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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2023 - Part 2

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


April 30, 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!

Simply more rums

As usual, kicking this off with some apéritifs…




New Grove 5 yo 'Old Tradition' (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2022)

New Grove 5 yo 'Old Tradition' (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2022) Three stars
Remember, tradition does not mean to look after the ash, but to keep the flame alive (Jean Jaurès). We really enjoyed New Grove's 'bourbon' expression last month 'WF 80). This is rhum traditionnel, so not agricole or agricole-style. Colour: gold. Nose: awesome whiffs of tangerines! Behind them, some sugarcane juice, flowers (or ylang-ylang), a little charcoal, then oranges from the trees (orange trees, obviously). I very much enjoy these oranges and tangerines in this nose. Mouth: pretty good. Sadly many Mauritians are doséed-up, and this one may be too but they've kept it very moderate. It's just that you need to enjoy triple-sec, curaçao, Cointreau, Grand-Marnier and compadres. Finish: medium, rather too sugary now, but I'm rather a fan of the core. A little tar and even a salty touch in the aftertaste.  Comments: could we have a clean one too?
SGP:741 - 81 points.

Longueteau 'Symphonie' (49.5%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2021)

Longueteau 'Symphonie' (49.5%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
No age and funny names, the disease is striking rum too. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sweet curries, sweet paprika, oranges, rye, muscovado, caramel, butterscotch, garden earth… Good work with the casks, somewhat reminiscent of Glenmorangie's older experiments with new American oak, Ozark, Chinkapin and all those. In short it really feels, but it works. Mouth: very modern, oak-led, spicy and sweet, concoctiony (is that a proper word?) but again, very well made. More curry, nutmeg, paprika, cinnamon, oak honey (honeydew)… It sure is a little tiring but no one is saying you should have more than a wee glass at a time. Finish: rather long and very 'Indian'. Curries, masala, tamarind chutney… Comments: it sure does feel 'lab' but I think they did it very well. Quercus Imperator!

SGP:662 - 84 points.

Since we're in Guadeloupe…

Bielle 2014/2021 'Brut de Fût' (56.9%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole)

Bielle 2014/2021 'Brut de Fût' (56.9%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole) Four stars and a half
Seven years old, colonne Savalle, and oh, remember Marie-Galante is part of Guadeloupe; administratively speaking (hate to speak administratively). One of my favourite rum distilleries… Colour: gold. Nose: typical touches of aniseed, pastis, fennel, sauvignon blanc… Then liquorice, always with a lot of freshness, slate and clay, mint, garden peat, geranium flowers, damsons… It is very complex, fresh, entrancing… With water: some kind of metallic earth, spent engine oil, copper polish, silverware, Barbour grease… Where's all this coming from? Not from the colonne Savalle, I would suppose. Mouth (neat): fabulous. Medicinal and liquoricy at first, then more citrusy, then frankly jammy (marmalade, mirabelles, quince jelly and all that)… It started coastal and fresh and got then much thicker and jammier. Much fun here. With water: please only a little water, or it'll disband. Lovely cinnamon, rhubarb, something both vegetal and tarry (palm hearts). Finish: long. Please don't add any waters at all. Some fizzy pepperiness. Comments: Bielle – Neisson, or Neisson – Bielle. I know what I'm trying to say. It would have made it to 90 or more without the complicated reduction/finish on the palate.

SGP:652 - 88 points.

Bellevue 1998/2022 (53.9%, The Colours of Rum, Guadeloupe, cask #16, 249 bottles)Bellevue 1998/2022 (53.9%, The Colours of Rum, Guadeloupe, cask #16, 249 bottles)

Bellevue 1998/2022 (53.9%, The Colours of Rum, Guadeloupe, cask #16, 249 bottles) Five stars
Six years in the tropics, the rest in Europe. I don't think this is a bad combo for organoleptical purposes, but it may be 'politically'. This is ex-refill rum cask (h.u.r.r.a.y.) Colour: deep gold. Nose: fully on Bellevue's Jamaican side. Olives, gherkins, tar, liquorice, gauze, grapefruit skins, kerosene… With water: metal polish, putty, carbolineum, ultra-ripe bananas. Mouth (neat): very extraordinarily medicinal (did I make my point?) Stupendous camphors, eucalyptus, tars and liquorice. Drop of brine, drop of lemon juice, perfecto. With water: don't add any water to these rums. In this very case, just a few drops of Vittel unleashed a hoard of strawberries. It's not that I'm against strawberries, but in my rum, no thanks. Having said that, this is common in peated whiskies too. Finish: long, with more citrus and earth. Comments: what I've learnt, fully empirically, is that rums are much harder to reduce correctly than whiskies. Basically, when in doubt, always forbear.

SGP:652 - 90 points.

Enmore 1994/2020 'VSG' (51.4%, Rum Artesanal, Guyana, cask #197, 249 bottles)

Enmore 1994/2020 'VSG' (51.4%, Rum Artesanal, Guyana, cask #197, 249 bottles) Four stars and a half
So from the famous Versailles still when it was at Enmore Distillery. Only good feelings here and now. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: pinewood, blood oranges, pomelos marmalade (another sin), wholegrain bread, pumpernickel, menthol, chocolate (guanaja), some soft chilli, pizza sauce (I know)… With water: perhaps a bit too much towards oakiness now, walnut stain, cigar boxes, old fireplace… Mouth (neat): high woodiness, no problems at all in this context. Lorry-loads of liquorice, pink grapefruits and Szechuan pepper in the back. Some woody chocolateness. With water: it's still standing (hi Sir Elton) but once again, careful with water. Finish: long, on prunes, old armagnac, oak… Chocolate, olives and lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: brilliant, if perhaps already a wee bit 'on the other side'.

SGP:562 - 89 points.

Shall we push it all a little further?...

Enmore 31 yo 1991/2022 (48.4%, Precious Liquors & Whisky Paris, Guyana, cask #68, 168 bottles)

Enmore 31 yo 1991/2022 (48.4%, Precious Liquors & Whisky Paris, Guyana, cask #68, 168 bottles) Five stars
This is a 'Versailles at Enmore' too. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: new-sawn cherrywood, cigar humidor, old embrocations, castor oil, new tyres, varnish, petrichor, prunes… Seriously, we always say that old spirits converge, and this is just more proof. Old Ténarèze! Mouth: sublime oak and pine essences, paint, charcoal, thyme oil, burnt woods… It sure bites your tongue a little bit, and it sure isn't a model of balance, and it is pretty extreme indeed, and you have to enjoy anything piney and resinous… But the distillate could take it. I remember some very old Irish by Cadenhead that had become similarly piney to the extreme, and rather undrinkable because the distillates were very light and just couldn't stand this much oak. Quite the opposite with these old Enmore/Versailles. In short, a charming monster. Finish: long, very piney and resinous. Comments: a charming monster indeed, as long as you enjoy challenges, as I do.

SGP:382- 90 points.

Happy Sunday to you, cheers!

(Gracias, Rob)

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


April 29, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Triple Tamdhu
Everyone seems to like Tamdhu these days don't they? I remember it used to be one of those 'T' names that everyone was a bit sniffy about, but I believe the cumulative weight of enough older glories eventually took care of that. Now, I'm not too sure about the more modern expressions, but let's have three quite different bottlings today and check out both sides of that coin.


Tamdhu 12 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2022)

Tamdhu 12 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2022)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: leafy and beefy! Seriously, I get rather a lot of wet leaves and beef stock such as Bovril and things like Maggi and bouillon. I rather like these sorts of profiles though, so it's all good in my wee book. There's some oily cereals and even wee mashy and waxy combinations underneath as well. Surprisingly fat and fulsome in some ways. Mouth: not as fulsome as the nose would have us believe! The arrival is somewhat softer and more on grains, cereals, fudge dipped in milk chocolate, cooked grains, oatcakes and a spoonful of treacle. Finish: medium and back on meat stocks, tobaccos and hints of cranberry gravy, baked apples and plums. Comments: some clever sherry-ish things going on here. For £45 a bottle (at time of tasting) like this certainly feels like it belongs in that category of 'humble, affordable and perfectly quaffable malt whiskies' - which of course is the category that everyone claims to want but not many geekier folk actually buy.

SGP: 551 - 82 points.



Tamdhu 8 yo 2014/2022 (51%, Bramble Whisky Co, oloroso sherry hogshead, 340 bottles)

Tamdhu 8 yo 2014/2022 (51%, Bramble Whisky Co, oloroso sherry hogshead, 340 bottles)
Bramble is a very swish cocktail bar in Edinburgh that I highly recommend visiting if you get a chance. Colour: coppery gold. Nose: sharper and fudgier sherry, more on tobacco leaf, sharp red fruits, candied citrus peels and a touch of leaf mulch. Clean and nicely bright. With water: some bruised and baked apples, mint leaf and a little more overall jammy sweetness. Mouth: good, clean, modern sherry at a nicely chunky bottling strength. Some sultanas and more candied citrus peels, plum jam, juniper and some slightly sweet gravyish notes. In time more cereal touches emerge from beneath. With water: same feeling of a simpler, sweeter and slightly chewier profile. Some extra spiciness from the wood seems to emerge as well, but it feels relatively in check with the fruitier qualities still. Finish: medium, some more exotic spiciness emerging such as five spice and clove, along with treacle and brown bread. Comments: a fine dram to sip while taking magic mushrooms and staring at the label on the bottle for eight hours straight.

SGP: 561 - 85 points.



Tamdhu 26 yo 1970/1996 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage, cask #373, sherry butt, 390 bottles)

Tamdhu 26 yo 1970/1996 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage, cask #373, sherry butt, 390 bottles)
This one has a pretty monumental reputation… Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: exquisite and immediately showing fathomless depth. An intoxicating level of all manner of fruits, the most beautiful black coffee, salty liquorice and the bitterest of dark chocolates. Also walnut and herbal liqueurs, mentholated oils, precious hardwood resins, then myriad tiny umami notes that incorporate dried wild mushrooms, cigar humidors and richly savoury stocks. A nose you could keep writing about until you'd surpassed the Epic of Gilgamesh! With water: drilling even deeper into all manner of tobaccos, tar extracts and liqueurs, sultanas and fir liqueur. Also becoming more aromatically spicy and powerful too. Mouth: the perfect match of that nose, so immediate, forceful, spellbinding and hypnotically fruity, mentholated, faintly medicinal and riddled with dark, pickled, preserved and exotic fruits. Deeply, jouth-coatingly textural, pristinely salty and full of endless tertiary flavours that pull you in any number of different directions simultaneously. A whisky that leads, and you just have to follow along. With water: all of the above, only magnified, broader, fatter, deeper and more astoundingly complex and stunningly beautiful! Finish: quite breathtakingly long and involving menthol herbs, liquorice and tobaccos once again, but also so much more. Astonishing how it lingers with such precision of flavours and intense power and beauty. Comments: luminous and stunning and deserving every nano-snippet of its reputation. A dram which would not only hold its own amongst a lineup of the all-time greats, but probably also crush several of them along the way.

SGP: 662 - 95 points.



Heartfelt thanks to Cicada!




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


April 28, 2023


WF's Little Duos, today Balblair

We've already had some great time at Balblair Distillery and, naturally, while having some Balblair in our glasses, especially those stunning official fruit bombs they would have distilled in the 1960s. Remember the 1966s 33 and 38? They've dropped the vintage statements only a few years ago, as Glenrothes did as well by the way. Not too sure, as in the collective psyche, vintage/millésimé means a superior product, not only with champagne. So, no vintage = inferior, and no age and = even more inferior. At WF Towers, at least!

Balblair's bell (WF Archive)



Balblair 10 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, MacPhail´s Collection, American oak hogsheads, +/-2020)

Balblair 10 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, MacPhail´s Collection, American oak hogsheads, +/-2020) Three stars
Own-label Balblair 10 has always been a staple at G&M's. A great apéritif, with the only disadvantage of going down a little too fast. Colour: chardonnay. Nose: exactly on apples, green bananas, plums, with touches of coconut and vanilla, plus chalk and clay. I think I like it just the same as G&M's 'Discovery' 12 yo, which is a little fatter if I remember well. Mouth: a bigger drop than expected, perhaps a tad rawer and more spirity as well, with less of those extravagant orchard fruits of old. Greengages, some capsicum, lemon zest, a touch of ginger… Finish: medium and indeed, grassier than expected. Biting into some bananas and grapefruits without removing the skins. Comments: fine, of course, but some fruits may be missing.

SGP:461 - 82 points.

Balblair 14 yo 2008/2022 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for Switzerland, refill ex-bourbon barrel, #70.47, 'Nana's Squeaking Toy Chest', 126 bottles)

Balblair 14 yo 2008/2022 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for Switzerland, refill ex-bourbon barrel, #70.47, 'Nana's Squeaking Toy Chest', 126 bottles) Four stars
I find it perfectly scandalous that given that this a bottling for Switzerland, they wouldn't have used words such as 'muesli' or 'fondue' in the funny description they always come up with (after intensive tastings, never before, which shows, right?) Colour: Nose (rather close but this is tighter and tenser, with no vanilla-ed hoopla whatsoever, only gooseberries, greengages, slate, weissbeer and lime. With water: a little 'good soap', almond milk, wool, mint, resins, vetiver… Well it loves water – and I'm not using Swiss glacier water (while they have some). Mouth: peppery lemons at first, then a lot of kirschwasser and bitter almonds. It's really tight when unreduced. With water: very good, with some fairly uncertain but lovely and unusual touches of gewurztraminer, rosewater, lychees… Grape skin in the background. Finish: medium, fruitier, more on jelly babies and beans and crocodiles and little Jesus. Comments: it is a very lovely, almost ultra-tight Balblair by the honourable Society. Hoppla Geisss!
SGP:661 - 86 points.

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


April 27, 2023



Little Duos, today official Glengoyne

There's fewer Glengoynes around today, simply because the indies do not seem to have any anymore. But here at WF we'll make every effort to keep trying Glengoyne at least once a year. Promise! After all, they have 'the slowest stills in Scotland'. (Visit Scotland)



Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 009' (59.6%, OB, 2022)

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 009' (59.6%, OB, 2022) Four stars
A blend of ex-bourbon, ex-refill and ex-1st fill oloroso. 2020's Batch 008 had been very good in my book (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: a lot of porridge and ale at first sniffs, something slightly balsamic too, surely some walnut wine, while it would then get rounder, more on the expected butterscotch and cakes, shortbread, sesame oil, chocolate, treacle toffee… Good oiliness on the nose, as sesame grew even more obvious. With water: toasted cake, bread, plus some strawberry jam. Lovely maltiness, some sticky toffee pudding, more sesame oil yet… Mouth (neat): same notes of ale and stout at first, even spiced beer (chocolate and pepper), then those walnuts, pepper and some bitter oranges. A tad brutal, but at almost 60% vol. that was to be expected. With water: both sweeter and grassier, if a little leathery and leafy, so clearly more oloroso-led. The obligatory old walnuts are there too (not talking about whisky people now, capeesh?) Finish: long, nutty and leafy. The walnuts seem to have taken over. Chilli, pepper and nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: a lovely roughness. We have the latest and similar Tamdhu in the pipe, by the way.
SGP: 561 - 85 points.

Glengoyne 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glengoyne 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
Always loved the 'unhurried since 1833' line. I absolutely loved this 21 too last time I tried it, in 2020, it was the former all-black livery (WF 89). Having said that, it's a little strange that they kept this new one at 43% vol., I'm sure the juice would have deserved 45 or 46. Colour: all gold. Nose: not too sure about that, actually, it seems to work perfectly well at 43%. Awesome mead, heather honey, a pack of butterscotch, some pinot gris from a good house (from my village), which leads to quince jelly and ripe mirabelles, and even to more floral notes, even rose petals and lilies. A formidable nose that reminds me of old Macallan 30, remember the all-blue one? (I mean the bottle, not the liquid, ha). Mouth: it is, perhaps, a notch handicapped because of its strength, which makes it a little grittier than expected. Oak and water, you know. Other than that, all this toffee and fudge, the cakes, the roasted raisins and the mirabelle tarte are just perfect. Finish: medium, with some Jaffa cake and candied apricots. Honey, black tea and oranges in the aftertaste, with tiny touches of rose and orange bonbons in the after-aftertaste. Comments: dazzling whisky. I also tried a few drops of the latest 25, but I believe this 21 remains my favourite.

SGP:641 - 89 points.

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


April 26, 2023


Caperdonich Day

Caperdonich is not very rare yet, as the Distillery, also formerly known as Glen Grant II, only stopped working in 2002, one year after having been bought by Pernod. But indeed, this is a situation that would remind us of Port Ellen in… 2002. Not rare yet, but getting rare… Let's have a few now, more or less at random, if you please, starting with an apéritif…

St-Germain (elderflower liqueur)



Caperdonich 22 yo 1992/2014 (47.7%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon, 152 bottles)

Caperdonich 22 yo 1992/2014 (47.7%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon, 152 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: something a tad metallic at first, some edible leaves (fresh spinach, sorrel, oxalis), a little yoghurt and porridge, sourdough… Then lemon sweets, some kind of earthy honey, custard… Mouth: good punch, with more sweets, grapefruits, lemons, apple peel, a little green pepper. In short, a rather austere Caperdonich. Finish: more pepper yet, over lemon and lime juice, plus cut grass. A feeling of white rum and gin in the aftertaste, not very common in whisky. Comments: indeed, a rather austere Caperdonich, rather old-style in the sense that contemporary bottlers would have probably re-boosted it using PX, STR, virgin or else.

SGP:461 - 83 points.

Perhaps one from the heyday, a 1972… (before we try stronger ones)…

Caperdonich 37 yo 1972/2010 (47.8%, Reifferscheid, Romantic Rhine, sherry octave, cask #47373, 71 bottles)

Caperdonich 37 yo 1972/2010 (47.8%, Reifferscheid, Romantic Rhine, sherry octave, cask #47373, 71 bottles) Five stars
Most probably Duncan 'King of Octave' Taylor stock. How many words have we already written about the legendary vintage 1972?  Colour: full gold. Nose: long story short, this is butterscotch, with mangos and honey. After that much expurgated version, let's dig a little deeper… So, beeswax, tarte tatin, ripe papayas and bananas, old Sauternes, ripe Provence melon, sultanas, plus a little metal polish, tiny drop of balsamico, eucalyptus… What's more, it seems that the spirit has digested the octave over the years in glass. Magnificent nose. What happened in the Land of the Scots, in 1972? Oh, I know, the Average White Band was formed. Mouth: more, honey, more mangos, more sultanas, also oranges, small lemons, some pepper, a little grassy oak with a feeling of grape pips (It did not fully digest the octave after all, it seems)… Then grapefruits coming to the front. Finish: indeed, there is a little green pepper remaining, but it's still very perfect and very '1972'. More grapefruit in the aftertaste, perhaps even pink grapefruit. Comments: I'm glad I had kept this baby 'for future tastings' and, well, that it kept well.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Caperdonich 20 yo 2000/2020 (54.1%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask # 29511, 315 bottles)

Caperdonich 20 yo 2000/2020 (54.1%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask # 29511, 315 bottles) Four stars
So a late-era Caperdonich. Colour: gold. Nose: we're finding this little metallic side again, otherwise bags and bags of 'western' fruits, plums, apples, greengages, blackberries, williams pears… Touch of coconut too, stewed rhubarb as well. With water: jellybeans and sweet dough, sweet beer, a funny mint + caraway seasoning… Fresh bread, lovely. Mouth (neat): very good, zestier, almost aggressive, in the best sense of that word (yep that exists). A lot of lime and grapefruit, a little coconut once more. With water: vanilla chiming in, green bananas, white pepper, a little paraffin, the body being pretty waxy. Finish: long, spicier, with white pepper, cinnamon, ginger mints… The aftertaste is perhaps a little drying (tea, flour). Comments: very, very solid, if perhaps not totally characterful.

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Caperdonich 21 yo 2000/2022 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #29484, 171 bottles)

Caperdonich 21 yo 2000/2022 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #29484, 171 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: extremely similar. Melon skin, kiwi and rhubarb, an obvious sister cask. With water: same. Beer, wine gums, menthol, perhaps more varnish here. Mouth (neat): same comment, even if this one would be a tad earthier as well. A little more ginger, perhaps turnips, beet… With water: carrots? Parsnips? Green bananas for sure. Finish: long and, once again, spicier. Green pepper, white pepper, ginger and turmeric… Wine gums in the aftertaste. Comments: this cask was a notch less metallic, and a tad earthier, but I believe they're remained extremely similar.

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Caperdonich 22 yo 2000/2022 (55.2%, Wu Dram Clan, 3rd Anniversary Collection, hogshead, cask #294480, 246 bottles)

Caperdonich 22 yo 2000/2022 (55.2%, Wu Dram Clan, 3rd Anniversary Collection, hogshead, cask #294480, 246 bottles) Four stars
Sister cask again, let's be focussed. Colour: gold. Nose: more fruits, bananas, mangos, also honey and mead, liquorice, ripe apples… This one hogshead has been a little more active, which made this baby a little friendlier and easier, this far. With water: lovely lemons and sauvignon blanc. Some cask! Mouth (neat): same as the previous one on the palate, earthy and peppery, with jelly babies in the background. With water: a little more towards lemon and elderberry syrup. The new spritz in town, St Germain (elderflowers) and champagne rather than Aperol and prosecco! Finish: very good length, earthiness, lemons, elder, ginger… Comments: very interesting showcase of what even very moderate cask variations can do to the very same distillate. But we knew that, didn't we.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Caperdonich 25 yo 1997/2022 (56.2%, The Duchess, hogshead, cask #30900, 298 bottles)

Caperdonich 25 yo 1997/2022 (56.2%, The Duchess, hogshead, cask #30900, 298 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: at first butterscotch and Scotch tape, really. Then those root vegetables, grapefruits, earths, quite some esters (say a lighter marque in Jamaica, not pulling your leg here), wonderful vinegars and acidic wines (verjuice)… Well, this one's fantastic at this point. With water: add a few small mushrooms. Mouth (neat): winner. Walker's coffee toffee, Nescafé (that's enough brand names already, S.), a little varnish, some saltiness, hoisin, marmalade, a little thyme… A sherry hogshead, I suppose? Some hoggie for sure. With water: walnuts, tobacco, cracked pepper, bitter oranges… Finish: long, earthy/spicy. Ginger, saffron, turmeric. Nescafé is back in the aftertaste (with our sincerest apologies). Some kind of grassy ans spicy smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: this cask was extra-special.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Dring-dring, last one…

Caperdonich 24 yo 1997/2021 (53.2%, The Alcohol Bar, Taiwan, barrel, cask #5876, 261 bottles)

Caperdonich 24 yo 1997/2021 (53.2%, The Alcohol Bar, Taiwan, barrel, cask #5876, 261 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby from 'The Northernmost Whisky Bar In Taiwan'!! Talking about the very controversial vintage effects in whisky, 1997 is another staple, think Bowmore, think Clynelish, think Springbank… And think Caperdonich? Colour: straw. Nose: a rougher version after the Duchess, but that's not obligatorily a handicap, not at all. This one's even pretty 'coastal', but it's true that the defunct Caperdonich Distillery was not located too far from the sea, say ten miles as the bald eagle flies? Wonderful acetic and varnishy notes, earths, citrus liqueurs, more sauvignon blanc, celery, pea pod, cut grass… With water: some rubber, tyres, then fresh white bread and damp plaster. No complains. Mouth (neat): very punchy, earthy, salty, coffeeish arrival, then fruit liqueurs and peel. Green walnuts. I'd have said refill oloroso or amontillado, but indeed this was a barrel (pff…). With water: superb, with some butterscotch and mocha chiming in. A feeling of Irish, I mean, Scottish coffee. Finish: long, perhaps a notch less 'wide' than the Duchess's, but we're extremely close. Leafy aftertaste. Comments: very high quality. By the way, did you now that one pair of Caperdonich's stills (they had two pairs) was moved to Belgium's Belgian Owl Distillery?
SGP:561 - 89 points.

(Thanks, Tim)

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


April 25, 2023


Around the world once more

And once again we'll kick this off from France. WF remains rather Scotch-centric but I believe these things are evolving, especially since more and more 'established' Scottish distilleries are doing quite the same whiskies, as many make more and more use of the same very active woods/wines. PX finish, anyone?

Taro (Colocasia esculenta - see the Samoa whiskey)

Meanwhile, any talks about the distillates themselves, or about the stills, the barleys or the yeasts are reduced to the meanest shares… Which is simply less the case with several new distilleries from 'the rest of the world', as the Scots used to say not so long ago. Or, indeed, with several new Scottish distilleries (phew!)



Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Secale' (57%, OB, France, single rye, 782 bottles, 2023)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Secale' (57%, OB, France, single rye, 782 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
This is organic whisky, made out of own-estate rye harvested in 2016, and matured in some light ex-white wine wood. 'Secale' means rye in Latin. We don't have hopes here, we have certitudes. Colour: straw. Nose: this is rather extraordinary, all on gentian, lemon, gherkin, rye, Thai lemongrass and chalk. With water: more chalk, grist, rye husk… Mouth (neat): superbly salty, olive-y, with more lemongrass, horseradish, gentian, a little toffee, some Timut pepper, grapefruit, juniper… It's quite fab that they would pull this much citrus from some rye. Some caraway. With water: wonderful saltiness, we're almost in mezcal territories. Finish: long, dry, salty, with once more a lot of lemongrass and olives. It would almost remind me of some new-school manzanilla 'anada'. Comments: I hadn't noticed any wine, unless this chalky citrus came from some Savoie wine or something, perhaps a Chignin Bergeron? Doubt it. Great drop. I had tried an early Secale that had been matured in some boisterous Condrieu, which I virtually hated back in 2013. We're at the other end this time, I love it.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

To Yorkshire…

Filey Bay 'Sherry Cask Reserve #3' (46%, OB, Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery, England, 2000 bottles, 2022)

Filey Bay 'Sherry Cask Reserve #3' (46%, OB, Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery, England, 2000 bottles, 2022) Four stars
This is a vatting of five casks, all ex-fino sherry, while more interestingly yet, three casks had contained their pot still distillate and the remaining two their lighter column spirit. In England you may call this a single malt, which is what they do, but I believe in Scotland it would be a blend (granted, a self-blend) as malted barley distilled in a column still becomes grain whisky. Colour: gold. Nose: a little coconut and nougat at first (the column?) but some fatter notes of sunflower, some beeswax, some yellow flowers (dandelions) and then a little shoe polish, as well as the expected walnuts from the fino do show up successively. Mouth: it's got the same kind of mouthfeel as that of Foursquare in rum. There is some excellent citrus, indeed these notes of manzanilla (it's funny that we would find those in both The DHG and this Filey Bay) and rather Thai basil this time, some pickled ginger, chives, some caraway, some brine… Finish: medium, more on lemon and with touches of masala and soft mustard. The fino, I would presume. Comments: excellent, if a tad disconcerting at first because of the unusually lighter body for a malt.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

To Iceland…

Flóki 5 yo 'Distiller's Cut' (47%, OB, Iceland, Kirsch Import, Oloroso Cask Finish, 2022)

Flóki 5 yo 'Distiller's Cut' (47%, OB, Iceland, Kirsch Import, Oloroso Cask Finish, 2022) Two stars and a half
We're in Iceland this time, we're almost at the Eurovision contest ;-). Now I've only ever tried a very early Flóki by Eimverk Distillery, seven years ago, which was good. Colour: gold. Nose: quite the cask's spices in action, with rather a lot of ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg… All that before some IPA-kind of beer and some sourdough would join them, together with some green walnuts, possibly from the oloroso, as well as a pack of orange drops. Mouth: I find it extremely punchy and spicy, I believe you could use it to cure some very flavourful seafood, perhaps urchins or botargo/poutargue. Bags of cinnamon mints, as well as a wee feeling of neoprene glue (something reminiscent of that, we don't drink neoprene glue). Was it some new oak before the oloroso? Finish: very long, with some curry, gin and more neoprene glue. Comments: very boisterous drop that seems to have captured all the spicy molecules that were in the woods. I rather like it but it's probably an acquired taste, as they say.

SGP:372 - 78 points.

And now, off to a new whisky country!... I mean, it's certainly new to me…

Taro 'Samoa Whiskey' (40%, OB, Samoa, +/-2022)

Taro 'Samoa Whiskey' (40%, OB, Samoa, +/-2022) Two stars
Apparently, this baby was developed by the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa and distilled from Samoan taro, which is a root and certainly not a cereal. So not really 'whiskey' but no problems, we love Samoa just as much as we love their rugby team. Let's see whether this one's a fast winger or a heavy prop… Colour: deep gold. Nose: not un-nice at all, with a little varnish, a little oak, a feeling of barley (yep), some sour apples, perhaps something rooty indeed (I have no experience with taro, so say celeriac?) I'm rather reminded of some mid-level Scotch blends, Lawson's, Label 5… Mouth: you would certainly say this is whisky. I remember having tried some very old beet whisky from when France first decided to make some whisky themselves, which was a little similar, but certainly not as good. Lemon zest, grass, something a little metallic, some bonbons… Finish: medium, with a little sawdust perhaps, but we remain above the waterline, so to speak. Comments: absolutely palatable, certainly not the 'caramelised vodka' I was expecting. I hope they'll also make some brilliant rum, as they have in Fiji.
SGP:330 - 70 points.

Into the opposite direction for the last one…

Smögen 9 yo 2013/2013 (59.6%, OB, LMDW Antipodes, Sweden, first fill oloroso sherry, cask #7/2013)

Smögen 9 yo 2013/2022 (59.6%, OB, LMDW Antipodes, Sweden, first fill oloroso sherry, cask #7/2013) Four stars and a halfColour: deep gold. Nose: varnish, olives, gherkins, dried kelp, green walnuts, bitter vermouth (some peated vermouth!), touch of mustard, toffee, praline and a double-espresso. With water: seriously, and please excuse me Mr Distiller, this baby reminds of some of the official 'phroaigs 10 yo C/S. New tyres, grapefruit zests, pomelos… Mouth (neat): it's rather Ali vs. Frazier on your palate. Feeling of tarmac, heavy liquorice, truffle, artichoke liqueur, lemon, more olives… The smoke's rather medicinal (I know, any excuses…) With water: still heavy, more medicinal yet. Some old medicine full of tar, camphor, cardamom, caraway… Something very faintly lactic in the aftertaste (vanilla cream). Finish: there, brine, some saltiness, porridge, rye bread… The pomelos is back in the aftertaste, together with some chocolate. Comments: as always, we're supposed to like the ex-bourbons even better, but this for sure is part of the cream of the crop as far as oloroso-ed peated ones are concerned.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Right, Hautes-Glaces and Smögen, no surprises here.

(Thank you, Morten!)


April 24, 2023


Glen Grant 12,
Glen Grant 12,
and bonus for nasty DHL

There's a new old Glen Grant 1959 'Mr George Legacy' by G&M but because DHL keep behaving like total crooks (DHL UK gladly take the parcels and the money, including tax money, fully knowing that DHL France will then block them all) it didn't make it to WF Towers. So out of frustration, we'll have another old Glen Grant by G&M that we haven't tried yet, a 1955. Take that, DHL! But first, two little apéritifs… Postscript: To whom this may concern, I'm happy to report that we've found a much better solution than DHL to France, more later…

M George



Glen Grant 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glen Grant 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
When did they change the packaging once more? Colour: white wine. Nose: these young Glen Grants are the closest to the raw barley, which I find fantastic. I'm also finding white peaches, a little crushed slate, lager (or pilsner) and greengages. Adorable nose, fresh, close to the original substance. Mouth: it couldn't be as good as on the nose, but I still like it, with its gooseberries and marshmallows, jelly babies, granny smith, soft honeys, green tea, shortbread… Finish: a little short indeed, but clean, rather on sweetened tea, with an honeyed aftertaste. Comments: I have the feeling that they keep improving their expressions. If we ever get back to the levels reached by Glen Grant in the 1950s and 1960s, we'll shoot fireworks, it's going to be dazzling!

SGP:551 - 83 points.

Now something funny…

Glen Grant 12 yo 'Travel Retail' (48%, OB, +/-2022)

Glen Grant 12 yo 'Travel Retail' (48%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
For once, travellers have it good, instead of some NAS-coming-with-unlikely-stories, they get a boosted version of Glen Grant 12, bottled at 48% vol. instead of 43. Now is it really the same juice? Let's try to find out… Colour: white wine. Nose: we're close indeed but this is a little oilier, as if the woods have been a little more active. However, the colours are the same. Perhaps a little more ale, vanilla, crushed banana… In truth I think I liked the regular 12 a little better, for it was fresher, fruitier and more 'natural'. Mouth: no question, the regular 12 is more to my liking, this one seems to have more oak, oversteeped tea, something a little sour, unripe cherries and plums perhaps… If we add water to bring it down to +/-43% vol., we do indeed get more fresh fruits, but some bitterish oak remains. The reduction of spirits is a sport! Finish: medium, still a tad oakish and teaish. Lemon in the aftertaste, which is better. Better, not a belter as they say in rap (what?) Comments: fine.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

And now, as a snub to b****y DHL and with a nod to dear G&M…

Glen Grant 59 yo 1955/2014 (60.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells for LMDW, refill sherry hogshead, cask #845, 78 bottles)

Glen Grant 59 yo 1955/2014 (60.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells for LMDW, refill sherry hogshead, cask #845, 78 bottles) Five stars
I'm glad I hadn't tried this one yet and kept it for an appropriate time. Got to love the Book of Kells label by the way, I hope they'll keep using it. Pleeeaaase… Colour: coffee. Nose: this could have been an old Demerara just as well, or an old cognac (but the strength would have been lower), or a special old armagnac, or even a very old calvados. Ha, convergences! There is some superlative old varnish, sauna oils, pine liqueurs, raw chocolate beans, surely torrefaction, roasted pecans, tamarind chutney and jam, also orange sauce. No, blood orange sauce. This nose is simply jaw-dropping. With water: while it's getting completely opaque… Chocolate, fumes, tobacco, coffee, morels, vin jaune, oloroso, a touch of soy sauce, another one of smoky barbecue sauce… This is totally impressive. Mouth: heavy, thick, incredibly concentrated, magnificently oaky (towards coffee) and piney, and really full of liquorice and orange. With water: become fractal, and yet focussed and 'one'. More tamarind, coffee, black toffee, oranges, mocha, fir bud liqueur, liquorice… And thousands of smaller flavours. Finish: just totally endless. You may have to cancel your dinner in town. Comments: no wonder it fetched Gold at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2014 (I wasn't aboard). A monumental so-called 'old sherry monster'.

SGP:672 - 94 points.

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


April 23, 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!


Rum is back on WF

Tarlac, Philippines (Photograph P199)

After three Sundays full of glorious cognacs, time to try a few rums again, starting with some simpler, mandatory apéritif because as I wrote somewhere else, I believe it is extremely tricky when you try the best, or noblest spirits first within a line-up, they often make for bad starting points. I'd love to use some reference(s) as I often do with whisky, but I'd first need to find some good, appropriate 'benchmark rums'. We'll think about it…

Bacardi 10 yo 'Gran Reserva Diez' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2022)

Bacardi 10 yo 'Gran Reserva Diez' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2022) one star and a half
Not a regular at Castillo WF, the closest expression I've tried was a 8 years old back in 2016. 'Not too bad, but totally forgettable – WF 70'. Colour: gold. Nose: incredibly light, with some apple juice, hints of ripe bananas and pears, caramel, a little praline and a bit of metal (old copper coins). Nots of tarte tatin too, which is nicer, it would improve a little bit over time. Mouth: a little sweet and sour, pretty honeyed, with a little mead, hay, coffee liqueur, and this spirity side that's often to be found in the lightest rums in my meagre experience. I find it difficult to enjoy, it was probably never meant to be a sipper. Finish: short, with only a little sugarcane syrup remaining. Coffee liqueur in the aftertaste, which is a tad cloying. Comments: not very motivating. I find it rather weak and yet difficult – but the bottle is lovely!
SGP:320 - 68 points.

Don Q 'Anejo' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2021)

Perhaps another apéritif from Puerto Rico…

Don Q 'Anejo' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2021)
We had tried their 'Gran Anejo' back in 2017; same ballpark as those Bacardis (WF 70). Colour: gold. Nose: this one too is very light, quite close to the Bacardi, only without the praline and the tarte tatin. Grass, pears, corn syrup, touches of amaretto… Mouth: unpleasantly spirity, yet extremely thin, more sugary than that Bacardi. Some kind of sweet herbal liqueur, some caramel, some sourness (fermenting apple juice)… Finish: virtually none. A little caramel and grass. Sour beer in the aftertaste. Comments: not much to say. It's not exactly foul.
SGP:520 - 65 points.

Let's get serious.

Foursquare 13 yo 2009/2022 (60.7%, Dram Mor, cask #3, 295 bottles)

Foursquare 13 yo 2009/2022 (60.7%, Dram Mor, cask #3, 295 bottles) Four stars
This baby first matured on location for 8 years in ex-bourbon barrels, then for 5 years in Bonnie Scotland, in some ex-malt cask. Colour: gold. Nose: if I wanted to provoke people I would say it's close to the Bacardi, only a thousand times nicer. But that feeling may come from the very high strength. Nougat and popcorn, that praline, some natural vanilla, honeys, maple syrup… With water: some subtle herbal teas, pistachios, sesame oil… I have the impression that the proportion of ex-column rum in this self-blended Foursquare is higher than usual. Mouth (neat): Bacardi + lemon, only ten thousand times better. A very nice citric side, some vanilla... With water: easy, on coconut and vanilla, with some orange cordial in the background. Not a heavier Foursquare indeed. Finish: medium, soft, on more vanilla, coconut water and banana. Citrus in the aftertaste, which just always works. Quite some pepper too. Comments: some lighter FS and another world, already.

SGP:530 - 85 points.

Let's try another one…

Foursquare 11 yo 2010/2022 (61.1%, The Colours of Rum, No. 18, 259 bottles)

Foursquare 11 yo 2010/2022 (61.1%, The Colours of Rum, No. 18, 259 bottles) Four stars
Same cask-bill, first bourbon in Barbados, then ex-malt in Scotland. Colour: light gold. Nose: very close, only a tad straighter and fatter at the same time, but at 60+%, who would tell? With water: very similar. Also touches of asparagus, wild leek… Mouth (neat): hot, grassier than its bro, with more lemon as well. Coconut, vanilla, cane juice, grapefruit. With water: citrus-led, pomelos, more grapefruit… It is a little zestier than the lovely Dram Mor. Finish: medium, pretty complex now, on various herbal teas, liquorice… And citrus of course. Comments: I like this one a notch better because of the citrus. I also have the feeling that more breathing would do it much good.

SGP:530 - 86 points.

Luisita 6 yo 2016/2022 (62%, Tarlac Distillery, Precious Liquors, Philippines, PX butt, cask #1003)

Luisita 6 yo 2016/2022 (62%, Tarlac Distillery, Precious Liquors, Philippines, PX butt, cask #1003) Four stars
This is brand new, made by a large old sugar estate in Tarlac, Philippines. They have been making 'neutral' rum for many decades, so I suppose they're Don Papa's suppliers. But this is said to be very different, let's see… Colour: red amber. Nose: feels like pot-still, while I'm happy to report that this has got nothing to do with 'said brand'. It is rather heavy, full of tarmac, liquorice, petrol, engine oil, olives, rotting bananas, neoprene, peonies and wisteria… With water: olives and tar! Mouth (neat): heavy again, shock-full of liquorices of all kinds, petroly as it should be (why that, S.?) and with awesome touches of caraway and cardamom in the background. Excellent. With water: some sweeter fruits coming out, as jams. Medlars, jujubes… Do those grow in Tarlac? A few touches of pencil shavings, some chocolate, some coffee liqueur too. Finish: long, rich not thick, more on molasses but always with rather a lot of tar and liquorice. The PX behaved, it seems. Comments: the coating reminds me of some Mauritians, while the core's rather closer to a heavy Demerara's. A great surprise. There's also an ex-bourbon, I can't wait, it may be approaching the 90-mark…

SGP:562 - 87 points.

May 7 Update : bad guess, the Distillery behind Luisita never supplied Don Papa, who rather source their spirit from Ginebra San Miguel, who are large Philippinian, err… gin makers (which may explain a lot). Thank you, Randall.

More unusual origins…

Engenho Novo 2016/2022 (53.4%, Barikenn, Madeira, Port cask, 284 bottles)

Engenho Novo 2016/2022 (53.4%, Barikenn, Madeira, Port cask, 284 bottles) Four stars
It doesn't say on the label, but Madeira is the only other island that's got the right to use the controlled appellation 'agricole'. It is, indeed, pure cane juice rum from a small distillery on the south coast of the island. Oh and let's say using Port wood makes sense here, given that both products are stemming from Portugal. There. Colour: full gold. Nose: I find it less 'loco' than other Madeiran rums, but that may be the Port wood. Some fresh cane juice but also a lot of Demerara sugar, black nougat, millionaire shortbread (how Scottish indeed), a little pinewood, some softer vegetal tar, patchouli, perhaps hibiscus… With water: awesome. Changes direction, goes towards earthy meats, Chinese mushrooms, raspberry vinegar, cigars… Mouth (neat): rich, I would suppose you could call it 'Porty', as it is full of cassis, elderberry jam (marvellous when made by some stars such as Christine Ferber in Niedermorschwihr), old woods… I'm wondering if you couldn't use it to make some kind of kir royal with champagne. With water: it takes water very well, even if the Port is kind of keeping the lead. Yet balance remains perfect. Finish: pretty long, naturally sweet – because of the Port – although there would be a feeling of malmsey too. Comments: I'm never in favour of wine in my spirits, but this time it worked a treat. Another great surprise today.
SGP:751 - 87 points.

Let's make our last one a Hampden, as we often do.

HD 2007/2022 (62.3%, The Many Faces of Rum, The Whisky Jury for The Purist and Care For Craft Spirits, Jamaica, refill hogshead, cask #8)

HD 2007/2022 (62.3%, The Many Faces of Rum, The Whisky Jury for The Purist and Care For Craft Spirits, Jamaica, refill hogshead, cask #8) Five stars
Fully aged on the continent. The green entity on the label looks like any French DHL representative, only much kinder. Colour: white wine. Nose: wham! Pure gherkin brine, black olives, acetone, carbon dust, samphires, tar and concentrated lemon juice. Probably a high marque. With water: whiffs of ammonia coming out, glue, epoxy… Mouth (neat): simply evident. Varnish and banana liqueur, more acetone, nail polish, salted fish, olives, tar… Actually, it's rather a clean one and I find more bananas and papayas than usual. Funny molecules! With water: and voilà, perfection. I'm even finding it a little daiquiri-y. Finish: long, not eternal, rather on the fruitier side again. Those bananas and papayas… Tar and olives back in the aftertaste. Comments: simply superlative, without 'too much oak'. Almost some readymade high-rank Jamaican daiquiri.

SGP:653 - 91 points.

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


April 22, 2023


Cheers to all friends in Limburg

I'm sad I couldn't make it to the home of the Sauferbrunnen this year. Beware of the Curry Wursts!




Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland

Eight Linkwood

Long time no Linkwood. Let's fix!



Linkwood 14 yo 2007/2021 (46%, North Star 'Wee Star', 1st fill hogshead, 500 bottles)

Linkwood 14 yo 2007/2021 (46%, North Star 'Wee Star', 1st fill hogshead, 500 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: honey glazed pastries and flower nectars, an obvious level of influence from the cask here, but it feels like this easy 46% balances it nicely. There's some fresh meadow flowers and green fruits in there too. Very nice! Mouth: same feeling, easy sweetness, pastries, honey, soda bread and a few autumnal ale notes. Very easy, simple and stays the right side of natural with its sweetness. Finish: medium, with a light sappy note, some cigarette papers and sultana. Comments: simple and deadly easy quaffing juice. Little wonder Mr C placed it in a 20cl pocket bottle.

SGP: 541 - 84 points.



Linkwood 10 yo 2011/2022 (52.2%, The Whisky Exchange '50th Anniversary', refill hogshead + bourbon barrel, 870 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2011/2022 (52.2%, The Whisky Exchange '50th Anniversary', refill hogshead + bourbon barrel, 870 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: lychee, pollens and cut green apples. With plenty of meadow vibes, bailed hay and crushed flower stems. An extremely summery profile I find. With water: hints of pineapple jelly, fruit salad and gorse flower now. Mouth: same feeling of pollens, sweet flower nectars, sunflower oil, sun lotion and touches of linseed oil and sandalwood. A very clever wee composition. With water: even fruitier and sweeter now, doubling down on this confectionary and juicy fruit vibe. Fruit salad juices, sweetened breakfast cereals and lemon oil. Finish: good length, a little drier and more peppery now, but still with these summery and floral vibes aplenty. Comments: I can see why this one fits well into this series, it's all about easy and simple pleasures. I think the mix of these two casks has worked very well.

SGP: 541 - 87 points.



Linkwood 10 yo 2012/2022 (56.1%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #305474, tawny port finish, 271 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2012/2022 (56.1%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #305474, tawny port finish, 271 bottles)
Colour: salmony gold. Nose: perhaps not as scary as I was anticipating, this is mostly on fruit jams and pastries with a generally very approachable feeling of sweetness that starts to remind me more of sauternes than tawny port. With water: a little earthier, more putty, some fruit teas, some dried herbs and an impression of red liquorice. Mouth: not too sure about this, I find it a little excessively jammy and cloying, perhaps a little too heavy on the port treatment. With water: water helps, but I still find it a little funny with some plasticine and red chili jam notes that feel a little at odds. Finish: medium, back on the red fruit jams, with quince and treacle too. Comments: not my cup of malt I'm afraid, you probably need to like them rather on the sweet and jammy side.

SGP: 631 - 77 points.



Linkwood 12 yo 2008 (56.8%, The Single Cask for Malt Universe, bourbon barrel)

Linkwood 12 yo 2008 (56.8%, The Single Cask for Malt Universe, bourbon barrel)
Colour: white wine. Nose: a leaner and more distillate driven style that evokes mash water, ink and boiled cereals. Very natural and raw ingredient driven, which I'm always in favour of. With water: gathers complexity with water which is good news. An oilier cereal profile, a few wee orchard fruits and a bigger floral profile. Mouth: rather light, floral and cereal driven. Some putty and clay vibes, along with cooking oils and dried flower petals, also things like cut grass and vase water. With water: once again, it picks up nicely with water, becoming sweeter, jucier and creamier, with more malt extract, a hint of pineapple and some flower nectars. Finish: medium, on clay, grass, cereals and green apple. Comments: definitely on the lighter side, but water works some clever tricks here.

SGP: 441 - 83 points.



Linkwood 13 yo 2007/2021 (59.3%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 229 bottles)

Linkwood 13 yo 2007/2021 (59.3%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 229 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a fuller style, with a chunkier cereal and malty quality, various shades of breakfast cereal, dried flowers, crushed oatcakes, freshly laundered linens and a few touches of hoppy IPAs. With water: lemon peel, soda bread, olive oil and a wee touch of hessian. Mouth: on the prickly side! But with good underlying sweetness and juiciness, some yellow plums and mineral oil vibes. With water: there we go! Breads, beers and putty! Some dried banana chips, olive oil, plush cereals and a tiny wee hint of ointment. Finish: good length, a wee peppery afterglow and lots of these cereal qualities resurfacing. Comments: I enjoy the fuller profile of this one, just add some water and you are on your way!

SGP: 451 - 85 points.



Linkwood 24 yo 1997/2021 (56.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #7566, hogshead, 225 bottles)

Linkwood 24 yo 1997/2021 (56.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #7566, hogshead, 225 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very gentle leafy earthiness, backed by lemon rinds and lemon infused olive oil, then becoming more overtly fruity with green and orchard fruits. You could also add some pollens and a touch of witchhazel. A charming balance between the earthy and the fruity. With water: as I'm often finding with Linkwood, it becomes more floral with water, also some very light waxiness, more olive oil and still this lovely green fruitiness. Mouth: really great fruitiness up front, underpinned by a syrupy and bright sweetness that incorporates flower nectars, fruit pulps, nectarines, gooseberry jam and then back to earthier things like dried heather flowers, old school IPAs and more of these very subtle medicinal vibes. With water: green apple, wildflowers, gooseberry tart, custard and a touch of turmeric. Finish: good length, a little drier now, some watercress, cereals, dried flowers and fabrics. Comments: perhaps Linkwood really just needs time? A lovely and superbly juicy single cask.

SGP: 651 - 88 points.



Linkwood 25 yo 1997/2022 (56.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange 50 years, cask #7581, hogshead, 212 bottles)

Linkwood 25 yo 1997/2022 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange 50 years, cask #7581, hogshead, 212 bottles)
Sibling cask plus 1 year, let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: the same profile, but deeper on those earthy qualities and with added layers of 'oldness', which here translates to more waxes, more linseed oils, more putty and resinous qualities. The fruitiness is generally more on the crystallised and preserved side of things - same quality overall I feel. With water: holds this lovely resinous profile with notes of herbal teas, wormwood, Cointreau and various fruit eau de vie impressions. Mouth: excellent! Superb concentration and with big notes of crystallised honey, flower nectars, hardwood resins and fruit compotes. Orange oils, kumquat and quince jelly. With water: mango jam, rosewater, lychee, herbal ointments and hints of things like fig jam and maraschino juice. Finish: long, resinous once again, peppery and starting to become quite mentholated and still nicely fruity in the aftertaste. Comments: I had it at 89 but the palate with water tipped it decisively over the edge - a gorgeous Linkwood that seems to have aged five years in the space of 1 year in comparison to its sibling.

SGP: 561 - 90 points.



Let us end this wee session in theoretical style…



Linkwood 15 yo '100° proof' (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, bottled -/+1980)

Linkwood 15 yo '100° proof' (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, bottled -/+1980)
Of all the 100° proof licensed bottlings und G&M's old 'distillery labels' series, one of the scarcest is the Linkwood. I've tasted these high strength 15yo versions in the old flat miniature G&M bottles many times and always found them totally sublime, but never from the full-size bottle. Time to put that right! Colour: pale amber. Nose: a stunning combination of umami seasonings, mushroom powder, bouillon, lovage and marzipan. Then add boot polish, deep and savoury ramen broths, resinous fir woods and camphor. A sherry cask from a galaxy longer ago and further away than Grogu's. With water: gets immediately fruitier with kumquat, orange marmalade, plum wine and then hints of five spice and treacle. Savoury, hugely aromatic and fantastically detailed. Mouth: hugely fat, spicy, dense and leathery sherry. Full of tars, herbal liqueurs, ointments, putty and even touches of iodine and roof pitch. Salted almonds, marzipan and pristinely salty liquorice. Extreme, powerful and totally brilliant! With water: saltier, earthier and more bitterly herbal now. Also still impressively medicinal and phenolic. More assorted oranges and plummy fruit notes too. Finish: stunningly long, crisp, salty, resinous, medicinal and herbal. Old school, umami and rancio drenched sherry flavours glowing in the aftertaste. Comments: tells a very different tale from these contemporary Linkwoods. Yet another star amongst so many amazing old G&M 100° proof bottlings. Not too sure how many variations of this one are out there, I've seen paler and darker vattings of this one. Furthermore, looks like Serge tried a version back in 2005 and wasn't too impressed (WF84), such is the way with old bottles. This one is a total glory though.

SGP: 563 - 92 points.




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


April 21, 2023


Little Duos, today Glen Moray

Because they're firing on all cylinders these days and because it's a wonderfully textured yet easy malt. We've done a wee 'masterclass' (a public chat while sipping whisky, really) with Whisky Lodge founder Gabriel Tissandier at the Lyon Whisky Festival just a few weeks ago - Gabriel too is firing on all cylinders - and we tried an all-natural young Glen Moray by Lombard for Blooming Gems that has been really wonderful. But silly me, I forgot to take any notes or sample. Bah, let's just have two wee other OBs as compensation…

Banana Flambeed
Bananas flambéed (Mon Tiroir A Recettes)

Glen Moray 'Rhum Agricole' (46.3%, OB, Cask Finish Project, UK exclusive, +/-2021, 3,060 bottles)

Glen Moray 'Rhum Agricole' (46.3%, OB, Cask Finish Project, UK exclusive, +/-2021, 3,060 bottles) Three stars and a half
I seem to remember this was 6 yo Gen Moray (or was it 10?) further matured for 2 extra-years in rhum wood. Well, I would suppose they would have added an age statement if it were 10+2. We've tried another Glen Moray that had been finished in Depaz rhum casks earlier this month, but this very NAS had rather been finished in St James, another name that does belong to La Martiniquaise, just like Glen Moray and Depaz. This is probably very young… Colour: straw. Nose: rather a lot of dry rhum at first sniffs, with whiffs of fresh-squeezed sugarcanes, vegetable peel (asparagus for example), grass that was cut two days ago, a little burnt caramel, then rather varnishes and glues, always a good sign in my book. The malt starts to speak out after a minute, with croissants, beer and shortbread. Touches of bananas flambéed, that's the rhum retaliating. Mouth: once again it starts rather grassy and peely, but pineapples and bananas are soon to take over. Goes on with some strong honey, muscovado, zests, black tea, green tea, some ginger, amaretti… Finish: pretty long but more grassy and bitter than expected. Green peppercorn, grass, green pears… And some banana skin and zests in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good meta-spirit, sometimes even a rumsky.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Glen Moray 2014/2022 'Oloroso Fully Matured' (60%, OB, UK exclusive, warehouse 1, 1,950 bottles)

Glen Moray 2014/2022 'Oloroso Fully Matured' (60%, OB, UK exclusive, warehouse 1, 1,950 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: an old armagnac, some coffee liqueur, an old hunting rifle, some very old brandy de Jerez, and a huge power. It's a little hard to fathom that this is still an infant, at only seven or eight years of age. With water: coffee and chocolate, plus a drop of Ténarèze. Mouth (neat): coffee and marc or coffee and kirschwasser. This is exactly what we call 'café-schnapps' in Alsace. With water: thick and heavy, coating, ridden with Demerara molasses and heavy VDN (say the thickest Rasteaux that will keep you warm and busy for months). Finish: very long, clearly winey and molassy. Walnut wine. Comments: very heavy, touching the extremities of Whiskydom here. Not too sure this is still malt whisky, but on the other hand, many legendary old bottlings were like this. Hello, Macallan?

SGP:771 - 86 points.

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


April 20, 2023


More coastal mixes

Simply because we really wanted to try the new Charlie's Nose as soon as the livery was out!

Maclean's Nose (Picture This Scotland)



Maclean's Nose (46%, Adelphi, Blended Scotch, 2023)

Maclean's Nose (46%, Adelphi, Blended Scotch, 2023) Four stars and a half
This is brand new, but I've heard it's only due to be heading out of their warehouse towards the end of April. I first used to believe this baby was a much appropriate tribute to Charles MacLean's own nose, but I just saw that 'Maclean's Nose' was the name of a place near Ardnamurchan, and that of a salmon farm as well. The label's been made out of barley draff, which surely is a first, but I've heard the cattle was starting to complain, as that draff is usually used as food for them. You cannot please everyone, I suppose. This shelters 70% malt, so in my book, it's a quasi-malt. Colour: straw. Nose: I am not certain there is some Ardnamurchan in there, but that's totally possible, if not obvious. It's very close to 'nature', to the sea, to the draff (there), to grist, to breads, to lemons, to damp oatcakes, with a small fermentary side in the background, which we always enjoy. Then rather earth, root vegetables, wild carrots, williams pears… You say grain whisky? What grain whisky? Mouth: much smokier on the palate, with this perfect acridness that we always enjoy as well, lemon zests, salt, oysters, sauvignon blanc, then once again these bready, fermentary notes. But the peat's carrying the flag, clearly. Finish: long, clean, natural, with no further changes, bread, peat, lemon, brine, oysters… Comments: quite bizarrely, this baby also reminds me of some of the very best new Japanese malts, in their peated forms. Hey, it's a compliment! Top coastal blend - or indeed quasi-malt.
SGP:455 – 88 points.

The/Six-Isles 'Rum Finish' (48%, Ian Macleod, blended malt, +/-2023)

The/Six-Isles 'Rum Finish' (48%, Ian Macleod, blended malt, +/-2023) Four stars
'A sensory voyage through the malt whiskies of the islands of Scotland'. What could that be, Orkney, Islay, Jura, Mull, Skye, Arran…? Or did they include some of the new ones? We've tried earlier expressions, including a 10 years old, which were all good although the labels were much less pretty. Love this one. They've also cranked up the volume, mind you, 48% vol.! But they've also dumped it into rum… Why, I don't know. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is very peaty, in the style of Caol Ila. Smoke, seaweed, crabs, oysters, tree bark, brine, kippers and all that, plus just a little tar. Nothing to add or to complain about this far. Mouth: frankly, I'd have said Caol Ila. Very good zesty, tarry style, with something clean, lemons, granny smith, more oysters, langoustines… I'm not finding any rum, unless they would have used Jamaicans that are very close to Islay 'in spirit and in style'. Finish: long, with rather lovely bitternesses. Comments: so, Jamaican casks? Undeniably a success.

SGP:557 - 85 points.

Mac o'Isles (43.5%, House of McCallum, blended malt, +/-2023)

Mac o'Isles (43.5%, House of McCallum, blended malt, +/-2023) Four stars
A rather similar concept, including the finishing in rum casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a gentler version, partly because of the lower strength but also because the rum may have been 'sweeter'. Now the core remains close, clean, coastal, Caol-Ila-y, extremely pleasant, almost refreshing on the nose, as when you would sniff some eucalyptus oil. Nutshell, it's easier. Mouth: similar findings and feelings, brine, smoke, ashes, oysters, tar, cider apples… I'm sure you would easily find the rum, should you try both the pre-finish and the post-finish versions, but just like that, I don't think there's much chance of that happening. Which may mean that they did the finishing very well. Finish: medium, maybe a tiny-wee-bit sweeter, otherwise fully on coastal peat, ashes, apples, lemons… Comments: careful, at 43.5% and most naturally, it would go down quicker.
SGP:557 - 85 points.

To the SMWS, where they seem to have gotten even crazier. After the names, the designs!

Frazzle Dazzle 13 yo 2008/2022 (50%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, blended malt, 1,785 bottles)

Frazzle Dazzle 13 yo 2008/2022 (50%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, blended malt, 1,785 bottles) Three stars and a half
Hold on, this was also finished in some '1st fill smoked barley wine hogshead', I don't even know what that is, what is this world coming to? Sure I'll do some research… Whenever I come across another one. Colour: gold. Nose: overripe apples at first, pear cake, plus barley wine I would suppose, then more ripe orchard fruits such as plums, touches of guavas, sweet yeasty beers… With water: sweet, honeyed beer, or something like that. I know more about Mongolian yak butter than about beer (boo). Mouth (neat): it is spicier and I would have said it was American. Is it American? I find it a little fizzy (Schweppes), gingery… Ginger cookies, also ginseng powder, turmeric, then blood oranges… It surely is unusual. With water: better, rounder, with citrus wine, but never without these earthy, gingery touches, hearts of palm… Finish: medium, always on beer indeed, hops, liquorice allsorts, IPAs... The guavas are back in the aftertaste. Comments: a bit out of my comfort zone, but it's surely very good.

SGP:641 - 83 points.

Last one…

Smokehead 'Extra Rare' (40%, Ian Macleod, travel retail, 1l, 2022)

Smokehead 'Extra Rare' (40%, Ian Macleod, travel retail, 1l, 2022) Four stars
It's that rare that they brought the strength down to 40% vol. Just joking. Colour: gold. Nose: classic smoke, hints of barbecued pineapple and banana, a little camphor, vegetal tar, tyres, and something in the background that reminds me of young Port Ellen. There sure isn't any Port Ellen in there, but there, some aspects are reminiscent of those young Italian PEs that had been bottled at 40%. Mouth: honestly, I find it excellent, old-school (sherry), tarry, very ashy, it's just that it would tend to nosedive around the middle. Some awesome notes of pickled citrus, though. Finish: not too long but just as excellent. Citrus and tar, lovely. Comments: I wasn't prepared for this, I was expecting a humbler wee 79-81 pointer.

SGP:567 - 85 points.

Wasn't it a good little session? We'll have more new blends and stuff very soon.


April 19, 2023


A few cutting-edge Clynelish

Ha! Always a pleasure and a joy, even if there are more and more undisclosed or 'secret' ones around, which I find deplorable. Anyway, we'll first try the older ones, since they're lighter in alcohol. (WF Archive)




Clynelish 32 yo 1989/2022 (44.2%, Blackadder, Statement, Edition No. 50, for Liquorfang Taiwan, barrel, cask #6093, 162 bottles)

Clynelish 32 yo 1989/2022 (44.2%, Blackadder, Statement, Edition No. 50, for Liquorfang Taiwan, barrel, cask #6093, 162 bottles) Five stars
We've tried some sister casks while those were still young, like a very good cask #6088 bottled at 13 or 14 years of age. But they were still 'young' when I tried those, in… 2006. Colour: light gold. Nose: the late 1980s are not quite part of the most famous vintages of Clynelish, but this time I doubt you could find more beeswax and warm pinewood anywhere else. Neither would you detect this much soft citrus (think pomelos, tangerine), then stewed rhubarb, or this perfect wonderful chalk/raw wool combination. A part reminds of some very chalky champagnes, minus the wee bubbles, naturally. Pure Clynelishness. Mouth: 30+ is such a perfect age. There's some tannicity for sure, but it's a greener kind that would rather remind us of some lovely apple peel and of high-end green tea, or Wulong as well. Behind that, all citrus you could think of plus the trademark waxiness, once again rather around beeswax than towards 'artificial' candles, paraffin or else. Amazing zesty development then, on grated grapefruit peel, yuzu and so on. Faultless, while strength and body are Picture-perfect. Finish: a tighter, much more citrusy Clynelish than usual in the end. Comments: it is almost acidic at times, in the style of a tart, bone-dry chenin blanc. I cannot think of any other active Distillery that would produce this style, perhaps will the new Rosebank do it?

SGP:671 - 90 points.

Probably only a variant…

Clynelish 31 yo 1989/2021 (45%, Blackadder, Statement, Edition No. 44, for Liquorfang Taiwan, barrel, cask #6095, 185 bottles)

Clynelish 31 yo 1989/2021 (45%, Blackadder, Statement, Edition No. 44, for Liquorfang Taiwan, barrel, cask #6095, 185 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: exactly, it is very similar, only a notch rounder and more honeyed, with added touches of camphor, as if this barrel had been a tiny tad more active. All in all, this one's just as awesome as its sister. They're almost twins. Mouth: it is almost a little fizzy at first, very much of lemons and grapefruits, then expectedly waxy and rather honeyed. Sublime waxiness, tangerines, chalk, Szechuan pepper, this green tannicity (green pepper, green tea, ginger tonic)… Finish: this is where this one overtakes its twin. Long finish, with some sultanas and mangos in the aftertaste. A tad less folksy, would we say. Comments: totally and plainly exceptional. I'm glad to see these vintages reach full and entire maturity.

SGP:661 - 91 points.

A younger, yet perhaps more famous vintage of Clynelish now, including some heavier sherry, as it seems. Remember that in my view, sherry or other such flavourings, or however you call that, make wonders with moderately expressive distillates, such as, for example, most Speysiders or 'whiskies of the world', but may clash with more potent ones, especially the peaters or the waxies. So, let's see…   

Clynelish 25 yo 1996/2022 (52.3%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, sherry butt, cask #11382, 473 bottles)

Clynelish 25 yo 1996/2022 (52.3%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, sherry butt, cask #11382, 473 bottles) Four stars and a half
You can hardly see through this wee Clynelish mind you! Quite… Colour: office coffee (at the NYPD in 1980s movies, Pacino et al) Nose: chocolate all over the place, plus damp garden peat, beef jerky, linoleum, fumes, castor oil and soy sauce, plus whiffs of truffles (perhaps rather white ones from Alba). Also Nescafé and mushrooms (oyster mushrooms, porcinis). The chocolate remains in the front seat all along. With water: more classic old wood style, first rainwater, amontillado… Mouth (neat): one of the meatiest and earthiest sherried Clynelishes I've tried. Well one of the meatiest and earthiest sherried malt whiskies globally. Some very extreme vegetal tar, very heavy salty liquorice, roasted raw chocolate beans, hoisin sauce, rubber, cardamom and capsicum aplenty, clove, tobacco… With water:  it relaxes and would display more dried fruits, fruitcake, pumpernickel, now truffles and salted liquorice have not given up. Neither did coffee-flavoured dark chocolate and our dear hoisin sauce. Bring on the Peking duck! Finish: long, very chocolaty and salty. Chocolate and salt is a tricky combination, unless you're Mexican (ha). Very peppery aftertaste. Comments: rather what I was expecting, such a heavy sherry can overwhelm even the fatter spirits, now I haven't found any dissonances or excessive leather or cabbage. So it's an excellent one, what's more you could also easily use it instead of… tabasco.
SGP:372 - 88 points.

Since we were at Signatory's and in 1996…

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2015 (54.4%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #6516, 505 bottles)

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2015 (54.4%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #6516, 505 bottles) Three stars and a half
Signatory have had loads of Clynelishes (oh those 1965!) including a lot of 1996 indeed, with emphasis on sherry. Colour: apricot gold. Nose: obviously more 'Clynelish', but also with more twists and turns, slight dissonances, wee fights and friendly teases. For example, there is a little rubber that would fight the mirabelle jam and the waxy honeys, but indeed it remains an exhibition game, so to speak. All rather gentle. First and foremost, the Clynelish character remains rather obvious. Some flints too. With water: a little leather coming out. Not too sure it's a great swimmer. Mouth (neat): the sherry's remained rather active, in this case full of walnuts, adding a little mustard that would make you think of some dry 'cooking' Madeira. With water: walnut wine, a little leather again, some bitter tobacco (all tobaccos are bitter, aren't they) and a pinch of salt. Finish: rather long, a tad bitter, on leather, walnuts and bitter marmalade. Dark chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: very, very good, just not exactly my favourite style of Clynelish (see the Blackadders!)
SGP:371 - 84 points.

A last one (five make for a good session)…

Secret Highland Distillery 9 yo 2013/2022 (52.5%, Sansibar, Finest Whisky Berlin, hogshead, 412 bottles)

Secret Highland Distillery 9 yo 2013/2022 (52.5%, Sansibar, Finest Whisky Berlin, hogshead, 412 bottles) Four stars and a half
It doesn't say it is Clynelish, but at least, the drawing on the label tells us that this should not be Glenmorangie. Colour: white wine. Nose: pure and crystalline, on paraffin, new wool, lamp petroleum, medicinal alcohol, crushed slate and the tightest cider apple. Totally immaculate, almost strident. With water: wool chalk porridge and sourdough. No quibbling. Mouth (neat): superlatively waxy and petroly, you would almost believe the hogshead used to contain some previous peater belonging to the same cartel, either from Skye or from Islay. Extraordinary salty blast, plus lemons, plus granny smith, plus paraffin and plasticine. With water: superbly grassy, bitter, and yet fruity around the edges. I adore this fermentary side that coats it all, I'm wondering if you couldn't add some wash residues to your new make, keep it for years and then gently re-filter in some kind of way. Well, probably not. Finish: long, clean and with even touches of brine and… green olives. Green olives stop wars! (if only…) Comments: incomparable make. Mind you, only 9. To cellar for twenty or thirty years or more. What's more, I'm extremely pleased to notice that very recent vintages are of dazzling quality. Not everything is lost in this fake 'tech' world (guilty as charged).
SGP:562 - 89 points.

(Thank you Morten, thank you Ryan!)

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


April 18, 2023


Around the world...

Distillerie du Vercors with its sequoia (photo Distillerie du Vercors)


Once more, five whiskies from various countries, starting from our home country.



Sequoia 2017/2022 (46%, Distillerie du Vercors, LMDW Version Française, 320 bottles)

Sequoia 2017/2022 (46%, 400, LMDW Version Française, 320 bottles) Four stars
Everyone in France is making whisky these days, but very few are using pot stills. In this case it's a combination of a stainless still plus a Cognaçais. Having said that, Distillerie du Vercors are having an excellent reputation and this combination should work better than just Cognaçais or columns, which often make thinner whiskies that you then need to boost using aggressive oak. Forget about balance. Colour: gold. Nose: it is a little bit on banana liqueur but there's also a deeper beer-like background that's working pretty well. Tiny touches of fermented tofu, some gingerbread, speculoos… It's pleasant and certainly less thin and oddly fruity than others. Mouth: good, slightly earthy and rooty at first (horseradish), then more on marmalade, parsnips, celeriac, also fruits such as citrons, pears, some sweet aniseed-like spices… The wood was well-mastered, nothing went off the road here. Finish: a tad short but balance is good and gingerbread is at its post. Kirschwasser and oak spices in the aftertaste. Comments: clearly one of the better French whiskies that manage to stand on their own two feet.
SGP:641 - 83 points.

To the Netherlands!...

Horstman 2008/2020 (45.9%, OB, Netherland, Single Malt)

Horstman 2008/2020 (45.9%, OB, Netherlands, Single Malt) Two stars and a half
On the label they say they are 'Masters of Dutch Distillate', which I find more modest and honest that saying 'Dutch Masters of Distillate'. No? This is triple-distilled in Losser, on the German border, and aged in sherry. Colour: gold. Nose: good caky nose, with biscuits, butterscotch and custard, plus crumbles of ginger cookie in the background. Small amounts of baking spices. Mouth: a little sour wood, apple juice, cinnamon, a few dusty elements, other than that fresh cakes. Not space cakes, mind you! Finish: a little disjointed now, sawdust plus apples juice going their separate ways. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: fine malt whisky, not much else to say.

SGP:551 - 77 points.

Let's stay in the Netherlands a little longer…

Zuidam 4 yo (53.4%, F.R.C., Dutch Windmill Collection, Netherland, PX Cask Matured, cask  #180099, +/-2022)

Zuidam 4 yo (53.4%, F.R.C., Dutch Windmill Collection, Netherlands, PX Cask Matured, cask  #180099, +/-2022) Four stars
Zuidam, excellent reputation! PX, we'll see… Colour: full gold. Nose: hold on hold on hold on… My bad, this is rum that I was having in a wrong box. It's true that in my little book, Zuidam = whisky.  Rather in the Belize style, soft yet deeper, with some bananas, sugarcane juice, touch of tar, beer, dough… With water: some hay, metal polish, muscovado, menthol, liquorice, wee butyric side perhaps… Mouth (neat): pretty sweet and with a malty side, some heavier liquorice, oranges… It's not easy to assess rum when you were ready for whisky, I have to say, even if this baby does have a whisky side as well, ,perhaps even touches of rye. With water: good, with some preserved peaches and apricots, plus some oak spices. Finish: rather long, peppery, spicy, and a tad 'rumsky', or is that me? Drying aftertaste. Comments: this one note don't count. My bad indeed.

SGP:651 - 83 points.

Let's try not to do that again… Off to Spain…

Liber 2016/2022 'Great Sherry Xperience Chapter 5' (53.4%, The Cask Hound, Spain, cask #27, 245 bottles)

Liber 2016/2022 'Great Sherry Xperience Chapter 5' (53.4%, The Cask Hound, Spain, cask #27, 245 bottles) Four stars
Great label! Now this baby spent its last 20 months in a fresh amontillado cask, so anything could happen (at least it's all Spanish!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: works, simple as that, even if this would rather be some further-fortified amontillado, complete with black nougat (or rather turon in this case), walnut cake, salty toffee, liquorice, coffee, balsamic vinegar, melted butter… In truth this is awesome. Naturally, you need to enjoy amontillado. With water: more bouillons, asparagus, leek, chocolates, marrow, coffee… I just love this. Mouth (neat): more pure, salty, coastal, coffeeish, chocolaty amontillado. Lovely bitter-sour profile. Some big black raisins from Smyrna bringing some sweetness. With water: the blackest toffee, old walnut, salty bouillon, more marrow and vinegar, chocolate… Finish: very long and, guess what, very amontillado-y. Fish in brine in the aftertaste – make that anchovies. Comments: extremely surprising, this double-Spanishness, and very smart. And very much to my liking.
SGP:272 - 87 points.

To Switzerland…

Langatun 2013/2022 'Château Kefraya Cask Finish' (49.12%, OB, Switzerland)

Langatun 2013/2022 'Château Kefraya Cask Finish' (49.12%, OB, Switzerland) Three stars
Kefraya is not Musar but it is a very good Lebanese wine. Langatun's very good too, even if they would tend to fill just any kinds of casks they could put their pawns on. Good fun, in truth. Like some heavy red Lebanese syrah cask… after a first maturation in French chardonnay! Colour: apricot gold. Nose: spicy and leafy, not too sure Kefraya are not using French oak. Some spicy biscuits, a little ginger and turmeric, raisins… With water: much softer and better integrated, water makes wonders this time again. Ginger and orange cake, moistened with some kind of grappa. Mouth (neat): spicy and raisiny, vinous but not too vinous, with a feeling of young armagnac. The spice load is a tad heavy. With water: ginger tonic with some honey and chartreuse. I think they make of did make some kind of chartreuse in Lebanon. Finish: medium, spicy and sweet, towards some kind of ginger cordial. Drying, peppery aftertaste. Comments: mestizo whisky, even involving the Phoenicians, apparently.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

To the far north…

Myken 5 yo 'Sabotør #2 Gunnerside' (47%, OB, Norway, ex-bourbon, 2023)

Myken 5 yo 'Sabotør #2 Gunnerside' (47%, OB, Norway, ex-bourbon, 2023) Four stars
I've been told this baby contained 'deuterium oxide.' Whether I should thank our friend Morten for this one or not remains to be seen, having said that we've tried some rather excellent Myken by Berry Bros. in 2021. Colour: straw. Nose: deuterium or not, this is fat and waxy to perfection, rich in doughs and fresh breads, and ridden with grist and flour. This is like 'nosing' a Bobby mill in action. There's something akin to Barbour grease in the background. Mouth: starts pretty peppery and slightly fizzy (ginger tonic), gets then insanely bready, between oriental bread and focaccia. Focaccia alle olive, naturally, and even a little garlic bread. Finish: long, perfect, impressive. Bred, salt, garlic, olives, grape pip oil, touch of lemon. Olive and fish brine in the aftertaste. Comments: got to love the taste of deuterium oxide, I think I'll check dramazon to see if I can order some.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

We could do a Penderyn… They've mega-improved their whiskies IMHO (as we used to say).

Penderyn 'The Headliner' (46%, OB, Wales, Icon Of Wales No: 9, 2022)

Penderyn 'The Headliner' (46%, OB, Wales, Icon Of Wales No: 9, 2022) Two stars and a halfA tribute to Prime Minster David Lloyd George who, in 1915, decided that whisky ought to be matured in wooden casks for at least three years and one day (but he didn't say wine casks, did he!) Not a bad marketing story, that one; what's a tad more uncertain is the cask-bill that's been in use for this one, namely Ruby Port and Jamaican rum. That's like strawberries and olives or chocolate and mustard, don't you think? Colour: apricot. The Port. Nose: overripe strawberries and raspberries, rosehip tea, praline, finger biscuits (why not those pink ones they make in champagne), blood oranges, a bellini while we're at it… Mouth: it's pretty good. Some peppered strawberries and some sour cherries. Some boisterous young pinot noir, if not straight Ruby, my dear (ooh that's smart, S.) The wood's peppers would then tend to take over, which is not too good. Finish: medium, on sweets, grenadine and pepper, leaves and cranberries… Some salty, slightly petroly notes in the aftertaste, that might be the rum, at last! Comments: it's good, but I don't think it's particularly well balanced. I've had the opportunity to try some straight Penderyn and thought it was much better than all these tiring wine flavourings. It's not only Penderyn, even some well-respected Scottish distilleries are now dumping everything (absolutely, everything) into wine casks. They must be very disappointed with their distillates. Oh and that lazy Jamaican rum really took its time. We've got some much better Penderyns in the boxes, we'll have them soon.
SGP:662 - 77 points.

Oh well..

Penderyn 2017/2022 (60.7%, OB, Wales, for Switzerland, Madeira Malvasia, cask #1347/2017, 303 bottles)

Penderyn 2017/2022 (60.7%, OB, Wales, for Switzerland, Madeira Malvasia, cask #1347/2017, 303 bottles) Two stars and a half
So, Malmsey, right? Let's remember that the first ever official Penderyn was a Madeira finish, I remember it well. Colour: full gold. Nose: in many cases, and even when it was sweet Malmsey, Madeira wood works well with whisky and this is another proof. This is very sour, on overripe apples, morello cherries, mustard, gunpowder and even a little gas, fig wine, sherry vinegar, then milk chocolate… With water: more chocolate, also diesel fumes and struck matches. Onion soup. Mouth (neat): big spicy stuff. Cinnamon mint, glue, electronic cigarette liquid (new descriptor on WF!), bitter leaves… With water: gets much gentler, more on figs and dates, raisins, Stolle, however the bitter and sour spices have not given up. Peach leaf tea, cherry stem tea, clove, caraway… Finish: long and spicy, pretty good. The gunpowder is back in the aftertaste, together with some chocolate. Comments: it was going to be tough after the Norwegian Myken anyway. Next time we'll find a straight Penderyn.

SGP:561 - 79 points.

(Thank you Morten)


April 17, 2023


Another trio of ageless Ardbeg

Casks in the yard (WF Archive)

It's time to revisit some old Ardbeg classics that we haven't tasted in recent versions, such as Corryvreckan and Uigeadail. We'll take the opportunity to taste the little 'Scorch' that our tulip glasses have never had the pleasure of meeting, all while keeping in mind the recent 'Ten', which we believe simply reigns over the Ardbeg Olympus. Well, you know what I mean. Let's start with the Scorch...



Ardbeg 'Scorch' (46%, OB, Feis Ile, fiercely charred bourbon, 2021)

Ardbeg 'Scorch' (46%, OB, Feis Ile, fiercely charred bourbon, 2021) Four stars
Some ex-heavily charred wood Ardbeg, so Ardbeg's 'Offerman' as I understand it. I remain highly skeptical and greatly mistrustful of any vanillaed papayas, perhaps that's why this expression has never made it onto my tasting desk...until now. I just saw that people with low self-esteem are currently trying to sell these humble NAS bottles for 800 euros. Yeah, right. Colour: gold. Nose: geranium and barbecue, charcoal indeed, soot, curry, linseed oil, Artichoke and eggplant, Barbour grease, tomato leaves, a bowl of lentils... It's quite odd on the nose, but not unpleasant, it's more like a cordial. Mouth: honestly, it's funny, quite 'lab', indeed a bit sweet, but with a strong smokiness, something other than peat, around rubber, vegetables on the barbecue (eggplants again) and a bit of salt. Well, I find it quite humorous and rather the work of a very friendly mad scientist, like in a Tim Burton film. Finish: quite long, still with this very rubbery smokiness, and hints of grapefruit in the background. Sweet vegetables in the aftertaste. Comments: there's not much that's normal about this juice, but I really like it, even if it's a far cry from the fantastic 'Ten'. And, hopefully, from its successors within this wee session...

SGP:577 - 85 points.

Ardbeg 'Corryvreckan' (57.1%, OB, +/- 2022)

Ardbeg 'Corryvreckan' (57.1%, OB, +/- 2022) Two stars and a half
The last time we tried the Corry that was in 2016 (WF 75, rather a disaster, way too much sawdust for my taste). Colour: pale gold. Nose: very subtle, with mainly ashes and charcoal. It clearly needs water to wake up, so let's add some... With water: no improvement, unfortunately. Some white chocolate, which is quite odd in this context, let's admit it. Mouth (neat): it's good, it's woody, it's powerful, but it's far from the elegance and purity of the Ten. The wood is really dominant, and these few notes of olives and capers won't change much about that. With water: it's not bad, but in the woody style, I prefer the very eccentric Scorch. The spirit has a hard time breaking through, I find. There's a lot of ash, with the feeling of having swallowed an ashtray. Finish: long, very dry, with lots of ash. Comments: I loved the first versions of Corryvreckan, and even the story, the whirlpool that can be heard from Islay on some evenings, and all that, but the recent versions seem to be going through the motions without much conviction. However, it could be that I'm just feeling nostalgic... It's improving, but starting from a low point, it must be said (or from a very high point if you consider the late 2000s).
SGP:347 - 79 points.

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, +/-2022):

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
My God, the first Uigeadail, it was so good back then! But we were in 2004 and we tasted it with Stuart Thompson on site (while smoking cigarettes in the warehouses, different times, different customs. No, just cigarettes). The last Uigeadail we tasted, a 'circa 2017', was still very good (WF 85), but far from the early batches which tended to surf around 92 points. Colour: gold. Nose: it's good, effective, very peaty of course, again with barbecue and ash notes, a sherry influence more discreet than in the past (green walnuts), and some broken branches. Some sap, in short. With water: very, very good, maritime, with very nice notes of barbecue on the beach, when we grill both fresh fish and marshmallows. Not together mind you! Mouth (neat): it's very good, very powerful, with much more substance than in the Corryvreckan. It almost tastes like smoked walnut oil, just like there's smoked sesame oil. In fact, we can find a bit of that too in this Uigeadail. Also some touches of canned peach, which always works. With water: milk chocolate and roasted peanuts. What wouldn't I do for some roasted peanuts!? Finish: long and a bit more drying which is really not unusual. Very nice final finish on oysters and candied citron, plus a bit of walnut oil and chocolate. Comments: oh yes, it talks! Very nice balance in this recent batch, the flame is alive and glowing.
SGP: 457 - 88 points.

Ardbeg, with its numerous ups and few downs, remains a star distillery, that's for sure.

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


April 16, 2023