour: white wine. Nose: very clean, very much on clay and barley, citrons, sunflower oil, pilsner, custard, with the tiniest drop of white tequila and another one of pot-still rum. Very elegant drop on the nose. With water: perfect yeastiness, with something, hold on, Trappist? Mouth (neat): oh perfect, very fermentary and chalky (as far taste is concerned), with some grapefruit and just a touch of vanilla. One of those Sancerre-y malts, as I sometimes call them. With water: smoothened up and yet firm and vertical. Absolutely excellent. Finish: green apples and yellow pears (other the other way 'round), plus chalk and dough. A tiny pinchlet of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: I doubt the word pinchlet exists in English, but the whisky's pretty great, if a little austere.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Since we're doing 1996s…

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, Dornoch Castle)

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, Dornoch Castle) Four stars and a half
Good feelings once again. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of gunpowder that do vanish quickly, then a very similar development as that of the Le Gus't. Chalk, beer, dough and stuff (S., remember, alliterations, especially unwanted ones, do kill). With water: barley, earth and yeast. Mouth (neat): extremely good and well in the same ballpark once again. Perhaps tenser and thicker. With water: some flamboyant mentholy citrus pushed it further towards the 90-line. A fino-y side, even. Finish: same. Ale. Comments: short note, great whisky. We're approaching perfection but I'm afraid it was a very small outturn. And a lovely label at that.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Arran 1999/2012 (56.5%, OB for Vinotek Massen, Luxemburg, bourbon, cask #85, 204 bottles)

Arran 1999/2012 (56.5%, OB for Vinotek Massen, Luxemburg, bourbon, cask #85, 204 bottles) Three stars and a half
Well, this is almost archaeology, even if Arran remains a 'new' distillery in my book. What 'silly boomers', I can hear you! Colour: light gold. Nose: barley and vanilla, maize bread, hay, and good beer. With water: yeasty bread. Nice. Mouth: good sweet apple juice, nougat, barley, touch of malt extract. Rather rougher than the others but this is both younger and done before the inception of 'total wood technology domination'. With water: no, it is creamier and sweeter. Barley water, triple sec, maple syrup, vanilla fudge. Finish: same with some herbal touches. Comments: it was very good 'already', back in 2012. For the sake of research.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

More archaeology…

Arran 1995/2019 (51%, OB, The 1995 Collection, Asia, hogshead, cask #360, 300 bottles)

Arran 1995/2019 (51%, OB, The 1995 Collection, Asia, hogshead, cask #360, 300 bottles) Two stars
Some fancy 'flat decanter' bottling, apparently. Not sure they really went noticed. Picture is that of another cask. Colour: deep gold. Nose: so a very early distillate, and still some roughness here and there, despite the many years. Roasted peanuts, molasses, malt, butterscotch, drops of soy sauce, balsamico, tobacco… Well if that's a hogshead, it's a sherry hogshead. With water: ale and fig chutney, perhaps. Old white wine. Mouth (neat): very creamy, on malt and kirsch, with a discrete soapy side, cologne, chocolate, cinnamon rolls… Well, there is some kind of imprecision to this one, but remember Arran only started burning in 1995 indeed. I remember very vividly the first drops we could try, we were all thinking, 'but why aren't they going for peated?' Another era… With water: these touches of soap do not quite belong here. Finish: medium, with a little cardboard and chestnut purée. Comments: perhaps more a prototype cask? In any case, it's just impressive that they would have improved and perfected their outputs this much. Anecdotal bottle.
SGP:461 - 75 points.

And now something bigger please…

Arran 9 yo 2008/2018 (57.3%, OB, Private Cask for LMDW, sherry hogshead, 312 bottles)

Arran 9 yo 2008/2018 (57.3%, OB, Private Cask for LMDW, sherry hogshead, 312 bottles) Two stars
How and why LMDW would be 'private', I don't know. But love you. Colour: mahogany. Nose: oh boy, pipe tobacco, maduro cigars, new tyres, old toolbox, the start line in Monaco right after the start (includes Verstappen - oh come on), Dutch liquorice (how convenient), Finnish tar liqueur, Swedish Ardbe… All right, you got the picture, I'm sure. With water: new linoleum, burning plastics, tyres, dead mouse (always a hit at WF Towers)… The Hells Angels better quaff this than Jack D.! Mouth (neat): ueber-heavy concoctiony arrival, we're almost quaffing walnut stain blended away with fracked oil and old sweeter balsamic vinegar from Modena. I mean real one, the stuff they put into the Ferraris. Would you have a mocha spoon for me? With water: it's too hard to get the amount of water you add right, we haven't gotten the whole evening. Finish: pipe juice and family-only young armagnac. And I know what I'm talking about.  Comments: fun stuff but I would say it's rather an exercise in style. Loch Dhu Cask Strength, perhaps… Just what the whisky world needed. Good fun indeed.
SGP:562 - 76 points.

I would say part 2 is over, but we might be back soon with more funny Arrans.

(Thank you Nicolas)

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


April 28, 2021


Two Spanish Taliskers, one very old

I know we said we'd post more Arran today but since we're on the western islands, there's also a rare new official Talisker 43 years old that I just wanted to try immediately. But as is customary, or should I say mandatory at WF Towers, we'll have to first find a proper sparring partner. And since the new 43 is about travels from Spanish islands, let's choose a Distillers Edition, so an amoroso finish, that I haven't tried yet. Such as the 2009…

Talisker 2009/2019 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5VH)

Talisker 2009/2019 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5VH) Four stars
I had really enjoyed the 2010 a few weeks ago. The finishing in 'amoroso' always sounded odd, but it is not. Amoroso is a fairly light-cream-like blend of dry and naturally sweet sherry (PX, Moscatel) that seems to be pretty much out of fashion these days. Just not in Talisker. Colour: gold. Nose: I've always had the feeling that Diageo took it easy with this amoroso thing, keeping the influence to very civilised proportions. Indeed, it is this salty, briny smoke that first comes out, while some mustardy, slightly curry-like sweet notes would rather appear after a good twenty seconds. Make that two. Then walnuts and tobacco, for good measure. Impeccable. Mouth: very good. We call this 'sauce à la diable'. Simmered mustard with honey and cream, more or less. Notes of leather, green walnuts, rather burnt raisins, Maggi sauce, and naturally, 'peat'. Finish: long, very salty now. This is Talisker, no doubt. The trademark pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: the sweeter Talisker that's never been that 'dulce'. I've always liked Talisker al natural better, but would never refuse a dram or two of DE.
SGP:465 - 86 points.

Talisker 43 yo 'Xpedition Oak' (49.7%, OB, American oak hogshead, 1830 bottles, 2021)

Talisker 43 yo 'Xpedition Oak' (49.7%, OB, American oak hogshead, 1830 bottles, 2021) Five stars
There should be some story to be found about this mysterious 'Xpedition', let me first check that out… Right, correct, this baby was finished in casks that included wooden staves that had traversed the Atlantic, from the Spanish Canary islands to Antigua, on the deck of adventurer James Aiken's yacht. Just ten casks have been subsequently made and then blended away. Well, as they say, 'they really did something' here, it's not just a tribute bottling straight from Wikipedia. Like, a tribute to Cristopher Columbus or to Vasco de Gama. Or Magellan. Let's try it… Colour: gold. Shows restraint. Nose: oh! The story was nice, really, but the juice is splendid, or so it seems this far. You'll find these creamy touches of bergamot and citron jam, perhaps even yuzu, with luminous notes of forest herbs, heather, moss in the morning, lemongrass, Thai basil, then oysters and their wee buddies the winkles, a little beeswax and quince jelly, plus probably some fresh kelp . This is all very complex, extremely elegant, and superbly fresh. I believe we ran out of laudatory adjectives. Mouth: no straight oak in the way (not even floated wood, ha-ha), rather zests, crystallised citrus, a few drops of Spanish Chartreuse (Spain, again), and this salty-resinous combination that often comes out of some pretty old, well, Taliskers. The freshness here is really impressive, its balance as well, not to mention the complexity and the body… Wonderful tension at 43 years. Finish: finishes are always superb in old Taliskers, really. When the salt, the softer peppers, the citrus, the brine and all elements from the sea are singing the chorus in unison. Whale songs. Comments: back to pedestrian considerations, I understand why they wouldn't have loaded the whisky itself aboard that yacht. Well, I for one would have quaffed it all during the crossing! That's right, ten casks.
SGP:466 - 93 points.

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


April 27, 2021



That would be as many Arrans as we can, in no particular order, rather anarchically, just for the cause. We all know there are some excellent Arrans, let's just hope we shan't stumble upon too may loco wine finishings… Remember, in whisky, merlot and zin, for example, can kill!

Eenie meenie… Oh well, honour to whom honour is due…

Arran 25 yo 1995/2020 (46%, OB, 3000 bottles)

Arran 25 yo 1995/2020 (46%, OB, 3000 bottles) Four stars
The bottle is superb, the price maybe a little less so. This is a combination of bourbon and oloroso, further married for one year in sherry hogsheads. What's sure is that this is the oldest Arran I've ever tasted. Colour: copper/amber. Nose: starts with a bowl of sour cherries and a clear vinosity, on old barriques and a little balsamico. I'm also finding many red berries, which come totally unexpected, raspberries, mulberries, also rosehip, dried pears, whiffs of dunnage, blood oranges, drops of fino… This is not what I was expecting, on the other hand I think it worked, it's just, well, very singular, with obvious wine impact. Mouth: cherry clafoutis, once again, cherries in kirsch, then mead and triple-sec, elderberry syrup, and a feeling of arrak. Then more blood oranges, more eglantine tea, and just preserved morellos. Are we sure this has never met with a single dollop of pinot noir? Finish: medium, with a little more malt and raisins, café latte, butterscotch… I  short, it fell in line. A salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: let's keep an open mind, this is not what we were expecting from a new 25 yo, but it's not lacking courage and opinion. The idea was strange but it was well executed.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Arran 'Sauternes Cask Finish' (50%, OB, +/-2020)

Arran 'Sauternes Cask Finish' (50%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
Sure we're no suckers for wine finishings but we do know that Sauternes works well. This wee NAS has some braille on the label, Chapoutier-style, which may indicate that not all whisky business will be done online post-Covid (strange reasoning, S.). Colour: straw. Nose: indeed this works, with crushed bananas, mirabelles, peaches, apricots, finger biscuits, and maybe even a little champagne. Well, chardonnay – I know there's no chardonnay in Sauternes. Whiffs of honeysuckle too, maybe cider. With water: barley and cakes, that's what we were coming for. No obvious vinosity, for example it is much less vinous than the 25. Mouth (neat): really creamy, which I've always found very 'Arran', with some lemon marmalade, sunflower oil, a touch of fresh butter, custard, golden sultanas, more mirabelles… And bananas! Uncomplicated and good. With water: believe me or not, I cannot not think of Yamazaki. Is it serious, doctor? Finish: medium and rather all on barley and mirabelles. A little citrus in the aftertaste, all for the better. Comments: well, I liked this little NAS almost as much as the 25. It is very good and fairly priced. And it won't make you blind (tsk tsk…)
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Arran 'Sherry Cask The Bodega' (55.8%, OB, 2020)

Arran 'Sherry Cask The Bodega' (55.8%, OB, 2020) Four stars
Apparently, this is some young (7 or 8) Arran that's integrally aged in first fill sherry. So, hit or miss… Colour: deep gold. Rather pale despite the pedigree. Nose: fully, totally and integrally on damson pie or, as we say here in Alsace, tarte aux quetsches. A handful of Smyrna raisins too, raisin rolls, sweet ale… Pretty simple, but flawless this far. With water: gears towards ripe plums and jams. Preserved greengages and mirabelles. A very tiny bit of sour wood in the background, which is just nothing. Mouth (neat): I'm reminded of some batches of A'Bunadh, if that rings a bell to you. A little rough and hot, but pleasantly raisiny. Stewed peaches, pepper, cinnamon, raisins, fruitcake. A classic variation everywhere in unpeated Scotland. With water: well it takes water very well. Lovely sweeter, fruitier spices, Szechuan pepper and all that. Also those cherries that we had also found in the 25. Finish: rather long, rather fresh, with more raisins, Szechuan pepper, and overripe damsons! Comments: great surprise. Smart work on this one.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Arran 14 yo 2006/2020 (53.5%, OB, Private Cask, for LMDW, France, sherry hogshead, cask #06/800485, 284 bottles)

Arran 14 yo 2006/2020 (53.5%, OB, Private Cask, for LMDW, France, sherry hogshead, cask #06/800485, 284 bottles) Four stars
This may be more special… Colour: amber/apricoty. Nose: starts a little lactic and even butyric, I'd bet this baby will need our time… Also blood oranges and a new pack of Jaffa cakes, certainly some rum (a salud to Foursquare), these notes of eglantine that we had found before, some bread, or focaccia, early grey, ripe plums… Well it does go into several directions but water should put some order here… With water: teas, leaves, peach tea, moist all-grain bread, hints of molasses, stout… But it isn't thick, don't get me wrong. Mouth (neat): very rich, sweet, a little hot, with some sour cherries once again, hawthorn tea, marmalade, peppered jams, spicy reduced grape juice (do you know ratafia?)… tarte aux quetsches… Once again it's a tad anarchistic, but that's not something we're not comfortable with. Yeah, so, with water: classic marmalade, cherries, Timut pepper, fruit bread… Finish: long and a tad spicier' and leafier. Comments: well I think is remains a tad rustic (sour touches here and there) but it is an extremely fine sherried tipple.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Let's try another sherried beast by the indies…

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (52.1%, Claxton's, sherry puncheon, cask #1843-939, 609 bottles)

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (52.1%, Claxton's, sherry puncheon, cask #1843-939, 609 bottles) Four stars and a half
609 bottles, sweet puncheons! Colour: gold. Nose: probably not first fill sherry, which means that this is both subtler and fuller, more on balanced panettone and cakes, raisin rolls, vanilla cake, many breads, leaven, chamomile, honeysuckle, lime blossom, a little menthol and liquorice, roots (hey, black carrots?)… Nutshell, this is clearly more complex and fresher. With water: flours, breads, doughs, grist… That's just what the people want. Mouth (neat): perfect. Some minerality, barley, raisins, herbal teas, green spices, preserved greengages once again… Well this is just extremely good. No literature needed. With water: sweet citrus popping out, as well as some camphory kinds of herbs. Mi piacere very much. Finish: long, fresh, citrusy and herbal. A drop of olive oil in the aftertaste, nothing beats this. Fresh finishes always win over more pachydermic drams. Comments: not a sherry beast at all, I was wrong. Looks like this one just took the lead, but the session isn't over…
SGP:561 - 89 points.

To the archives…

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (50.2%, The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 217 bottles)

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (50.2%, The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 217 bottles) Four stars
If the question is 'aren't we a little late?' the answer would be 'as always'. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, more plums, biscuits, shortbread, butterscotch, custard pretzels, IPA, well-kept vanilla pods (coz there's vanilla and there's vanilla)… No complains whatsoever this far. With water: some croissants on a bistro's terrasse in Paris, with three or four espressos. When we're allowed to do that. Mouth (neat): so very good, gently spicy (cinnamon and ginger) and ale-y dram, with some apple crumble cake and a little poiré (pear cider, pears are quite big in here), as well as a little muscovado sugar. Speculoos, crème brûlée…  With water: all good, smooth, cake-y and with rather a lot of cider. A grittier background (walnut skins). Finish: medium, leafier. Maybe not my favourite part. Comments: extremely good, too bad it lost two or three points at the finish, which was a tad too gritty for me.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Let's see what the neighbours in Campbeltown had to say…

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) Four stars and a half
I know Angus already tried this one but we shan't check the young partridge's notes! Colour: gold. Nose: some tiny diesely notes at first, then this bready extravaganza that Arran can display when they handle their casks with moderation. Orange cake absolutely everywhere and all the time, which is utterly perfect. Orange blossom, panettone again and again, baklavas… Mouth: huge Arran, you wouldn't believe this was bottled at less than 55% vol. Crystallised ginger, Breton chouchen (distilled mead), gueuze, crêpes while we're at it, I would even swear there is some buckwheat in there. Which would be illegal, right? Buckwheat isn't a cereal, is it? Some marc as well, some raw cognac… All things that are superb when balance was found. Which, incidentally, was the case here., perhaps by chance. Finish: perfect barley-y and fermentary ending, with good body and responsiveness. Very solid dram. Comments: as I just said, very solid dram, with a lovely rusticness.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Back to the officials…

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

Arran 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Why are any distillers only publishing very stupid commentaries and tasting notes on their websites? I mean, a 'tremendous depth of character', what's that? Isn't Arran rather about balance? Versatility? Perhaps even freshness? Oh well… Colour: golden amber. Nose: exactly that, no deep character, rather some elegant, balanced cake-iness, with pastries and breads, oriental pastries, earl grey, honey and maple syrup, roasted chestnuts, Twix, cornflakes… Things like that. Oh and barley. Just saying… Mouth: just perfect, on black nougat and rancio wine, roasted peanuts (we call them chouchous), toasted brioche and just a wee touch of rubber in the background, suggesting some poorly seasoned 'sherry' wood's been in use as well. No problems. Finish: rather long, rather fresh, but this sour and rubbery bitterness is gaining prominence in the aftertaste. Too bad, some well-earned points are being lost here. Comments: still a very fine Arran.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Eight's a good number, we need a long break now, see you tomorrow.

(Merci Nicolas)

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


April 26, 2021


Solera Tasting: Some More Grains

Reminds me of the Rolling Stones. Remember Some Girls and Some More Girls? Oh forget, we're just starting this and I'm rambling on already. Let's see what songs we have got… By the way, this is a solera tasting, meaning that we'll add notes whenever we stumble upon a grain whisky. In a way, it's an asynchronous session…

March 26, 2021:

Cambus 28 yo 1991/2020 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles)

Cambus 28 yo 1991/2020 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles) Three stars
Cambus was one of Diageo's old grain distilleries and was shut down in 1993. Colour: gold. Nose: it's really nicely rounded, cake-y, you could almost say malty at times, but it's true we're clearly in bourbon territories too, with a little varnish and quite some vanilla and coconut. All we're missing is a little rye. Not Havana Club. With water: no changes, perhaps a little more caramelised popcorn? Mouth (neat): it's pretty good, not too thin, rather on light white wine, caramel, nougat, and probably sweet maize, little sugar eggs, barley syrup…  The thing with these grains, whether old or not, is that they're really thin, thus a little frustrating. With water: it takes water rather well. Coconut and barley wines. Finish: short, on some readymade daiquiri. Nah I'm just making this up, but you get the picture. Comments: seriously, it's probably one of the better recent grains, I just keep finding them all superficial and too sweet, unless some bombastic sherry wood was in use, which is not the case here.
SGP:631 - 80 points.

March 28, 2021:

Strathclyde 31 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, 2020)

Strathclyde 31 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, 2020) Three stars and a half
A curious no-vintage old Strathclyde. The distillery (I was about to write plant) now belongs to Pernod Ricard. Now I remember a very good 1989 by Cadenhead last year (WF 87) so I suppose/hope this one stems from the same parcel of casks. Pure speculation. Colour: light gold. Nose: sure there's a feeling of raw ethanol at first, but the casks did well, with a lovely grassier vanillaness, cider apples, rhubarb, cigarette tobacco and even a little moss. Quite some lime juice too, this is surprisingly deep given that it's just unfiltered vodka (S.!) You would almost believe its malt whisky. Mouth: really, it's a rather fatter, deeper grain, even if it's obviously thinner on the palate than on the nose. Vanilla, biscuits, a feeling of young bourbon, slivovitz, some sweetened chocolate, popcorn, a little butter cream… Not bad at all, even if you would tend to try to reach for your ice tray… Finish: rather short yet a little hot and ethanoly. After all this is ex-high-column spirit. Nicer touches of oranges in the aftertaste, jellybeans. Comments: one of the good ones.
SGP:641 - 83 points.

March 28, 2021:

Secret Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.1%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #940006)

Secret Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.1%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #940006) Four stars
Even the grains are getting anonymous these days mind you (but whisky cynics would say these spirits are always anonymous anyway). Colour: light gold. Nose: lovely varnish/glue, touches of acetone, green apples, cellulose, a box of cigarillos, then rather tropical fruits, especially bananas and guavas, sponge cake topped with custard, shortbread... Pleasant freshness and even complexity here. The varnishy notes do not bother me, on the contrary. Mouth: not too thin, rather enticing, on the expected coconut water and vanilla cream, plus fine touches of lemon, then several herbal and rooty notes from the old cask, celeriac, chartreuse, fir liqueur… All that never quite becomes big, but remember this is only grain whisky.  Finish: citrus winning it all, which is good. Lemon balm too. Comments: not big but tight and even refreshing. Forgot to mention thin mints in the aftertaste. Very good grain but as always, they need very long aging, that and sometimes good thick sherry to bring some body.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

… Or some finishing?.. In truth, grain is a category where finishings may make some kind of sense…

Girvan 2006/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Islay cask finish)

Girvan 2006/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Islay cask finish) Three stars and a half
All right, in-cask blending with Laphroaig, I see… By the way, the label's a little scary too, but let's see… Colour: white wine. Nose: between medicinal alcohol and artisan mezcal, I would say. In any case, Laphroaig is a top dresser so even under these kinds of conditions, it'll dominate any grain whisky. Whiffs of celeriac, horseradish… Oh and, drumroll please, gentian! Possibly the best Girvan I've ever had, we'll see. But is this still Girvan?... Uh… Mouth: same feelings, only amplified. Big smoke, earth, roots and mustard. Perhaps one tiny bit of bubblegum that would remind us that there is some grain whisky in there, really. Good fun. Finish: medium, more medicinal again. Again this feeling of quaffing medicinal alcohol, which is less unpleasant than it sounds. Comments: I cannot fathom how it would be at 60% vol. Let's buy one bottle of Lagavulin 12, ninety-eight cases of Haig Club, and hey, pioneer a new business model! We'd call that the 'Whisky Homeopathy' series… But shh…
SGP:436 - 84 points.
April 18, 2021:

North British 28 yo 1991/2019 (50.1%, Single Cask Collection, cask #20013, 180 bottles)

North British 28 yo 1991/2019 (50.1%, Single Cask Collection, cask #20013, 180 bottles) Three stars
Most probably 100% maize. Colour: white wine. Nose: little easter eggs, cream eggs, marshmallows, dried coconut and all that. Pleasant and sweet. With water: a little more on good green tea, with wee ideas of lotus flowers and jasmine, as well as tinned litchis. We're in a Chinese restaurant; would you please pass the dumplings? Mouth (neat): very sweet and fruity. Glen Haribo, meringue, grated coconut. With water: rather more Haribo stuff, plus some sweetened herbal tea, possibly chamomile. Finish: medium, on pretty much the dame flavours. Sugarcane syrup. Comments: good sweet easy grain whisky. Wouldn't this rather belong to Johnnie Walker Blue Label?
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Girvan 30 yo (56.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, hogshead, cask #167852, 2021)

Girvan 30 yo (56.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, hogshead, cask #167852, 2021) Three stars and a half
Yet another funny label. Is that Tammy Wynette? Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's rather floral, more on roses, gewurztraminer, muscat, perhaps apricots… In the background, rather fresh pastries, praline brioche, fresh raisin rolls… I'm finding some jasmine tea, also. With water: with some popcorn, pancake sauce and peanut butter, this has clearly something American. Litres of custard too. Mouth (neat): it's rather thicker than others, maybe was the cask extra-burnt? A little hot too. More Haribo. With water: good, sweet, well balanced. I'm thinking manzanilla tea (not the wine) with a few good spoonfuls of honey poured in. Finish: medium, on the same notes. Grains do not change much, in my experience. Comments: an old grain that we wouldn't quite qualify as 'silent spirit'.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Cambus 29 yo 1990/2020 (52%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, cask #935596)

Cambus 29 yo 1990/2020 (52%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, cask #935596) Three stars
All right… Looks that this one was aimed for people who were 12… In 1980. Colour: straw. Nose: sweet coconut water, barley syrup, stevia, pasteurised orange juice. With water: sweet tea. Mouth (neat): bonbons and coconut. With water: Havana club and Malibu. Finish: okay. Sweet oak, vanilla. Comments: it's really tough to have a few grains in a row, really very tough, believe me, while we could have Clynelish by the same very excellent bottlers instead. Someone's got to do it, I suppose. I would add that these babies would probably be better on a lot of crushed ice, but we're in serious tasting mode, you understand. Anyway, this old Cambus was good but particularly 'empty' in my opinion.
SGP:630 - 80 points.

This has to end…

Girvan 29 yo 1991/2020 (56.5%, Watt Whisky, bourbon barrel)

Girvan 29 yo 1991/2020 (56.5%, Watt Whisky, bourbon barrel) Three stars and a half
Shouldn't someone restart 'Islington'? Colour: straw. Nose: soft, on scones and shortbread, with a touch of banana and, naturally, coconut. The Rubettes of whisky. With water: whiffs of sunflower oil, nougat, pistachios, that's quite pleasant Mouth (neat): very sweet, a little tenser than others, more on orange drops perhaps. Which I enjoy. With water: touches of violet sweets and even a hint of aniseed bredele. Candy floss, toffee apple, more nougat… The barrel sure was a good boy. Finish: medium, sweet, even more on nougat. Comments: a very soft but not uninteresting grain whisky. Pretty good, I'd say one could use this to make a proper high-end home-blended Scotch.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

That's about enough grain. Now looks like the Girvans got off easy this time.

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


April 24, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Macallan and Glenfarclas
Not really a 'Versus' situation, as I feel that would be a bit unfair as the Macallans today are a bit more 'humble' than the Glenfarcli. Instead, let's just enjoy re-visiting these two Speyside stalwarts once again. Including a few examples from the distant past, and one genuine scarcity.


Macallan Edition No 6 (48.6%, OB, 2020)

Macallan Edition No 6 (48.6%, OB, 2020)
Created to 'pay homage' to the landscape around the distillery and the River Spey apparently, and done in collaboration with a fly fishing company called Hardy. I have to say, all these 'stories' on Macallan bottles smell funny to me, but at the same time I also have a big soft spot for whisky that ties into nature - even tenuously. So I will admit to a little cognitive dissonance here. Colour: deep gold. Nose: modern, rather peppery and slightly varnish-tinged sherry. So a little closed and with an acetic sharpness at first. However, this opens nicely with time and we're into quite pleasurable tobacco and leaf mulch territories. Some sultana, praline and coffee too. Quite reminiscent of the old OB 12 yo in some ways. I find the nose simple but very attractive. Mouth: good arrival, nice power, the ABV does some fine work here. Chocolate, tobacco, wet leaves, damp earth, walnuts - all very classical, typical and easy. You may add sultanas once again, and some nicely bitter Seville marmalade. Finish: good length, warming, gingerbread, dark fruits and a little touch of hessian and earthiness. Comments: Pretty hard to see how anyone who enjoys classical sherried Macallan wouldn't enjoy sipping this. I still think it would be more interesting with an age statement, in my humble opinion.
SGP: 551 - 85 points. 



Macallan 10 yo (40% / 70 proof, OB, UK, late 1970s)

Macallan 10 yo (40% / 70 proof, OB, UK, late 1970s)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: bang! Old school sherry. This unmistakeable and utterly charming mix of dried fruits with more luscious ripe green ones overlaid. Also leaf mulch, cocoa, tobacco and a savoury / salty rancio note. Enchanting is often the word that comes to mind with such bottlings. Mouth: very nutty, chocolatey and showing many dense notes of fig, date, sultana and praline. Also some espresso with a single sugar cube. Still muchly, leathery and chocolatey. Only thing is that detracts is a little bit of OBE mustiness. Finish: medium, leafy, autumnal, leathery and with some drier tones. Comments: pretty irrefutable really. We should retrospectively apply warning stickers to all such bottles: 'WARNING: do not consumer alongside current NAS Macallan'. Just that wee bit of OBE will hold this one back, but it's beautiful old style whisky.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.



Macallan 1851 'Inspiration' (41.6%, OB, 2010)

Macallan 1851 'Inspiration' (41.6%, OB, 2010)
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you the story behind this rather amusing/ludicrous/embarrassing (delete as you prefer) series? Colour: orangey amber. Nose: a kind of halfway house between the 10 and the No 6 in some ways. There's a lovely tropical edge here but it's also more dominated by a nutty sherry profile. Peanut brittle with milk chocolate, praline, pipe tobacco, mushroom powder and this general impression of all things 'old library' - which I'm sure the Macallan directors of the time would have approved. Mouth: a little flat and flabby on arrival. There's a big dollop of marmalade-heavy sherry but it feels rather sweetish and confected. Sugary cafe latte, cheap madeira sponge cake and a touch of leather. Finish: medium, a tad short, not a whole lot going on. Feels like we've travelled a long way from the nose, some after notes of burnt caramel and fudge. Comments: Not sure what to say really. I had high hopes from the nose but the palate kind of went in its own, rather unlikely direction. I know other folk rate this higher, including Serge who had a version of this one at WF86 back in 2007, so it could be the bottle or just me most likely. Anyway, who cares!
SGP: 631 - 80 points.



Glenfarclas 15 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)

Glenfarclas 15 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)
One of two brand new, and rather nifty looking, exclusive Glenfarcli for TWE. Also, 100 proof is always cool. Colour: gold. Nose: golden syrup, toffee, cinnamon breakfast cereals, Biscoff spread - a very easy, open and classical profile where you don't feel the ABV too much. Quite clever in that regard. With water: lovely development on breads and spices, treacle on rye bread, a little aniseed and some malt loaf with raisins. Mouth: a similar, immediate impression of sweet nectars and syrups. Golden syrup, orange marmalade, sultanas and a little marzipan. An easy and gentle sherry profile that remains staunchly classical but with no sense of overt dominance or intrusion over the distillate. With water: the texture is the most striking part I think here, it becomes nicely 'gooey' with water, while there's plenty softer fruit notes coming through as well including kumquat and baked apple. In fact you could just say apple crumble with custard. Finish: good length, on soft cupboard spices, fruit scones, a touch of vanilla cream soda and more sweet cereals. Comments: Extremely quaffable and very well put together I'd say.
SGP: 641 - 86 points.



Glenfarclas 21 yo (94 proof / 54.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)

Glenfarclas 21 yo (94 proof / 54.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)
And here's the other half of this pair. Matured for 21 years in 'oloroso sherry seasoned oak'. Colour: deep, coppery gold. Nose: a more vinous style with a more pronounced and resinous sherry profile that takes in hints of acetic and balsamico. There's also something a notch more 'old school' about this one with some impressions of oily rags and camphor. Musty, earthen floored dunnage, putty, sultana and a little black olive bread. Really lovely and quite complex. With water: the fruit comes out more directly now, green banana, star fruit, tangerine and dried apricot. There's also a more reductive jammy quality as well but it remains quite subtle. Mouth: superb arrival! Oily, sharp, almost tart fruitiness. More impressions of hessian and dunnage along with olive oil, mead and putty. There's also an inkiness and various subtle flavours of crystallised and dark fruits. Some kind of crystallised lemon peel perhaps. And Cheng Pi, those long-aged orange peels they make tea from in China. Very impressive so far. With water: sugar caramelising with spices, clove, nutmeg, lime peel, old Cointreau, pot pourri, sandalwood. There's a lot very subtle and interesting stuff happening in here. Finish: long and now much more earthy and directly on classical sherry qualities such as tobacco, leaf mulch, leather, bitter chocolate and fruit liqueurs. Comments: I find the complexity and evolution in this one really impressive. Yet it remains first and foremost extremely drinkable and easy, lots to enjoy here.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.



Glenfarclas 40 Year Old (43.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.154 'Under the Moonlight', refill hogshead, 61 bottles)

Glenfarclas 40 Year Old (43.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.154 'Under the Moonlight', refill hogshead, 61 bottles)
From this mini era where SMWS, for some bewildering reason, thought it was a good idea to stop putting vintages on their labels. Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: an extremely scented profile where you can tell the cask has started to 'close in'. However, the wood is wonderfully clean so what you get is this familiar mix of beehive waxiness, pollens, toasty wood spices, dried flowers and exotic hardwood resins. Also fruit teas, dried herbs and rosewater. Pretty fragile but there's elegance and beauty still here aplenty. Mouth: it's not as overpowered as you might expect, there's a big hit of sweet coconut along with shoe polish, beeswax, leather, herbal liqueurs, quince and plum wine. The tannins are becoming rather warm and peppery as they nibble around the sides but this is pretty excellent. Finish: good length, on many various assorted teas, herbs, soft medicinal touches and crystallised citrus peels. Comments: If you love scented, slightly fragile old single malts you'll be giggling. It does feel tired in some places so technically it won't get passed 90. But this is extremely bonnie old Glenfarclas for sure.
SGP: 561 - 88 points. 



Glenfarclas 21 yo 'A Princely Whisky for a Royal Occasion' (52%, OB, -/+ 1970)

Glenfarclas 21 yo 'A Princely Whisky for a Royal Occasion' (52%, OB, -/+ 1970)
An extreme rarity, one I never tried before. In the pre-cube, tall bottle presentation. Needless to say: expectations are high… Colour: gold. Nose: I've lost count of the number of times I've written 'another world' at the outset of these kinds of notes. But really: another world! Like spooning molten fruit syrups into a beehive. Green and tropical fruits galore along with a very thick, stodgy pollen and honey combinations. Stunningly thick, textural, waxy and aromatic. It also has this extremely 'liqueur like' vibe which seems only to be found in such old style glories. Some kind of ancient yellow Chartreuse with soft peppery warmth and many tiny medicinal and mineral qualities too. Exquisite! With water: spicier, sootier, oilier and more mechanical and waxy. Opens exquisitely with endless wee notes of dried fruits and flowers. Mouth: seriously, this is just old Chartreuse! Incredible thickness and textural weight in the mouth. Immensely medicinal, herbal, honeyed and yet with this very slight nervous saltiness too. Like salted mead with more pollens, tobacco leaf, mineral oil and thick, powerful notes of camphor, wax and hessian. Stunning! With water: my God! The peat, the herbs, the medicines, the power! Quick, you know who to call! Finish: stunningly long, resinous, herbaceous, medicinal, oily, spicy and waxy. Comments: one of the most powerfully herbal whiskies I ever tried; reminds me more of some ancient late-19th century whiskies than 50s distillate, quite astonishing. Everyone serious about whisky should endeavour to try bottlings of this style and quality on occasion. I appreciate it's an expensive and not exactly easy proposition these days, but it's worth the effort in my view. Nothing else grounds you and re-calibrates your sense of quality quite like these kinds of old masterpieces.
SGP: 663 - 94 points.



Big thanks to Mark L and Stewart.





April 21, 2021


Even More blends and bastards

Because there's more, always more… Undisclosed singles, vatted malts, blends…

House of Hazelwood 21 yo (40%, blended Scotch, +/-2020)

House of Hazelwood 21 yo (40%, blended Scotch, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
William Grant's posh line of blends, bearing a brand name we rather used to be used to with regard to Kinninvie in the good old days. I've liked the 18 in the past (WF 84) but I don't think I've ever tried this little 21. Colour: white wine. Nose: I'm rather fond of this style, even if you're soon to understand that the lousy 40% vol. will make for a serious handicap on the palate. Lovely tiny herbs, chartreuse, verbena liqueur, even a little gentian, then panettone and brioche ridden with sultanas. Some oriental pastries too, baklava, orange blossom, Turkish delights… Well this one makes you travel, which is just ueber-cool these days. Mouth: why this murderous A.B.V.? It makes it flat and dry, while I'm dead sure the juice was perfect at, say 45% vol. or even 43%. The lower strengths make the wood stand out, and the whiskies flattish, tea-ish and cardboardy. This is a perfect example. Boo. Finish: short and cardboardy, with some disturbing coconut, but a salty and kind-of-smoky signature gives it away, the juice was lovely. Comments: not just because of 'inflated' packaging, this baby reminds me of Suntory's Hibiki 21. Both very frustrating whiskies.
SGP:442 - 78 points.

The Nameless Three 5 yo 2014/2020 (50.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Islay)

The Nameless Three 5 yo 2014/2020 (50.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Islay) Three stars and a half
According to some rumours on (anti)social media, this one comes with a portrait of the King of Belgium on the label. All hail the King! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this typical sweetness of L. So neither Bunny not CI this time. In truth you feel like you're wandering throughout the distillery while it's working at full speed. Fresh malt just delivered from PE maltings, gentle chats, crab sandwiches, scallops from the bay, and freshly squeezed oranges. With water: visiting the PE maltings, a pint of IPA in your hands. Some raw wool and very few medicinal notes, if any. Mouth (neat): peated oranges. That feeling will vanish once the drop gets older, but in its infancy, that's just what you get, deep-smoked oranges and pomegranates. With water: herbal, slightly fermentary notes popping out, but the core remains sweet and fruity. Salty ale rather than IPA this time. Finish: pretty long, first leafy, then on Fanta. Apologies. Comments: very good super-young drop. More part of an 'ageing monography' as dear M. Samaroli would have said, and probably not quite mature, but quality's already high.
SGP:657 - 84 points.

Peat & Sherry (58.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, for Velier, blended malt, sherry butt, cask # 997152, 2020)

Peat & Sherry (58.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, for Velier, blended malt, sherry butt, cask # 997152, 2020) Four stars
It's always a little bizarre to spot a blended malt that's bearing a cask number, unless they've done some in-cask vatting. Or this is Williamson (pure speculations!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: pure lapsang souchong. I mean, really, this is lapsang souchong tea. Perhaps with a touch of hibiscus – must be the sherry. With water: an even tarrier lapsang souchong. Incredible. Mouth: when modernness is an asset. Rich oranges and smoked oysters, truffles, curry, lime and citron, green walnuts, genuine gentian eau-de-vie, cardamom. Very modern concoction, very good. The future is bright and the birds are singing in the trees. With water: gets much saltier. Anchovies in brine, black olives, capers, samphires, pickled lemons. Do a chicken marinade with this? With a good glass, I mean bottle of gewurztraminer, perhaps? Finish: long, salty, sweet and sour. More pickled lemons and more smoked tea. Comments: pure sorcery and cookery. The outcome is rather perfect, if a little 'pushy' at times.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

Speyside Region 28 yo 1991/2020 (40.8%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Speyside Region 28 yo 1991/2020 (40.8%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Four stars
Whisky-Fässle, one of the only places where the ducks, I mean the whiskies are never lame. Colour: straw. Nose: some rather wonderful citrusy notes, plus sunflower oil, barley syrup, mead, beeswax, touch of camphor, mint and eucalyptus, wormwood, absinth… All that's rather whispering, delicate, elegant, and just lovely. Hope the palate won't be too weak at this lower strength – but natural low strengths and deeply reduced ones are just not the same thing, as we both know only too well. So… Mouth: a meady one, full of beeswax, mead indeed, pine wood, chamomile, other herbal teas, cigarette tobacco, pink pepper, pear compote, then stewed tropical fruits, like bananas and papayas. It would just never nosedive, despite the low strength. Finish: medium, not short, a tad bouillony and even salty. Not something that's often to be found in a barrel. Comments: a curious little whisky that, in truth, isn't little at all. A tad fragile here and there but absolutely not broken. In short, truly lovely. Oh and the exact opposite to the Peat & Sherry as far as styles go.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Speyside Region 24 yo 1995/2020 (50.3%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Speyside Region 24 yo 1995/2020 (50.3%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Four stars and a half
No ducks. Colour: light gold. Nose: totally on fat barley and custard, overripe apples, Gueuze, brioche, orange blossom, and honeysuckle. With water: beers, peelings, fresh bread, dried apricots, stewed peaches. You need not more. Mouth: excellent fat barley-y malt. Awesome apples, oranges, tangerines, muesli. I need say no more. With water: apple pie, soft almond milk, drops of barley wine, the faintest touch of waxed paper, and a tiny bit of pecan pie. Very traditional all-malt whisky, al natural. Finish: rather long, extremely barley-y and on cakes. Walnut cake, apple cake… Comments: high-class malt whisky, totally on… malt whisky. A kind of epicentre of maltiness. Some say this is M. I would tend to agree. But hey, why do the indies always have the upper hand?
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Speyside 22 yo 1998/2020 (48.9%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead)

Speyside 22 yo 1998/2020 (48.9%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead) Four stars
This time, rumour has it that this would be G. No, not gin. Colour: straw. Nose: we're in the same vein, that is to say on cakes, barley, soft beers, and a few preserved fruits such as greengages and other kinds of plums. The distillate isn't as 'fat' as the previous one, but it's just as natural and lovely. A little sunflower and hazelnut oils. Mouth: more oomph, more knack, and more zing. Distilled beer (the very extreme taste of Brewdog's cold-distilled beer is still in my memory) and just brioches, sponge cakes, Jaffa cakes, more gueuze, some orange squash. Very good, very natural. With water (not quite needed but there)…: excellent, fresh. Lemon blossom lemonade, some rather citrusy honeys, some perfect barley. Finish: medium, very cakey and lemony. All right, lemon cake. Comments: it's probably quite suicidal that the brand, such as 'G.', wouldn't allow the indies to use the name in these kinds of cases. But there, it's a very lovely malty whisky, well done the Thompsons.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Let's shake the boxes and see what falls out…

Red Snake (59.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Caroni rum cask finish, cask #redneck 27, 255 bottles, 2017)

Red Snake (59.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Caroni rum cask finish, cask #redneck 27, 255 bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half
What? What was this madness? Colour: deep gold. Nose: lost, we're lost. A Caroniness for sure, so some kind of earthy and eucalyptussy smokiness, then some pistachio-ed creaminess and rather much vanilla. The jury's still out… With water: Caroni's petrol and engine oil. This reminds me of my old Ducati Scrambler 450 that, last time I rode it just a few weeks ago… Oh forget… Mouth (neat): very extreme blend of spirits. It must be a heavy peater at the core. Water is just obligatory here; I don't think anyone should quaff this in its natural form. Salt, petrol, smoke, olives. With water: like drinking salted petrol. Huge brine, tar, capers, olives, polishes, artichokes… Finish: very long, salty, challenging. A touch of sulphur in the        aftertaste Comments: can a whisky, well a rumsky, be too extreme? Very huge meta-spirit, nonetheless.
SGP:464 - 84 points.

April 20, 2021


Aberlour OB and IB

Love Aberlour, big sellers in France. One of the first distilleries we visited with the Malt Maniacs, when we were young - I'm glad the Distillery is still standing.

Aberlour 10 yo 'Forest Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Aberlour 10 yo 'Forest Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars
Forest Reserve? Is this whisky for survivalists? Joking aside, this baby was finished in French Limousin oak, so basically, Cognac wood. Not saying they've used ex-Cognac casks, but Cognac does use Limousin a lot. Are you following me? In any case, the oak is one thing, the way it was treated is another thing. Colour: full gold. Nose: so easy, cake-y, so much on custard, on croissants, on light acacia honey, on biscuits, on vanilla pods, on buttercups and dandelions, on light ale… So a very delicate, rather fragrant and pretty easy nose. Mouth: you know what? I could quaff this, it's light but absolutely not thin, simple and yet not dull, with a little caramel and a feeling of rye. At times you would believe this is Canadian. Good Canadian. Finish: short, not the best part despite these notes of rye that are still there. A little sawdust. Comments: I'd say you have to think post-Covid pool parties with good friends here. Easy, very well made, if not totally 'Aberlour'. Above the blends on the shelves.
SGP:441 - 82 points.

Aberlour 12 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Aberlour 12 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Tried this one 5 years ago and really liked it 5 years ago (WF 84). But time and distillery effluents flow… Now yes, It's a finishing (see update below)...… Colour: full gold (as always with these entry-level malts). Nose: nice, really, malty, on more cakes, more raisins than in the 'Forest', raisin rolls, brioche, panettone, perhaps a pecan pie, almond cake, a drop of mirabelle eau-de-vie, a little mead (the drink of the gods)… Mouth: yeah I like it a little better than the Forest, for it would be rounder and fruitier, with more raisins, sweet wines, zwetschke tarte, more mirabelle eau-de-vie, earl grey, indeed a drop of cognac, perhaps… So all gentle and good, 'commercial' in a good way. Not quite in the same category as the legendary old square bottles, but I am finding similarities. Finish: medium, this time with oranges beside the raisins. Comments: I say any newcomers trying this after, say Chivas (same stable) will experience an epiphany and become a malt enthusiast. Welcome to the madhouse!
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Update: this 12 yo is actually 'a percentage going through full term maturation in European Oak and the remainder in American Oak for the full term before batting together'. Thanks Ian, that may also explain why it's really good!

Didn't we say we'd try an independent as well?...

Aberlour 7 yo 2012/2020 (54%, Dram Mor, cask #800914, 328 bottles)

Aberlour 7 yo 2012/2020 (54%, Dram Mor, cask #800914, 328 bottles) Three stars
I love Dram Mor's labels, they are much less pushy and, well, deafening than many other new ooh-ha indie efforts. I mean, they're all expected to end their lives in a trash bin anyway, are they not? But I find it interesting that most indies would go dazzlingly modern while the officials become more and more 'retro'. Anyway... Colour: blush wine (Brad and Angelina's rosé de Provence). That's scary. Nose: do you know what a 'fraisier' is? It is a kind of cake with some sponge cake, custard, butter cream, fresh strawberries and marzipan/almond cream. That's what I'm getting here. Rather love 'fraisier' when it's well made, by the way. With water: beers and grist popping out. A feeling of Belgian Kriek beer. Mouth (neat): a little raw and kirschy. Not quite mature, and actually pretty tutti-frutti-y (oh rootie). Guignolet and maraschino. With water: more Kriek beer. Finish: kirsch aged in oak for a few months. Some crazy folks are doing that in the Schwarzwald – but we refrain from doing so in Alsace. Comments: nutshell, loads of cherries in this one. I remember a lovely wee town in California… Forgot the name…
SGP:541 - 82 points.

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


April 19, 2021


Benromach, three of them

We're going on with our exploration of the newer expressions of that 'authentic' (was that the word?) mildly smoky Speysider by G&M. Let's do this by ascending strength, while remembering that we just love the current 15. No, that was no pre-emptive remark.

Benromach 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2020)

Benromach 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
A blend of sherry and bourbon. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely, with roasted chestnut, pipe smoke, old coal stove, then grouse and redcurrants. There are echoes of older batches, with whiffs of leather and used matches (no plain sulphur though) and some kind of lovely exotic bouillon, with coriander, lemongrass, ginger and even lime. I think I forgot something… Ah, yes, a drop of coconut water, possibly from the bourbon wood. Drops of fattish fino sherry too (not Tio Pepe). Mouth: boy is this salty and rustic! Someone's added some salt and some pepper to some cigar ashes, some ginger and turmeric, gritty curry, cloves, bitter oranges, and almost a glass of that same fino. Salted marmalade. There is something extreme to this baby, in spite of the lower strength. Finish: very long, with more bitter marmalade and salted preserved ginger. Comments: a big boy for big boys (but of course, S.) In a way the 43% vol. are a little misleading, they should write '43% vol. but feels like 50%.' But would that be legal?
SGP:372 - 85 points.

Speaking of power…

Benromach 10 yo 2009/2019 'Batch 2' (57.1%, OB)

Benromach 10 yo 2009/2019 'Batch 2' (57.1%, OB) Three stars and a half
Right, that was still the old design. We're being sluggish with our Benromachs, are we not. I thought Batch 1 had been way too heavy and cask-driven (WF 78). Let's see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: the peat's very obvious here, with some no-less obvious coastal notes, seawater, brine, mercurochrome, celeriac perhaps. Some funny nods to young Laphroaig here. With water: we tamed it! It's not that it got crystalline and blade-y, but any thickness is gone now. Now Laphroaig is almost gone too, there's just a wee medicinal side that keeps flying over your glass. Gauze? Mouth (neat): really thick, spicy, heavy, extreme, concoctiony (S.!) and drying. Notes of strawberry syrup too. A bizarre profile, high on leather and ginger. With water: once again we tamed it, lemons and coriander are popping out, with a touch of salt, and a tiny farmy, almost Brora-y side. Could you swim from Elgin to Brora? Maybe not… Finish: long, fresh and almost refreshing when reduced. Comments: Vittel's best friend if you ask me. I'm saying Vittel because it's 'my' water during tastings and I never, ever change water. Hope the spring will never run dry.
SGP:462 - 83 points.

Benromach 9 yo 2011/2020 (60.8%, OB for France, first fill sherry, cask #39, 315 bottles)

Benromach 9 yo 2011/2020 (60.8%, OB for France, first fill sherry, cask #39, 315 bottles) Five stars
In this very case, well, I say vive la France. And vive the Auld Alliance while we're at it. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is rather one of these moderner ex-sherry whiskies that are full of butterscotch, which makes you wonder whether some kind of heavy charring hasn't occurred. Or a Mars bar that someone would have salted and smoked – if not deep-fried. Anyway, this works a treat and made this little beast gentler and rounder than expected. But water may change all this… With water: seawater, tonic water, a tiny bit of new leatherette, or new vinyl, petrol, spent grains, farmyard… Brilliant! Mouth (neat): high-power lemony and salty arrival, gearing towards marmalade, green pepper and pickled ginger. Big beast, big strength. With water: it just adores water. Excellent citrus, citronella, salt, and even a few drops of proper tequila. Not George's former brand mind you. The first fill sherry was under control. Finish: long, punchy, salty, slightly mashy. The kind of bottle to keep for some extra-30 years in your cellar before opening. Comments: I've tried another version last year; not too sure they weren't the same. Anyway, great young 'romach.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

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


April 18, 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!


Malternatives: Madder Cognacs

After quite some years looking for malternatives in 'brandy' regions, exclusively from a malt enthusiast's POV, I believe we could come to the conclusion that only a few houses could actually compete with our dear Clynelishes or Springbanks. And that most large brands that are only churning out zillions of blends (in crystal or not) are just too, say, thin. Thin-y.  Okay, not for us. Let's have a few better ones, starting with an apéritif…

Hermitage 1995 'Chez Richon' (43%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2019)

Hermitage 1995 'Chez Richon' (43%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2019) Three stars
Remember, Chez Richon in Segonzac would hint at the house Michel Forgeron, which is a very good house, naturally. Colour: amber. Nose: classic fresher cognac, with some mentholy and pine-y notes that may stem from some new oak in this context, then preserved pears, apricots and peaches, juicy sultanas, orange blossom water,     and meadow flowers. Very lovely nose, fresh and playful, well balanced, elegant. Mouth: yeah very good if a tad 'from the country', full of raisins and honeys (heather), with a sugary touch that was not expected and some liquorice allsorts. Feels a wee tad 'pushed' but we're far from the large-brand juices that would make any fan of 100 Pipers cry. Finish: medium to short, sweet, easy, honeyed. Comments: possibly not the best 'Hermitage' I've tried this far, but watch these pages. Still pretty much high-echelon.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

This just in…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Pierre L.62' (41.3%, OB, Petite Champagne, 377 bottles, +/-2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Pierre L.62' (41.3%, OB, Petite Champagne, 377 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
I'll say it, the price here is scandalously low. Possibly twenty (20) times cheaper than what any lousy malt whisky from a similar vintage would cost you. A scandal, especially since we now all know that this little house if doing things very rightly. Colour: amber. Nose: all smoothness and roundness, and totally on various peaches in all their forms, preserved, as jams, fresh, as liqueurs…  That's just ueber lovely, but it's true that I'm a sucker for anything with peaches inside. Tinier notes on the sides would rather be rose petals and raisins, incense and cedar wood, pink grapefruits ans Szechuan pepper, and possibly… Sauternes. Cheers. Mouth: great fun here. Late-harvest gewurz and old Tokaji, rose jelly, patchouli, a drop of muscat, blood oranges, peaches… It's not that the oak would be unnoticeable – it's quite big – but the floral side in all this would just counterbalance it effortlessly. Have I used the word 'lovely' already? Finish: not that long, but still fresh and absolutely not 'tannic'. Comments: very floral old cognac, most probably distilled even before the Beatles first sang Love Me Do. This wee Cognac aged best, if you ask me.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

What's good is that we've got a worthy sibling in the house…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62' (40.4%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Petite Champagne, +/-2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62' (40.4%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Petite Champagne, +/-2021) Five stars
So the early Beatles, once again. Colour: deep amber. Nose: same territories, same configuration, same kind of profile, same pleasures. This one is, perhaps, a wee tad rounder, with rather more raisins for example, but I may well be dreaming. In short, it is clearly peach-led once again. Perhaps a little more earth and tobacco too? Nah they're extremely similar, if not virtually identical. Mouth: don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs! Same-ish Cognac, really. Quality's high, all is fine, Tokaji and peaches are exactly where you were expecting them… Oh, apologies, that would rather be old pineau I suppose. Finish: medium, fresh. Looks like I haven't mentioned litchis before; so, litchis. Comments: marvellous, delicate old Cognac that aged just as well as Sir Macca. If I may.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

These guys from the Wu Dram Clan seem to know what they're doing, so let's have more…

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot No.70' (53.7%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, Grande Champagne, 114 bottles, 2021)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot No.70' (53.7%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, Grande Champagne, 114 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Do these extremely fine people know that we wouldn't say 'dram' in French? Well, besides, the codes would suggest Mott the Hoople rather than The Beatles here… Colour: amber. Nose: yay, small herbs, soups, overripe fruits and the jams made thereof. Crushed mint, ground liquorice, lighter cinnamon, manioc, pumpkin, new furniture (Ikea), fresh almonds… That's all very complex and, to be honest, rather a little 'malty'. Please don't shoot. With water: not too sure, putty and coal tar are coming out. We've got nothing against putty and coal tar, mind you. Tealeaves. Mouth (neat): the oak's a little heavy on your palate. Pinewood too. I'd say this baby needs water. With water: it's funny that it would behave very differently on the nose and on the palate, once reduction's occurred. In this case it got pretty fruitier, but the leafy side remains there. No very sexy cognac for sure. Finish: chlorophyl, peelings, green tea. That's the oak. Comments: very good, as always with VT. Authentic cognacs, no lab stuff, no cooking, no fiddling.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Prunier 1967/2021 (52.8%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, grande Champagne, 276 bottles)

Prunier 1967/2021 (52.8%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, grande Champagne, 276 bottles) Five stars
A wonderful old house where they do it like when it was best. There are spirits that you cannot improve, any 'innovations' consisting in dumbing it all down. So, these days, innovation = no change. Right. Discuss if you like. Yeah, the labels are sh***y, so what? It's about substance, not about bl***y 'design'. Colour: amber. Nose: oh, old precious woods (rose, thuja), incense, blood oranges, Timut pepper, pink grapefruits, Turkish delights, macaroons, wee whiffs of thyme and rosemary, potpourri, chartreuse, bits of nougat… Ho ho ho! With water: a old lady's mink coat and various old-school perfumes. Roses, Joy de Patou, musk… Stuff like that. Mouth (neat): just wowowow, once you get through the oaky barrage in the arrival. Litchis and roses, muscat, gewurz, pink grapefruits once again, tonic, drops of Campari, Szechuan pepper again and again, fermented tea, pu-ehr, raw cocoa pods, dried strawberries (ever tried that?)… Wat a whirlwind! With water: blood oranges in majesty. A little mint too. Finish: medium, floral, superb. Wine freaks special: think high-class viognier. Comments: a Jimi-Hendrix of Cognac. 1967, you known, flower power. I believe this style of masterful old Cognac really is for malt enthusiasts – but I know I'm being a little parochial here. Keywords, old roses and pink grapefruits. Well done, clan!
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Ite missa est.

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


April 17, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Three Ardbeg… probably
I've noticed that age statements and general detail seem to be creeping back onto the official releases of Ardbeg. Certainly, this new 13 yo with a story about extra long fermentation and a silly name is probably the release I've been most excited about in some time, and that's not even really to do with the age, it's just nice to know it's 13 years old.


I suspect this was always going to be the case as maturing stocks allowed, and perhaps it speaks to the fact that, in its heart, the wider whisky industry would always like to be able to lean on the comfort of a big, fat age statement wherever possible. Not that some of the other many NAS Ardbeg bottlings over the past decade or so haven't been very fine drams. In fact, I've always felt it was funny wood concoctions that really hurt some official Ardbegs rather than any particular issues to do age (youth?) concealment. As we've mentioned often here on wee Whiskyfun, Ardbeg remains a brilliant distillate at heart, and the best examples are always when that great character is given room to breathe and to shine.



Kildalton 15 yo 2005/2020 (54.2%, The Single Cask, cask #ADBG008, hogshead, 304 bottles)

Kildalton 15 yo 2005/2020 (54.2%, The Single Cask, cask #ADBG008, hogshead, 304 bottles)
There's a few hints to chose from here, but my favourite is that they chose to bottle this at exactly the same strength as the official Uigeadail bottlings. I'm sure that was totally on purpose ;) Colour: pale white wine (yes!) Nose: crisp, hyper clean, pure 'white' smoke. This wonderful mix of crushed chalk, shells and beach pebbles all mingling together with seawater, oysters and lemon juice. Indeed this fresh shellfish vibe only intensifies with time, also pasta water with lots of lemon juice and olive oil. Some puffs of coal smoke too. With water: a pristine salinity that remains superbly fresh, pointed and sharp, but also with a good deal of intricacy to keep your nose coming back for more. Mouth: big, gutsy, powerful arrival. On herbal peat smoke, salt-encrusted white smoked fish, tar, beach sand, kelp, iodine and petrol. A big fistful of mineral salts too. On Islay, power still lies in the South! With water: we're really into green olives in a dirty martini territory now. Grizzled, gristy peat smoke, coal embers, natural tar, ointments, hessian and TCP. Hotly medical I would say. Finish: long, deeply smoky, powerful, dried seaweed, smoked sea salt, tar, beach wood and a little aniseed. Comments: Pretty uncompromising and heartily powerful stuff. A cursory sip of this might lead you to conclude this is just another excellent modern peated malt. However, it rewards close attention, and there remains something additionally, and undeniably, 'Ardbeg' about this. Beneath all the nonsense, it's still a terrific distillate. Great selection.
SGP: 367 - 91 points. 



I just realised that one was distilled the year I first worked at Ardbeg as a tour guide. Fifteen years you say? Ouch!



Ardbeg 19 yo 2001/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', bottled for USA, refill barrel / 1st fill barrel, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 2001/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', bottled for USA, refill barrel / 1st fill barrel, 216 bottles)
This one spent 10 years in a refill barrel then 9 years in a first fill barrel, so the epitome of a proper double maturation. Colour: gold. Nose: what I love here is that you can tell the cask in this case was rather active, but it has fused with the distillate in such a way as to create this rather singular and gelatinous profile that suggests peat-infused olive oil, herbal extracts and sugary cough medicines. Beneath that natural tar, embrocations, camphor and a touch of seawater. Superb! With water: fresher with some ozone and sea breeze, although also a hint of swimming pools. Mercurochrome and sardines in oil. Mouth: the oak spices are a little louder here, some hot green pepper, graphite oil, tar extract once again, paprika, umami paste and hessian. Smouldering wood embers and dried seaweed. I really like it but the cask is perhaps just a notch too active. With water: more singularly peaty, tarry, peppery and classical now. Big, weighty, spicy and chewy Ardbeg. Finish: long, these warming notes of toasty green pepper and wood spice are back mingling with the peat smoke, brine and tar. Comments: At times it is an extremely classical, contemporary Ardbeg, whereas there's moments when you certainly feel that second cask dragging it in more wood-dominant direction. A very different animal to the 05, but the quality is in the same ballpark. I think water does clever and necessary things here.
SGP: 566 - 90 points.



Ardbeg NAS / 10yo? (80 proof, OB, -/+ 1970)

Ardbeg NAS / 10yo? (80 proof, OB, -/+ 1970)
There are many fakes around with this label, however this bottle comes from within the UK and with impeccable provenance. It's also to be noted that some had a 10yo age statement as a neck label, so this bottling is either NAS or it lost its age label somewhere along the way. The original owner also helpfully informs us that this distillery is 'No longer in existence' - someone should probably tell LVMH. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and extremely typical old 60s (or pre-60s as may well be the case here) Ardbeg. Which is to say full of sheep wool, wet rocks, lightly tarred hessian, a kind of chalky, brittle peat smoke and many softer mineral and dried seaweed touches. The DNA of the 70s style is very present but the peat is dialled down while things like medicines and coastal complexities have been turned all the way up. You can add bitter citrus peels, petrol, seawater and ink. I would also say there's a farmyard quality that later styles do not quite possess. Mouth: extremely briny, kippery smokiness, more old rope, hessian, tar, black pepper, smoked teas and tiny impressions of pickled ginger and preserved lemons. Altogether a softer, yet also arguably deeper and more complex style. Some camphory, oily textured peat flavours, green peppercorns in brine, herbal smoke and a perfectly drying, brittle saltiness. Finish: long, bone dry, salty, a sense of citric acidity, tar, phenolics and seaweed once again. Comments: über fresh, pin sharp and almost wine like with its highly chiselled and taut structure. The interplay of peat, coast and farmyard is beautiful. It feels incorrect to call it 'lighter' in style; perhaps it's just that it is more ethereal and complex, but the lasting impression is of a huge and deeply intricate whisky. Majestic and fascinating old Ardbeg.
SGP: 365 - 93 points.



Big thanks to Mark L for that last one!




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


April 16, 2021


Little duos, today Glen Scotia

The other Campbeltowner, two 'private' OBs, how does that sound? I know, there's also Glengyle …

Glen Scotia 2006/2019 (53.1%, OB, for Whisky Journey Singapore, 235 bottles)

Glen Scotia 2006/2019 (53.1%, OB, for Whisky Journey Singapore, 235 bottles) Four stars
We expect something unusual, hopefully not too 'oak-doped'. Colour: straw. Nose: bursts with orange blossom, Fanta, guavas, pink grapefruits, marshmallows and 'kids' toothpaste'. Goes on with really a load of tangerines, which is absolutely lovely, as well as Szechuan pepper, which isn't any less lovely. Feels a tad 'lab' but yeah, who cares as long as it's this nice. With water: some heavier vanilla and bread dough come out. Fresh oak. Mouth (neat): extremely good, very citrusy, fresh, with once again loads of tangerines. You'd really believe they've thrown tangerines into the vatting tank. Hold on, don't they grow tangerines on the Mull of Kintyre? I've seen they make 'Citrus Gin' at Beinn an Tuirc… With water: bonbons, marshmallows, and jelly babies, some citrus-flavoured. Finish: medium, bonbony. The tangerines are back in force in the aftertaste. Comments: you do feel that a lot of work has been done with the casks. I mean, well done, really, even if this baby's maybe a little pushy.
SGP:751 - 85 points.

Glen Scotia 2008/2019 (53.6%, OB for The Cyprus Whisky Association, 1st fill bourbon, cask #467, 240 bottles)

Glen Scotia 2008/2019 (53.6%, OB for The Cyprus Whisky Association, 1st fill bourbon, cask #467, 240 bottles) Four stars
I suppose the profile will be similar… Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, perhaps a little more on bananas this time, rather than tangerines. English chardonnay. Ha. Are they using precursors? This one's also a little more medicinal, so closer to 'core Glen Scotia'. Bandages and damp chalk. With water: plaster! Mouth (neat): really Glen Scotia of old this time, with these wacky sour and fermentary notes of proper yoghurt that not everyone used to love, but that are really part of the distillery's DNA in my humble opinion. There is some pepper too, strawberries, and a little marmalade. Citrus again, Szechuan pepper again. With water: careful with water. With just one or two drops, you'll have notes of earl grey and those tangerines, which works very well indeed. Bergamots. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours. Citrusy and doughy aftertaste. Comments: which cask should we like best? In truth the differences were rather fascinating, making whisky really doesn't end after the second run is over.
SGP:562 - 86 points.

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


April 15, 2021


Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Craigellachie

You know, Craigellachie, that very wee village where lies Dewar's Craigellachie Distillery, not to mention Speyside Cooperage! Am I not missing something?...

Craigellachie 11 yo (53.6%, James Eadie, first fill oloroso hogshead finish, cask #354551, 302 bottles, 2020)

Craigellachie 11 yo (53.6%, James Eadie, first fill oloroso hogshead finish, cask #354551, 302 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Here comes James Eadie, with their smart cask management. Apologies, oak technology. I'm not saying that tongue-in-cheek, I believe it. Colour: reddish mahogany. Or Boris Johnson after two weeks in Morocco. Nose: walnut stain, furniture polish, pecan pie, maple syrup, peanut butter, pancake sauce, Mars bars (deep-fried, if you like), engine oil. All that works a treat but we knew it. With water: oh, new vinyls, fresh-sawn oak, nutmeg… Mouth (neat): huge! Eating pipe tobacco, drinking lapsang souchong (big time!) and quaffing green walnut liqueur (check Silver Seal's bottlings, they're always brilliant and I remember I downed one whole bottle while binge-watching La case de papel, season one). With water: same as long as you do not ad too much water, which would disintegrate it. Finish: long, chocolaty, with more coffee this time. Seville oranges and artichoke liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: more proof that they're masters at this game.
SGP:472 - 87 points.

Craigellachie 1983/2002 (54%, Samaroli, cask #2576, 276 bottles)

Craigellachie 1983/2002 (54%, Samaroli, cask #2576, 276 bottles) Four stars
I think this one's a little controversial. Colour: lemony straw. Nose: starts with sweet vegetables, I would say, pumpkins perhaps, carrots… There's a lot of rhubarb then, as well as new tyres. I agree that's an odd combination, but it seems to work. Then old wine barrel and even a little cider vinegar. Strange baby, but then again, vive la difference. With water: waxed lemons or lemony waxes. Say lemon-scented candle. Mouth (neat): very intriguing. Waxy lemons and verbena, grapefruit, lemon balm… Really a lot of lemon balm indeed, leading to a feeling of limoncello. A matter of taste, really,  I know Angus didn't like it at all, while I'm more favourable to it this far. With water: not earth-shattering, perhaps, but this deep, waxy lemonness just works for me. Finish: rather long, on the same waxy citrus plus something medicinal. Some saltiness in the aftertaste, even oysters. Even echoes of Laphroaig if you want to know everything. Comments: yeah well, not the greatest Samaroli ever for sure, but it's still pretty much up my alley. I told you it's controversial.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Let's have a third one that might be more consensual…

Craigellachie 14 yo 2000/2014 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, 680 bottles)

Craigellachie 14 yo 2000/2014 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, 680 bottles) Four stars
Craigellachie plus sherry, that's M******n, no? Colour: gold. Nose: it's not often that I'm finding this much peanut butter in the first sniff. Or roasted peanuts, macadamia nuts, sesame oil… That makes it almost smoky, and certainly very very, and I mean very nice. Also praline, black nougat, pistachio halva, stuff like that. In fact, we're drinking whisky just because nougat is too full of calories. With water: earth, saponin, pinecones, retsina. We're moving to the borders now, but there is some action. Mouth (neat): a tiny metallic/soapy note in the arrival, not unseen with sherry casks, but the unfolding's all most pleasant, all on nutty flavours, with drops of stout and old palo cortado. With water: leather and tobacco, with a much drier, and even saltier development. Finish: long leafy, salty, leathery. Comments: did anyone notice any salt in several Craigellachies? And smoke? And leather? And tobacco?
SGP:352 - 85 points.

(Merci Lucero)

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

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




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Benromach 9 yo 2011/2020 (60.8%, OB for France, first fill sherry, cask #39, 315 bottles)

Talisker 43 yo 'Xpedition Oak' (49.7%, OB, American oak hogshead, 1830 bottles, 2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Pierre L.62' (41.3%, OB, Petite Champagne, 377 bottles, +/-2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62' (40.4%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Petite Champagne, +/-2021)

Prunier 1967/2021 (52.8%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, grande Champagne, 276 bottles)