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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2023 - Part 1

March 2023 - part 2 <--- April 2023 - part 1 ---> April 2023 - part 2


April 14, 2023


A wild bunch of American whiskies,
part tres

Because we found more of them.

(Magazine ad for the blend Four Roses Premium American Light Whiskey, circa 1972. We'll rather have some of their straight bourbon within this session, if you don't mind!)



Old Grand-Dad '100 Proof Bonded' (50%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, +/-2022)

Old Grand-Dad '100 Proof Bonded' (50%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Remember, 'bonded' should mean 100° proof US, a single distillery, a single season and a minimum of four years of aging. I've never tried this one, as a matter of fact I've only ever tried one 'regular' Old Grand-Dad, bottled at 43% vol. circa 1975. In short, I'm very late. This belongs to Jim Beam and is supposed to be made at Clermont. Got to love the bourbon bloggers. Colour: full gold. Nose: quite some rye, some burnt caramel, violets, toasted oak, a little lavender and even touches of aniseed. Like it at full capacity (the whiskey's right!) With water: vanilla fudge, crème au beurre, whiffs of fresh-sawn hardwood, cherrywood… Mouth (neat): good, punchy, full of sweet oak, varnish, caramel, and with really a lot of liquorice. A slightly sticky style. With water: honeyed spices, clove, allspice, bitterer curries, always quite some varnish. Finish: rather long, very much oak-driven, with a pack of cinnamon mints in the aftertaste. Some good marmalade. Comments: I think I liked the bonded Rebel Yell just a notch better.

SGP:650 - 79 points.

Since we found that Jack Daniel's 'Triple Mash' so good the other day, let's have more Jack…

Jack Daniel's 'Apple' (35%, OB, USA, Apple Liqueur, +/-2022)

Jack Daniel's 'Tennessee Apple' (35%, OB, USA, Apple Liqueur, +/-2022)
Whooops, this is not whisky, it is, apparently, a blend of Jack Daniel's classic old #7 with some apple liqueur indeed. Oh well, they say what's done is done. Colour: gold. Nose: it reeks of apple liqueur indeed, nail polish remover, jelly babies, pear drops, amyl diacetate and so on. Very extreme in that respect and feeling pretty 'made in the lab'. Mouth: ultra-sweet, all on bubblegum, Juicy fruit, saccharin and, indeed, that ultra-sweet apple liqueur they sell in Spain for +/-5€ a bottle. Finish: rather long and extremely sweet, pretty cloying. Comments: it's not too bad, and we really love apples, but boy is it sickly sweet! Not a bad liqueur, on the contrary, but I couldn't drink it without two or three tonnes of ice. Take my score with a grain of sugar. I mean, of salt.

SGP:920 - 65 points.

(And he does insist!)

Jack Daniel's 'Tennessee Fire' (35%, OB, USA, Cinnamon Liqueur, +/-2022)

Jack Daniel's 'Tennessee Fire' (35%, OB, USA, Cinnamon Liqueur, +/-2022)
Well, if this is anywhere close to that horrendous 'Fireball' (WF 25), we're virtually dead. Isn't it strange that some huge, successful companies would molest and even disrespect some of their top brands like this? Colour: gold. Nose: Christmas candles, cinnamon pie, that pack of cinnamon mints, cinnamon chewing gum… It really is a one-descriptor show. Mouth: starts soapy, gets then extremely sweel and, indeed, ridden with lab cinnamon. But it is much, much less spicy than that deadly Fireball. Finish: rather long, sugary, getting spicier now. Trident Cinnamon chewing-gum. Sadly, the aftertaste is pretty eternal, as often with cinnamon. Comments: perhaps a spoonful in some herbal tea? No proper jack that I can detect. Score is anecdotal once more, the only thing I'm sure about is that this is way, way better than Fireball. Not much of an achievement, really.

SGP:824 – 65 points.

Let's have a cup of coffee (resets your palate)… Good. Glasses need to be rinsed using kerosene and nitric acid.

Sazerac 'Straight Rye' (45%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, +/-2022)

Sazerac 'Straight Rye' (45%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, +/-2022) Four stars
From Buffalo Trace in Kentucky, bottled at 6 years of age. We last tried this famous one around ten years ago and found it rather 'very-good-not-totally-great'. Colour: gold. Nose: feels a little sweet – nothing to do with the Jacks – and pretty oaky at first. Then vanilla, sawdust, rye bread, fresh-sawn hardwood, plus something both meaty and tarry, could this be beef jerky? It's rather deep if you give it a little time, I would suppose that's the rye. Mouth: oaky and spicy upfront, very grassy, austere, with a lot of husk, wheat bran, liquorice, and touches of bitter old walnuts. You could think of a salty old fino but old finos do not, and should not display any oakiness. Finish: rather long, very dry. More bran, husk, even a little mustard. Comments: a rather austere style, I'm surprised they don't make it sweeter while everyone's getting a sweeter tooth all around the world. Is it a matter of… ethos?

SGP:462 - 85 points.

Templeton Rye 'Maple Cask Finish' (46%, OB, USA, +/-2022)

Templeton Rye 'Maple Cask Finish' (46%, OB, USA, +/-2022) Three stars
Mind you, this was not finished in maple wood, rather in maple syrup. It says maple cask, not maple wood! Now why anyone would do this, I don't know. Do they make maple syrup in Iowa? Is it a local thing? I'm just glad the new wave of 'tequila finishes' everyone was talking about two years ago didn't quite happen yet. Colour: gold. Nose: it's about rye bread, lavender, grist, breads, tomato leaves, then ginger and cinnamon, sawdust… And there's little maple syrup that I can detect. A dry nose, which we enjoy. Now again, the devil would tend to hide on the palate… Mouth: I do find some sweetness but I couldn't say it's maple syrup. A lot of gingerbread, nutmeg and cinnamon (mints, rolls), pepper… But that was the arrival, the flavouring with syrup starts to feel from mid-palate. Nothing too off-putting though and above all, nothing too sweet. Finish: long, spicy, a little too oaky for me now. Comments: is this still MGP rye or is it their own juice already? No ideas…

SGP:561 - 82 points.

That's what's always surprising with American distilleries, you can bottle other parties' juices under the name of your own distillery. So you can have a small unconnected column full of cobwebs and occupied by a family of field-mouses sitting in a corner, and presto! Not even sure you need a still to be a distillery… Imagine you could buy 'Convalmore', or 'Coleburn', or 'Brora' (oops, too late) and just buy some juice elsewhere… But let's go on, if you please…

FEW 'Bourbon' (50.5%, OB, USA, for LMDW Antipodes, single barrel special selection, cask #14.914, 2022)

FEW 'Bourbon' (50.5%, OB, USA, for LMDW Antipodes, single barrel special selection, cask #14.914, 2022) Four stars
This is 70% maize, 20% rye and 10% malted barley. Colour: deep gold. Nose: salted butter toffee, plus salted butter toffee, plus salted butter toffee. I'm sure you get the picture. A little dark chocolate and just coffee beans then, oak leaves, black tea, and even a feeling of tar and brake pad. Some pinewood too, charcoal, black cigars (maduro, right?)… Or even those Toscani they keep rolling in Italy. With water: the rye woke up. Rye bread and artichokes. Mouth (neat): much fruitier, thicker, spicier, concentrated, with some heavy oak spices leading to a full-blown coffee-y palate. Tar and speculoos. With water: almost civilised now, but this is proof that in a few cases, heavy oak can work. Sorcery and menthol. Finish: very long, drying, tarry, with clove and rye bread. Some bitter, peppery olive oil in the aftertaste, plus fig wine in the very end. Love that. Comments: how old is this concoction? You cannot not think of walnut stain at some point, but I am partial to all these flavours from Illinois.

SGP:472 - 87 points.

Let's roll this out, we won't do any other American session before long… Say not before summer.

Smooth Ambler 6 yo 2016/2022 (61.45%, Distillerie Générale, cask #2956)

Smooth Ambler 6 yo 2016/2022 (61.45%, La Distillerie Générale, cask #2956) Four stars
This is Pernod Ricard's own line of 'indie' bottlings, which would suggest that West Virginia's Smooth Ambler belongs to them. This is 71% maize, 21% rye and 8% malted barley. I don't think they're making everything they produce themselves though, so not 100% sure this is their own juice, could be. America!… Colour: deep gold. Nose: absolutely lovely, with tonnes of butterscotch and litres of cellulosic varnish. Not much else this far, perhaps caramelised popcorn, but that's probably the very high strength. With water: menthol, miso, umami, Scotch tape, coal tar. Mouth (neat): very creamy, rich, powerful, with once again a lot of butterscotch, as well as a few 'fizzy' fruits. Green gooseberries, for example. A lot of dark chocolate too. But it burns, so… With water: gets even thicker, with some resinous and even rubbery spices and fruits. Much, much nicer than it sounds, but it remains a little hard after the FEW. Finish: long and very chocolaty. Comments: I had already tried some very good 'Old Scouts' by Smooth Amber, so no surprises here, it is, well, very good.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Rabbit Hole 'Heigold' (47.5%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2022)

Rabbit Hole 'Heigold' (47.5%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2022) Four stars
This is 'high rye' by Rabbit Hole Distillery. Lovely, as we're actually tasting this one day before Easter. 70% maize, 25% MALTED rye, 5% malted barley. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a fresher, more floral, fruitier bourbon after all the oak bombs we just tried. Some metallic touches (copper, as always, also silverware) plus a little musk, tangerines and guavas. I find it surprisingly un-bourbon, and even a little malty. Is that the malted rye? Mouth: very good, lively, fruity, indeed a little malty, with more tangerines and guavas, citrons, cedarwood, Szechuan pepper, quince jelly, pencil shavings… Finish: medium, not exactly complex but really refreshing and relaxing. Some sweet cinnamon cake and blood oranges, ras-el-hanout, stewed apricots... Comments: very different and just charming. A matter of enzymes? It cannot be refill wood, can it.

SGP:651 - 85 points.

To the wild west…

Westland (46%, OB, USA, single malt, +/-2023)

Westland (46%, OB, USA, single malt, +/-2023) Four stars and a half
This is the current flagship bottling by this other 'French' distillery, bought by Rémy three or four years ago. That's what's happened with quite a few new fiercely independent craft distillers: they sold. I suppose you can't blame them. Colour: gold. Nose: so vastly superior to the 'Colere' that we tried the other day! Incredible mango cakes and muffins, Jaffa cakes, sultanas, lemongrass, pine resin, roussanne and petit manseng grapes, some salsify gratin, parsnips… It is simply an amazing nose. It's not impossible that like at many other distilleries, their flagship bottle would be their best. Mouth: amen. Amazing chocolate filled with lemon marmalade, nutmeg, white pepper, tapioca, amaretti, bitter oranges, marzipan… Finish: long, perfect, chiselled, with a perfect oak. Oranges, peppers and butterscotch. Comments: I think they have it fully right, if I may, even if the oak remains a little loud and perhaps not fully adapted to my Middle-European palate, especially as globalisation seems to be over… After all, they write that it was 'thoughtfully made'.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Perhaps a monster crossbreed…

Indiana Straight Rye 2017 (56.4%, Swell de Spirits, Islay cask finish, 371 bottles)

Indiana Straight Rye 2017 (56.4%, Swell de Spirits, Islay cask finish, 371 bottles) Three stars and a half
Some in-cask world blend, just what that world needed. Seriously, this doctored little MGP could be good, if not very orthodox. Colour: full gold. Nose: smoked mangos, not much to add. With water: maracuja water, hay, rhubarb, cigarette smoke… Mouth (neat): very loco. Huge caraway, lapsang souchong, sour cream and lemon-flavoured yogurt, It is almost as if that little Islay literally digested the American rye, although the latter would then fight back, with many oak spices. Scottish smoke plus American mangos and cinnamon, what a funny transatlantic ménage-à-trois. Finish: long and weird. Rubber boots, peppermint and mango juice. Comments: very unnatural, sometimes even stridently dissonant, but good fun for sure. But I'm not sure there's a tanker-sized market…  
SGP:654 - 83 points.

Good, a last one, and perhaps do what we sometimes like to do with Scotch whisky or cognac, have a very old bottle as the digestif…

Four Roses (Paul Jones Co., USA, straight bourbon, 1 quart, driven cork, +/-1920)

Four Roses (Paul Jones Co., USA, straight bourbon, 1 quart, driven cork, +/-1919) Four stars
Sadly, I have very little experience with old bottles of bourbon, but here goes...
This is a very rare pre-prohibition bottle of Four Roses made by Paul Jones Co., with no label and some data engraved in the glass, such as the mention 'New protective bottle adopted July 1914'. The Four Roses distillery a.k.a. former Old Prentice Distillery, in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, was rebuilt in 1910 and it seems that they kept making Four Roses bourbon during prohibition at the Frankfort Distilling Company, bought in 1922, as the latter was granted a distilling license for 'medical purpose'. Four Roses was bought by Seagram's only in 1943.

Four Roses / Old Prentice Distillery (source Four Roses Bourbon)

Colour: straw. Nose: it is pretty light, rather delicate, with a little banana wine, some putty, beeswax, old papers, plantain, notes of very old Champagne, some root vegetables perhaps, preserved bamboo shoots, a little white chocolate, a touch of wood smoke… What's sure is that this baby's totally alive and even kicking. It was some 'good glass' that they were using back then. Mouth: a little flat which is normal, but with a lot to tell us, a little meatiness, cereals, cardboard, papers, bananas, a little caramel, corn syrup, old mead…  I cannot find any 'taste of glass', nor any 'taste of light' for that matter. Finish: not that short, it's even gaining body, there's just a little plain sugar on top of some lovely honey. The aftertaste is just a little cardboardy, which was to be expected. There's also a little marrow and a little smoke. Comments: scoring this incredible old bourbon doesn't make much sense, I even feel a little shame. But as they say, that's what we do.
SGP:341 – 85 points.  

(Thank you Joe!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of American whiskies we've tasted so far


April 13, 2023


A wild bunch of American whiskies, part dos

Remember the Jack Daniel's 'Triple Mash' easily won it yesterday, while I wouldn't have bet a kopeck (or any miniature of Macallan) on that! Let's see what we have today…




Heaven Hill (40%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2022)

Heaven Hill (40%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2022) Two stars
I've never, ever tried this modest NAS version of Heaven Hill. With Scotch malts, the cheapest within a brand's range are seldom the worst, on the contrary (see Ardbeg, Springbank…) but is that true with bourbon too?  Colour: gold. Nose: fully on custard and pancake, with a little sawdust, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon in the background. Nothing to get excited about this far, I would say. Mouth: sweet, okay, with some oak, some custard and some syrups. A touch of lavender/rye. Finish: short and a little oaky indeed. Nicer liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: a little 'yawn' but it's probably very okay in cocktails. The bottle is lovely, though, but as they say in westerns, its more hill than heaven (do they say that in westerns indeed, S.?)
SGP:630 - 75 points.

Speaking of Heaven Hill…

Rebel Yell '100 Proof' (50%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2022)

Rebel Yell '100 Proof' (50%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2022) Three stars
My life with Rebel Yell has always been complicated, but then again, I haven't tried dozens of them. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one's more floral, with a touch of lavender, then honeysuckle. There's an earthy touch too, a little honey, liquorice, nougat, caramel, fudge… It is actually very soft, despite the higher strength. With water: custard, popcorn, breakfast tea… Mouth (neat): starts nicely spicy but the oak is soon to take over. Too spicy and drying for me, this is almost plank juice to me, sticks your tongue to your palate so to speak, now water may help… With water: that rather worked. Nice oranges, marmalade, liquorice, lavender sweet brittle, cinnamon… But it remains a little astringent. Finish: medium. Some caramel, more violets, lavender and sweet peppers, more oak again in the aftertaste. Comments: a good one for sure, but malt drinkers may consider that it's 80% about oak, which is way too much (depending on the school you belong to). Pretty schismatic!
SGP:651 - 80 points.

Let's talk…

Koval 'Rye' (50%, OB, USA, single barrel, for Kirsch Import, cask #5628, 2022)

Koval 'Rye' (50%, OB, USA, single barrel, for Kirsch Import, cask #5628, 2022) Four stars and a half
Do you remember Koval's Millet? We do! Colour: deep gold. Nose: but yes. Bicycle inner tube, thyme tea, sauna oils, fumes, orange jam (not marmalade), rye bread, earth, caraway and nutmeg, aquavit… With water: peppermint, caraway, gentian and new rubber. Hurray! Mouth (neat): sublimely floral, fruity and spicy, thick, syrupy, with notes of mizunara (I swear, your honour) and pine liqueur, plus something like pumpernickel liqueur. Which, obviously, couldn't exist. Un-boring American whiskey. With water: no changes, except that the cards got reshuffled, with the piney flavours now on top. Finish: long, on some kind of spicy, peppery and mentholy marmalade, with once again a piney signature. Comments: we have a new leader!

SGP:661 - 88 points.

This one would make sense in this context…

FEW 'Rye' (50.5%, OB, USA, for LMDW Antipodes, single barrel special selection, cask #17.2723, 2022)

FEW 'Rye' (50.5%, OB, USA, for LMDW Antipodes, single barrel special selection, cask #17.2723, 2022) Four stars and a half
101° proof US, that's awesome. And whiskey from Illinois, that's awesome too. This baby harbours 70% rye, 20% maize and 10% malted barley. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's a tie (not so fast, S.!) This FEW just noses rather sweeter, more on triple-sec, Grand-Marnier (Cuvée du Centenaire, of course), and consequently, less on oak spices and pinewood. I love it just as much. With water: eucalyptus wood. A walk in an eucalyptus forest in the end of August, say in Corsica. Mouth (neat): big thick boy, full of liquorice, small oranges, oak oils and genepy, verbena and wormwood. We need to bow, this oozes of wood technology fully mastered (If I humbly may). Some mentholated heavy honey, manuka, thyme, heather… With water: same, no changes. Finish: pretty long, and no changes either. We're using French water, so I suppose it went on strike. Comments: I should have mentioned moist gingerbread. Anyway, another glorious FEW and more proof that rye rocks – and yes, we know it is the cross and the banner to distil rye, even if this is not pure rye.

SGP:661 - 88 points.

Kentucky Bourbon 3 yo 2018/2021 (53.2%, Les Grands Alambics, USA, Birds Series, 162 bottles)

Kentucky Bourbon 3 yo 2018/2021 (53.2%, Les Grands Alambics, USA, Birds Series, 162 bottles) Four stars
If our friends selected such a young bourbon, they must have had their reasons. Colour: gold. Nose: dominant oranges, Jaffa cakes, orange blossom, fresh panettone, rather lavender honey (which isn't that spicy) and some raisined sweet white wine such as vin de paille (straw wine). I find it very interesting that a very young bourbon would take us to the wine world. With water: chalk! Chalk in bourbon, all right then. Mouth (neat): high rye proportion, I would suppose. Spicy cakes, loads of cinnamon, bitter oranges, marmalade, something flinty, rather a lot of pepper… With water: no changes. You could add a litre of our official Vittel – where's the cheque by the way, Nestlé? – it wouldn't move a millimetre. Finish: rather long, closer to the grains, with touches of varnish and some capsicum. That's the wood. Comments: most probably a little young, which feels towards the peppery finish and aftertaste. The rest is impeccable, to well-born souls, value does not wait for the number of years, says the adage.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

I'm sure we should have tried the next one a few years ago already but WF moves in mysterious ways. Right, right…

Fine Tennessee Whiskey 15 yo 2003/2018 (49.6%, Whisky-Fässle, USA)

Fine Tennessee Whiskey 15 yo 2003/2018 (49.6%, Whisky-Fässle, USA) Four stars
This should be Dickel. These ducks are so funny! Colour: full gold. Nose: zillion tons of custard, some mango purée, some polenta, and some yellow flowers, such as the usual dandelions and buttercups. It is not particularly complex, but as they say, what it does well it does brilliantly. Mouth: the nose was very okay but this extremely coconutty palate is in a different league. I'm not coconut's best friend but this time I'll bow. Some incredible coconut wine, with just some cracked pepper and a little orange liqueur in the corners. Do they grow coconut trees in Tennessee? Finish: a little 'too much' now, perhaps. Comments: great, you could make a perfect piña colada with one, you wouldn't even need any rum or any coconut milk, all you'd need would be pineapple juice. Good fun with this secret George Dickel from the tropics!
SGP:640 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of American whiskies we've tasted so far


April 12, 2023


A wild bunch of American whiskies, part un

Bourbons, malts, other fine whiskeys… I've always wanted to do more American whiskey here at WF Towers, but for some reasons, that never really materialised. Maybe because there were only a few brands until, say five years ago, and very few single casks or actual small batches.

(US magazine ad, 1967. 'They say the French have always been arbiters of good taste and elegance. And it's true. So it's natural that sophisticated Frenchmen are discovering Bourbon...')

Grand Dad



Mellow Corn (50%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Corn Whiskey, +/-2022)

Mellow Corn (50%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Corn Whiskey, +/-2022) Two stars
This baby's said to be 4 years old, matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels, and made out of 80% maize/corn. It is widely available in France, but I've never tried it, whether formally or not. Colour: white wine. Nose: noses sweet, rather on sweet apples, barley and corn syrups, with touches of vanilla and a little 'green oak'. It's a very simple profile but it's pleasant, even if it was probably never meant to be a noser. With water:  more coconut. We were expecting this. Mouth (neat): extremely sweet, fully on saccharin and, indeed, sweet corn. I find it a little difficult and fairly cloying because of this ueber-sweetness. What's more, the body's rather thin. With water: still very sugary, with a little more coconut once more. Coconut liqueur aged in fresh oak. Finish: shortish, very sweet. Comments: I'm sure there are aficionados. It's fair for sure, but I suppose it's s tyle you have to be accustomed to in order to really enjoy it. Mellow indeed.

SGP:730 - 70 points.

From Mellow to Yellow (cheers Donovan!)… Shall we find saffron?

Yellow Rose Rye (45%, OB, USA, Texas rye, +/-2022)

Yellow Rose Rye (45%, OB, USA, Texas rye, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
This is 95% rye and selected and bottled in Texas by the 'oldest legal distillery in Houston'. Well they don't pretend it was 'distilled' in Texas, it was probably sourced in Indiana. Colour: light gold. Nose: finely bready, with touches of banana and muscovado. Sweet wholegrain bread with a lot of rye inside. No complains whatsoever, this is some very popular juice, whichever the livery it's coming within. And there, why not, there is a little saffron bread indeed. Perhaps. Mouth: very sweet once more, although less sweet than that 'Mellow Corn'. I find it much less spicy than European ryes (German, Dutch, Swiss etc.) and much, much gentler. Some maple syrup, peach syrup, a tiny touch of Szechuan pepper, a little coconut, vanilla, a drip of Diplomatico (why not, it's the best rum in the world according to ChatGPT)… The strength is perfect. Finish: medium and very sweet. Sugarcane syrup with more pineapple-y Szechuan or Timut pepper. More oak and black pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: sourced but very good, in my opinion. Flawless juice.
SGP:740 - 84 points. .  

Jack Daniel's 'Triple Mash' (50%, OB, USA, blended straight whiskey, +/-2022)

Jack Daniel's 'Triple Mash' (50%, OB, USA, blended straight whiskey, +/-2022) Four stars
I don't think they can do triple-casks, so they do triple-mash. It is actually a blend of bonded American malt, rye and Tennessee whiskey. Not too sure they 'charcoal-mellowed' it. Colour: pale gold. Nose: possibly my favourite Jack on the nose. There are splendid notes of warm pastries and breads early in the morning, some praline, brioche, dried figs, a little nougat, some gentle spices, cinnamon (and cinnamon rolls), some walnut cake, plus a remarkable soft earthiness and some Basler Läckerli. Läckerli in Jack!... With water: tiny whiffs of tar, rubber and fresh-sawn oak. Mouth (neat): awesome indeed, with a zesty, lemony spiciness and some stronger honeys. I'm even finding passion fruit. With water: impeccable, with rather the rye at the forefront. Finish: long, a tad drying perhaps, with a lot of cinnamon and some peppery hotness in the aftertaste. Comments: this one's at least 4 years old. I find it excellent, in case you hadn't noticed.
SGP:641 - 86 points.

Winchester (45%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2022)

Winchester (45%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Humpf, this is 'extra-smooth', you understand. And no, it's not overpackaged, at all.  Colour: straw. Nose: light, not unpleasant, with apple juice, caraway, coconut and rye bread. Not unpleasant at all. Mouth: feels young. Very sweet, liqueury, with some pancake sauce and apple liqueur (green manzana liqueur), plus quite some rye bread and sawdust. Once again, it is not unpleasant. Finish: short and spicier, on cinnamon. The aftertaste is more difficult, rather full of sawdust and syrupy oak. Marmalade. Comments: I'm not sure I'll remember this young one forever,  but I was expecting much worse, honestly.
SGP:630 - 78 points.

Cedar Ridge Slipknot No.9 (45%, USA, Iowa whiskey, +/-2022) Two stars
This one from Cedar Ridge small farm distillery. They have Cedar Ridge Iowa bourbon in large French supermarkets, so I suppose it's not that 'small farm'. As for the band Slipknot, I have never, and shall never hear anything by them. It's chamber music, right? Colour: gold. Nose: extremely soft, corn-driven, with some nougat, popcorn, sugarcane juice and marshmallows. Chamber whiskey indeed. Mouth: fine, in a similar league as that of the Winchester, just even oakier. Gets then pretty peppery and frankly rustic, even if the juice remains fine, sweet, on maple and barley syrup. Finish: medium, sugary and oaky. Pineapple liqueur in the aftertaste – no thanks. Comments: okay.

SGP:631 - 74 points.

Six is enough, but we'll be back with many more. So a last one today…

Westland 'Colere 2nd Edition' (50%, OB, USA, Outpost Range, 3,000 bottles, +/-2022)

Westland 'Colere 2nd Edition' (50%, OB, USA, Outpost Range, 3,000 bottles, +/-2022) Three stars
Naturally, this is single malt, made from a winter barley called 'Talisman'. Colère means 'anger' in French, but maybe that's Latin and in that case it would be 'cultivate'. Which would make better sense, I agree, the owners being French, they would know. … Colour: straw. Nose: fully on dough, bread, porridge, grist and some tarry rubber. With water: more custard, some sourdough bread. Mouth (neat): sweet breads, banana, sawdust, curry, caraway… With water: pancake, porridge, barley syrup. Finish: medium, sweet, some fresh oak in the aftertaste. Comments: not quite one of those superlative full-bodied and close-to-nature Westlands in my opinion, but of course, this one's still way above floating line.

SGP:551 - 82 points.

So, more tomorrow.

More tasting notesCheck the index of American whiskies we've tasted so far


April 11, 2023


Eleven Irish for St Pat

St Pat? Indeed this is a kind of nightmare session that we couldn't finish on time. So, we're extremely late indeed but on the other hand, we really don't care about any kinds of commercial days… Still, Erin go Bragh!




Power's 'Gold Label' (43.2%, OB, Irish, +/-2022)

Power's 'Gold Label' (43.2%, OB, Irish, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Some blended Irish from Midleton, said to shelter a high proportion of pure pot still whiskey. Also said to be 7 years old, while what's sure is that they've raised the strength from 40 to 43.2% vol. around ten years ago, which sounded like smarter premiumisation. Got to love those nifty decimals BTW! The packaging has been completely transformed now – it's lost its crest-like label. But enough banter… Colour: light gold. Nose: fresh butter, copper coins, melons, a little raw alcohol (or COVID hand sanitiser, do you remember?) then some not-too-ripe banana and a touch of liquorice. Very Irish, not too sanitised either, not too grainy for sure. Mouth: the arrival has this liqueury and sightly alcoholic side, some sweet mashes (red kuri squash, mashed sweet potatoes) and gets then a little oaky and cardboardy, but without excess. Rather good body. Finish: the oak really feels now. Oversteeped rooibos tea and a cardboardy tannicity. Comments: this is not unseen with good blends, noses and arrivals are surprisingly nice, but it would then go a little pear-shaped. I think I liked it a little better last time (WF 81), but that was ten years ago. I'll kill anyone who would add 'how time flies'.
SGP: 440 - 79 points.

Tullamore Dew 13 yo 'Rouge' (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022)

Tullamore Dew 13 yo 'Rouge' (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022) Three stars
All right, the reds are invading Ireland now. Indeed, this was finished in Pomerol and even the label reminds us of some châteaux, between Clinet, Lafleur, Evangile… But the landscape rather reminds us of Tuscany.  Great that it's 13, now the 40% vol. are a little scary, let's see. Colour: straw. No pink hues whatsoever. Nose: no proper Pomerol that I could detect, I've tried an excellent young Rouget just three days ago, I still have the profile in my head. Now it is shock-full of jellybeans and marshmallows, indeed perhaps rather the red, pink and purple ones. It is extremely fruity and does nose a little younger than 13. Highly consensual nose, unless you hate fruit but who does? Mouth: a little soft and weakish because of the low strength, even those good old Pomerol barriques (probably rather knackered) couldn't do much. Nut the fruitiness remains pretty perfect, with bags of marshmallows and liquorice allsorts. Red praline, grenadine... Finish: very short, but clean. Comments: you don't quite know what's from the malt and what comes from the Pomerol, I suppose both thresholds kind of overlap, so to speak. A higher voltage would be welcome.
SGP:740 – 81 points.

Bushmills 10 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022)

Bushmills 10 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Aged in bourbon and sherry and coming with a new livery. I find it a little surprising that they wouldn't have added a few extra-% while they were at it, to add a wee 'premium' effect. You can't quite be premium at 40% vol., unless your whisky is 50 years old. It's like a, say a Rolex Quartz. Colour: light gold. Nose: extremely Bushmills, that is to say ridden with ripe bananas and mangos. Some custard, acacia honey, and just a tiny whiff of wood smoke. And voilà. Mouth: the signature bananas are there but the spirit doesn't totally stand the oak and once again, we've got a feeling of oversteeped tea. I believe it is not possible anymore to bottle whisky at 40% vol. when it's pretty modern and more wood-driven. Wood technology has to come with higher strengths, in my most humble, personal opinion. Finish: short, as expected. Comments: rather a missed opportunity, only because of those stingy degrees. You do feel that 'the juice behind' is pretty lovely and indeed, 'Bushmills malt'.

SGP:650 - 79 points.

Bushmills 16 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Port finish, +/-2022)

Bushmills 16 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Port finish, +/-2022) Three stars
A lovely triple-distilled, rather old malt whiskey finished in Port pipes and bottled at 40% vol. once more. As FZ used to sing, the torture (may) never stops… Colour: gold. Nose: Bushmills malt + Port works on the nose, we've seen that before. Some rosehip tea, peonies, morello cherries, jasmine, wisteria (big time), old copper, prickly pears…  Now let's get ready and put on our parachute correctly… Mouth: a rather superb attack, round but also all on flowers and red jams, which is cool, zwetschke tarte, fig jam (I'd kill for fig jam)… Even the middle is pretty okay, jammy, with some cherry jam… And then woosh, it goes into a spin, thank God we were having our parachute on. What a pity, there was a little menthol in the background. Finish: not much, as expected. More stewed zwetschke/damsons, perhaps. Comments: formidable whisky, just rather impaired. Some are getting away with murder.

SGP: 650- 82 points.

A last try…

Bushmills 21 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Madeira finish, +/-2022)

Bushmills 21 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, Madeira finish, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
These quasi-suicidal 40% vol. once more, at 21 years of age. What's the message? Why did they decide not to up their game while they were redesigning the bottles? Colour: gold. Nose: of course it's nice, this fruity whiskey takes Madeira pretty well, as we've been knowing for a few decades already. Some sweet mustard, preserved greengages, teas, cinnamon, walnuts… In short all is well; this far. Mouth: fantastic arrival, full of tropical fruits, ripe bananas, ripe mangos, manuka honey, old Sauternes (or old sweet Madeira I would suppose), golden raisins… Well, actually it doesn't exactly nose-dive after that, but it does slow down a lot. Finish: short, a notch drying, with some cinnamon. We're okay thought. Comments: the low voltage is even more frustrating, because the juice was just first-class. We'll start petitioning for versions at 46-50% vol. right tomorrow, first thing in the morning.

SGP:651 - 83 points.

Wait, I've got an idea…

Great Northern Irish Whiskey 5 yo 'Just Dram It' (58.2%, Whisky AGE for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, first fill bourbon barrel, batch #1, 2022)

Great Northern Irish Whiskey 5 yo 'Just Dram It' (58.2%, Whisky AGE for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, first fill bourbon barrel, batch #1, 2022) Four stars
I would suppose that great northern distillery would be Bushmills, what would you say? Colour: white wine. Nose: it's shock-full of butterscotch, new-sawn plywood, double-IPA  (triple coming soon I would suppose), roasted peanuts and custard. With water: this could easily be an excellent young Scottish Speysider. Lovely sweet breads, ripe apples, scones, muffins, biscuits and croissants (mais bien sûr). Mouth (neat): a family-pack of lemon drops, a little varnish, some lemongrass and a little pear eau-de-vie. Williams pears, obviously. A little hot I have to say. With water: superbly malty, fruity, with orchard fruits, both fresh and preserved. Finish: pretty long, sweet, fruity, superbly simple. Ripe apples and honeys, some liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: the epitome of a very young natural malt whisky of excellent quality. At just 5, it easily beats any much older juice finished in wine and bottled at 40% vol. But granted, it would probably not beat a natural 20 yo bottled at 50% or more.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

UPDATE: Great Northern is actually a distillery in Louth set up by John Teeling after he sold Cooley. Thanks John M.!

While we are in Irish Taiwan (what?)…

Cooley 8 yo (58.6%, Whisky AGE, cask #0011, 210 bottles, 2022)

Cooley 8 yo (58.6%, Whisky AGE, cask #0011, 210 bottles, 2022) Three stars and a half
I find it always very reassuring when bottlers would make it clear that whiskies bottled at nearly 60% vol. are 'cask strength'. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's grassier, with some white asparagus (the best, take that England!) and just the right amounts of chalk, porridge and grist. With water: a lot of barley syrup, plus stewed vegetables, salsify, parsnips, bok choy…  Mouth (neat): sweets, lavender, lemons, tangerines and mercurochrome. Not that we drink mercurochrome every day but remember, using any descriptor means 'something reminiscent of said descriptor', nothing more. With water: sweets, drops, mints and syrups. Less focused than the 5 yo, but pretty excellent too. Finish: medium, sweet, barley-y. Isn't this salty seaweed in the aftertaste? Comments: excellent young drop, just a tad rougher and a little less coherent than that incredible 5 years old.

SGP:551 - 83 points.

Waterford 'Peated Fenniscourt' (50%, OB, Irish single malt, 2022)

Waterford 'Peated Fenniscourt' (50%, OB, Irish single malt, 2022) Four stars and a half
Irish peat, 38ppm, single farm barley. We've tried the newish peated Waterfords several times 'informally', this one was our favourite (but the other one came close). Colour: light gold. Nose: but yes. It is very 'farmyardy', whatever that means, extremely close to breads, including smoked ones, should those exist. Behind that, some sage, eucalyptus, thyme, lime blossom, green bananas (an Irish thing, really, how bizarre) and this godly liquid that we always just adore, olive brine. With water: muddier, gristier, chalkier, even breadier. This is what many contemporary distillers are missing in my opinion, malt whisky is malted barley eau-de-vie aged in oak, all the rest being marketing. Mouth (neat): salt and sorb. Plus other small berries, as liqueurs or as eaux-de-vie. This is exactly not Scottish, all feelings being pretty new to me. With water: someone's smoked fruits and added Szechuan pepper, or Timut perhaps. Finish: long, fresh, bready, with more peppers of all kinds. Gentian in the aftertaste, as well as edible flowers and something like, say roasted Japanese tea? Hochicha! Comments: absolutely wonderful, even if I would tend to prefer some of the unpeated, by a small margin. Hunter, Luna and Gaia, top of Irish!

SGP:456 - 88 points.


Waterford 'Der Wanderer' (50%, OB, Irish single malt, micro-cuvée, 1200 bottles, 2022) Five stars
Will this one truly be Schubertian? I remain partial to Fischer-Dieskau I have to say, the old guard… Naturally, this is a bottling for Germany. Colour: gold. Nose: talking to Nature indeed. I know they have their own very specific cask-bill, but the barley's doing all the talking at first here, before some pretty Alsatian, or say Germanic kind of fruit bread would make its mark. Pears, figs, bananas… With water: chalk, grist and sourdough, one of malt whisky's most seminal trios. Even if Der Wanderer is a piano + voice duo. Mouth (neat): yes. With Waterford you have to go beyond the ooh-ah-look-at-me packaging and imagine it was bottled in one of those lousy 'whisky bottles' that everyone's using. Impressive salty bread, peppers, fennel, caraway, soft curry, poppadum, seawater… With water: just perfect. Breads, cereals, coastal things, etcetera. Finish: long and saltier yet. I'd swear someone's poured five litres of seawater into each and every cask. Go on, prove me wrong! Comments: here' a tip, you could make a lovely 'sauce vierge' using this romantic little Traveller, by adding a few drops to your olive oil. Yep, guaranteed.

SGP:462 - 90 points.

Perhaps an older bottling…

Teeling 21 yo 1991/2013 'Vintage Reserve Batch #1' (46%, OB, Silver Bottling, 5,000 bottles)

  Teeling 21 yo 1991/2013 'Vintage Reserve Batch #1' (46%, OB, Silver Bottling, 5,000 bottles) Five stars
Sadly this was only a finishing (in Sauternes), never good news as far as the quality of the original spirit was concerned, but there, if they needed to do that, they needed to do that. Right. Colour: deep gold. Nose: nah, great, on peaches, peaches and peaches. These batches were the best they ever made, simple as that. The Sauternes was anecdotal. Some tiny earthy touches, which would add to the glory of this nose. Which Sauternes was it, by the way? Mouth: more peach liqueur, plus mead and heather honey, old Sauternes indeed (your own choice) and some fig wine. Peaches of all kinds keep running the whole show. Finish: pretty long, a tad more citrusy, with blood oranges and tangerines. Heather honey back in the aftertaste. Comments: you need to love peaches (not only in regalia) but if you do, you'll adulate this rare old bottle. Om… (insert personal invocations here)… om…
SGP:641 - 90 points.

More Irish fruitiness but let's make the next one he last one please…

Knappogue Castle 1994/2022 (52.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-Libris, 'Summer Wind', Antipodes)

Knappogue Castle 1994/2022 (52.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-Libris, 'Summer Wind', Antipodes) Five stars
I forgot to taste this one when it came out last year. What a bloody mess at Château Whiskyfun! Colour: gold. Nose: you could sometimes believe that very 'tropical', or 'exotic' noses such as this one would be a little vulgar, over-the-top, too ooh-ha or lacking depth. You would be totally wrong (apologies), this is just sublime, on a precious fruit salad and the purest expression of guava, guava being one of the trickiest fruits in any spirit, in my humble opinion. The bananas are splendid too (same comment). With water: some pure all-vitamin fruit juice. I've heard Covid wasn't actually over, well this one will cure it for good thanks to all these vitamins. Mouth (neat): flabbergastingly fresh and fruity. Incredible bananas, guavas indeed, papayas, raisins, grapes (say viognier)… Now, it is not very mango-y, nor is it maracuja-y (no shame, no shame at all at WF Towerz). Let's say it's rather on 'rounded' tropical fruits. With water: it takes water pretty well, but it will get a tad winey, for no foreseeable reasons. Pinot Gris! Finish: medium, fruity, with some fruit peel, green tea and the tiniest pinch of salt ever. Comments: top of Ireland once more, no questions.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

(Merci Enrico)

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


April 10, 2023


Little Duos, today very
finished Royal Brackla

Another name that's been revamped and revived and that should have a future, not just a past n(since there is a new king, wink). We keep trying to taste as many Bracklas as possible, but that's not an easy job. Let's do two.

(Picture geograph.org.uk)




Royal Brackla 12 yo 2010/2022 (50%, High Spirit, Long Valley Selection, 2nd fill Islay Sherry finish, cask #14, 318 bottles)

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2010/2022 (50%, High Spirit, Long Valley Selection, 2nd fill Islay Sherry finish, cask #14, 318 bottles) Four stars
Not Nadi Fiori's High Spirits, rather a newish line done by the good folks at Langatun Distillery in Switzerland. Not too sure about what 'Islay Sherry' actually means, well we do get the picture, it's true that I've never spotted any Palomino or Pedro Ximenez grapes growing on the Queen of the Hebrides and indeed, that wouldn't be 'sherry' anyway. Colour: pale gold. Nose: second fill is fine. A little mud, hay, walnut skins, porridge, brine, green bananas, fresh mint leaves, tomato leaves (in moderation), kiln… It's fresh! With water: smoke. Mouth (neat): very smoky and, in that sense, totally un-Brackla. A lot of bacon, tar, polishes… It is a blended malt, obviously - at least it is on the palate – but I have to say they did this odd exercise with gusto. Well it's not that odd, many are currently doing this while the SWA keeps looking the other way. Does anybody 'taste' any products at the Scotch Whisky Association? Don't they have a tasting committee? But this makes more sense than, say tequila casks, we agree. With water: unquestionably very good, just not Brackla. Finish: long, salty, smoky. Comments: I think I said what I wanted to say. I find this one despairingly good and am about to hate myself just because of that. I believe I need a new shrink.  
SGP:555 - 85 points.

To normality, supposedly…

Royal Brackla 18 yo 'Sherry Cask Finish' (46%, OB, +/-2022)

Royal Brackla 18 yo 'Sherry Cask Finish' (46%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
There must remain a dozen Scottish whiskies that are not finished these days. The exceptions! I'm finding all this pretty depressing, as bottlers would finish whiskies only when they feel they need to, no? At least it used to be like that twenty years ago. This is ex-palo cortado, remember that's basically a fino that went wrong. Kind of, some are superb, but there aren't many and I'm surprised anyone would use them to season new woods for the whisky industry. Colour: gold. Nose: mustard and fresh walnuts plus sea-spray, that's totally palo cortado indeed, well done. In fact, this is a wonderful nose, even if it's another one that's rather un-Brackla in my book. Also green apples, which is more Brackla, we agree. Mouth: very very good, I'm afraid. Superb mustard sauce, walnut wine, cordial and cake, old overripe apples… Finish: long, same, splendidly bitter. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: no wonder no one wanted to keep the wording 'pure malt' a few years ago. But this official Brackla is pretty sublime for sure, it's just that I hate it that I love it. So, would you have a good online shrink to advise me?
SGP:461 - 88 points.

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


April 9, 2023


  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!


Happy Easter with more cognac

This time again we'll kick this off with one or two apéritifs, then move towards old postprandial ones, as well as a few 'cognacs de dégustation' as they say in… Cognac.

At Laurichesse (picture Malternative Belgium).
All we'd need is giant corckscrew and pipette. And a small glass.



François Voyer 'Terre de Grande Champagne' (40%, OB, grande champagne, +/-2020) Two stars
Some rather entry-level Voyer at low strength. Not too sue this is own-estate grande champagne. This should still be good, let's see. Colour: deep gold, probably obscured. Nose: it's a rather fresh, honeyed, almost somewhat caney young cognac, slightly earthy (garden earth) and with notes of bananas flambéed. The usual stewed peaches are in ambush in the background. Mouth: sweet and honeyed, more on stewed peaches, with some caramel and fudge. I find it a little sweet, with notes of sweet vermouth. A little too sweet for me. Finish: medium and, indeed, sweet. Sugarcane syrup, touches of molasses, peach syrup, pancake sauce... Comments: possibly meant to be enjoyed in cocktails. The sweetish side doesn't work extremely well when you sip it – or at least when I try to sip it. The juice in the back is nice.

SGP: 740- 72 points.

Let's move to safe harbours…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L'Organic Folle Blanche L.X' (47.6%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2022)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L'Organic Folle Blanche L.X' (47.6%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2022) Four stars
We've already tried an earlier version at 48.2% and enjoyed it rather a lot (WF 85). Remember folle blanche is one of the original varietals, almost eradicated from Cognac by Phylloxera Vastatrix around 1875. Colour: gold.  Nose: with this much herbal tea and peach peel, no wonder whisky lovers enjoy folle blanche. Some chamomile and lime tea, melons, yellow flowers (buttercups), rather a lot of fresh brioche and panettone, tiny whiffs of lilies of the valley, a little fresh bark… All is well in this very natural, untampered with  cognac. Mouth: a slightly rustic and robust side, much pleasant and full of raisin rolls, sweet grasses, more panettone yet, honey, barley syrup. This one too is a little sweet, but it's also closer to malt, with some vanilla, liquorice, fudge, toffee, butterscotch… No, no deep-fried Mars bars. Finish: rather long, more on oriental patisserie, baklavas, orange blossom water, rosewater… Liquorice wood in the aftertaste. Comments: no need to change my little score. Excellent, pretty vigorous clean cognac al natural.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 96' (49.7%, OB, grande champagne, single cask, 2023)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 96' (49.7%, OB, grande champagne, single cask, 2023) Four stars and a half
This one is brand new. It's always interesting to try younger spirits by our favourite houses (come on S., it's a 1996, it is almost 30!) Colour: pale gold. Nose: lovely style, close to the grape, with even notes of stalk and grape pips, otherwise melons (first) and peaches (second). Also old Sauternes and rhum agricole - Neisson, naturally – and honey drops. A huge pack of honey drops!  Mouth: perfect, well-chiselled, as is customary at this house. Touches of violet, very welcome in this context, some soft liquorice, bananas flambéed, muscovado and mirabelles + peaches. Those honey drops are back too on your palate. A whole family pack, and the family is huge. Finish: pretty long, with dried longans and bruised apples, then golden syrup, sultanas, those violets, this liquorice… Comments: perfect balance, they are never unbalanced anyway. Top notch.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Prunier 1989/2022 (58.9%, OB for The Purist Belgium, petite champagne, 582 bottles)

Prunier 1989/2022 (58.9%, OB for The Purist Belgium, petite champagne, 582 bottles) Five stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: this one's much more on brown toasts, toasted brioche, figs, also varnish (but that may, or may not, be the higher strength), cellulose, dark tobacco (Gauloises, obviously), then roses, Turkish delights, lychees, old-school lady's perfume, jasmine, peonies, ylang-ylang, ambergris… This little 1989 is extremely aromatic, it seems. With water: roasted pistachios, sesame oil, coal tar, crushed slate… This baby's an excellent conversationalist and would keep you busy for hours. Mouth (neat): replicates the nose, with just as much rosewater, lychee, Turkish delights, gewurztraminer, orange essence and varnish… With water: back to normality, with some marmalade, dried figs, fruitcake, stewed peaches, raisins, honey and so on. Very funny two-step action with water. Finish: rather long. Gewurztraminer when neat, honey when reduced. Comments: some great, great fun to ne had with this one.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Petite Champagne 'Très Vieux' (52.2%, Cognac Sponge, from Grosperrin's cellars, #7, 224 bottles)

Petite Champagne 'Très Vieux' (52.2%, Cognac Sponge, from Grosperrin's cellars, #7, 224 bottles) Four stars and a half
Did you notice that on the Sponge's labels, all Frenchmen were always sporting berets?! This is a multi-vintage vatting of 1988, 1975, 1973, 1971 and 1969, composed by the Sponge himself. Colour: rich gold. Nose: raisins of all kinds, coated with milk and white chocolates. I was about to mention croissants aux amandes/almonds too, but that would have been too 'French'. With water: roasted peanuts, macaroons and fern, moss and watercress. A tiny touch of balsamic vinegar and some damp earth/wood, old stump… One of the components may have been 'a little unusual'. Mouth (neat): orange blossom honey and peanut butter at first, then the expected peaches, plus a liquoricy leafiness that's a tad rough and rustic but that may get softened with water, let's see. With water: pretty old-school, it would remind us of some old bottles of cognac, with a faint dusty side, some mead, some sweet wines, rancios…Finish: medium, with indeed that charming feeling of 'old bottles'. Comments: didn't The Sponge manage to recreate cognac's pre-war style? Don't add too much water.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Another petite champagne, this time by the house Vallein Tercinier via our neighbours in Germany.

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot n°84' (47.7%, OB, for Flickenschild, petite champagne, 2023)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot n°84' (47.7%, OB, for Flickenschild, petite champagne, 2023) Four stars
This 1984 too is brand new. In Scotch malt whisky, those were the murky vintages, but I don't think that was the case in Cognac. Colour: deep gold. Nose: not a very complicated one, it's rather on honey, raisins, apricot and mirabelle jams, orange blossom, just a touch of metal polish, and there. Not complicated, but certainly perfect. Wait, there's some nougat too, and mead, and pinesap, and fresh mastic, and tiny whiffs of wisteria, and peach nectar, and woodruff, and elderflowers, and guavas… Just never rush them, always give them time. Mouth: firm, first with the usual liquorice, then with rather more citrus than usual, blood oranges, tangerines… A lovely tension/tightness here, and even a feeling of uncomplicated youth, reminiscent of all those casks of undisclosed Macallan from similar vintages currently on sale at the indies. Finish: rather long, still robust, feeling 20 rather than almost 40, but absolutely excellent, nevertheless. Comments: a full-bodied old petite champagne, possibly integrally matured in refill oak. Certainly a fan.

SGP:461 - 87 points.

Prunier 'Cuvée Claire' (43%, OB, fins bois, 500 bottles)

Prunier 'Cuvée Claire' (43%, OB, fins bois, 500 bottles) Four stars
Some 35 years old cognac on average, lavishly offered in a classy decanter that would easily triple the prices for any liquids. But it's cool that they would put some rather humble fins bois in majesty like this. Colour: deep gold. Nose: honeys all over the place at first sniffs, plus apricot and orange liqueurs. Then maple syrup, the sweetest Tokaji (not obligatorily essenzia), madeleines, blueberry muffins (he thought he was a man but… oh forget), more honeys, old sweet chenin blanc (Chaume and such), old pineau, naturally… In short, we're really in sweet wine territory. Mouth: easy, sweet, rounded, very relatively light, honeyed, with some tea (five o'clock), maple syrup, chocolate spread, herbal teas… Finish: short to medium, more herbal, peely, grassy. Comments: excellent, it's just that they may have gone a little too low with the reduction, if I humbly may. But between us, the problem in France is that the public remains afraid of higher strengths and often won't buy them. My foolish compatriots!

SGP:540 - 86 points.

Down to the seventies, we'll have the older ones later.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Jean-Pierre' (49.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, L.75, 2022)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Jean-Pierre' (49.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, L.75, 2022) Four stars
One of those 'négociant' bottlings by the house Pasquet, that they started doing because their own stock of old cognacs had gone literally extinct. Now they remain fully transparent and will tell you much more about those casks than the distillers themselves. In a way, they are curators too. Colour: deep gold. Nose: elegant, very slightly roasted, toasted, nutty, then on many herbal teas sweetened with honey. It's a delicate, almost self-restrained nose, perhaps a little fragile. The palate will tell… Mouth: phew! In general, the noses of older spirits are brighter than the palates, but in this very case it is exactly the other way 'round. Mead, triple-sec, soft liquorice, light caramel sauce, cashew syrup (a sin, I tell you), dried dates and figs, dried longans and gojis, tea with milk (a cultural thing, really), vanilla tea…  Finish: not very long but on nuts and cakes. Walnut tarte. Comments: this baby is almost 50 years old, it's normal that it got a little gracile and fragile. Had it been demijohnned?
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Another 1975… That's the main year of our dear Scotsmen the Average White Band by the way. Let's see if there are some more pieces to pick up…

Laurichesse 'Le Chef de Meute Lot 75' (50.3%, Malternative Belgium, grande champagne, 520 bottles, 2022)

Laurichesse 'Le Chef de Meute Lot 75' (50.3%, Malternative Belgium, grande champagne, 520 bottles, 2022) Five stars
We're back in Segonzac! Chef de Meute would mean Leader of the Pack, so I suppose this one was deemed the best cask at some point. Colour: amber. Nose: this one too is a tad fragile here and there, but as soon as I'm finding quince jelly, I just bow and keep quiet. So, quince jelly (and paste). With water: oh, furniture polish, citron liqueur, old pack of Camels, ointments, lady's hand cream, putty, lemon cordial… Incredible what water does to this one. Mouth (neat): and once again, there is more action on the palate. In truth this is magnificent, with sublime quinces, apricots, peaches and papayas. Flabbergasting. With just a drop of water: towards old malt whisky, early 1970s Clynelish, Balblair, Lochside, Benriach… Beeswax, apricots, mirabelles, acacia… Finish: not the longest but the same flavours are in majesty. Awesome honeyed aftertaste, with  high-end Pinot Gris from Zind Humbrecht's. Only the aftertaste got a tad green and drying, which is totally normal. Comments: there isn't much you could do, especially if you're a whisky enthusiast. The Belgians!

SGP:641 - 92 points.

And guess what, they have another one…

Laurichesse 'Le Chef de Meute Lot 75' (50.3%, Malternative Belgium, grande champagne, 520 bottles, 2022)

Laurichesse 'Le Roi de l'Automne Lot 75' (50.4%, Malternative Belgium, grande champagne, 519 bottles, 2022) Five stars
King of Fall! Colour: reddish amber. Nose: very similar, just a tad fatter, a touch less complex, a notch jammier. Quinces keep running the show. With water: nuts, sesame, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, quinoa… nah, not quinoa. Fresh putty and almond milk for sure. Mouth (neat): brilliantly fruity, unvulgar, the pure production of time (and not of any lousy wood tekhnology). Peaches in total majesty. With water: a slightly tarter variant. Quality is similar, that s to say very high. Finish: mangos chiming in! Menthol and old sweet chenin blanc in the aftertaste. Comments: there's another track by The AWB which I always loved, it's called 'Stop the Rain' (how Scottish indeed), with a killer bass-line. Check it out. This little cognac too has a killer bass-line, by the way. Grand cognac.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 73' (54.4%, OB, selected by Wu Dram Clan for Flickenschild, petite champagne, 102 bottles, 2022)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 73' (54.4%, OB, selected by Wu Dram Clan for Flickenschild, petite champagne, 102 bottles, 2022) Five stars
50 years old or almost 50 years old. That's £20,000 in whisky speak, £2,000 in cognac language. The world of spirits is wrecked, no further comments needed. Oh and 1973, that's Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters, the funkiest funk album of all funk albums. Let's see if this VT is funky too at almost 55% vol.… Colour: amber. Nose: tarte tatin, bananas flambéed, maple syrup, roasted peanuts, macadamia brittle ice cream, roasted raisins, kougelhopf, halva… Well it seems to be in full form, if a little more roasted than fruity. Would you find botrytis in cognac? Technically, that cannot be, but poetically… With water: chocolate all over the place; black tea, old copper… Mouth (neat): big, almost malty, sherried (what?), with some brown beer, walnuts, black nougat, stout, overripe bananas… This is malt whisky all right? With water: back to cognac, with raisins, stewed peaches, flowers and herbal teas, honeys… Finish: medium, chocolaty for sure, figs and chocolate, a metallic side in the aftertaste. Good old copper. Comments: got to love chocolate. As a matter of fact, I do.
SGP:451 - 90 points.

One little remark, these oldish cognacs are much more sensitive to water than their historical ersatz, our very rustic, plebeian, UMC-malt whiskies. So please, always do them slowly, drop-by-drop…

Last one please, we'll tackle the roaring 1960s and earlier vintages (including the century before, mind you) next time, life permitting.

Grande Champagne 'N°72' (50.2%, Jean Grosperrin, lot 983, 2022)

Grande Champagne 'N°72' (50.2%, Jean Grosperrin, lot 983, 2022) Three stars and a half
Two casks of 1972 from different estates, marriaged 'by chance' and matured for years in Grosperrin's all-magical cellars, where they even cure broken arms and legs (by appointment only). Of course, 1972, that's Miles Davis' On the Corner, a common reference at WF Towerz. Colour: full gold. Nose: fully on praline and mirabelles, Lindt's best milk chocolate (apologies), Nutella (apologies), and Bailey's and Irish coffee (apologies). With water: rooibos and, unapologetically, more milk chocolate made by any food Konzerns or cartel. Mouth (neat): drops of cider, then mead, then a lot of cocoa and black tea, with a drying side. With water: drying and even bitter for a while, extremely grassy and leafy, but some pears and apples are fighting back and keep it afloat. In fact, do not add any water, that would just make the tannicity stand out. Finish: medium, a little nutty, teaish, chocolaty, dry, a tad bitter, even when unreduced. Comments: rather rough cognac from the country. No top dresser in my mind, but it's got many charms, even if it'll fight you. Indeed, I think it's a fighter..

SGP:371 - 83 points.

Good, next time we'll travel through several wars, from 1968 to 1893. Stay tuned.

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


April 7, 2023


Six Glenallachie on the tasting desk

Lots of adorations for Glenallachie these days, and I certainly do enjoy the new bottlings, but I'd love to try a 'natural' one, meaning a Glenallachie that wasn't boosted or finished in wine or fresh oak woods. Any ideas where I could find that? Don't tell me I should ask ChatGPT! In the meantime…




Glenallachie 13 yo 'Oloroso Wood Finish' (48%, OB, Kirsch Import, Germany exclusive, 2022)

Glenallachie 13 yo 'Oloroso Wood Finish' (48%, OB, Kirsch Import, Germany exclusive, 2022) Three stars and a half
Colour: rich reddish amber. Nose: we're reminded of Glenfarclas, don't ask me why since I don't think Glenfarclas do finishings. At least they were not last time I checked (around 2005, right…) Figs and roasted nuts, Brazil nuts, smoked sesame oil, chocolate, pipe tobacco, prunes, armagnac and the usual walnuts. No, it's not that heady and stuffy. Mouth: good, fruity, meaty, malty, peppery, with some dark rum, prunes, brown sauce and dark raisins. Fruitcake and ginger cookies, marmalade, brownies, Jaffa cakes, a little cracked pepper…  Finish: medium, sweet, on fruitcakes. Earthier aftertaste. Comments: also Glendronach, of course. Technically perfect, perhaps just not extremely moving.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

Let's check a full maturation, also for Kirsch Import…

Glenallachie 10 yo 2011/2022 (59.7%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Kirsch Import, sherry butt, cask #900222, 552 bottles)

Glenallachie 10 yo 2011/2022 (59.7%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Kirsch Import, sherry butt, cask #900222, 552 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold with copper tones. That's right. Nose: fully on praline and milk chocolate, peanut butter, roasted hazelnuts, black nougat… Nothing to not like here. With water: milk chocolate galore. Mouth (neat): Starbucks' whisky, full of nuts, fresh, roasted and torrefied. Including coffee, praline, sticky fudge, millionaire shortbread, Twix, caramel… You see, I'm sure. With water: raisins, fudge, toffee, caramel, pancake sauce, maple syrup, more milk chocolate, Toblerone (did you see that they lost the Matterhorn?)… Finish: long, with drops of plum spirit, vieille prune, armagnac once more… Coffee liqueur in the aftertaste, Kahlua… Comments: pretty equivalent, a tad heavy, it's just that I'm a sucker for chocolate.

SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenallachie 10 yo 2011/2022 (62.5%, OB, for France, oloroso puncheon, cask #801059, 731 bottles)

Glenallachie 10 yo 2011/2022 (62.5%, OB, for France, oloroso puncheon, cask #801059, 731 bottles) Three stars and a half
It doesn't say, but I suppose it's a finishing. Colour: red amber, approaching mahogany. Nose: varnish, new-sawn wood, cedarwood, tarry greases… But let's not try too hard at 62.5%. With water: charcuterie, jamon iberico, then Marmite, then black nougat, black toffee, treacle, mentholated tar, liquorice… Getting better and better (wink, wink). Mouth (neat): heavy but neat, spicy, gingery, orangey, curry-like, this is almost masala. Glue. With water: we chill, the spicy wood remains, well, spicy and curry-and-ginger-like, but we're fine. It's not usual that we enjoy these heavy stuffs that have been fully boosted, but indeed, we do, even if this rather feels like a cabinetmaker's work. Finish: long, varnishy, chocolaty. Not sure the distillate has much to say here. Comments: I would suppose this is the best you could do with some anecdotal young distillate and some full oak boost. Feels very 'lab', but I like it.

SGP:461 - 83 points.

A gentler one please…

Glenallachie 8 yo (46%, OB, +/-2022)

Glenallachie 8 yo (46%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
From 'The valley of the Rocks'. Got to love those valleys, deer, brambles, tranquillity, now rocks… Don't they have a valley of the bagpipes too? This one's got everything as far as casks are concerned, oloroso, PX, red wine, virgin oak… Colour: rich gold. Nose: sweet, fruity easy, with pear liqueur, gooseberries, pineapples, guignolet (cherry liqueur), wine gums, coconut, marshmallows…  No oak bomb this time, that's very cool.  Mouth: indeed, sweet and easy, full of liqueurs and bonbons, orange drops, cream eggs, grenadine… Finish: medium, very sweet. More jellybeans. Cassis jelly, pomegranate syrup, Red Bull… Spices in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good, easy, sweet, syrupy young malt whisky.

SGP:641 - 82 points.

Love it that they wouldn't go NAS. I'm sure them too could find lousy names, concepts and stories that would bore even a recluse contemplative monk, like so many other Distilleries do. I bow before you, Glenallachie!

Glenallachie 15 yo 2006/2022 (59.5%, OB, Peated bourbon barrel, cask #806905, hand-filled at the Distillery)

Glenallachie 15 yo 2006/2022 (59.5%, OB, Peated bourbon barrel, cask #806905, hand-filled at the Distillery) Five stars
More in-cask blending with a peater, I would suppose. It's true that we've already stumbled upon some lovely ones – and some utter wrecks too. Let's see… Colour: espresso. Nose: brilliant. Walnut stain, spent engine oil, tarmac, coffee and liquorice. With water: garden earth and compost, truck fumes, Maggi, hoisin, Marmite, soot… Holy Suzy! Mouth (neat): great fun. Crazy smoke, salty liquorice, pine resin, prune juice and Loch Dhu, only a thousand times better than Loch Dhu. With water: chestnut purée and tarry liquorice. More please. Finish: long, with some heavy menthol chiming in. Comments: could you please release a few thousand casks like this? Including quite a few 'For France'? Crazy unlikely stunt, I totally love it, thanks you Tim.

SGP:474 - 90 points.

Last one please, and let's make it an old one, and an IB, and a natural one… Please!

Glenallachie 32 yo 1989/2021 (43.2%, Skene, hogshead, cask #100468)

Glenallachie 32 yo 1989/2021 (43.2%, Skene, hogshead, cask #100468) Five stars
My God, a hogshead, what a coup!! My wishes are fulfilled… Colour: light gold. Nose: warm brioche, nuts, orange cordial, beeswax, dandelion, honeysuckle, soft herbal teas, chamomile, acacia honey, white asparagus… It's all soft, light, elegant, perhaps a tad fragile but just magnificent on the nose. Now careful, with such as soft nose, the palate may have gotten too light, if not simply empty… Mouth: no. Awesome citrus, cordials, waxes, old herbal liqueurs, herb wines, hay wine, rhubarb juice… This is wonderfully delicate, never weak, going on with small berries and the spirits distilled thereof, sorb, holly, elder… And some lighter, all-flower, or meadow honeys. Finish: a tad short 'of course' but some nuts keep it afloat. Pine-nuts, peanuts, pistachio syrup (another sin, really)…. Small pink bananas in the aftertaste. Comments: totally, absolutely , exactly the opposite of the peated 2006, but our score is the same.

SGP:441 - 90 points.

To be honest, Glenallachie as a distillate remains a tad mysterious to me. We'll try again later, see you.

(Thank you as ever, Tim!)

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


April 6, 2023


Japanising once more

We have some Shizuokas but first, excusez-moi madame, monsieur et amateurs de whisky non-genré(e)s, let's have the Chichibu 'Paris' 2022 that we hadn't tried formally yet…

At Chichibu (photograph Chichibu Distillery)




Chichibu 'Paris Edition 2022' (51.5%, OB, for LMDW, Antipodes, 1900 bottles)

Chichibu 'Paris Edition 2022' (51.5%, OB, for LMDW, Antipodes, 1900 bottles) Five stars
This baby came with a lot of different labels, all lovely, and was matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-peated Chichibu (not Laphroaig, hurray!) Colour: pale gold. Nose: you do get the peat, peat is pervasive and will permeate any spirit, even when in infinitesimal quantities. The end result is awesome, maritime, peaty indeed, fresh, with many herbs and aromatic spices, capsicum, pepper, rosemary, curries, cardamom, plus some sea air, shells, kelp… I would say it remains a peaty Chichibu (a self-blend if you like). With water: dazzlingly fresh, coastal, bladey, vertical, chiselled and sleek (I think they got it, S.) Mouth (neat): big smoke indeed, and stunning citrus. Looks like they have stuffed some of the casks with yuzus. Quite. With water: evident, smoky limoncello, of course. Finish: long, pure, lemony, smoky, only very slightly salty. Touch of soft chilli in the aftertaste. Comments: wonderfully simplistic, which is not an oxymoron at all. It drinks extremely well, but careful with H2O, please add only one or two drops. Not saying that because the world seems to be running out of water!
SGP:563 - 90 points.

Let's now have four Shizuokas, sorted by ascending strength…

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.3%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-483, 52 bottles)

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.3%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-483, 52 bottles) Five stars
This one's not peated and was distilled in the ex-Karuizawa still (KS). Colour: gold. Nose: we're in a bakery around 5am. They've made baguettes, croissants, and tons of lemon tartelettes with a good deal of meringue on top of them. Exceptional nose, too bad we were expecting this. With water: more bread, sourdough… Mouth (neat): not-too-ripe guavas doing the talking for a while, while it would then get a little fatter (puréed avocado), just before an avalanche of creamy, sweeter citrus would fall upon you. Impeccable, I think it was a brainwave - you're never better served than by yourself, are you - to have this one after the Chichibu, as there are obvious similarities. With water: tops. Lovely bitter molecules, with an extremely small portion of plasticine, if not kerosene… Finish: pretty long and much more tropical, with mangos, pink bananas, even crème eggs (Easter is close)… Excellent bourbon wood. Now careful, in the original Bourbon region, in France (the Bourbonnais) they have magnificent oak trees but those are… French oaks, naturally. Comments: fab Shizuoka, at barely three years of age. I find it hard to give a very high score to a 3 yo whisky, but there, there's also 'fun' in Whiskyfun.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.4%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-482, 49 bottles)

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.4%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-482, 49 bottles) Five stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: this one's a tad riper, greasier, with even tiny touches of meats, beer, fermenting fruits… In short it's closer to the wash, but oh, forgot to say, this was not the ex-Karuizawa still, it was their 'W', so the wood-fired still. This nose is clearly 'dirtier', which is an obvious asset. With water: there are also more reactions to water, oils, varnishes… Could be the cask just as well, but I doubt it, these seem to be bespoke octaves that are designed to do a very simple job (save time). Mouth (neat): same comments. Thicker, deeper, dirtier, less bright and immediate, more profound. With water: it's becoming philosophical. Exceptional camphor and menthol tobacco. Finish: very long, herbal and mentholy. Pears and varnish in the aftertaste (pars and varnish always tango well). Comments: there's even a little smokiness. We could spend the whole day discussing the respective merits of these two wee casks of Shizuoka, so close and yet so different, but we'd need the whole contents of both casks to fuel the discussion, which wouldn't make much sense in economic terms.
SGP:552- 90 points.

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.4%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-528, 51 bottles)

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.4%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-528, 51 bottles) Five stars
This one samurai on the label is really scary, it's a kind of crossbreed between Predator and the leader of the French ultra-left party in parliament. Yeah, she's a she. It's from the wood-fired still too. Colour: white wine. Nose: this will be short. It's varnish from Varnish & Varnish's, plus vanilla pods and white vinegar. So very acetic, estery, almost bacterial, it's to be wondered if they do not use dunder. Olives. With water: gets a little gentler, on banana cake. Mouth (neat): superlatively dirty now, and yet ueber-clean, and yet dirty, and yet… Banana wine, green olives, model paint, samphire, dirty rum, lamp oil… With water: I would have never imagined that rotting bananas and black olives would get along this well in something that's not Jamaican or Guyanian or Trinidadian (or, yeah, Fijian). Finish: long, still varnishy, saltier than the others, fermentary and let's say it, umami-y. Comments: this one reminds me of my favourite LedZep tune, Achilles Last Stand. I know I should have mentioned Sakamoto (RIP – I wrote these lousy lines before the news of his passing reached me, how sad) or Hiromi instead.

SGP:562 - 91 points.

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.6%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-530, 55 bottles)

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.6%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-530, 55 bottles) Five stars
Phew, this label is less scary. Non-peat, WS still, all good. Colour: gold. Nose: the colour is darker but the nose is extremely close to that of #528. Varnish, model glue, bananas, olives, esters, acetone and all the rest. With water: new plywood, glue, acetone, even a little ammonia… And more bananas, tons of bananas. Bananas shelter great (and sometimes lousy) molecules! Mouth (neat): bigger, even more extreme, also rougher and tougher, going towards cinchona, bitters, heavy turmeric… Love this, it's just that the previous one was somewhat better balanced. With water: tar, olives, plastics, varnish, lime juice, everything's to be liked. Finish: long, dry, a tad bitter. Comments: only wee issue with these Shizuokas, you need to do the handling of reduction with much care and attention, because they would tend to sink to the bottom as soon as you've added a little too much H2O (which is not much). I'm afraid they aren't very good swimmers.

SGP:462 - 90 points.

Gut feeling: these 2019s and probably onwards are even better than earlier vintages (2017-2018).

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


April 5, 2023


Japanising for Ryuichi Sakamoto

Good travel to the ethers, maestro Sakamoto (1952-2023), this is for you. Well, the best ones. We'll try to have only 'pure' Japanese whiskies today, so whiskies integrally distilled in Japan, but we may fail once more. We will fail again. At least we shall try hard to separate the wheat from the chaff…

Ryuichi Sakamoto (Jol Ito)



Nikka 'Tailored' (43%, OB, Japanese blend, +/-2022)

Nikka 'Tailored' (43%, OB, Japanese blend, +/-2022) Three stars
Benefit of the doubt, even if It says 'premium blended whisky' and not 'Japanese blended whisky'. What's more it's an expensive bottle for an NAS blend (north of 100€) but we do appreciate that Nikka know how to make stupendous whiskies so once more, the truth will be in our glass. Hopefully. Colour: gold. Nose: I wouldn't claim that Miyagikyo and Yoichi are immediately recognisable, but this is a fresh malty nose, rather on ripe apples and bananas at first, with a moderate amount of coconut, sawdust and vanilla. Also yellow peaches and zucchini and acacia flowers, jujubes, a touch of vanilla fudge and light toffee, some soft honey… In short, it's fresh and 'nice'. Mouth: starts rounded and sweet, rather on apples once more, green bananas, panettone, a green tannicity (green pears), then we have more straight oak while it's becoming drier and drier, although this 'yellow' fruitiness would remain there as well. Finish: grass, bitters and fairly oversteeped green teas, plus zests and apple peel. It's dry and bitter but that's counterbalanced by the fruitiness. Comments: isn't there some 'clean and fruity' Ben Nevis in there? It's an excellent blend but some juvenile oak feels a bit. Probably not 100% Japanese, but possibly 100% Japanese-owned, which is not too bad.
SGP:561 - 80 points.

So while we're at it…

Shinobu 'Pure Malt' (43%, OB, Japan, pure malt, Mizunara finish, +/-2022)

Shinobu 'Pure Malt' (43%, OB, Japan, pure malt, Mizunara finish, +/-2022) Three stars
We've tried big brother 10 yo a while back and rather liked it (WF 82). Having said that, Shinobu is not distilled in Japan and the use of the word 'mizunara' should fool no one, neither should samurais and kanjis on the label (but they forgot Mount Fuji!) Now in the glass… Colour: white wine. Nose: lovely, that's the trick. Some fresh young Speysiders I would suppose, matured in good clean bourbon and refill sherry, with jellybeans, apples, lime, a pack of cassis and raspberry candies, gooseberries, drops of Red Bull… This is absolutely nice (no worries, the Red Bull doesn't feel too much). Mouth: could be that this oaky grittiness would be the mizunara, not too sure, but all the rest, fruit drops, sodas, wine gums, fruit juices and this wee little chalky gristiness are there for our (simple) pleasure. Finish: medium, clean, fruity, then oakier towards the aftertaste. Comments: good simple pleasures.

SGP:651 - 80 points.

So while we're at it…

White Oak 'Tokinoka Black' (50%, OB, Eigashima, blended Japanese whisky, +/-2022)

White Oak 'Tokinoka Black' (50%, OB, Eigashima, blended Japanese whisky, +/-2022) Three stars
This is a blend (50% malts) while three kinds of casks have been in use, the usual bourbon, sherry and new oak. Remember when all distillers used to claim that you should never, ever use new oak for malt whisky? Now like most Japanese blends, this is most probably not 100% Japanese. Colour: pale gold. Nose: some wood smoke at first, plus toasted breads and cakes, getting then much fruitier, with a curious fermentary, almost miso-y background as well as touches of young cognac. Very funny. With water: brings more oak out, pears as well. Mouth (neat): very cakey and fruity. Cheesecake, liqueurs, green tea, preserved damsons… With water: fresh fruits and fresh oak. Less interesting than on the nose, but fine. Finish: same. Cloves, nutmeg and coriander in the aftertaste. Comments: good simple pleasures, once more.

SGP:551 - 80 points.

So while we're at it…Even if Mr Iggy's own words, we're bored…

Akashi 'Blue Label' (40%, OB, Japanese blended whisky, +/-2022)

Akashi 'Blue Label' (40%, OB, Japanese blended whisky, +/-2022) Two stars
This is another 'product of Japan' that's not fully Japanese. I had thought the Japanese distillers had decided to clean it all up? Now, a friend told me the other day that a Mercedes-Benz was never fully German either. Right, right, but do they write 'product of Germany' on the trunks of their cars?… Colour: light gold. Nose: very soft, on vanilla and cake, raisin rolls, ripe plums, maize bread, a little beer... Mouth: really soft, almost a little weak, with an oak that would take over after just three seconds, making it very drying and teaish, almost unpleasant. Needs ice, I would suppose. Finish: short, drying, oaky. Comments: pleasant nose, difficult palate. Nothing to do with Johnnie Walker's own Blue Label. Right.
SGP:440 - 75 points.

Did anyone ever tell our friends that the expression 'blended whisky' means a blend of distilleries, and not a blend of countries? That's enough, let's have some proper Japanese malt!

Yoichi 10 yo (45%, OB, Japan, 2023)

Yoichi 10 yo (45%, OB, Japan, 2023) Four stars and a half
Hurray, the age statement is back, thank you Nikka! Colour: white wine. Nose: super-bready, fermentary, full of porridge, damp chalk, weissbeer, crushed green bananas, leaven, plus a little cider, some hay and something sweaty, as in a great chenin blanc. Perfect nose, with just the right amount of austerity. Mouth: excellent, a little sweaty once more, even a tad dirty (remember malt whisky is a little dirty only if it's done right), then some grapefruit that'll clean it all up, more chalk, lemons, granny smith, fresh breads, yeast, unripe bananas, asparagus and quince… I take my hat off to them. Finish: not eternal but pretty perfect once more, citrusy and yeasty, with a  feeling of chalky limoncello in the aftertaste. Comments: one of the best pieces of news of these first few months of the year.

SGP:551 - 89 points.

Matsui 'Mizunara Cask' (48%, OB, Kurayoshi Distillery, Japan, +/-2022)

Matsui 'Mizunara Cask' (48%, OB, Kurayoshi Distillery, Japan, +/-2022) Four stars
A newer batch, I think. This is proper Japanese single malt, made at Kurayoshi in Tottori, south of Honshu. We've only ever tried the blended malts by Kurayoshi, which were not fully Japanese, so this is a first. Mizunara oak is said to be very rare, but more and more brands are using it, even Chivas mind you. Japanness keeps selling, apparently. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: very all right, fresh, earthy, full of lemons and green apples, green melons, gooseberries, toffee apple, marshmallows… Some parsley and eucalyptus in the background, possibly from the mizunara oak (did you know they need 200 to 300 years to grow?) Mouth: like. Some herbal smoke, some green pepper, some tobacco, (bits from an untipped cigarette), surely pears, green bananas, cress, asparagus… Some dill and fennel in the background. Pretty different and I suppose that's the whole point. Finish: rather long, green, herbal, slightly bitter and astringent. Lovely breadier aftertaste (with poppy seeds and caraway). Comments: good fun. Vive la difference!
SGP:662 - 85 points.

Matsui 'Sakura Cask' (48%, OB, Kurayoshi Distillery, Japan, +/-2022)

Matsui 'Sakura Cask' (48%, OB, Kurayoshi Distillery, Japan, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
This time they've finished it in 'Sakura Casks', which sounds Japanese enough. Indeed, it is cherry wood, coopering cherry wood must be a chore! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: frankly, it's not that different. Perhaps a tad less fermentary and a notch more acetic? I like it just as much. Frankly, not my business but isn't it a little strange that their whiskies bearing the name of their Distillery, so Kurayoshi, would be world blends, while the ones that don't, such as these Matsuis, would be properly Japanese? Mouth: once again we're very close to the mizunara, but let's remember that both are only finishings. Having said that, this Sakura tends to show a little more coffee, caramel… It's probably less complex that the mizunara. Finish: same. Comments: this very good baby's main asset, in my opinion, is that it would make the impct of the mizunara in the previous one stand out by comparison.
SGP:651 - 83 points.

Goody good, stay tuned, we'll have more Japanese whisky tomorrow. All fully Japanese and cream of the crop, I promise, cross my heart.

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


April 4, 2023



Glenmo rangie on the table once more

We're having the latest edition of Glenmorangie's Signet and we'll take this opportunity to add a rare old Vintage version of pretty good reputation.

(Magazine ad, 2003. Peace on Earth! What went wrong?)



Glenmorangie 'Signet 2022' (46%, OB)

Glenmorangie 'Signet 2022' (46%, OB) Three stars and a half
Some might remember that Signet's made out of 'chocolate malt', which is barley that's been exposed to higher temperatures when it got malted. I think it's used to make stout and porter beers. I have to confess I've only ever formally tried Signet once, back when it came out. I liked it a lot (WF 87 in 2008). Colour: gold. Nose: very enjoyable. I know anoraks do not like the packaging too much (it's clearly over-the-top and oh-so 1980) but it's what's inside that counts, and I do enjoy these earths, mushrooms, black woods, sour and sweet breads (rye bread, pumpernickel) and just, indeed, stouts. I used to quaff Mackeson's when in Scotland but that was some decades ago. Mouth: it really tastes 'black', like coffee and, indeed, chocolate. Heavy toffee, wood… There's also some molasses and something clearly sweet, as if someone would have added prune juice or, indeed, molasses. Which cannot be! I have to say some parts remind me of Loch Dhu but naturally, we're in a higher league here. Finish: rather long, sweet, with some chicory coffee and even Nescafé (decaf – I am joking). Some marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: more on coffee than on chocolate, I would say. It's also much sweeter than I remembered.

SGP:651 - 84 points.

Glenmorangie 1972/1994 'Single Barrel Vintage' (46%, OB, cask #1840)

Glenmorangie 1972/1994 'Single Barrel Vintage' (46%, OB, cask #1840) Five stars
There were around forty 1972s 'Single Barrel Vintage', all bottled in the early to mid-1990s. I've never formally tried any, possibly because of some unreasonable reason (!), Glenmorangie's never really been a geek's malt whisky. I always love to read the burbs on old labels or back labels, in this very case they were reminding us that 'Glenmorangie's always been distilled in limited quantities at one of Scotland's smallest and most northerly distilleries' (yet it's been #1 malt in the UK for a number of years), while naturally, maturation was 'long and slow' (that was pretty r&b, right). Colour: gold. Nose: very fragrant, much more so than any contemporary Glenmorangies. Wonderful floralness, with dandelions leading the pack, then mead and lighter honeys (acacia), a little beeswax that they may have borrowed from their neighbour in the north that year (Clynelish 1972, that rings a bell – but don't Diageo own 1/3 of Glenmorangie anyway?) then some liquorice wood. There's also something Meursaulty mind you, some very ripe gooseberries, and biscuits. Absolutely lovely. Mouth: really powerful, but it's true that they were bottling these at 46% already, starting all on honeys and overripe apples, going on with our beloved mirabelles and quinces, and getting then very floral once again. Nectars, pansies… Then we have touches of butterscotch and crumbles of speculoos. More and more 'American oak'. Finish: rather long, a tiny tad oaky, otherwise full of mirabelles, citrus and meadows honey. Rather early grey and soft liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: excellently balanced, floral yet firm. I gather that most casks were very close to each other. As for the fragrant side and before you ask, this was bottled quite some years before LVMH bought 2/3 of Glenmorangie (while indeed, the other 1/3 went to Diageo). One of the greatest Glenmorangies for sure.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

(Thank you Jeroen!)

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


April 3, 2023


Maybe is it time to revisit
a few Glenmorangie


Very bizarre Glenmorangie campaign, 2022. Is this about climate change?


They've repackaged most bottles in their core range some time ago, in a '1960s London' kind of style, a move that's never easy to interpret. Don't we all abide by the famous American adage that says that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it?' There are quite a few secret 'Highlands' that are actually Glenmorangie currently in the market, not only 'Westports', but we'll focus on OBs today, if you don't mind.


Glenmorangie 10 yo 'The Original' (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Glenmorangie 10 yo 'The Original' (40%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
Fully matured in bourbon casks and currently at 29.99€ at our nearest Leclerc supermarket. Glenmorangie 10 was one of the seminal malt whiskies here, together with Glenfiddich NAS/8/12. We've even got singer Françoise Hardy who did a song mentioning Glenmorangie in the 1980s, give it a listen (https://youtu.be/Oq_u4oMlajw), it's called 'VIP'. Of course in French it's GLENmorangie and not GlenMOrangie. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very light, pretty floral (orange blossom) and then on a basket of ripe fruits, apples, bananas, mirabelles, greengages, pink gooseberries… Also vanilla extracts and whiffs of assorted jellybeans and babies, as well as some fruitier green tea, or perhaps Wulong/oolong. The very embodiment of a fresh, pleasant, fruity malt whisky. Mouth: I find it really very sweet, as if a part of the casks had been recharred/deep-charred. Some light molasses honey, some mirabelle liqueur ripe butter pears, plums… I find it clearly fruitier and less on butterscotch than earlier batches of Glenmo 10. Finish: short/medium, still fresh and fruity, but with more green tea. Green tea with milk, and some vanilla in the aftertaste. Comments: I think it 'progressed back', even if it got a little more summery than before – or am I dreaming?

SGP:541 - 81 points.

Glenmorangie 12 yo 'Lasanta' (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glenmorangie 12 yo 'Lasanta' (43%, OB, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
The youngest and probably the lightest of all finishes. I only tried Lasanta once, in 2014, and wasn't totally convinced (apparently - WF 78). Well, it's supposed to be a finishing in sherry but the label just says '12 years aged in bourbon & sherry casks', which suggests it is not a finishing, no? Colour: some curious copper tones. Nose: it's a liquid plum tart, with some custard and a small glass of Cointreau on the side. Some muscovado, maple syrup, crema catalana, preserved zwetschke, a little pipe tobacco, a little sweet pink/Szechuan pepper… It is a fine nose for sure. Mouth: it's true that you do have the impression that a layer of oloroso (and walnut wine) has been added to some regular Glenmorangie, with this feeling of 'two-step' whisky that's not always very enjoyable. Even if better integration and mingling seems to happen right before you, in your glass. Quite some toffee and a mocha-spoon of Marmite. Finish: medium, pretty rich, with more walnut wine. Comments: not exactly my favourite style but there, one more point within nine years – nah, it was worth the wait.

SGP:551 – 79 points.

Another 12, this time at 46% vol.

Glenmorangie 12 yo 'Nectar d'Or' (46%, OB, +/-2022)

Glenmorangie 'Nectar d'Or' (46%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars
This is still the penultimate livery, not too sure they changed it by the way. It was finished for two years in Sauternes casks which, if they were proper château casks, were all in French oak. The Nectar d'Or has long been my favourite 'entry-range' finish at Glenmorangie (say WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: adding mirabelles to mirabelles, and apricots to apricots. What could go wrong? Lovely honey, honeysuckle, sucking white clover, some butterscotch, many herbal teas (chamomile, also rooibos), barley syrup, juicy golden sultanas… In short everything you would expect from a Sauternes finish – as long as it's not Ardbeg or any other peater. Mouth: yeah, I find it very good, sweet but not too sweet, with once more some apricots, honey, sultanas, mirabelles and all that. What's funny though is that the wine part would rather remind me of some muscat VDN, Beaumes de Venise, Lunel, even Samos, rather than of Sauternes, with more caramel and praline. Anyway, I really enjoy most of those, as long as they're well-made and not too cloying. Finish: rather long, rich, honeyed. More liquid caramel and honey. Comments: check. Feels sweeter than last time though.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

The Quinta Ruban became a 14 years old! Never tried this one, only when it was NAS.

Glenmorangie 14 yo 'Quinta Ruban' (46%, OB, +/-2022)

Glenmorangie 14 yo 'Quinta Ruban' (46%, OB, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
This is a Ruby Port finish. Our friends at LMDW tell us that 'Ruban' means 'Ruby' in Gaelic, good to know. I've never been a fan of the Glenmorangie 'Port Wood Finish' from around the year 2000 (around WF 75) while I found the first Quinta Rubans even less convincing (2007, WF 72) but I know that's me. I've stopped trying these back then, but after fifteen years, now's the time to have another go at the make. Colour: gold, not pink. Phew. Nose: things are tough after the Nectar d'Or, but since I wasn't expecting much, this is a good surprise, with stronger honey (heather) and notes of sweeter Tuscan tomato sauce (with some grappa inside!) A little old wood too. No monster raspberries and cassis, we're safe this time! Rather touches of soft mint. Mouth: the most winey of them all, this time with rather a lot of raspberry eau-de-vie and liqueur. Some cakey notes do save it though. A little German redcurrant and strawberry wines. Finish: medium, with a little more old wood, old barrique… Cracked pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: honestly, it became much better than its NAS inceptions. Which goes to show that age statements are better than NAS! (not too sure, S.)
SGP:661 - 78 points.

There are several other new finishings, but we'll have them later.

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


April 2, 2023


High-flying Cognac Sunday at WF

As promised. Let's first have a little apéritif, then see what we find at Château Whiskyfun…

The fomer Domaine Tribot



Frédéric Mestreau 'VSOP De Luxe' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Frédéric Mestreau 'VSOP De Luxe' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
An old brand taken over by Grosperrin, which only raises our expectations. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it is a fresh and relatively young cognac on the nose, apparently, with first stewed peaches and a little liquorice, then more dried fruits, around figs, as well as an obvious floral side, honeysuckle, lime blossom… Rather a lot of fresh juicy sultanas too, plus whiffs of high-end Wulong tea. Classic fresh cognac, devoid of any 'added influences'. Mouth: rather unusual this time, with much more honey than in other cognacs, especially heather honey. I'm also finding rose jelly, or even gewurztraminer and muscat, which combines well with the liquorice. Very nicely fresh and aromatic, it's almost fine sémillon eau-de-vie (but not sure I've ever tasted fine de sémillon, wondering if anyone is making any – it's just a feeling). Finish: short and a little grassy, that's the low strength. Comments: the 40% make it a little weak, honestly, but the composition is very attractive. They should do a 'VSOP Super-De-Luxe', at 50% vol.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

Pierre de Segonzac 'Reserve XO' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2020)

Pierre de Segonzac 'Reserve XO' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2020) Three stars
A fairly large estate (75ha) located in… Segonzac. Colour: gold. Nose: completely different, less 'carved', more on mead and tobacco, with a little old wood, tiny notes of rubber, and even touches of sherry. No, obviously, there cannot be any sherry in there. Mouth: starts a little peppery and with some coffee and black tea, notes of old sweet wine (or why not pineau), some dried dates, then rather raisins and some maple syrup. Tends to become a tad syrupy indeed, having said that these 40% vol. really are a handicap here. Finish: a little short but with pleasant notes of sweet cappuccino, and with some orange and rose liqueurs in the aftertaste. Comments: very fine, but these 40% really aren't very '2023'. Frustrating.

SGP:631 - 80 points.

Let's crank up the volume, but un-vertically, for more fun…

J. Prunier & Cie. 'Cuvée N°1 Winston Churchill' (47%, OB, Borderies, 1,000 bottles, 2022)

J. Prunier & Cie. 'Cuvée N°1 Winston Churchill' (47%, OB, Borderies, 1,000 bottles, 2022) Five stars
A vatting of 1967 and 1970 from the smallest Cru in Cognac, the Borderies (the borders), done in collaboration with the Maze-Churchill family.  Colour: pale gold. Nose: what a difference some 7 extra-% make! This one is gloriously honeyed and floral, we're really nosing some kind of high-class meadows honey. I just adore this. Add some orange blossom water, oriental pastries, the subtlest pipe tobacco ever, a pack of fruit drops, whiffs of cinchona, a tiny pinhead of paprika… It really is a fabulous nose and should it be malt whisky, it would be a mid-1960s Lochside. Mouth: starts fully on some orange cordial and some very herbal vermouth, even Pimm's no.1 (didn't Churchill enjoy that as well? Wasn't he drinking anything anyway, from Pol to Johnnie?) More chartreuse and triple-sec then, an old bottle of curaçao found in a cupboard, many herbal liqueurs, genepy, verbena, gentian cordial… And even a little bitter beer. It really is the sum of many old-style drinks, while remaining a beautiful Borderies. Finish: rather long, even more rooty and orangey. Raisins and gentian in the aftertaste. Comments: spiritual metanoia in your glass, extremely dangerous.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Jean-Luc' (45.5%, OB, Grande Champagne, L.90's,  2022)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Jean-Luc' (45.5%, OB, Grande Champagne, L.90's,  2022) Four stars and a half
This is a vatting of Jean-Luc Pasquet's last two casks, Jean-Luc being the name of the father of current owner Jean (and Amy). The contents of both casks, so own-estate cognacs, were distilled in the 1990s. No need to add that the house Pasquet is one of our favourites. Colour: gold. Nose: raisin rolls straight from the bakery, then mullein syrup and other lovely floral concoctions. I also find rather a lot of natural vanilla (straight from the pods), which adds a rather clear bourbon side. High-class bourbon! In the background, some sublime old raisins from grandma's old tin box. Bottom line, it's not a hugely complicated nose, but I find it perfect if a tad unusual (I mean, bourbon!) Mouth: straight, uncomplicated raisins and a cognac that's very pineau-y. You would almost believe they've reduced it using must, which cannot be of course, but the end result is perfect. Raisins, peaches, mirabelles, a drop of rose syrup, another one of violet liqueur. Finish: medium, sweet, full of raisins of all kinds. Liquorice as the signature. Comments: absolutely excellent, but this one too is dangerously drinkable. Never have these in front of Netflix.

SGP:631 - 89 points.

Bons Bois 'N°91 Héritage' (49.5%, Grosperrin for Corman Collins, +/-2022)

Bons Bois 'N°91 Héritage' (49.5%, Grosperrin for Corman Collins, +/-2022) Four stars
Grosperrin are active promoters of the lesser Crus, the 'Bois', including the 'Ordinaires'. But this is a 'Bons', which sit right between the 'Ordinaires' and the 'Fins'. This should be a 1991. Colour: gold. Nose: this time again I'm finding these 'trans' notes in some Bois, namely notes of marc and fine from Burgundy or Jura. So less big dried fruits and more herbal notes, stems, leaves and even lees. Even a touch of natural rubber, walnut skins, some coffee, rather fir and oak honey (honeydew) than flowers, peach peel… So more tension here, but in a way this makes them closer to malt whisky, which I cannot not like. Mouth: back to sweeter raisins, peaches, liquorice allsorts, orange liqueur, bubblegum, marshmallows, banana foam, cream eggs… In short, this one's ready for easter. Good fun. Finish: rather long, sweeter than expected, with more citrus, citron liqueur… and oak honeydew. Green oak honeydew, that's terrific, I would urge you to try to find some and taste it. Liquorice wood in the aftertaste. Comments: another very excellent Bois. Granted, it's absolutely not as rustic as those marcs and fines we were mentioning.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

A Fin Bois then…

Vallein Tercinier 1996/2022 (48.8%, Whic Voyages Extraordinaires, Fin Bois, 150 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier 1996/2022 (48.8%, Whic Voyages Extraordinaires, Fin Bois, 150 bottles) Four stars
A tribute to Jules Verne. Why don't the younger generations read Jules Verne? Why don't they read at all? Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's a bit rustic and grassy too, probably not extravagantly fruity ether, rather on ripe apples from last year and with some metallic touches (old copper coins). Some unusual notes of ginger cookies, speculoos, grated nutmeg, soft paprika, turmeric powder… In short, not really a bomb on the nose, despite some lovely figs coming about a little late, but that may happen on the palate… Mouth: yes, mint, oranges and honey, that's a perfect combination. You could even add some olive oil and some liquorice. Very good fresh and uncomplicated combination on the palate. Finish: pretty long, with some piney touches. A curious coastal side in the aftertaste, as if we've just had some… Bruichladdich. No, really. Comments: excellent, as anything by Vallein-Tercinier.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Back to the Bons Bois…

Domaine du Chêne 'XO 30 ans' (48.19%, Saint Seurin Sélection, Bon Bois, 2022)

Domaine du Chêne 'XO 30 ans' (48.19%, Saint Seurin Sélection, Bon Bois, 2022) Four stars and a half
From a wee estate in Saint Palais de Phiolin, a proper age-stated cognac at cask strength selected by the excellent folks at Cave Saint Seurin in Bordeaux. Colour: deep gold. Nose: liquorice, violets, blood oranges, heather honey and pomegranate wine. That means that this one is very aromatic for a Bon Bois, even if indeed, it would tend to become more herbal over time, with notes of green pu-her and thyme tea. Very attractive and rather more 'Borderies', as far as I can tell. I'm probably wrong. Some damp earth and moss after a few minutes. Mouth: tops, fruitier, very firm, big, vocal, all on honeys and liquorice for a while, then with more fresh and preserved fruits, the usual peaches, plums, quinces, orgeat, black nougat, drops of sesame oil (agreed, those last flavours are not usual in cognac)… Finish: long, perhaps a little drier now, with a very tiny cardboardy side (splitting hairs once more). Quinces and marmalade coming to the rescue, until a perfect honeyed aftertaste, with pine needles in the back of the back. Comments: brilliant Bon Bois, perhaps a tad easier and rounder than others. Which is a quality, obviously.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Champagne please!

Michel Forgeron 'Lot N°92' (47%, Through The Grapevine, Grande Champagne, 2022)

Michel Forgeron 'Lot N°92' (47%, Through The Grapevine, Grande Champagne, 2022) Three stars and a half
In case you don't know, this is La Maison du Whisky's main line of indie Cognac. Colour: Rich gold. Nose: cakes, vanilla, malt whisky, subtler herbs and fruits, wisteria, honeysuckle, hay, prickly pears, mirabelles, peaches marc de gewurz', fudge, nougat, marshmallows… We're somehow, somewhere between cognac and Balvenie (for example) here. It's almost as if some charred oak has been in use at some point, not a bad feeling at all, mind you. Mouth: very syrupy, almost thick. Banana wine, peach liqueur, honeys and mead, mirabelle liqueur, a little icing sugar, liquorice allsorts, drops of sweet cough syrup, Toplexil… I may be exaggerating all this but you get the picture. Some ex-first-fill bourbon Benriachs are a bit like this. Finish: long and unexpectedly drier and grassier. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: could be the contrast with the 'Bois' we tried before. While very excellent of course, this Grande Champagne a tad thicker than those. Very, very, and I mean very good nonetheless.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Borderies N°70 (49.5%, Jean Grosperrin, Lot 991, 271 litres, 2022)

Borderies N°70 (49.5%, Jean Grosperrin, Lot 991, 271 litres, 2022) Four stars and a half
An old Borderies 1970 from a wet chai/warehouse, what could go wrong? Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one too is not quite a monster, we're rather on softer teas, softer honeys, brioches, scones, old chardonnay perhaps, homemade praline, roasted peanuts, leaves, Camels… Mouth: entering another dimension, this time nose and palate don't quite match. Two cognacs for the price of one, how cool is that? Much more aromatic, mentholated, with a lot of liquorice and spearmint, eucalyptus, pink grapefruits (unusual in cognac), honeydew, something salty, even a little lemon, chalk… Mind you, it's almost manzanilla on the palate. Dazzling. Finish: long, a tad grassier and more peely again, but this salty and chalky fruitiness remains. Comments: big manzanilla. I mean, big borderies by Grosperrin. But then again, 1970 was the year of Alice Coltrane's Ptah, the El Daoud. Have a listen if you haven't already (cognac in hand).

SGP:561 - 89 points.

To another Borderies, to Ellington's stunning Far East Suite… That's right, to 1966.

Raffaud 'La Maison Rouge Lot 66' (50.7%, Malternatives Belgium, Borderies, 112 bottles, 2022)

Raffaud 'La Maison Rouge Lot 66' (50.7%, Malternatives Belgium, Borderies, 112 bottles, 2022) Four stars
Wonderful label, very 1966. Kudos! And quite a coup too, since the Raffaud family never, ever sold their cognac under their own name before. I would suppose it was dumped into Louis XIII, ha. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather a filler in my opinion, but fillers have their own merits. In this case some wonderful cakes, with touches of copper and old zamak, plus a lot of ripe apples, peaches, pears, plums and then aromatic herbs, especially wormwood and verbena. Let's add a little water: always this metallic touch, which I tend to enjoy. Otherwise undergrowth, fern moss, mushrooms… Mouth (neat): probably not a filler, even if there is a little 'old oak'. Black tea, cigars, a feeling of charcoal… With water: right, this is what I was expecting, fruits have been unleashed, specially bananas flambéed. Finish: medium, back on black tea. Dark chocolate and mint in the aftertaste, thin mints… Comments: it's probably gotten a little fragile/drying, but it still has some very, very beautiful remains. BTW, Raffaud's Pineau is dazzlingly wonderful.

SGP:461 - 85 points.

Back to Kim Wilde's era…

Domaine Tribot 'N80' (65%, Swell de Spirits, Flashback, Grande Champagne, 150 bottles, 2022)

Domaine Tribot 'N80' (65%, Swell de Spirits, Flashback, Grande Champagne, 150 bottles, 2022) Four stars
A 1980 bottled at an incredibly high strength for such an old cognac, let's be careful… Colour: amber. Nose: a curious coastal side at first (anchovies, really?) and then tons of quince jelly, mirabelles and nougat. With water: this coastal side remains, albeit toned down, while some metal polish and even a little carbolineum would enter the dance. Also some ink, then fruit peelings and green tea, peach skins… Mouth (neat): seems that this will be excellent but at the time being, it is both a little sugary and bitter. So, with water: phew, there, we found the fruits, the liquorice, the honeys and the sweet wines, but it would remain a little rustic and grassy. Leaves, paraffin, some austerity. Finish: medium, grassy when reduced, even grassier when neat. Orange zest and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: possibly fully kept in refill oak. I like this very robust style rather a lot, but it's probably more for your hipflask.

SGP:461 - 85 points.

Vaudon 'Lot 77 Le Soleil de Printemps' (54.9%, Malternatives Belgium, Fins Bois, 390 bottles, 2023)

Vaudon 'Lot 77 Le Soleil de Printemps' (54.9%, Malternatives Belgium, Fins Bois, 390 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
A 46 years-old 1977 cognac at 55% vol. for less than 200€, that's to be seen at Macallan's too. For half an opened miniature. The world is wrecked. Colour: full gold. Nose: classic cake, praline, sponge cake, biscuit, ripe bananas, ripe peaches, acacia honey, turon, cornflakes… With water: a little varnish and glue (yes!), then peach syrup, preserved plums, rubber bands (yes!) and bread crumble/tapioca/semolina. Mouth (neat): super good, fresh, potent, fruity, just a little oaky. With water: excellent now, fruitier, more on jams and honeys, soft fruity liquorice, perhaps one or two lavender sweets, pistachio nougat, citron liqueur… All things we enjoy a lot. 1977, wasn't it the year of Blue Oyster Cult's The Reaper? Remember those slightly excessive cowbells? We used to play it with my band at university, but with very moderate success. We used to have more people on stage than in the room, mind you…  Come on, baby (don't fear the reaper)… Baby, take my hand (don't fear the reaper)… Tak, tak, tak, tak, tak, tak… Finish: medium, fruity, jammy. Peaches and honey in control, liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: pretty brilliant, in fact.

SGP:+41 - 89 points.

Daniel Bouju 'Très Vieux Edition Dully 2' (52.8%, C. Dully Selection, Grande Champagne, 074-84 + A38-48, 200 bottles)

Daniel Bouju 'Très Vieux Edition Dully 2' (52.8%, C. Dully Selection, Grande Champagne, 074-84 + A38-48, 200 bottles) Five stars
Sooo, as I understand it, this is a vatting of the 1974 and 1984 vintages, bottled at 38 and 48 years of age. So, a 38 years-old. It's all unjust, is it not. Colour: mahogany. Nose: different from all the others, much more on toffee, coffee, treacle toffee pudding, caramel, mocha, chocolate… With water: gets very dry, almost a little metallic, with some black tea, pipe tobacco, walnut stain… Mouth (neat): rich, caramelly, full of black nougat, chicory coffee, turon, black honeys, old PX, cream sherry… With water: sweeter, more honeyed, with more sweet chocolate, prunes, molasses… It's a profile that we would rather tend to associate with armagnac, but there, love this very postprandial style. Finish: rather long full of chocolate and coffee, with some menthol then. Comments: to think that they would not use any oloroso casks! How do they do this? Frankly, I love it. What's more, it's done by and for our dear friends in Switzerland.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Time to have a very last one, we'll have many more great old cognacs soon anyway…

Jean Fillioux 'Réserve Familiale' (40%, OB, grande champagne, +/-2022)

Jean Fillioux 'Réserve Familiale' (40%, OB, grande champagne, +/-2022) Three stars
This is 'très vieux' and 'réserve' and all that, and indeed we adore the house Jean Fillioux, but these 40% vol. sound so stingy and cheap that it's a little hard to take such a botting seriously, from our very own POV. Unless… Colour: deep gold. Nose: adorably floral and fruity, probably quite young in fact. It's probably like with Scotch whisky, where 'very old' means 'unapologetically young', but with some lilac, wisteria, orange blossom, acacia honey, plus the usual preserved peaches, rose petals, Sauternes, and honeysuckle… Nah, TBH, it's a very lovely floral nose. Mouth: excellent, albeit very light. Herbal teas, dried fruits, teas… It's just that the low strength doesn't support or sustain anything, everything nosedives, gets dry, teaish and cardboardy. Finish: short, frustrating, drying. The oranges in the aftertaste are doing what they can, and that isn't much. Comments: I don't know what to say, except that there is a magnificent potential.

SGP:441 - 80 points.

We could not end this wee session like that, let's try again, for good…

Jean Fillioux 14 ans d'âge 2008/2022 (42.5%, OB, grande champagne)

Jean Fillioux 14 ans d'âge 2008/2022 (42.5%, OB, grande champagne) Three stars
Let's gather our forces… In truth there is a whole galaxy between a strength of 40% vol. and 42.5%. Colour: gold. Nose: yes, yes, yes. White asparagus, longan, goji, botrytis, rye bread, fresh oak, green banana, rusk, fresh mint, fruit peel, green tea… Not a fruit bomb for sure, but there is much elegance to this subtle, delicate, light nose. Mouth: yep, sultanas, young rancio, nougat and toffee, cappuccino, vanilla fudge, sweet curry, light paprika, pears… Finish: medium, grassier, with a little sawdust and literally tons on ginger cookies… Oh well, forget about the finish. Comments: some pretty active wood has been in use here, apparently. This is clearly superior but, and this is not my business of course, I believe they should hire some Scottish wood technologists who, since they know how to make a lot out of not much instead of not much out of a lot, would do wonders in this context. I believe brandy needs their own Dr Jim Swan. Sweet Dr Swan (R.I.P.)! Having said that and to be honest, there are a lot of fiddllings that you could do with whisky, and that would be totally illegal with cognac. Trotskyist overregulation, that's very French, is it not.

SGP:551 - 81 points.

Excellent juices in both Fillioux, they might just be a tad too traditional, seen from a whisky enthusiast's POV. Fifteen cognacs, session over; we'll have more next week, if grace favours us.

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April 1, 2023


  Whiskyfun.com to add new taster to the team, welcomes Willibald!

Indeed, due to excess workload we have decided to expand our team of tasters, which until now was limited to two individuals, Frenchman Serge Valentin and, for a few years now, Scotsman Angus MacRaild. We're happy to report that after a highly successful access test, which we reproduce in full below, it was decided with enthusiasm to immediately add ChatGPT to the team, which now consists of three skilled tasters, two humans and one AI. We hope you will warmly welcome ChatGPT, which will write under the pen name 'Willibald' from now on.

Willibald will be primarily responsible for tasting and scoring any innovative whiskies or other spirits, especially those finished in tequila, virgin oak, mizunara or zinfandel, as well as deep-charred woods, and preferably NAS.


Here's ChatGPT/Willibald's admission test:




First feedback:
We would like to reproduce here, in all honesty and for the sake of transparency, the opinion of a very famous human taster who was invited to our main headquarters in Alsace to give his own opinion on ChatGPT' 's first work for Whiskyfun, glass of Loch Dhu in hand.
"It's wrong all along, absolutely terrifying and a disgrace. As knowledgeable tasters, we can at least be reassured about the competitive potential of this new online service, which seems to really hit rock bottom. What profound idiocy, and what a shame to call upon it! It was nice knowing you for so long, Whiskyfun team, but I cannot approve of your decision. I'll catch the first flight back to Endinburgh early in the morning. Goodbye."



First piece of news:

Willibald has already bee