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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2022 - Part 2


April 2022 - part 1 <--- April 2022 - part 2 ---> May 2022 - part 1


April 30, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Daftmill times six
I had a chance to go and visit Francis Cuthbert's extremely charming wee distillery very recently, and from that trip has resulted the opportunity to do a slightly larger than usual Daftmill session…









Daftmill 2010/2021 'Summer Batch' (46%, OB, 6250 bottles)

Daftmill 2010/2021 'Summer Batch' (46%, OB, 6250 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: Daftmill is starting to become familiar. Rather a lot of ripe green and orchard fruits at first, including green apples, underripe banana, gooseberry, pears and kiwi. At times it even goes towards bubblegum It does indeed feel 'summery' with all this fruity freshness. Probably more 'easy' than earlier vintages I'd say. Mouth: a tad more bitter, peppery and rather grassy with plenty notes of sunflower seeds, rapeseed oil and many assorted fresh breads. Some caraway seeds and lanolin too. I know we keep saying it is reminiscent of Rosebank, but it's Rosebank just actually reminiscent of Daftmill? Finish: medium, on yellow plums, more bubblegum suggestions, more grassy and nettle notes, and finally cider apple peelings. Comments: excellent and extremely pleasurable. Modern malt whisky that also manages to make room for some soul.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.



Daftmill 2010/2021 (59.5%, OB for 'The Daftmill Distillery (unofficial fans group)', casks #046, 047, 050, 051 & 056)

Daftmill 2010/2021 (59.5%, OB for 'The Daftmill Distillery (unofficial fans group)', casks #046, 047, 050, 051 & 056)
I don't know about you, but if I was a member of the 'Official' Daftmill fans group, I'd be raging… Colour: pale gold. Nose: slightly dusty at first nosing with hints of pressed flowers, pollens, hay lofts and fresh cereals. Indeed, freshness seems to be the watchword with these Daftmills. With water: some firmer peppery notes, watercress, crunchy breakfast cereals, celery salt, baking soda, sourdough and various toasted seeds. Retains an overall drier profile. Mouth: juicy and slightly prickly at neat strength. Pineapple syrup, jelly beans, touches of chlorophyll, nettles and bubblegum once again. Ripe and nudging towards exotic with its fruitiness. With water: once again the sweetness comes through more in the mouth than the nose. Juicy fruit chewing gum, limeade, young calvados and mirabelle. Finish: long, refreshing and menthol with wintergreen, herbal vapours, pine resins and wee hints of various exotic and orchard fruit teas. Comments: It's excellent, and indeed rather impressively complex, but I'm not sure I enjoy it any more than the Summer batch - there was such a flashy sense of easiness about that one.
SGP: 551 -  88 points.



Daftmill 2008/2020 (59.6%, OB for The Ceres Inn, cask #008, bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)

Daftmill 2008/2020 (59.6%, OB for The Ceres Inn, cask #008, bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)
The Ceres Inn is in fact my local, where you can buy drams of this one to take away, should you be passing deepest darkest Fife… Colour: gold. Nose: rather a lot of honeys, custard, flower nectars and syrupy, dessert wine vibes. Fresh, summery and bright, only with a slightly thicker wood accent than some other Daftmills of similar pedigree I'd say. With water: opens up with subtle impressions of putty, green fennel, pressed flowers and a little mango pulp. Treads a perfect line between cask sweetness and natural distillate fruitiness. Mouth: lovely, big, bright and generously sweet and syrupy arrival. The wood isn't too loud here, rather it's all on flower honeys, golden syrup, sultanas, fruit loaf and hints of pink marshmallow and verbena. That Daftmill grassy side is there but a little more buried in the overall mix. With water: greener, leafier, grassier and more on things like olive oil, white flowers, pollens and heather ales. Lovely! Finish: medium, rather honeyed once again and with plenty brioche, more sultanas and chamomile. Comments: all Daftmills feel quite summery, but this one is even more so I'd say. The cask is quite vocal but never crosses the line into vulgarity. A lovely drop.
SGP: 641 - 88 points.



Daftmill 2008/2021 (57.6%, OB for Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #67, bourbon barrel, 223 bottles)

Daftmill 2008/2021 (57.6%, OB for Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #67, bourbon barrel, 223 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: a lovely and very summery balance of olive oils, very light waxy tones, yellow flowers and sweet, buttery cereals. In fact it's a lemony and buttery profile that actually brings to mind older Bladnoch in some ways. Wee greener and grassier touches in the background keep everything superbly fresh. With water: gets a little drier with oatcakes, suncream, pollens and  mineral oils. Mouth: again this impression of sweet olive oil, grasses, flowers, pollens and all things summery, sweet and buttery. Honey and butter on brown toast and wee hints of brooch and IPA. Easy and extremely pleasurable to sip. With water: green orchard fruits, lots of baked apple, gooseberry tart, limoncello and a few dashes of herbal bitters. Excellent. Finish: good length, rather polished now with some leathery and boot polish notes, pine resin, nettle tea and canvass. Comments: I love this one, really strikes a wonderful balance and shows off the Daftmill house profile.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.



Perhaps a sherried one…



Daftmill 2009/2020 (61.1%, OB for UK, cask #29, sherry butt, 629 bottles)

Daftmill 2009/2020 (61.1%, OB for UK, cask #29, sherry butt, 629 bottles)
Colour: orangey amber. Nose: plums and marmalade! I think Daftmill seem to have some excellent quality sherry casks lurking in their warehouse. Goes on with kirschwasser, rye bread, dark chocolate and some dark fruit molasses. A wee shot of espresso too! With water: much leaner and mulchier now. More walnuts, aged Fernet Branca, a wee suggestion of creme de menthe and a little damp tobacco note. Mouth: nice attack, focussed on dried out walnuts and hazelnuts, herbal bitters, suggestions of a rather punchy Old Fashioned and some caramelising brown sugars. Excellent and nicely punchy at full strength. With water: still rather powerful even when reduced. Red berry fruits, bitter chocolate, herbal teas, muscovado sugars, aged demerara rums, salted almonds - rather a lot going on but perhaps a bit thuggish. Finish: long, now on various roots, black and herbal teas, more espresso, dark cocoa powder and tobacco once again. Comments: great and very impressive with this wall of sherried potency, but perhaps not quite as easy as some of the bourbon ones. Would give many batches of Aberlour A'bunadh a run for their money.
SGP: 561 - 87 points.



And a new older one to finish…



Daftmill 15 yo (55.7%, OB, bourbon barrels, 2022)

Daftmill 15 yo (55.7%, OB, bourbon barrels, 2022)
A new 15 year old that hasn't quite been released yet, but will be out later this year I believe. Colour: bright straw. Nose: you do notice the extra few years, this one goes immediately to richer territories of shoe leather, polish, linseed oils and impressions of sauternes and custard. Given a little more time it begins to show a very precise honeyed note that feels like old mead mixed with flower honey. There's also a thready and rather delicate waxiness that runs throughout. Undeniably classy and pretty beautiful. With water: lovely, on clay, sunflower oil, face cream and sandalwood. Does what many of these Daftmill seem to do with water, become drier and more elegant. Mouth: unsurprisingly there's a clear voice from the wood here, but it's rather more peppery and spicy than anticipated, crumbled oatcakes, freshly churned butter, watercress and impressions of vegetable stock, aniseed and herbal tea. Feels like Daftmill drifting into new territory at this kind of age. With water: wonderfully peppery, softly oily and becoming very complex now with tiny mechanical and medicinal inflections. The wood never quite dominates the distillate, rather they bend quite nicely together. Finish: long, warming, glowing with soft waxes, dried herbs, various teas, vapour rubs, and dried flowers. Comments: superb, suggests that Daftmill still has interesting and slightly unexpected places to go with increasing age. Although, maybe we are reaching the limits of 1st fill wood with these batches perhaps? Anyway, this is a totally charming, rather soulful dram that you should try and drink some of.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.





April 29, 2022


Some New Scottish Cats once more

Lochlea 'First Release' (46%, OB, 7,381 bottles, 2022)

Lochlea 'First Release' (46%, OB, 7,381 bottles, 2022) Two stars and a half
We're in Ayrshire. Ex-Laphroaig star John Campbell is now the manager at Lochlea, but I suppose he wasn't yet when this was distilled, more than 3 years ago. A part of this was matured in PX, which, in whisky, has now become the equivalent to vinegar or paprika in the crisps business. Who doesn't do PX these days? Could malt whisky survive without PX (and PX without malt whisky?) We'll discuss all that later… Colour: light gold. Nose: very light, I would suppose they tried to make a proper Lowlander. Pears, apples, IPA, touch of rye, touch of caraway liqueur, touch of lavender. Mouth: fatter, which is obviously good news. Once again a wee idea of rye and lavender, orange liqueur, prickly pears and cranberry juice, sultanas, candy floss, getting lighter and easier over time. Nice easy young malt whisky, pretty 'modern', in the sense that many are making this nice style these days, all over the world. Finish: a little short, fruity, sweet, clean. Comments: another one that started from a rather high position. Luckily the PX behaved.

SGP:641 - 79 points.

Annandale 2017/2022 'Man O' Words Founders Selection' (60.4%, OB, STR Burgundy, cask #307, 244 bottles)

Annandale 2017/2022 'Man O' Words Founders Selection' (60.4%, OB, STR Burgundy, cask #307, 244 bottles) Three stars and a half
How many new distilleries in the world are now using dear Dr Swan's famous STR witchcraft? Dozens? Hundreds? Again, remember, STR = shaven, toasted, recharred. Very interesting to do that on a Burgundy cask. If it's a proper cask from Bourgogne, that's called a pièce. If it's any hogshead into which you've injected 3 litres of cheapo stuff from the south before or in the midst of STRisation, that's called a nice trick, but between us I'm not sure the end results would be different. Anyway, is STR the new paxarette? Discuss… indeed, later this time again… Colour: full gold. Nose: vanilla cake, honey, sweet molasses, sponge cake, then touches of meaty peppers and roasted ham. With water: honey-glazed ham with a drop of Jamaican rum. No, really. Mouth (neat): once again, a world style, as they make it all over Planet Earth these days. Touches of mango, ginger, honey, pumpernickel, cloves, turmeric… Very thick mouthfeel. With water: rather very good, I have to say. Thick, sweet and spicy, 'worldly'. Finish: long, a tad spicier. Comments: so perhaps a little too 'world' or 'international' or 'globalised' for me, on the other hand I'm sure there's no other way of making them this good at such a (very) young age.

SGP:451 - 83 points.

Annandale 5 yo 2015/2020 (58.9%, Awico, cask #481) Four stars
This time from an ex-amontillado cask, so this should be more challenging… and perhaps interesting. Colour: full gold. Nose: drier and smokier, as expected (yeah yeah). More on walnuts, tobacco, black olives, amontillado indeed, beach bonfire… Interesting indeed. With water: olives, jabugo, cigar ashes and cold amontillado, on a terrace in Jerez, when the temperature reaches 40°C. Holidays in your glass (unless you live in Jerez, naturally). Mouth (neat): I find this very good. It's still a little pearish and bubblegummy (youth you know) but the black olives and the smoky and tobacco-y side just work. And the amontillado of course, which is bleeding obvious in this not-so wee whisky. With water: as almost always, water would kind of disjoint the spirit when it is this young (and not stable yet). In this case it would generate a curious meaty/rubbery smokiness rather close to sulphur, but in a way, that's nice. And it's only five. Finish: long, ashy, smoky, with vegetables. Artichokes and eggplants, which can be a little 'amontillado' indeed. Comments: very great young un-boring drop.
SGP:363 - 86 points.

Aldunie 24 yo 1997/2021 (47.8%, Concerto and Anam na h-Alba, 168 bottles)

Aldunie 24 yo 1997/2021 (47.8%, Concerto and Anam na h-Alba, 168 bottles) Three stars and a half
It's well-known that Aldunie is Kininvie. I agree this is not quite a 'new cat', on the other hand I'm not sure we've already found a proper pigeonhole for Kininvie on WF. So to us, it is still 'a new distillery'. Colour: light gold. Nose: there, pears, ripe apples and custard, just as we remembered the make. Drop of peach juice, lager and IPA, plus a touch of chlorophyll. A very minimal yet pretty pleasant style. Mouth: spicy and bitterer doughs, some preserved plums and fruit peel. The feeling of lager persists. We're still not sure we could ever identify Kinnin… excuse me, Aldunie within a blind tasting. Well I'm sure we could not. Finish: medium, maltier, with more preserved plums and wee glasses of lager. We call them 'galopins' in France. Comments: very all right.

SGP:451 - 83 points.

Isle of Raasay 'Distillery Special Release' (52%, OB, 2022)

Isle of Raasay 'Distillery Special Release' (52%, OB, 2022) Four stars
A funny combo as this baby was first matured in peated rye casks from Woodford Reserve, then finished in oloroso and PX casks. Colour: red gold. Nose: hurray, they recreated quetsche/zwetschke/damson eau-de-vie aged in oak! Which subdivides into gingerbread, cassata, fig cake and mocha. With water: fresh figs and light pipe tobacco just everywhere over the place. Mouth (neat): very good, American-style (whatever that means), very spicy. Spicy fruitcake and gingerbread at the helm. With water: oozes of smartness (If not quite of Skye-like coastalness). Great mastering of wood – not sure I should say that but there. Nutmeg and ginger over raisin rolls. Finish: long, sweet and spicy, extremely 'modern', in the best sense of that word. Better this than NFT whisky if you ask me, as far as modernness goes. A wee varnishy side in the aftertaste – American-style, I told you. Comments: some very successful wood cuisine here.

SGP:562 – 85 points.

Perhaps a last one…

Holyrood 'Aged Newmake Spirit 03' (50%, OB, American ale yeast, cask #334, +/-2021)

Holyrood 'Aged Newmake Spirit 03' (50%, OB, American ale yeast, cask #334, +/-2021) Four stars
Ex-bourbon barrel plus an avalanche of details that makes the label look like a contract of insurance. Which is good fun, really. Matured for 306 days, but not sure when this was distilled/bottled. Oh and it is not whisky, only British Plain Spirit (BPS), or whatever they call this these days. Colour: very pale white wine (hurray). Nose: indeed we're close to the original distillate, that is to say on sweet mashes, pumpkin, red kuri squash, proper mashed potatoes (50% potatoes, 40% butter, 10% olive oil – good luck) and just barley and weissbeer. With water: these wonderful notes of fermenting tobacco, wash, white beers, plus perhaps dry white pears. Mouth (neat): wonderful newmake. Crushed bananas, overripe pears, chalk (yess!) and a wee glass of sake. With water: bingo. Finish: medium, superbly sweet and fermentary. Unexpectedly salty aftertaste. Comments: I find it absolutely great that they wouldn't have pumped-up this make using any woods they would have had access to. Freshness and purity, always. I'll sure watch Holyrood closely in the coming years, whether it'll become a truly democratic (well, parliamentary) whisky or not. To the République of Scotland!
SGP:641 - 87 points
(very high score for a newmake, as you may have noticed).

April 28, 2022


Blair Athol four plus two

I'm glad we're seeing more Blair Athol these days. Blair Athol has not always only been about Bell's, has it… Remember it's even been part of UD's Classic Malts for a very short while.

Blair Athol

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2021 (56.7%, Isman Taichung, hogshead, cask #309320, 266 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2021 (56.7%, Isman Taichung, hogshead, cask #309320, 266 bottles) Four stars
Another little line for Taiwan, where our friends seem to be extremely busy. Lovely label, by the way. Colour: white wine. Nose: just rough dough, chalk, grist and that overripe apple + light meadow honey combination. A little vanilla for good measure. With water: your head under a distillery mill. Huge barley and a tiny touch of candle wax. Mouth (neat): some very fine barley eau-de-vie, with notes of kirschwasser and white rhum agricole 'straight from the column'. That would have been a Creole column, naturally. With water: more complex this time, mostly grassier, a tad acetic in a good way, with some pear peel as well. Malt whisky integrally al natural, with no wine and very little wood in the way. Finish: long and chalkier again. Some curious touches of high-ester rum this time. Grand Arôme - like. Comments: store for twenty years and presto, a winner. Well that's not that 'presto', is it.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Another hogshead…

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2022 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #301068, 299 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2022 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #301068, 299 bottles) Four stars
Love these no compromise labels too, they scream 'it's about the content'. Or song over plumage… Colour: straw. Nose: similar, just a tad more on vanilla and varnish, as suggested by the darker colour. Danishes, preserved apricots, melon liqueur, all that over chalk and grist. With water: a delicate earthiness, some roots, ginseng… Mouth (neat): excellent, sweeter and fruitier. Sweet IPA, pink grapefruits and Timut pepper, peaches and apricots, touches of coconut… The chalky and gristy side is a bit buried now. With water: same moves as on the nose, more earth and roots. Turmeric, parsnips, some sweeter red kuri squash, perhaps… Finish: Comments: a good example of a cask that was simply more active. Another excellent one, I'd need five litres of each to tell you which is my favourite. Better not.
SGP:651 - 87 points.


Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2022 (52.5%, Chapter 7, refill red wine cask, cask #306651, 258 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2022 (52.5%, Chapter 7, refill red wine cask, cask #306651, 258 bottles) Three stars and a half
Red wine? Which country? Region? Varietal? Vintage? Oh of course we're joking, but let's first check whether the colour is pink or not… Colour: not, it's just 'straw'. Phew. Nose: just a notch grassier and tighter than its sister, with rather less ex-American sweet and easy goodness. In a sense, we're closer to the Taiwanese. With water: shuts the door. Stems, leaves, buds… Notes of peonies and nasturtium leaves. The chefs are using that more and more in their food, that's cool. Mouth (neat): kirsch and raspberry liqueur, oranges, grassy teas, greener spices… Was it European oak? With water: takes time to find its way. I find it relatively grassy. Finish: medium, grassy, leafy. Melon skin. Comments: really good but its sibling outshined it, in my humble opinion. I may have had to try this one first within this session.

SGP:461 - 84 points.

#4 and last will be a much older one…

Blair Athol 31 yo 1989/2020 (52.4%, Spheric Spirits, refill bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles)

Blair Athol 31 yo 1989/2020 (52.4%, Spheric Spirits, refill bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one straight from Leipzig, let's see if it's going to be a Bachfest. Because everyone loves Bach! Colour: light gold. Nose: as expected, this is gentler, cakier, more on biscuits, and more on flowers as well (ylang-ylang, which is fab), then apricots and ripe bananas, acacia honey, elderflowers... With water: some tarte tatin made with apricots instead of apples. Mouth (neat): a fruity extravaganza, mainly on tropical ones, especially guavas and bananas, plus various honeys. Much more complex than this lousy note would suggest. Touch of violet (crystallised flowers). With water: a tad more towards citrus, especially proper clementines and orange jam (not marmalade). Finish: medium, wonderful, rather fresh and 'tropical'. Honeyed aftertaste. Comments: I don't know what Herr Kappelmeister would have said, but I do say 'spitzenklasse!' Superb fruits and very high drinkability index.

SGP:651 - 89 points.

Bonus drop from the boxes, or back to Taiwan…

Blair Athol 18 yo 2000/2018 (58.6%, Archives, for Taiwan, hogshead, cask #57, 329 bottles)

Blair Athol 18 yo 2000/2018 (58.6%, Archives, for Taiwan, hogshead, cask #57, 329 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: back on chalk, varnish, sourdough, grass, fruit peel and even paraffin. This is one self-restrained Midlander, so far! With water: a little saponification happening, which wouldn't go away that fast. Asparagus and leek, rubbed lemon skin… Mouth (neat): little fruit drops, bubblegum, icing sugar, banana foam, limoncello… You see. Could have been the very high strength. With water: big green citrus. Pomelos, grapefruits… And I keep finding a little asparagus. Finish: zesty/grassy and rather long. Paraffin and lemon pips in the aftertaste. Comments: rather a tough boy, to be reckoned with! Hard to score, unless you're not in favour of a little paraffin and soft soap. Which is not my case.

SGP:561 - 84 points.

Bonus #2…

Blair Athol 'Resistance UA' (50%, Ukrainian Whisky Fans Association, 317 bottles, 2022)

Blair Athol 'Resistance UA' (50%, Ukrainian Whisky Fans Association, 317 bottles, 2022) Four stars
A wonderful initiative by 'not just brands' with all profits transferred to Ukrainian humanitarian associations. Please check whiskyua.com. They were in Limburg, where you could buy these bottles; there's also an Inchfad that's pretty, pretty good! Remember doing some good when buying or drinking whisky is always a good feeling. Colour: an apricotty tinge (almost rosé wine, really), so probably ex-Port or red wine. Perhaps even Ukrainian red, you never know… Nose: moderately aromatic malts, such as Blair Athol, are often the best choices if your aim in life, as a whisky bottler, is to use red wine. Well, that's my opinion. Rather a lot of rosehip tea, with whiffs of peonies and geranium flowers. Always insist on 'flowers' because leaves and stems rather smell badly, in my opinion – well, they are recorded flaws in wine. Then strawberry cake, fruit bread, figs and panettone. With water: geared towards brioches, more strawberry cake, grist and raw barley… The vinous touches are almost gone, a little surprisingly. Mouth (neat): all cool, good, fruity and malty, with rather less vinosity than on the nose. Raisin bread and cake, some cracked pepper, drop of ginger ale, quite a lot of cloves, a little orange peel… With water: once again, it became a straighter Blair Athol, with an excellent maltiness. Finish: medium and really well-balanced. Orange wine. Comments: all powers to the Ukrainian Whisky Fans Association and their country. Unconditional respect!
SGP:651 - 87 points
(true score, not a political one!)

Another good session with only highish marks…

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


April 27, 2022


A few more world whiskies from France to Tasmania

Just flying around the planet once more, hastily and from France… (picture, a cute platypus, Taronga Conservation Society Australia)

Rozelieures 'FiGee Edition' (57.7%, OB, France, fût unique, PX finish, 2022)

Rozelieures 'FiGee Edition' (57.7%, OB, France, fût unique, PX finish, 2022) Four stars
A wee bottling from Lorraine, excusive to Switzerland. I've never quite assessed Rozelieures very seriously until today, but it's been on my list for quite some years. What's more, Lorraine is very close to Alsace, so expect many more Rozelieures soon. In the meantime… Colour: white wine. Nose: absolutely not a PX bomb, rather a blend of grapefruit zests, wet chalk, green banana skin, granny smith and fresh leaven. All things we enjoy and a style that's pretty international. I mean, of international level. With water: whiffs of damp earth, touch of mint and eucalyptus, doughs, 'at the bakery', lemon curd… Mouth (neat): a creamy mouthfeel and a tight citrusy arrival that would then move towards similar notes, apples, chalk, bread… I find this very good. No lousy PX in the way. With water: even better. Drop of limoncello, a bit of fresh focaccia, more chalk yet, a floral touch, limestone… Finish: medium, sameish. Comments: excellent, I'm just regretting that it would be more 'Chablis' than 'Riesling'. Of course I am joking, now I'm also reminded of some PX seco that really blew my mind earlier this year. No, not of Swiss white merlot or dôle blanche. More Rozelieures in the coming months. I should have started winefun.com instead, twenty years ago.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

To Downunda…

Sullivan's Cove 2007/2019 (47.5%, OB for LMDW, American oak Tawny, cask #TD0199)

Sullivan's Cove 2007/2019 (47.5%, OB for LMDW, American oak Tawny, cask #TD0199) Four stars
This baby's spent all its live in a wee 200l ex-Australian tawny cask (think Port). The price is very high (north of 500€) so I suppose it's very good. I believe in Veblen! This from Tasmania, naturally. Colour: gold. Nose: the Rozelieures was classic malt whisky, this is not, not at all. Think some liquid Stolle or spicy fruitcake, clove and caraway liqueur, Jaffa cake and cappuccino, then a little horseradish, gentian, light compost, some kind of salty umami, plus possibly one the most fantastic food I've ever had, sea urchins with saffron cream (with Beaucastel blanc, if you want to know everything). Anyway, saffron has become obvious now. Mouth: really something else. Just like there was no PX in the Lorrain, there is no Port in this Tasmanian. I mean, it's very hard to detect. In fact, it is all on sweet spices and crystallised fruit, I mean all spices and all fruits. We shan't list those but I'm also finding some quince crumble cake. Finish: rather long, a notch rounder and even spicier. Spicy fruit cake. Some salty lemon and mint in the aftertaste. White ti'punch. Then some drying spiciness. Pepper. Comments: perfectly casks-driven. It's not often that I would write that.

SGP:551 - 86 points.

While we're down there…

Hellyer's Road 6 yo (60.8%, OB, Australia, Master Series, sherry, cask #14125.13, 309 bottles, 2020)

Hellyer's Road 6 yo (60.8%, OB, Australia, Master Series, sherry, cask #14125.13, 309 bottles, 2020) Four stars
This one was done for eight brilliant Asian entities including Or Sileis in Taiwan, Tiger Choice and other such lovely people. I think we should expect something massive. Colour: deep gold. Nose: imagine a blend of honey, maple syrup, teriyaki sauce and Malibu. Stir well, and voilà! With water: I was quick but that's because I didn't want to burn my nostrils. Sweet rounded spirits at 60%+ are extremely dangerous. Now with water, some cakier notes do arise, especially Jaffa cake once more, as well as something 'Japanese' (shochu, miso, sake) and pretty fermentary. Double IPA (does that already exist?) Mouth (neat): huge, extremely aromatic, with literally hectolitres of tangerine and citron liqueurs plus quite some coconut water. Extremely sweet and syrupy. With water: calms down and gets geared towards mead and antique herbal liqueurs. I'm thinking of Bénédictine – do they have such a thing in Australia? Finish: rather long, a tad more bourbony. Flowers and wee roots, wild carrots perhaps…  Comments: a spectacular drop but the core is lighter than those of the Sullivan or Rozelieures.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

Perhaps fly back to Switzerland?... It's good that the kerosene is not on us…

Langatum 'Old Wolf' (46%, OB, Switzerland, batch #419/02/22, 2022)

Langatum 'Old Wolf' (46%, OB, Switzerland, batch #419/02/22, 2022) Two stars and a half
It seems that there is both some peat and some sherry in there. I've heard this one goes well with rösti. Ha, not too sure… Colour: amber. Nose: spent engine oil, Barbour grease, tarmac, used brake pads, copper coins, heather honey (rustic stuff in truth) and roasted chestnuts. And chocolate, hoppla. Mouth: loved the latest Founder's Reserve (WF 87) and Old Crow (WF 85) but this one is going a little too far for me. Burnt bread and brown toasts, cloves on eleven, touches of sulphur, some kind of earthy gravy, burnt steak, heavy molasses… Someone's not watched the barbecue. Finish: very long, rather burnt and molassy indeed. Thicker stout. Comments: I know some friends who would simply adulate this smoky little monster from Langenthal, just south of Basel.

SGP:664 - 79 points.

Let's hop to Northern Ireland if you agree…

Bushmills 10 yo 2010/2021 (54.8%, OB, Ireland, The Causeway Collection, finished in Cuvée Casks, Germany exclusive)

Bushmills 10 yo 2010/2021 (54.8%, OB, Ireland, The Causeway Collection, finished in Cuvée Casks, Germany exclusive) Three stars
All right, I would not like to be a killjoy or to nit-pick (again), but what is a 'cuvée cask'? Well, I'll give you the answer, it's a more romantic, less chemistry-sounding way of saying STR wine casks (remember, Shaven, Toasted, Recharred). Colour: light amber. Nose: custard, corn syrup, coconut cream and biscuits all over the place. Straight, simple, elementary. With water: lovely, but really very simple. Banana cake, croissants, sponge cake… Mouth (neat): very sweet, a little bourbony. I'm not too sure these high strengths (and heavy wood treatments) go well with Bushmills, but let's dig deeper into these issues… With water: certainly more Bushmillness this time, that is to say more oranges and mangos. Having said that ,the background remains a tad syrupy and heavyish for me, even at +/-45% vol. Finish: medium, with notes of rosewater and orange blossom. In short, Turkish delights in a bottle. Comments: very good for sure but I don't know, I'm finding it a little simplistic and spiritless here and there. Fabricated, would I add.

SGP:741 - 80 points.

Stay in Ireland?

Cooley 2001/2021 (50.7%, Liquid Treasures, Ireland, barrel, cask #3062, 183 bottles)

Cooley 2001/2021 (50.7%, Liquid Treasures, Ireland, barrel, cask #3062, 183 bottles) Four stars and a half
This should go down smoothly and effortlessly. Very good house, Liquid Treasures. Colour: white wine. Nose: back to spirity matters, with less wood and more distillate. Yet there are touches of cellulosic varnish at first, then those small white pineapples (I mean the flesh is white), a pinch of grated coconut, then a drop of mezcal and one of gentian EDV, which just balances the fruitiness in an extraordinary manner. Triple-flip roll! With water: typical, grapefruit and pineapple juice with a drop of mezcal and some angelica. Mouth (neat): extremely fruity. This one shows why generations (quite) of whisky enthusiasts could never quite tell their Bushmills from their Cooleys. Nutshell, mangos and honey. With water: a whole basket of fruit. Citrus and passion/mango leading the way. Finish: medium, on multivitamin juice and just sauvignon blanc. Comments: it's perhaps not the most complex fresh-fruit-led whisky ever, but I'm still a fan. They're just so sippable and unintellectual…
SGP:651 - 88 points.

We should fly to Israel!

Milk & Honey 3 yo 2018/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, Israel, hogshead)

Milk & Honey 3 yo 2018/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, Israel, hogshead) Three stars and a half
It is so unbelievably smart to allow the best indie bottlers to use your brand name! Friends in Scotland, take notice, this is almost a seal of approval! (S., please calm down…) Colour: rosé amber. A simple hoggie indeed? Nose: well, the hogshead was in full form. Macaroons and brioches, butterscotch (butterscotch often suggests very active white oak, often heavily charred), fig bread and just a little metal polish. A little strong, let's not push our luck… With water: all kinds of spicy cakes and breads. Mouth (neat): rich and spicy, 'crafty', this is almost gingerbread liqueur. They make that here in Alsace, it's called 'Liqueur de pain d'épices' and I prefer this wee M&H to tell you the truth (how unpatriotic, S.!) But tell me about a hogshead… With water: no huge changes, gingerbread, cinnamon rolls… Finish: same, plus a little ginger and pepper. Comments: clap clap clap, very good, and just only 3. I hope they're keeping some casks. Very well done.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Why not try to fly back to France for a last one?

Castan 2017/2021 (49%, La Maison du Whisky, Version Française, Vin Blanc, 245 bottles)

Castan 2017/2021 (49%, La Maison du Whisky, Version Française, Vin Blanc, 245 bottles) Two stars and a half
We're in the south-West of France here, while the wine cask they've been using was ex-grenache blanc. Grenache blanc is pretty fashionable these days. Colour: full gold. Nose: simples, Twix, Mars bars, white chocolate and subtle hardwood sawdusts. Hope it won't be too light on the palate. Mouth: raisins in abundance. Truckloads of raisins in truth, especially sultanas, also maize bread and a wee bit of blood orange. But yeah, it is rather sultana galore, while there's nothing wrong with that. Finish: same plus oak spices. White pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: some nice and friendly sweet and slightly thin whisky, probably ex-column. I think this is my first Castan, it is a good drop. I'm sure I'll try others within the coming years.
SGP:631 - 78 points.

April 26, 2022


Bunch of Glenrothes

There's plenty, let's have a few.

Glenrothes 11 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Discovery, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Sherry. Colour: gold. Nose: barley and brioche, cake, fudge and softly malted beer. A little corn syrup. This is extremely all right. Mouth: very malty, cakey, with a lot of butterscotch, treacle toffee, pudding and roasted walnuts, then cocoa and tobacco. The 43% vol. are working well. Finish: medium, more on chocolate yet, with always this striking maltiness. Honey cake, muscovado, touch of apricot jam and dried dates. Deep-roasted nuts in the aftertaste. Comments: a very malty drop to have in your bar and to pour all friends who would still be wondering about 'what maltiness is'.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenrothes 12 yo 2009/2021 (54.7%, Thompson Bros. for Melody Whisky Bar, sherry octave) Three stars and a half
No picture I'm afraid but it's probably lovely. The Melody Bar is located in London. Colour: full gold. Nose: big and tight, with some leafy sherry and some soapy stems. Otherwise varnish, cakes and cakes. I'd swear water is needed. With water: beer, ales, cider and walnut wine. Mouth (neat): punchy and butterscotchy. With water: there, we tamed it. Water is totally mandatory or the oak would just lead the pack to the cliff. Loosened-up, suppler, rounder, with more praline, roasted pecans and tobacco. Finish: long, bitterish when unreduced, easier when at some civilised strength. Comments: very good, you just need to work to get it right, as almost always with small-cask operations. I think.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Secret Speyside 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, 2 refill hogsheads, 519 bottles)

Secret Speyside 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, 2 refill hogsheads, 519 bottles) Four stars
When even Glenrothes gets secret, you understand that there's something rotten in the State of Whisky (why be so grandiloquent, S.?) Colour: straw. Nose: it's pure barley with leaves and stems, plus limestone and beer as well as dandelions, wisteria and light honey. Mouth: nicer on the palate, with tighter citrusy notes, bitter herbs and notes of hoppy beer. Apple juice. Finish: medium, malty. Apple crumble and a little bitter caramel. Comments: this one does not look its age. Real good if a bit 'in the middle'.

SGP:451 - 86 points.

Let's double-check that age thing, with another 30…

Glenrothes 30 yo 'Oldest Reserve' (43%, OB, 2012)

Glenrothes 30 yo 'Oldest Reserve' (43%, OB, 2012) Four stars and a half
This one was said to be 'a blending of whiskies from 1967, 1972, 1977, 1979 and 1980'. Sounds like The Stones' discography, no? An earlier official 30, bottled in 2004 at 50.2%, had been very-good-but-not-great in my book (WF 86). Colour: deepest gold. Nose: we're understanding why this bottling used to come with a very good reputation. Starts with beehive-y notes, especially bags of pollens of all colours, goes on with artisan cider, ends up with many herbal teas and honeys. No, the list would be way too long. Say maple honey and chamomile. Mouth: I was about to say 'Macallany'. Faint smoke, wood, dried fruits (dates, bananas, figs) and some dried meats, jerky, bresaola… A floral side as well, and of course many honeys. Honey is the blood of Earth. Finish: medium and wonderfully floral. Honey, mango jam… Comments: wonderful, a few more percent would have shot it over the 90-mark.

SGP:651 - 89 points.

Back to indieland…

Glenrothes 23 yo 1997/2021 (53.2%, Whisky AGE, Hong Kong, hogshead, cask # 715753, 262 bottles)

Glenrothes 23 yo 1997/2021 (53.2%, Whisky AGE, Hong Kong, hogshead, cask # 715753, 262 bottles) Four stars
Quite bizarrely, many 'a little average and large-volume' Speysiders have been very good in 1997. Colour: dark straw. Nose: this one would remind us of those all-natural Glen Grants from similar vintages, with plenty of chalk, lemon, leaven and sourdough, only then fruitier tones, around tangerines and golden delicious. With water: sameish. Even more chalk and quite some grist. Mouth (neat): lovely liquorice wood and star anise at first, that comes unexpected. Then bitters, Aperol spritz (I know), oranges and once more this chalkiness. With water: back on fresh bread, chalk and citrus peel. Finish: rather long, with a lovely bitterness, apple peel, more chalk yet and lemon. Some rounder barley syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: relatively simple, flawless pleasures. I liked this one very much indeed.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Let's try a younger 1997, just to make sure it's a matter of vintage…

Glenrothes 17 yo 1997/2015 (54.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #15721)

Glenrothes 17 yo 1997/2015 (54.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #15721) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: this was to be expected, this is almost the same whisky, just a tad chalkier and gristier yet, more on raw barley, with almost no fruits at all. With water: green apples, cider apples… Bites your nose a wee bit but that's not an unpleasant feeling at all. Mouth (neat): same. Chalky citrus and a little beeswax. With water: waxes a tad up. Finish: rather long, tight, chalky and tart. Comments: zesty and refreshing. Excellent drop, once more – dear old hogsheads!

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Another try at that vintage…

Glenrothes 22 yo 1997/2019 (57.6%, Sansibar Clans, Whisky Maniac, sherry cask, 238 bottles)

Glenrothes 22 yo 1997/2019 (57.6%, Sansibar Clans, Whisky Maniac, sherry cask, 238 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: same as the Chapter 7, more or less. Rather more than less. Mouth: same, perhaps a notch rounder, ,with hints of raisins, perhaps. Finish: same. Comments: all right, this one was just excellent too. And they would swim like Olympic athletes – or Russian sailors. Another great natural drop, with very moderate sherry impact.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

We've still got terrifying amounts of Glenrothes Cadenhead yet to taste. Such as this other 1997…

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 21 yo 1997/2019 (57.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, sherry butt, 510 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 21 yo 1997/2019 (57.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, sherry butt, 510 bottles) Four stars
This one was fully matured in sherry, it's not just a quick, lousy, depressing finishing as seen elsewhere. Colour: gold. Nose: an official indie. I mean, it's an indie that's got all the attributes of the best officials, especially roasted nuts and malty beers. Lovely! With water: two or three struck matches, some coffee and some chocolate, the tiniest touch of tarmac… Mouth (neat): excellently sherried, with some marmalade, touches of ginger and turmeric, many nougats, millionaire shortbread and Mars bars, chocolate, chestnut cream… You could really believe this is an official 20-something. With water: chocolaty marmalade, Jaffa cake… Great drop. Finish: long, with a few typical 'whisky spices', cloves, cinnamon, juniper, pepper… And a lot of chocolate. Marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: no innovation here, this is ultra-classic. Innovation in whisky? You go first…

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 26 yo 1990/2017 (52.4%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #19019, 255 bottles)

Glenrothes 26 yo 1990/2017 (52.4%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #19019, 255 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's much waxier again, more honeyed as well, with more pollen and honeys. Golden Grahams, pancake sauce and nougat. I can't see who wouldn't like this, perhaps perverts? With water: it's got Meursaulty. Also some weissbeer and just fresh panettone. Panettone, back on WF! Mouth (neat): deep syrups! Peach, apricot, pineapple, greengages, tangerines… With water: more preserved fruits, syrups and fruit salads. This one's extremely easy, extremely good. Fruit Loops. Finish: medium, fresh, very fruity. Jams and syrups. Comments: on the easier side. As good as they get.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

I'd like to try a young one now, to find more knack and fights…

Glenrothes 11 yo 2009/2021 (53.5%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 165 bottles)

Glenrothes 11 yo 2009/2021 (53.5%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 165 bottles) Four stars
Maltbarn's labels are always very beautiful, with always some un-plundered, fully original artwork. Colour: light gold. Nose: modern, active wood. Vanilla and butterscotch, white nougat and popcorn, maple syrup, milk jam and Ovaltine/Ovomaltine. With water: same, plus genuine Alsatian kougelhopf. Mouth (neat): excellent. Tighter, yet with tons of butterscotch and rice pudding. With water: oranges popping out. Triple-sec, proper curaçao, plus madeleines and cassata… Nothing is not to be liked here. Finish: medium, cakey. Awesome fudges and Walker's cookies. Comments: uncomplex, appealing (we would have written 'sexy' in the old Jim days), excellent. It's hard to make them better at just 11, I would suppose.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 24 yo 1994/2019 (47%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, sherry hogshead)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 24 yo 1994/2019 (47%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, sherry hogshead) Four stars
This one's a finishing, it only spent from 2015 to 2019 in sherry wood. It is cask strength, no reductions have taken place. Colour: full gold. Nose: four years in sherry is already quite a lot and that feels. All is fine here, Ovaltine is back, praline, macchiato, a drop of soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, cocoa, a little pipe tobacco, cigars… In short, all is well. Mouth: very good for sure but perhaps a tad more disjointed, with notes of orange squash and a grittier gingerness. Lovely chocolate, though. Finish: pretty long, saltier, meatier. Peking duck and then Maggi and Guinness in the aftertaste. Comments: another one that I enjoyed a lot, it was just a tad more adventurous (shall we say).
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Let's find a fully 'white' one and we're done.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: back on lees, sauvignon blanc, lemon and apple peel, chalk, aspirin, grist, porridge… I mean, you see… With water: mercurochrome and crazy artisan cider. Watch your teeth. Mouth (neat): barley eau-de-vie, melon liqueur, Williams pear, green apples and just grass… This one's pretty raw and rough. Possibly fourth fill or something. With water: sweet barley in majesty, plus ripe apples and pears. Finish: medium, with a little sugar beyond the overripe apples. Comments: in truth it was a little too 'naked', perhaps a little too young given the obvious laziness of the cask. Still a very fine dram, with good barley sweetness.

SGP:641 - 83 points.

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #4826 + 4827)

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #4826 + 4827) Three stars and a half
Colour: golden straw. Nose: very soft, on sweet malt, apple juice, brioche and popcorn. Pear cake. Mouth: no literature needed here (literature, yeah right). Sweet maltiness, roasted nuts, some sour cake (battelman, perhaps) and croissants. And Danishes. Finish: medium, on apple cake and a little burnt sugar and nuts. Demerara sugar. Maltier, almost stouty  aftertaste, with some pepper too. Comments: we knew this would just very good, like most whiskies in this lovely un-pumped-up collection from Signatory's.

SGP:541 - 84 points.

I've just counted them, that's thirteen Glenrothes, that's too much already. See you, cheers…

(Merci Ryan and Wouter)

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


April 24, 2022


Seven armagnacs and one apéritif

Our little apéritif will be a well-known cognac. Next time we'll do exactly the opposite, armagnac as the apéritif, then seven cognacs.

(Picture, Château de Maniban in Mauléon d'Armagnac, property of Castarède)

Delamain Pale & Dry 'XO' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2020)

Delamain Pale & Dry 'XO' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
A well-known cognac that I've never formally tried before although it's often been a 'restaurant preferred'. Angus tasted an older expression at 70°proof a few months ago and thought it was worth 82 points. Remember, in Cognac XO means minimum 10 years, often many more. I would guess it would be a good idea that the Scots would use a similar system with their lousy NAS (because remember, NAS = minimum 3 years). Colour: gold, so not particularly pale by today's standards. Nose: not particularly dry either, this has vibrant fruits including some muscat and gewurztraminer, sitting above the expected stewed peaches and sultanas as well as some acacia honey, dandelions and a little custard. No quibbles. Mouth: sweet, floral and fruity, perhaps a tad thin(nish) but there are lovely notes of liquorice allsorts, small-grain muscat again, Turkish delights and more raisins. Finish: not too long, very sweet, with more liquorice allsorts. Comments: said to be 25 years old and bearing no obscuration. In France you often see it at 42% but this was an UK version at 40%. Perhaps a little more oomph…

SGP:641 - 83 points.

Lionel Osmin & Cie 1996/2013 (42%, OB, armagnac, tirage n°1, 463 bottles)

Lionel Osmin & Cie 1996/2013 (42%, OB, armagnac, tirage n°1, 463 bottles) Two stars and a half
Lionel Osmin is a négociant from the city of Pau, doing both wines from South-West France and armagnac. He's also having a partnership with rugby star Imanol Harinordoquy – rugby has always been closely tied to armagnac, not only during third half-times. Right. Colour: amber. Nose: not immensely aromatic, starting mainly on fruit peel, especially peaches. Touches of liquorice and rancio, then dry vegetables, eggplants, artichokes, with a little caramel. Mouth: I find it nicer on the palate but really rustic, rooty, a tad hot despite the rather low strength. Then we have the expected coffee, black chocolate and cloves. Finish: pretty long but drying, on more black chocolate, coffee and black tea, with some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: the oak's a little dominant, which happens very often with 'old style' armagnac, in my meagre experience. The finish was really bone-dry and peppery.

SGP:361 – 79 points.

Castarède 10 yo 'Brut de Fût Folle Blanche' (51.7%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2019)

Castarède 10 yo 'Brut de Fût Folle Blanche' (51.7%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2019) Four stars
This baby's still available, they seem to be parting with these bottles very sparingly at Castarède's and we won't blame them. The famous house is located in Mauléon d'Armagnac in the Gers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the higher strength imparts notes of bourbon, varnish, even a little heavy acetone, all things we do enjoy as whisky enthusiasts, don't we. The rest lies between biscuits and dried fruits (figs, raisins), plus some black nougat and praline. Whiffs of warm turon, we're right in Spain. With water: wee bits of black truffles and even a touch of tar, then bouillon and prunes. Mouth (neat): fully on heavy marmalade, more black nougat and touches of salmiak and chocolate. A little caraway in the background. With water: water brings out some meatiness and various herbs, even tarragon and sage. Black earl grey. Finish: rather long, a tad grittier, grassier, also more on liquorice wood and coffee dregs. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: I had tried their other folles blanches a few years back (6, 8, 18) and had really liked them too.

SGP:451 - 87 points.

Oh well, let's stay in Armagnac for a little longer…

Domaine Pouy 1998 (56%, L'Encantada, Ténarèze, cask #78, 605 bottles, +/-2021)

Domaine Pouy 1998 (56%, L'Encantada, Ténarèze, cask #78, 605 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
This wee Domaine is located in (or near?) Condom. We've always had a soft spot for the robust Ténarèze. This one was distilled from ugni blanc (a.k.a. trebbiano) and colombard. Colour: full gold. Nose: on the wine! That's totally brilliant, with a superb freshness, a luminous floralness (honeysuckle, woodruff) and sublime citrus, rhubarb and green apples. I can't wait to add a little water… With water: whiffs of bicycle inner tube at first, which would go away fissa-fissa, then a huge pile of old apples. I mean old varietals. Drop of old balsamico. Mouth (neat): exceptional drop on menthol, liquorice and all tarter fruits of the creation. It's a great white Pessac-Léognan, only at a marginally higher strength. I said marginally. With water: sublimely acidulated. A very dangerous Armagnac since it is rather refreshing. Finish: long, superb. Liquorice, marmalade, gooseberry jam and a few drops of a perfect rhum agricole. A Neisson, shall we say. Comments: not sure you've already noticed that I'm loving this very dangerous wee Ténarèze. To sip while watching rugby, I'll buy a bottle for the next World Cup.

SGP:651 - 91 points.

We'd need some heavy hitters after that stunning 'Pouy'.

Domaine de Baraillon 21 yo 1999/2021 (48%, GrapeDiggaz, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, Bas-armagnac, 100% folle blanche, cask #22, 142 bottles)

Domaine de Baraillon 21 yo 1999/2021 (48%, GrapeDiggaz, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, Bas-armagnac, 100% folle blanche, cask #22, 142 bottles) Five stars
Probably illegal stuff. We say no more. Colour: golden amber. Nose: very same territory, just not Ténarèze (neither is it ugni blanc and colombard). Same awesome dandelions, oranges and ripe apples, then perhaps a tad more grass and peel. Broken branches, plantains… Mouth: oranges, mirabelles, mangos, peel, raisins, plus this time again a little top-notch rhum agricole and even a touch of malt whisky. I'm being serious, say a blend of 'Bs' (Balblair and Balvenie). Finish: rather long, with some caramel, fudge, muscovado sugar, and Ovaltine while we were talking malt. Triple-sec and meadow honey in the aftertaste. Comments: amazing how it resisted the incredible Pouy. But then again, it's Baraillon…

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Let's keep only good weapons on the table…

Château de Laubade 1992/2021 'Brut de Fût' (50.8%, OB for Fassstark.de, Bas-armagnac, barrique, cask #82075, tirage n°1)

Château de Laubade 1992/2021 'Brut de Fût' (50.8%, OB for Fassstark.de, Bas-armagnac, barrique, cask #82075, tirage n°1) Four stars and a half
Baco and ugni blanc this time. We've tried quite a few excellent 'bruts de fût' from Laubade's within the last few months. Colour: full gold. Nose: it's a very floral armagnac, ridden with orange blossom, wisteria, dandelions, buttercups and anything a bee would enjoy. All that over some acacia honey, mirabelle jam and softer sponge-cakes and biscuits. With water: gets a little drier, rather on hay, teas and banana skins. Mouth (neat): one of those armagnacs that are geared towards cognacs (after this they'll never let me in Gascony anymore). Lovely fruitiness, some peel, seeds, pips and stones, with some mead and maple syrup. With water: touch of lavender, violet sweet, liquorice, bananas… Finish: medium to long, more on herbal teas. Star anise, chamomile, orange peel, earl grey… Comments: perhaps a tad more cerebral and less 'obvious' than both the L'Encantada and the Baraillon, but we're still flying close to the stratosphere. Superb 'good' lavender.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Baron de Lustrac 40 yo 'XO' (46.4%, OB, for Wine4You, Bas-armagnac, 4000 bottles, +/-2021)

Baron de Lustrac 40 yo 'XO' (46.4%, OB, for Wine4You, Bas-armagnac, 4000 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars
Baron de Lustrac are located near Nogaro in the Gers and are négociants-éleveurs, working with approx. twenty different producers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, this is less 'immediate' but certainly pretty complex, with a few metallic touches, peel, quite a lot of Demerara sugar (obscuration?) and then anything cappuccino, toffee or pipe tobacco. Rather armagnac à l'ancienne this far, not that we're having anything against that, naturally. Mouth: the good old days. Notes of sherry, walnuts, maraschino, chicory coffee, coffee liqueur, even brandy de Jerez… Furiously un-modern, perhaps a little 'kitchened-up' (probably not). Coffee liqueur's always been much en vogue in Armagnac… In the old days… Finish: medium, still a tad liqueury. Comments: feels like this was 'obscured' at some point, but I wouldn't stake my life on that. It remained a very good drop.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

Aurian 1985/2021 (44.6%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan and Open Spirits/la Source)

Aurian 1985/2021 (44.6%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan and Open Spirits/la Source) Four stars
From the house Aurian in Condom. They call it a 'Grand Armagnac' but last time I checked that moniker wasn't meaning much. Oh well, a little flannel never killed anybody. Colour: amber. Nose: it's gotten saltier, meatier, more on soups and old cigars. Pickled onion in honey, miso and umami, wood varnish, Maggi, walnut stain… Mouth: it is fruitier on your palate, more on plum jam and marmalade, although the misoness (ha) remains there. Notes of pipe tobacco yet again, gravy, then cloves and pepper, rancio wine, salty liquorice… In truth this slightly rawish old armagnac has got a lot of rancio. Finish: rather long, saltier yet, sour and meaty, with many kinds of bouillons and rather a lot of herbal liqueur, reminding me of that unlikely thing that would start with Jaeger and end with Meister. Comments: a meatier old armagnac. It would tell you stories.

SGP:461 - 85 points.

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


April 22, 2022


Around the world once more
There's more and more whisky from all remote corners of the world yadda, yadda, yadda. We're expecting Qatar and North-Korea soon.

Kentan 'Season One' (43, OB, France, 265 bottles, 2022)

Kentan 'Season One' (43, OB, France, 265 bottles, 2022) Three stars
In truth there's a funny accent on the last 'n', IKEA-style. Indeed, this is from a new distillery located in Tonquédec, in northern Brittany. It seems that some good fellows are at the helm… This is probably 3 or 4. Colour: gold. Nose: but yes! Typical new craft, with good honey, mead, chouchen (of course) and gingerbread. A feeling of buckwheat/sarrasin, but I'm not sure at all. Mouth: I'd have said Oregon or Washington (not D.C.) The oak is a tad loud but these meady, honeyed, spicy kinds of assortments do work well. This time I would have said rye. More gingerbread yet, caraway liqueur, controlled oak. Finish: long, spicier, a tad drying this time, thanks to slightly obnoxious tannins. A piney side. Comments: excellent effort, given that this is a first. It's even got something Breton, perhaps this spicy/meady side.

SGP:461 - 82 points.

Up north a wee bit…

Cotswolds 5 yo 2016/2021 (60.6%, OB, England, LMDW, STR wine cask)

Cotswolds 5 yo 2016/2021 (60.6%, OB, England, LMDW, STR wine cask) Three stars and a half
STR wine casks do work very well but they are highly unromantic, are they not. They remind me of those new electronic drum kits, back in the 1980s. Colour: gold. Nose: sweet mustard, fino, walnuts, panettone, earl grey, caraway and banana cake. With water: more on classic vanilla, custard, croissants and beeswax. Mouth (neat): very rich and creamy, well within the new 'English style' (Bimber, Cotswolds…) with citron jelly and spicy orange cordial, plus pink pepper. With water: the oak gets a tad loud and too spicy for me. We may be touching the limits of the concept. Finish: long, on pink pepper and assorted citrus, especially blood oranges. Comments: great work at Cotswolds, strictly no bouts about that, but this is starting to feel a tad 'lab' to me. Just a wee tad…

SGP:651 - 84 points.

Let's swim to Sweden…

Smögen 9 yo 2012/2021 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, 3rd fill barrel, 261 bottles)

Smögen 9 yo 2012/2021 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, Sweden, 3rd fill barrel, 261 bottles) Four stars and a half
A 3rd fill barrel? We may need to expect some kind of Swedish blade… Colour: white wine. Nose: by Jove. Smoked olives and an old Norton. With water: perhaps rather an old Matchless, or Velocette. Mouth (neat): pears, gentian, olives and carbon paper. Drops of some very extreme 'bacterial' Jamaican rums, such as the craziest Monymusks. With water: unless that would be New Yarmouth. Finish: endlessly tart and green-smoky. Comments: this is not really whisky. It is not rum either and it couldn't be mezcal. What is it? It is pretty exceptional! PS: we all know Smögen is challenging Ardbeg.
SGP:277 - 89 points.

To C'nada…

Lot N°40 'Third Edition' (57%, OB, Canada, +/-2021)

Lot N°40 'Third Edition' (57%, OB, Canada, rye, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
For years and years us whisky enthusiasts have been claiming that Lot40 rye was THE Canadian whisky. Excuse me? No, certainly not 'Crown Royal'… Colour: full gold. Nose: the opposite to the Smögen, despite a similar strength. This is all maize bread, croissants, fresh focaccia, Stolle and vanilla. With water: a tiny metallic side (copper), otherwise soft breads and shoe polish. Mouth (neat): heavier on the wood than before, more on spices, rye, lavender, oranges, grain (whaaat?) With water: where has it gone? Lovely palate but it's gotten softer and cakier. A little less necessary, shall we say, but we aren't Canadians… Finish: medium, too oaky. Loses many points at this stage, too much sawdust. Comments: goes with one of WF's stupidest sayings, 'wood is both whisky's best friend and its worst enemy'. Seriously, uninteresting drop. Where are the good old days?

SGP:451 - 78 points.

To India…

Amrut 2014/2021 'Ex-Caroni' (60%, OB, LMDW, cask #5144)

Amrut 2014/2021 'Ex-Caroni' (60%, OB, LMDW, cask #5144) Three stars and a half
Why would this make the slightest bit of sense? I mean, love all these peoples but an Indian malt matured for some undocumented time in an ex-Trinidadian rum cask? Would the answer only be 'because they could do it?' Colour: gold. Nose: it is moderately Caroni. Some sour banana bread, breads, cakes, ales and spicy bread. One black olive. With water: more spicy bread, pumpernickel perhaps… Mouth (neat): the combo works. Olives, sour bread, lemons. Was it smoky Amrut? With water: good olive-y, petroly, sour development. Doughs. Finish: long, still sour, lemony, doughy. Comments: perhaps a little unlikely but amongst the 5,343,547,754,354 spirit/wood combinations that could be done in this world (a.k.a. the worst of the Doritos syndrome), this is one that's pretty unnecessary, but that rather kind of works.
SGP:552 - 83 points.

April 21, 2022


To Japan

Quite. I mean, not always totally in Japan. Or say, 'not only in Japan', once again some whiskies have simply been Japanised.

Togouchi 'Pure Malt' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Togouchi 'Pure Malt' (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
Tja, pure malt. So many people still believe that that wording is equivalent to single malt. This is, naturally, a blend of malts from various countries (Canada, Scotland…) that was launched last year. It remains legally a 'Japanese whisky', but technically and, should we add, ethically, it is not. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: there's probably a little peated Scotch, pretty nice I have to say, and rather little sweet/vanilla-ed Canadian. Pleasant notes of greengages, mirabelles, apples and porridge and dough. I'm not sure we shall cry foul. Mouth: reminds a bit of Nikka's 'pure malt' little bottles, I think the white, except that this is lighter, ashier, a little thin, but once again, not unpleasant. I would categorise it a peaty whisky. Finish: short and saltier. More ashes as well. One could believe there is some peated Bunnahabhain in there, if that rings a bell. Comments: beyond the nasty – but legal indeed - use of the appellation 'Japanese whisky', I would say I'm rather positively surprised with what's in the glass. It is said to be partly ex-sherry, but I did not find one single sign of any sherry aromas or flavours.

SGP:354 - 82 points.

Hold on, there's also a single malt…

Togouchi 'Single Malt' (43%, OB, Sakurao Distillery, +/-2021)

Togouchi 'Single Malt' (43%, OB, Sakurao Distillery, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Unless I'm off the mark, this is genuine Japanese 3 years old malt whisky distilled in their own Distillery this time, which is located in the Hiroshima prefecture. Glad to try it. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this one's unpeated, fermentary, 'craft', fruity and with some vanilla. Some fresh fruitcake, ultra-fresh kougelhopf (still alive, as we sometimes say here in Alsace when it's from the morning), porridge and pancakes. Also apple compote and indeed vanilla. Mouth: good drop! There's a little oak, tea, cocoa powder… Now it would tend to become a little too oaky for me, which happens often when you bring these new makes down to pretty low strengths, they get teaish and tannic. Finish: short, tannic. Comments: it is a very young drop, let's remain caring and gracious (yeah). Not Mars or Shizuoka yet.

SGP:451 - 79 points.

Sakurao 'Single Malt' (43%, OB, 2021)

Sakurao 'Single Malt' (43%, OB, 2021) Three stars and a half
Most possibly the same juice under the proper name of the Distillery, this time matured for three years in bourbon, with a finishing in mizunara oak. Let's just hope the 43% vol. will have been potent enough to keep any excessive oak at bay. Colour: straw. Nose: very different, this time coastal and less vanilla-ed, with yellow melons ala Bruichladdich and some lime tea, doughs, fresh eucalyptus leaves rubbed between your fingers, perhaps wee whiffs of tomato leaves… Is this the mizunara? Mouth: spicier, with some kind of medicinal caraway cordial (perhaps) and notes of myrtle, sorb, elderberry eau-de-vie… Quite some white pepper too, that's the oak. The Togouchi was gentler and easier, while this is both a little rougher, more interesting, more singular and more… hold on, more good, in my book. Finish: medium, with a little grapefruit, granny smith and some kind of pine smoke. Comments: I find this very good; we'd just need more power (just to better handle the oakiness, not power for power).

SGP:462 - 84 points.

… as if by magic…

Togouchi 'Cask Strength 1st Release' (52%, OB, 2021)

Togouchi 'Cask Strength 1st Release' (52%, OB, 2021) Three stars and a half
This is, I believe, proper Sakurao too. All these Togouchis are very widely available in France. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: perhaps a little closed (that'll teach you, S.). Sawdust and vanilla, apples… apples… apples… With water: very clean barley, bananas and custard. And apples. Mouth (neat): sweet, with jelly beans, marshmallows, sugarcane syrup, pear and lemon drops, mirabelle jam… With water: it's a little hard after the Sakurao, which was rather more complex, but this elementary profile on ripe apples and just cornflakes coated with honey cannot not work. Finish: medium, cakier. Some apple liqueur in the aftertaste (the Spaniards are king) and some grassier spices. Comments: akin to some good very young ex-refill Speysider. Say, wait, Miltonduff (just an example).
SGP:441 - 83 points.

Let's move on to pastures new…

Yamazakura Asaka 'Single Cask' (46%, OB, bourbon, cask #18109, +/-2021)

Yamazakura Asaka 'Single Cask' (46%, OB, bourbon, cask #18109, +/-2021) Four stars
A 3 years old for, apparently, the French market. Not too sure about the 140€ they're asking for it, for that price you get some 40 years old armagnac of super-high quality. This is from Sasanokawa Shuzo, in the Fukushima prefecture. We've had some junk Yamazakuras in the past but I believe those were just cheap whiskies sourced from abroad, often the same story with J-Whisky, it's going to be a little long to get over all that. Colour: straw. Nose: weissbeer, fresh baguette, wholegrain bread, touches of violet and orange blossom, Greek yoghurt, porridge… Mouth: good, 'Japanese', with oranges and citrusy spices, orange-flavoured yoghurt, polenta… As usual with these slightly doped-up youngsters, the oak becomes a little dominant but it's all remaining under control. Soft paprika, nutmeg, bitter oranges, peppermint… Finish: medium, malty, vanilla-ed, with some ex-bourbon marmalade in the aftertaste, as well as tropical fruits and lovage. Love lovage (you're good today, S. – LOL). Comments: very good. Many new distilleries all over the world are making this style these days and I think we shan't complain.

GP:551 - 86 points.

Let's be careful, there's Asaka, Akashi, Akkeshi… Not the same thing!

Akkeshi 'Usui 2021' (48%, OB)

Akkeshi 'Usui 2021' (48%, OB) Four stars and a half
This is blended, the label is lovely and the price insane (175€). The half of it seems to be stemming from Akkeshi, the rest having been sourced from abroad. So, this is 'semi-fake' Japanese whisky by our own standards and I can't see what would justify this ridiculous price. Good, had to get that off my chest before trying it, as I'm sure it's excellent... Colour: light gold. Nose: new wellies, bicycle inner tube, teak oil, smoked bacon, light coal tar, then Swiss cheese (gruyere) and fermenting plums. Very regrettably, this is an awesome nose. Hate to write this, given the set-up and the price. Mouth: I quit, I give up. Smoked eucalyptus, kippers, natural rubber, tobacco, salt, cigar-smoked salmon (that's easy to make with an empty box of cigars into which you've drilled a hole the size of your corona), amontillado, walnuts… Finish: very long, salty, rubbery, tarry, superb. Comments: one of those spirits that I hate to love. Long time not seen my shrink. This one (the whisky, not the shrink) has got something of that make they produce very close to the remains of Dunyvaig Castle.

SGP:465 - 89 points.

Akashi 'Heavily Peated' (50%, OB, 1st fill bourbon barrel, +/-2021)

Akashi 'Heavily Peated' (50%, OB, 1st fill bourbon barrel, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Made at Eigashima from malt that had been peated to 50ppm. This is a 3 years old. The price is that of a Mercedes-Benz Diesel, but it's true that the Mercedes-Benz Diesel have become really cheap. Good cars though. Colour: like gold. Nose: what, smoked chocolate and butterscotch? What's this trick? And many oils, a little sugarcane juice, praline, new boots, proper Van Houten hot chocolate, gianduja… For once we won't even add any waters, that would be superfluous. Mouth: perhaps a little heavy on the tars, oils and bitters. This time we'll add a little water… With water: the youth feels, it is too young and the tars too loud for me. Finish: long, tarry, rubbery. Comments: licking an ashtray and the rear tyres of a badly-tuned Porsche after Monaco (yeah, right, of course). Seriously, had it at 89 for a while and then it lost one point every ten seconds. For me, the smoke's too massive and too, say undigested. But I suppose we'll try these batches again around 2030 (depending on what Putin does in the meantime).

SGP:377 - 83 points.

Some Mars. Love Mars.

Mars 8 yo 'Asagi Madara' (48%, OB, 2020)

Mars 8 yo 'Asagi Madara' (48%, OB, 2020) Two stars and a half
I've given up, I don't get much about how they name their whiskies at Mars's, all I know is that I'm finding them excellent. Now this is a blend, and yet it's certified 'all Japanese'. No whiskies from Outer-Mongolia or Venezuela (or Canada) in there. Colour: gold. Nose: wood dust, flour, tapioca, milk chocolate, barley, maize and bread crumble. I've almost added wet-noodle, as I'm finding this a little thin and too grainy. Mouth: good but light, with a little coffee, praline, grain whisky, Canadian Club, café latte, and rather a lot of oak. Finish: short, thin, on caramel and sweet maize, plus a little preserved pineapple. Comments: disappointing. I mean, the flavours were very okay, but the body's too thin. Totally un-Mars in my book – love Mars!
SGP:630 - 77 points.

Hatozaki 'Pure Malt' (46%, OB, +/-2021)

Hatozaki 'Pure Malt' (46%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
I believe this is another fantasy Japanese malt. Too many kanjis to be totally honest, ha. It is from Akashi, but it is not Akashi. Indeed, reading Wittgenstein is much easier than trying to understand 'Japanese' whisky. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a light, fruity composition, between fruity and sweet cider and custard. A tiny touch of tar. No one will be against this fine little drop that, what's more, hasn't been bottled at some lousy and meagre 40% vol. Mouth: honest but thin, getting oaky, losing steam, falling flat. Finish: not bad but not quite, short, a little beerish and ueber-drying. Mashed eggplants in the aftertaste (sort of). Comments: rather honest and kind of loyal.

SGP:541 - 77 points.

We need to understand that when you sell a NAS Scotch blended malt as a Scotch, that would be £35, whilst when you sell it as a Japanese (with kanjis, Mount Fuji, samurais et al), that's going to be £75. But there are costs too I suppose, ha… Now let's quickly have a last one, for the flag!… 

Shizuoka 2019/2019 New Make (63.8%, OB, Japan) Five stars
Unpeated and from the Karuizawa still, having used Pinnacle yeast. Distilled and bottled on the very same day (Sept 12, 2019), you cannot do them any fresher than this. Colour: totally white. Nose: masterful asparagus and white pot-still rum. Amazing distillate, great fatness, and naturally, just zero wood influence, as I suppose this came straight from the receiver. With water: white rum agricole, straight from the column, as they say. Olives! Mouth (neat): fabtastic rotting pears and a little saccharose, with a drop of rose essence. With water: luminous, fabulous, and more proof that great whiskies only need wood to catch their age count – and oxygen. Olives and suet. Finish: earthy pears, apricots, cherries… The fruits are starting to sing. What a make! Some varnish in the aftertaste, that's funny too, as varnish would usually appear upfront, never in the finish. Comments: I won't score this since it is pure new make, but we would be very high… I can't wait to taste the first official whiskies by Shizuoka (I know, old news already), having said that there are so many new whiskies around, we're rather spoilt for choice and we do not really 'need' Shozaokiu. Hold on, what was the name again?
SGP:761 - (none) points.

(Many thanks to Chris)

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


April 20, 2022


Quick little duos, today Benromach

As we said.

Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021)

Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021) Four stars
Any excuse is good, Benromach 10 being one of our favourite BFYB whiskies. We drink them faster than batches change, having said that… Colour: straw. Nose: fabulous, on white asparagus (we're in high season) and paraffin, then good white Pessac (right, sauvignon blanc), tangerines and Alka-Seltzer. Then hay and crushed chalk, plaster that's not dried up yet, and sea mud. Mouth: wood-smoked cold cuts, lime, chalk, eucalyptus drops, olives and perhaps a tiny cup of spent lees. A lovely fermentary side. Finish: long, salty, muddy, lemony, chalky. Artichokes and smoked meat in the aftertaste. Comments: we love these slightly deviant makes more and more. Fettercairn, Glenturret, Benromach, Macallan… (try to find the odd one out).

SGP:463 - 87 points.

And now a new expression…

Benromach 'Carat Gold Malt' (46%, OB, contrasts, 2022)

Benromach 'Cara Gold Malt' (46%, OB, contrasts, 2022) Four stars
Aged in new American oak (for how long?) and distilled from 'Cara Gold' malt, which is less dark than regular malt and which is usually rather used in breweries. Well, that's what I could gather. Colour: white wine. Nose: it seems that indeed, the distillate was a tad lighter here and that consequently, it's rather the wood that's running the show, with some ginger, juniper, cinnamon and even turmeric. Some pleasant bready touches in the back, but indeed, this seems to be a lighter Benromach. The An Oa of Benromach? Mouth: no wait, we're not that far from the excellent 10, this has just a little more sweetness, fresh fruits, also more spices after a minute or two, I would suppose that's the oak. Finish: rather long, smokier and saltier. Grapefruits and seawater. Comments: the 10 would tend to outshine this new baby a wee bit, but other than that, it's another very good idiosyncratic Benromach.

SGP:552 - 85 points.

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


April 19, 2022


More Secret Stuff

In other words, whiskies we don't know much about. But let's not make too much fun of them, as many are simply excellent.

The Legendary (46%, Blackadder, sherry cask finish, #LTB 2016-01, 666 bottles, 2016)

The Legendary (46%, Blackadder, sherry cask finish, #LTB 2016-01, 666 bottles, 2016) Four stars
A single malt from Scotland, let's try to find out why it is 'legendary', unless that's only because they filled some devilish 666 bottles? Colour: deep gold. Nose: a mango-y start that would remind us of both some Bimbers and Amruts, but indeed, this one's Scottish. Some soft vanilla-ed wood, as if some heavy charring had occurred, then stewed apples and some sweet desert wine, perhaps a Monbazillac, or a Cérons, or even some vin de paille. Ripe bananas coming through as well. Mouth: desert whisky! All grapey sweetness and goodness, late harvest pinot gris, quince jelly, a tiny mentholated and liquoricy side, yellow chartreuse, even absinth…  Finish: rather long, with a little white chocolate, litchis, Turkish delights, Irish pure pot still and raisins. More black chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: very lovely, if a little un-Scottish, if I may. And what's the age? I mean, Robin, we know strictly and shockingly nothing about this sweet baby!

SGP:751 - 87 points.

Campbeltown Blended Malt 2015/2021 (54%, Roger's Hidden Treasures, 364 bottles)

Campbeltown Blended Malt 2015/2021 (54%, Roger's Hidden Treasures, 364 bottles) Four stars
This baby's aim seems to be to link Campbeltown with the ancient Greek civilisation. All right then, more fun on the desk. Colour: light gold. Nose: paraffin, sunflower oil, brake fluid, pencil eraser, fresh brioche and fresh putty, plus custard. Rings a bell that's not exactly that of 'S' or 'K'… With water: some stale seawater, fresh rubber, porridge, pencil lead, sourdough, Swiss cheese… Very nice fermentary notes. Mouth (neat): fresh pears, bay leaves, parsley, sourdough, pepper… With water: rounder at first, then a little smoky, with sour cherries and just fresh wholegrain bread. Finish: pretty long, a little acidic, going towards riesling. Comments: an excellent young fermentary and doughy Campbeltowner.
SGP:552 - 85 points.

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (53%, Chapter 7, Monologue, bourbon cask, cask #48, 319 bottles)

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (53%, Chapter 7, Monologue, bourbon cask, cask #48, 319 bottles) Two stars
I'll say it again, tasting undisclosed, 'secret' Macallans, Clynelishes, Glenmorangies or Dalmores is no fun at all. What's more, we've decided not to play the guessing game anymore, it's just boring us to death and I believe that, by not allowing the indies to use the names, the brand owners are really making a mistake on the long run. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a rather sulphurous start, with struck matches running the show, flints, then spent engine oil and charcoal over burnt toasts. With water: more sulphur, gun, truffles, gas, cabbage, matches, eggplants, artichokes, scoria… Mouth (neat): sulphur and marmalade. Tough baby, reminds me of some Pittyvaichs. Of course it's not Pittyvaich. Leather, tobacco. With water: same. Finish: same. Old pepper. Comments: no comprendo mucho here, I must be very tired, since Chapter 7's whiskies are usually of the highest grades. I think I'll rather go watch a DVD of Mariah Carey in Vegas.

SGP:263 - 70 points.

Secret Highland Distillery 13 yo (61.7%, Whic, sherry cask, 329 bottles, 2021)

Secret Highland Distillery 13 yo (61.7%, Whic, sherry cask, 329 bottles, 2021) Three stars and a half
A bottling for Xmas (are we late again or are we late?) and from 'An amazing Highland distillery'. Ah all right, they gave it away, it is Brora. Colour: gold. Nose: ammonia, old chardonnay, kirschwasser, green walnuts, amontillado, small pickled onion, then calms down, with some butterscotch. Would go well as a sauce for dim-sum. With water: towards balsamico, Jerez vinegar, salty caramel… Mouth (neat): very rich, tough, salty, ridden with walnuts, green pepper, tabasco and capers. Beastly, with a lot of sour and salty sherry. With water: a little gentler, fully led by dictatorial walnuts, perhaps Russian walnuts. Snuff, chewing on your cigar, heavy bitters. Finish: very long, bitter, on even more green walnuts. Comments: kind of heavily oxidative, perhaps was it a bottling for Christmas, but I wouldn't claim it's peaceful whisky.

SGP:372 - 83 points.

Perhaps a last bomb…

Highland Single Malt 'As We Get It' (64.5%, Ian Macleod, 2019)

Highland Single Malt 'As We Get It' (64.5%, Ian Macleod, 2019) Two stars and a half
Probably the seminal 'secret Highland', although some earlier As We Get Its would have displayed the names of the distilleries. With a thought full of emotion to some Balvenies… Colour: light gold. Nose: ethanol, varnish, vodka, vanilla, broken branches, dough… Raw style! With water: more vanilla coming out, biscuits… Mouth (neat): sweet, varnishy, raw. Some raw rum straight from a column. I suppose you could call this 'a warming dram'. With water: grasses, peel, pepper. Finish: long, sweet and rough at any strength. Comments: the rawest form of malt whisky one could think of. Still good in my book, but I suppose you would rather use it as a mixer. 1% this, 99% fruit juices, crushed ice, a straw and presto.

SGP:551 - 78 points.

Last minute entry, a new blend (and why not)…

Cutty Sark 12 yo (40%, OB, blended scotch, 1l, 2022)

Cutty Sark 12 yo (40%, OB, blended scotch, 1l, 2022) Three stars
This is a new expression by relatively new owners Glen Turner (Edrington sold the brand to them two or three years ago), while Glen Turner, in turn, belongs to the very vast French company La Martiniquaise (think Glen Moray or Saint-James). Colour: gold. Nose: light but distinctively smoky and sooty, not too far from some lighter batches of White Horse if that rings a bell. Some shoe polish, kiwi and rhubarb, granny smith, a tiny touch of coconut, oranges and, above all, without any obvious thin grains. Mouth: a malty blend for sure, once again a tad sooty at first, with a little butterscotch, sweet beer, notes of bananas, then oranges and Jaffa cakes. Perhaps not totally a sipper since it would remain a 'lightish' whisky despite the soot, but whenever there's no Brora in the house – or indeed, Glen Moray – I say this would do. Finish: medium, caky, a little grassy, malty, and certainly not as indistinct as other blends. Comments: as always, we would expect a version at 43% vol. for more body, but this sure is some serious blend, very well composed.
SGP:431 - 80 points.

April 18, 2022


Another wee whisky trip around the world...
From Belgium to the US...

Filliers 10 yo 'Batch 1' (43%, OB, Belgium, European sherry oak, 2000 bottles, 2019)

Filliers 10 yo 'Batch 1' (43%, OB, Belgium, European sherry oak, 2000 bottles, 2019) Three stars and a half
This baby from the former makers of Goldlys, as I understand all this they changed the name of their single malt whisky and are now using the name of their… Distillery. Makes sense, doesn't it. Colour: gold Nose: some spicy raisin cake, I would say. Someone may have combined some raisin roll with some cinnamon roll, and that worked. Wee touches of amontillado, a little wood, smoke (boy-scout bonfire), a little maple syrup and chestnut honey, warm praline, and just a tiny touch of nail polish remover. Mouth: perhaps a wee tad oaky/teaish at first, but the nuts and the raisins keep it rather easy. Allspice, cinnamon, touch of curry, nutmeg… Finish: medium, pleasant, malty and spicy. Cinnamon and nutmeg in the aftertaste, with touches of triple-sec. Comments: I believe it's never easy to get the oak right when you bottle at 40 or 43% while you you've been using some active casks. No problem here.
SGP:451 - 84 points

Down South, just a we bit…

Artesia 'Limited Edition Porto' (45%, OB, France, LMDW, Conquête, 1300 bottles, 2021)

Artesia 'Limited Edition Porto' (45%, OB, France, LMDW, Conquête, 1300 bottles, 2021) Four stars
We've already tried one of these new Artesia from the North of France and rather liked it. But watch this one, it's first spent time in new oak (cool set-up, that's the opposite of what most whiskymakers are doing), then in Port wood. Colour: light gold. Was it white Port? Nose: no red Port in sight, hurray, rather a lot of weissbeer. Really a lot. Then pears everywhere, you'd almost believe this is williams pear eau-de-vie that's spent some time in wood. The thing is, I'm a sucker for pear eau-de-vie. So, no complains at this point… Oh and some unexpected whiffs of orange wine. Really. Mouth: how very funny, you would believe, indeed, that this is fine de vin orange blended with pear spirit and, once again, weissbeer. Great fun here, this is both very different and very good, in my opinion. Once again, a bottling strength of 45/46% is doing wonders. Finish: medium, and breadier this time. Pear-led fruitcake and apricot pie, shall we say. Comments: excellent. I've almost written 'unexpectedly excellent'.

SGP:641 - 86 points

To Ireland once more, perhaps…

Mourne Dew (43%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2021)

Mourne Dew (43%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Apparently, this triple-distilled whiskey stems from a real proprietary distillery (you never know these days) and was quickly finished in ex-IPA casks. Why not… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: we're not too far from the Frenchie in the sense that pears and beer are competing here, before touches of grapefruits and chalk would chime in. Very pleasant, feeling natural. Mouth: a little odd this time, kind of perfumy, with notes of lavender bonbons (or even ice cream) and then just grenadine. Violet sweets, poppy sweets, Mexican agave lollipops, tequila and gin… Finish: medium, sweet. Violets and juniper. Comments: very unusual on your palate, a little un-whisky but good fun for sure. Perhaps on ice?
SGP:630 - 78 points

To Africa!…

Copper Republic 'Bourbon Cask Finish' (43%, OB, South Africa, single grain, +/-2020)

Copper Republic 'Bourbon Cask Finish' (43%, OB, South Africa, single grain, +/-2020) Two stars
Entirely distilled from South African maize. These good folks are  also making rooibos gin, which is something I really need to try. No too sure they distil everything themselves, having said that. Colour: light gold. Nose: custard with a little nutmeg, overripe apples, a little hay, perhaps rooibos (once you have these things in your head…) and root vegetables. Notes of ginseng. Mouth: light, grainy, I'm reminded of Cameron Brig. Some chicory coffee, café latte, a little butterscotch… It's all pretty thin, but not unpleasant at all. Finish: shortish but with nice notes of coffee liqueur. Comments: fine grain whisky! Not much to add, except that it would beat quite a few young Scottish grains in my book.

SGP:530 - 75 points.

To the USA…

Uncle Nearest 1884 (46.5%, OB, USA, Tennessee whiskey, +/-2021)

Uncle Nearest '1884' (46.5%, OB, USA, Tennessee whiskey, +/-2021) Three stars
One of those 'premium' brands that come with foot-long stories that do sound a little 'Madison Avenue'. Sourced Dickel? It's said to be only four years old. Colour: gold. Nose: pears, pineapples, pink pepper liqueur, then sawdust, toasted oak and sponge cake. Pecan pie. A very pleasant nose, lighter and possibly subtler than other very young bourbons. Mouth: good, sweet, rather fresh, with touches of oranges and bananas, only tiny hints of coconut, then maple syrup and honey, pancake sauce, caramel, the tiniest drop of cologne (lavender, rye?) … Finish: medium, a little oakier than expected. White pepper and cinnamon in the aftertaste, as well as café latte and perhaps a drop of strawberry liqueur. Comments: a real fine drop.

SGP: - 82 points.

April 17, 2022


Rather a lot of Calvados du Pays d'Auge for Easter

Or 'keeping my promises'. A session long overdue! Let's see what we have, but let me first make a statement: I'm more an expert in 12th Century Turkmen embroidery than in calvados or any other form of apple/cider brandy. Now what should help us is that we'll mainly have Calvados by one single house, the excellent Christian Drouin, which should help us build some coherent verticale. We'll let just a few other houses chime in. (pictire, apples at Christian Drouin's)

Christian Drouin 'VSOP' (40%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 'VSOP' (40%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
100% apples (so, no pears) and around 10 years in various woods, new, refill, wine… Colour: light gold. Nose: rounded and really a lot on baked apples covered with muscovado and honey. Fresh apples and just cider too. Tiny touch of horseradish. Mouth: much drier on the palate, spicier; slightly biting, certainly rustic and 'gritty', with some wood, cinnamon, salty cider… Finish: medium, really drier and even saltier. The saltiness is very surprising. Leafy aftertaste. Comments: we're very far from any kind of post-prandial digestif that I've been expecting. The closest 'other aged spirit' I would think of would be tequila.

SGP:371 – around 79 points.

Christian Drouin 'Hors d'Âge' (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 'Hors d'Âge' (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Three stars
This one should rather be around 18. Colour: full gold. Nose: in my view it is the main difference with say malt or cognac or rum, in these calvados the raw material, so apples and sometimes pears, is extremely dominant. Having said that this has a rather extraordinary development on salty and buttered walnut cake, with tiny touches of Jerez vinegar and mustard. You would almost believe this is an old vin jaune, here and there. Mouth: once again this is very dry, acrid, salty and peppery, with an oilier mouthfeel and the feeling of crunching leaves. The oak is rather assertive here. Finish: long and in two steps. First a little on honeyed apple compote, then on some kind of mustardy and lemony verjuice sauce. Comments: still a little tough, but some parts of the nose were already wonderful. Says this calvados non-expert…

SGP:471 - around 82 points.

Christian Drouin 'Mars Angels' (43%, OB, Experimental, eau-de-vie de cidre, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 'Mars Angels' (43%, OB, Experimental, eau-de-vie de cidre, +/-2021) Three stars
This is not legally calvados – and it wouldn't claim to calvadosness – since it was finished for 8 months in ex-Mars Komagate wood. It is globally 13. Now, Komagate shouldn't have shattered this baby's world… Colour: gold. Nose: back on apples and cider, with perhaps, indeed, more chalk and dough. Touches of fennel and pink grapefruits in the far distance. Mouth: same feeling of gritty and leafy dryness all over again, this time with a little chalk and bread dough yet again. A little grapefruit too. Finish: rather long, this time with some liquorice on top of the fennel and aniseed. Comments: I believe the H d'A had a nicer nose, but this palate was a little wider and more aromatic. Nice liquorice.
SGP:461 - around 82 points.

Christian Drouin 17 yo 'Hine Angels' (43%, OB, Experimental, eau-de-vie de cidre, 1296 bottles, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 17 yo 'Hine Angels' (43%, OB, Experimental, eau-de-vie de cidre, 1296 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars
You would have guessed this was finished in some ex-cognac Hine wood. Colour: full gold. Nose: hold on, this is another world. Acetone, varnish, tiny old apples, white peaches, glue, compost, hoisin sauce… I'm simply finding this awesome. Mouth: there, yes, of course. Very tight, with a lot of green liquorice, more glue, raw apple spirit (I'm thinking of Rochelt's Gravenstein, possibly soon on WF)… And old vin jaune this time again!  Finish: long, varnishy at first, then more on lemons and, well, glue. Stuff that sticks (we're amazed, S.). Comments: changing territory. Great tight and nervous drop.

SGP:472 - around 86 points.

Petit Chien Brun 14 yo (53.5%, Little Brown Dog Spirits, calvados du Pays d'Auge, Mars cask, +/-2021)

Petit Chien Brun 14 yo (53.5%, Little Brown Dog Spirits, calvados du Pays d'Auge, Mars cask, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Another experiment in an ex-Mars cask – unless that's rather deep-fried Mars bars, since this distinguished bottler's located in Aberdeen (friend no shoot!) Colour: gold. Nose: the higher voltage works, this goes a little more towards doughy, fermentary, even bready notes, in short more towards malt and as a consequence, it is less on cider. With water: it would sit right between the OB 'Mars' and the OB 'Hine'. Nice varnishy notes. Mouth (neat): good arrival, a little simple but that's part of the charms here, a little more on caraway-y notes. With water: touches of lime, that's lovely. Asparagus and lime. Finish: rather long. This time with touches of gin. Nice liquorice. Comments: fresh, very pleasing, a wee step above the ex-Mars OB in my book.

SGP:461 - around 84 points.

Calvados 10 yo 'Extra Old' (42%, 30&40, +/-2021)

Calvados 10 yo 'Extra Old' (42%, 30&40, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
A blend involving three houses and three terroirs, plus two modes of distilling (batch and column). Youngest drop 10, oldest 27. Price very fair (51€). Colour: full gold. Nose: back to tradition, walnuts, apple peel, light mustard, liquorice, a little wood smoke, tobacco, barbecue sauce (Tennessee style)… Mouth: a sweeter touch (it was about time) and some sweet beers and ciders. It gained roundness and easiness, which is probably better for whisky people (hey, watch your back S.!) Finish: medium, slightly honeyed. Honeyed apple pie. Comments: an easier one and a very good one. No quibbles. Oh by the way, was there some pears?
SGP:551 - around 84 points.

Christian Drouin 2017 'Hampden' (48%, Rumology.be, calvados du Pays d'Auge, #F50Bt3, 132 bottles)

Christian Drouin 2017 'Hampden' (48%, Rumology.be, calvados du Pays d'Auge, #F50Bt3, 132 bottles) Four stars and a half
Good one, a Hampden finish. Acetone to the ceiling and olives in the eyes. Or the other way 'round. Only the Belgians… Colour: gold. Nose: no! I mean, yes, gentian! Sometimes unlikely combinations just do wonders. Calva + Hampden = gentian, that's some equation. Mouth: the calva having the upper hand, but boy do we know Hamden is a fighter. Salty lemon and apple juice plus pinewood smoke and bitter almonds. Quite curiously, no olives. Finish: long, saltier, and guess what, with some small shrivelled black olives. Comments: spirit for a true meta-universe (not that marketing bullshit for lost brands desperate for 'innovation'!)

SGP: 563- around 88 points.

Garnier 18 yo (55.9%, Swell de Spirits, Calvados, Wonders of The World, 158 bottles, 2021)

Garnier 18 yo (55.9%, Swell de Spirits, Calvados, Wonders of The World, 158 bottles, 2021) Four stars
From a wet cellar. Colour: white wine. Nose: lighter on oak, closer to the distillate. We do detect a few rubbery tones, which are common in many a high-class eau-de-vie (we're not talking new Pirellis, right), then just a brutal, focussed, high-precision appleness. With water: even more fresh rubber. New rubber bands, artichokes, Cynar… Mouth (neat): varnish, rubber, glue, bitter almonds, cider vinegar, raw kirschwasser, fino… What's not to like? With water: a few sour tones now, cider vinegar, stuff from the sea (whelks), manzanilla, green walnuts… Finish: long, with a few burnt tones. Comments: not too sure this spirit is very orthodox. Possibly stuff for rustic grandpas… who'll leave up to 95 years.

SGP:562 - around 85 points.

Christian Drouin 2001 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 2001 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Four stars
This 'millésimé' was double-matured, ex-calvados + ex-sherry. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some fallen apples and indeed walnuts and bits of leather, plus some kind of mentholated mustard. It is not bombastically sherried, for sure. Very lovely sourness. Oh, and notes of tart amontillado. It seems that after all, the sherry amplified the calvados rather than distort/flavoured it. Mouth: big drop, very sour, bitter, almost acidic, on tons of bitter apples, the greenest walnuts, and this salty lime juice. Sends shivers down your spine, as they say. Finish: long and even more on green walnuts and salted lemons. Bitter almonds in the aftertaste. Comments: the 42% feel bigger than, well, 42%. The art of bitterness. Fantastic nose.

SGP:372 - around 85 points.

Christian Drouin 2000 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 2000 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
This time it is ex-calvados + ex-Tokaji, so sweet wine. Colour: full gold. Nose: the sweetness comes through, making this calvados feel fruitier and easier. Raisins and fresh mint, plus peach and apricot jams. Mouth: indeed this one would be sweeter and much more on raisins, while the peppery spices remain there in the background. Cinnamon mints. Finish: long and sweeter indeed. Raisin rolls and peppery cinnamon. Comments: a simpler style after the very tight 2001.
SGP:551 - around 83 points.

Let's jump to the past, if you please…

Christian Drouin 1990 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 1990 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Four stars
Ex-calvados + ex-cognac this time. This could be a winning combo. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some friends say that calvados needs more time than other aged spirits. I'm not sure they are totally wrong, since I'm finding this little thirty more complex than the others, with less of that gritty appleness, more honeys, more dried fruits, more quince (hurray) and more earth. Notes of cigar box arising, walnuts, fig chutney… All is well here and now. Mouth: the tightness of calvados remains, the peelings, the grass, the dry cider… But we're also finding an enhanced fruitiness, with dried goji berries and jujubes. Finish: long, grassy, peppery, with once again a fruitier signature. Comments: some people drink calvados with greasy food because the spirit would 'dissolve all fats'. We'll try that on Big Macs. Very good calvados.
SGP:561 - around 86 points.

Christian Drouin 1987 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 1987 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Four stars
Were Talking Heads still together in 1987? This baby's been finished in sherry for one year. Whether those things are really necessary, we don't know (not Talking Heads, finishings!) Colour: amber. Nose: there, there, there, beeswax, cider, cigars, manzanilla, walnuts, vin jaune, wasabi… All things we really like. Mouth: we're changing gear, there's some caramel, walnut cake, huge notes of amontillado, sweet mustard, salt and even miso, tobacco, pepper… Finish: long, perfectly dry, mainly on walnuts and marmalade. Comments: calvados really seems to take its time.

SGP:462 - around 87 points.

Christian Drouin 1980 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 1980 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
I don't think this one was finished in 'another wood'. Colour: deep amber. Nose: sauces and tobaccos. This verticale becomes fascinating. Umami, soy sauce, pipe tobacco and cigars, also tropical fruits starting to come out, mango chutney, a little new teak and eucalyptus woods, earthy touches (celeriac), some kind of mentholated mustard… Mouth: ah yes, certainly. Yuzu, oak, radish, tobacco, tar, crude chocolate, drop of old tequila, the usual old walnuts, some salt playing with your lips… Finish: long, salty, bouillony. Heavy cider in the aftertaste, some amontillado too, once again. Comments: incredible, the scores are totally vertical too, almost linear. Great calvados.
SGP:462 - around 88 points.

Maybe another 1980?

Calvados 40 yo 1980/2021 (45%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF004, 150 bottles)

Calvados 40 yo 1980/2021 (45%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF004, 150 bottles) Four stars
This baby was sourced from Drouin's too. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one's smoother yet, probably more 'meta', that is to say closer to other great old aged spirits (malt, brandies). It's not easy to deconstruct on the nose, having said that. Chalkier for sure, more on Meursault or any other high-class fatter chardonnay, with the usual walnuts, fino and vin jaune, and even raw wool. Mouth: ah yes. More on apples than the OB, a tad more rustic – in a good way. Apples and raisins, stewed, plus oranges and a touch of thyme. Finish: rather long, with a wee rubbery touch which, I believe, is common in calvados. Comments: very difficult to score, I'm really lacking references and, I would add, security. Just for the record…

SGP: 551- around 87 points.

Christian Drouin 1970 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 1970 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021) Five stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: the older age starts to feel, but this many teas could not not work. Wonderful green tea, chamomile, walnuts again and again, sour apples… I'm even finding a coastal side, perhaps oysters? Oysters with cider vinegar is a winning combination if you do not exaggerate. Just a drop. Mouth: fifty years, that's what you need to reach 90. Wonderful palate, complex, 'deconstructed-reconstructed' (sure old spirits are about philosophy)… Bah 1970 was a great vintage everywhere. Finish: rather long, still a tad tightish, but full and wonderful. Some varnish in the aftertaste, which I find lovable. Encaustic. Comments: love this one, it is my favourite this far.

SGP:562 – around 90 points.

Calvados 47 yo 1963/2011 (42%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF005, 60 bottles, 2021)

Calvados 47 yo 1963/2011 (42%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF005, 60 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
'Possibly some relabelled old stock'. Or 'a demi-john'. Colour: amber. Nose: we're now on butterscotch and old rhum agricole. Brioche, walnut cake again (and again), Jaffa cakes, tangerine marmalade, black nougat… This is superb, first time we're finding 'no apples'. Mouth: you'll always find a little rubber and notes of peel, otherwise this is excellent, grassy but also with some bacon and roasted chestnuts. Finish: medium, a little sour. A little maraschino, cider… Comments: very good, just a tad fragile here and there.

SGP:551 - around 88 points.

Adrien Camut 'Demi-Siècle' (40%, OB, The Auld Alliance and Colheitas, calvados du Pays d'Auge, magnum, +/-2020)

Adrien Camut 'Demi-Siècle' (40%, OB, The Auld Alliance and Colheitas, calvados du Pays d'Auge, magnum, +/-2020) Five stars
A crazy half-century magnum for our dear friends in Singapore. The house Camut carries an extremely high reputation. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: old fermenting fruits, old Cuban cigars, old white wines, earths, old books, suet and marrows, soups, quenelles, peppermint, chives, leeks… Boy is this glorious or is it glorious? Mouth: this time again you feel the countryside, the piles of apples, the farm, the grass, the tiny rubbery touches, the gritty peel, the roots and tougher vegetables (eggplants, Jerusalem artichokes)… Calvados is really a world apart, certainly not a ooh-ha-easy one. I've still got a lot of work to do. Finish: medium, very complex. Some mead and honey. Comments: I'm just not able to assess these drops as true experts would. I don't know what to add.

SGP:651 - around 90 points.

Christian Drouin 1962 (42%, OB, calvados, +/-2021)

Christian Drouin 1962 (42%, OB, calvados, +/-2021) Four stars
Not a pure Pays d'Auge, apparently. Colour: amber. Nose: hey, Macallan? Malt, cake, fudge, honeycomb, pencil lead, black nougat and butterscotch, even cornflakes, molasses and popcorn. Oh, and apple pie. Mouth: all gentleness at first, then teas and 'black' spices, with an oakiness that's about to take over. Black tea (we used to add 'Russian-style', but that's become an error of taste, has it not). Once again, notes of old amontillado. Finish: medium, salty, miso-y, a little buttery. Comments: a charming old drop that would remind us of the Beatles and the Stones. One for Keef!

SGP:551 - around 87 points.

And the signature…

Adrien Camut 'Le Siècle' (40%, OB, The Auld Alliance and Colheitas, calvados du Pays d'Auge, magnum, +/-2020)

Adrien Camut 'Le Siècle' (40%, OB, The Auld Alliance and Colheitas, calvados du Pays d'Auge, magnum, +/-2020) Five stars
This one is, indeed, one hundred years old. Meaning that this was distilled in the time of Erik Satie, Man Ray, Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp. To be sipped while watching René Clair's L'Entr'acte, perhaps. Colour: red amber. Nose: it is tough, because your mind just can't cope with the idea of tasting a spirit that was distilled more than one hundred years ago, when our parents weren't even born and while Herr Hitler hadn't risen to power yet. Not even sure WWI was over, as we have no vintage here. What's sure is that this is brilliant, extremely 'mingled', with some marvellous tomato sauce, old sweet wines (poor Crimea!), assorted old waxes including beeswax, and various secret essences from the old days that were simply never listed. It just humbles you.

Mouth: still a fighter! Cedar and pine woods, rosehip tea, chocolate, black Assam, rooibos, touches of sour cherries (or old Chambertin, as you like), drop of soy sauce, gravy, umami… We've got time in our glass, really. Tertiary, marginally uncertain and pretty Dadaistic time. Finish: I mean, I doubt the distillers would have hoped some kinds of sub-human consumerists from the 21st century would sip what they were making. Comments: this is like stealing some Egyptian artefacts from the British Museum. I mean, you're not too sure you earned the right to put some drops of this wonder between your lips. Exceptional, moving Dadaistic drop.
SGP:462 - around 92 points.

Composer Erik Satie, born in Honfleur, Calvados in 1866 ->

So, a brilliant session, I've tasted more calvados today than I had before, in my entire life. Sure some of them were a tad boring, but surely not as boring as yet another spam email by BMW. Gut feeling: more than any other kind of aged spirit, apple brandy, even when finished/flavoured, needs a lot of time. And the older, the better, which I find, personally, rather reassuring and pretty refreshing. Au revoir!


April 15, 2022


Tasting Ardbeg NAS NFT, WTF, LOL

Another NFT whisky. Nutshell, you lose your money now, on April 19 (minimum £2,363 a bottle, LOL) and you get a certificate, while they will ship all bottles to Singapore, from where you'll be allowed to redeem your stuff from Dec. 1., unless you've already flipped your miserable certificate, as new Ferrari owners used to do with their purchase orders in the 1980s. If you live in Singapore, that would be okay, if you live in Europe, I doubt this polluted little planet will ever thank you enough. So, let's taste the NFT…


Ardbeg 'Fon Fhoid NFT' (45.5%, OB and BlockBar, 2022, 456 certificates)

Ardbeg 'Fon Fhoid NFT' (45.5%, OB, 2022, 456 certificates)
So a clownish idea that no one really needed and that a handful of other slightly slutty brands (such as usual suspects D*** or M***, rather unsurprisingly) have already tried to implement, apparently. What's more, this NFT is NAS (naturally) while behind it, there is a whisky 'that spent nearly  3 years in a peat bog' like a dead corpse, which sounds even more WTF, really. Colour: ? Nose: ? Mouth: ? Finish: ? Aftertaste: kerosen, engine oil, CO2, fine particular matters and dead endangered species. Comments: a little tragic but fortunately and as far as we can tell, neither absurdity nor ridicule ever killed anybody in whisky. Yet.

SGP:??? - 00 points.

Not sure that one's really non-fungible. We can't wait to try Macallan and Dalmore's own NFTs.

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

April 2022 - part 1 <--- April 2022 - part 2 ---> May 2022 - part 1



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Domaine de Baraillon 21 yo 1999/2021 (48%, GrapeDiggaz, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, Bas-armagnac, 100% folle blanche, cask #22, 142 bottles)

Domaine Pouy 1998 (56%, L'Encantada, Ténarèze, cask #78, 605 bottles, +/-2021)

Adrien Camut 'Demi-Siècle' (40%, OB, The Auld Alliance and Colheitas, calvados du Pays d'Auge, magnum, +/-2020)

Adrien Camut 'Le Siècle' (40%, OB, The Auld Alliance and Colheitas, calvados du Pays d'Auge, magnum, +/-2020)

Christian Drouin 1970 (42%, OB, calvados du Pays d'Auge, +/-2021)