Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo






Whisky Tasting

 

Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
2
4

 

 

 

Ad-free
Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2024 - Part 2
 
 

April 2024 - part 1 <--- April 2024 - part 2 ---> Current entries

 

April 29, 2024


Whiskyfun

Just a few more rye whiskies

Mostly Americans, well we'll see, more and more of them being NAS. Are age statements slowly becoming a thing of the past in the USA? Let's see what we have… We can't do this vertically, for obvious reasons. How do you build a verticale of NAS? Also, let's remember that 'rye' means that the majority in the mashbill is rye, like 51% for example, and not that it's pure rye – although it can be, naturally. In other words it's like grouse pâté.

Grouse

 

 

Bleu Sky Rye (42%, OB, Shippen Bros., USA, +/-2022)

Bleu Sky Rye (42%, OB, Shippen Bros., USA, +/-2022) Three stars
This is rye sourced from 'MGP' in Indiana. Dozens and dozens of famous branded ryes are stemming from the same source. Although the brand is located in Bardstown, Kentucky, there's an amusing American-French reference on the back label, I suppose that's why they call it 'bleu' instead of 'blue'. Colour: gold. Nose: I like this make, with its gingery spiciness, these touches of lavender-scented soap that I'm often finding in these and that does not bother me one bit, then the faint vanilla and the various vegetables, cooked zucchini for example. Also caraway liqueur and a touch of gin and just juniper berries. Mouth: not that far from aged gin but I'm finding the oak a little loud here, I suppose they've reduced it a little too much. Turmeric, ginseng, lavender, cumin, ginger, fennel seeds, juniper, capsicum. Globally pretty dry. Finish: more of that, plus coriander seeds that rather lift the aftertaste (I enjoy coriander seeds). Comments: we don't taste these very often, they're always rather surprising.
SGP:361 - 81 points.

The Gospel (45%, OB, straight rye whiskey, Australia, +/-2023)

The Gospel (45%, OB, straight rye whiskey, Australia, +/-2023) Four stars
From Melbourne, distilled from Australian rye. Colour: full gold. Nose: there, this wonderful breadiness that we love so much. And wonderful earth, anise, celery and gentian. Short story, great nose. Mouth: the wood's a bit heavy once more, but balance was found, with some chicory coffee, black turon, roasted sesame and just 'rye'. And fifteen kilograms of Australian speculoos; don't tell they do not bake speculoos in Australia? Creamy mouthfeel, touches of geranium flower jelly. Finish: rather long, clean, simply delicious (and consequently, moreish). Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: there's something happening in Australia these days. I know it's become 'a whisky country' just like, well, Sweden, but still…
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Devils River (45%, OB, USA, Texas Rye, +/-2023)

Devils River (45%, OB, USA, Texas Rye, +/-2023) Three stars
Harleys and guns on the website. This is actually 51% rye, 45% corn, and 4% malted barley, which is exactly MGP's usual mashbill. See what I mean. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rounder and more honeyed than the Bleu Skye, with more cake, orange jam, a discreet earthiness, some soft oak, popcorn, vanilla… It's clearly 'rye whisky' but a really soft one and The Gospel rather trashes it. Religion! Mouth: rather easy, relatively soft, good of course, a bit on the oaky side. Some triple-sec, genever, vanilla, tiny touches of varnish and glue… Finish: medium, oakier yet, with some cocoa. Comments: so many rye brands, so few proper distillers! Small decorative stills do not count.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Sonoma Distilling 'Cherrywood Rye' (47.8%, OB, USA, +/-2023)

Sonoma Distilling 'Cherrywood Rye' (47.8%, OB, USA, +/-2023) Four stars
A small part of the mashbill consists in barley smoked over cherrywood, hence the name. We've tried this before – and liked it, WF 84 – but this is a whole different livery and even name. I used to love the early story about the barber (if I remember well). Colour: full gold. Nose: joyous, aromatic woods, I would say. Earthy cereals, a compost side, some bitter oranges, rye bread and, as I had already noticed last time, papadums and juniper. Mouth: organoleptically close to the Australian, which is good news. Herbal liqueurs, oranges, then caraway, juniper liqueur (or aquavit) and touches of Frappuccino (I feel I should apologise here and now). It's excellent. Finish: long, on sumptuous orange liqueurs and jams. Californian oranges, naturally. Comments: they may have learnt how to better master that cherrywood, because I like this recent batch even better than that of around seven years ago. I mean, love.
SGP:661 - 87 points.

Balcones 'Texas Rye 100 Proof' (50%, OB, +/-2023)

Balcones 'Texas Rye 100 Proof' (50%, OB, +/-2023) Four stars
First time we're trying their rye. Remember, in the US, 100 proof that's nothing like in the UK. But this one's 'pot distilled', which means they're using pot stills, right. And this is 100% rye. Colour: full gold. Nose: this time we're having some Christmas cake in our glass, both the sweeter English type and the spicier German-style 'Christstollen'. Plus panettone, gingerbread and speculoos. Awesome nose, pretty 'sexy' if you're still allowed to say that. With water: you feel some fatness, maybe that's the 'pot' side. Lovely little herbs too, dill for instance. Mouth (neat): very good, spicier, with much more violets and lavender, crazy fondant, insane chocolates, and litres of damson plum eau-de-vie. This one has clearly got a Middle-European side; so much for Texas (yes I know ties are profound, there's even a small Alsatian town over there). Some coffee liqueur too. Finish: long, spicier, with more coffee too. The aftertaste is a notch too woody for me. Comments: love this charming concoction. As we say in Alsace and in most parts of the 'Germanic' side of Europe, hoppla!
SGP:661 - 87 points.

Willett 4 yo 'Family Estate Rye' (56.4%, OB, USA, +/-2023)

Willett 4 yo 'Family Estate Rye' (56.4%, OB, USA, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
The actual wording on the label is 'Family Estate Bottled Small Batch Rye'. The word 'Bottled' might be a tad puzzling, especially next to the word 'Estate', but I agree I'm splitting hairs here, it is most probably distilled and maybe even harvested over there as well, as estates do in, say Cognac. Said to be a blend of two mashbills, 74% rye and 51% rye. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a rather more austere composition, with a little more dust, breadcrumbs, ale, cardboard, leaves… It's really dry. With water: herbaceous, dry, rather spirity. Feels very authentic and… uncommercially tough, so to speak. Mouth (neat): much, and I mean much more engaging on the palate, if rather rough and simply very powerful. Orange cordial, a little varnish, some spirity hotness, apple spirit, kirsch, pepper… With water: same, a little raw and possibly a little immature. Finish: long, uncommonly grassy. Comments: rye the old-Scottish way, would I say. No ooh-ha sweet oak in play and a feeling of Work In Progress.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Westland 2014/2023 'steampunk 1' (59.5%, Zero Nine Spirits, USA, 210 bottles)

Westland 2014/2023 'steampunk 1' (59.5%, Zero Nine Spirits, USA, 210 bottles) Four stars
Well, this is actually malt whisky first aged in an ex-rye barrel, then finished in Madeira wood. Why not, Madeira's so close to Seattle. Come on anyone can take a stupid little joke. Colour: amber. Nose: fudge, toffee, maple syrup and Virginia tobacco. Right, the ryeness is not very obvious here, but this nose is beautiful. I used to be a Westland fan even before the Rémy days, just saying. With water: peaches coming out, we're almost in Rémy's dear cognac region. Quite. Some brown ale and some chocolate too. Mouth (neat): TBH it feels a little Scottish. Even west coast. Coffee, lemon, leather and mustard (Madeira), treacle toffee, quite some pepper. With water: even more of that funny chocolaty Scottishness. Some oranges, a little seawater, more tobacco, bay leaves, zests… You'd believe we're in Fort Williams at times. Perhaps even in Campbeltown. Or Cuba (wrt the cigars). Finish: rather dry, pretty long, leafier, with some cocoa and proper coffee. A small glass of brown beer in the aftertaste. Comments: a little 'United Nations', this very good and slightly crazy Westland.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

PS: malted rye is a whole different story. We''ll try to taste a few of them in the coming days. I mean, weeks.

 

April 28, 2024


Whiskyfun

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

Rums, aperitifs, and the whole lot

As usual, are you going to tell me…

(Original, discontinued bottle of 10 Cane/Ten Cane, produced in Trinidad from 2005 to 2015, juice now to be found only at some indies'.)

 

 

Naga 'Anggur Edition' (40%, OB, Batavia Arrack, Indonesia, +/-2022)

Naga 'Anggur Edition' (40%, OB, Batavia Arrack, Indonesia, +/-2022)
It's all over, humanity won't last much longer; they are now doing red wine finishes on just about anything! They've used Saint-Emilion for this particular one. The Nagas we've already tried were decent, just too sweet for my taste. Colour: red copper. Nose: it's rare to encounter such a pronounced red wine aroma in a spirit. It really adds a very pre-mixed vibe, quite amusing but miles away from the realm of rum. Honestly, it reeks of merlot so much, one might almost think they're in "Sideways". It's quite funny, really, and not even that bad. Mouth: this is tricky. Bell pepper, prune, crushed strawberry, molasses, caramel, Schweppes, blood orange, grenadine… Fortunately, all of this remains light and not too overpowering. Finish: fairly short. Merlot, hints of perfume and soap... Comments: a kind of post-modern madness, with a comical nose. The laugh's a bit less on the palate, in short, it was a bold move.
SGP:840 - 40 points.

Cihuatàn 8 yo 'Indigo' (40%, OB, El Salvador, bourbon, +/-2022)

Cihuatàn 8 yo 'Indigo' (40%, OB, El Salvador, bourbon, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Honestly, we've always found the labels of Cihuatan, which seem to be Maya-inspired, quite lovely. There's no finishing and no added 'stuff' in this one; it's authentic rum. Colour: straw. Nose: it's all in on pistachio nougat, popcorn, white chocolate, coconut balls, vanilla cream... It's truly delicately beautiful and it feels like the bourbon barrels were used 'just right'. Mouth: yes, it's pretty nice, light, a bit more on the hay side and with a hint of coconut liqueur on the palate. Had the palate actually mirrored the nose, it would have been a superb rum. Finish: short, more herbal, with a slightly greener woodiness but also quite a bit of sugar in the aftertaste. That seems a bit 'added'. Comments: some good aspects, but the palate is more challenging for me. The 40% ABV doesn't help much, let's say that. But we'll keep watching Cihuatàn.
SGP:750 - 77 points.

Providence 3 yo 2020/2023 (52%, Velier, Distillerie de Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

Providence 3 yo 2020/2023 (52%, Velier, Distillerie de Port-au-Prince, Haiti) Three stars
A very young Providence from Haiti, oddly aged in ex-Caroni barrels, which has undoubtedly left its mark on this nascent spirit. It's a bit like when certain Scottish distilleries, which we won't name out of Christian charity, age or finish their very first 3-year-old spirit in ex-Laphroaig barrels; it can make sense organoleptically, but the message sent is quite pejorative to me. Especially if it's not stated, which is not at all the case with this Providence. But enough of the chatter… Colour: gold. Nose: well, let's forget that, it's not Caroni-driven. They know what they're doing. Then, I really find a lot of citron and mandarin, then a bit of thyme honey giving it a medicinal side, a touch of camphor or tiger balm, and just a drop of motor oil. Delicate, pretty. With water: it remains soft. Some notes of copper, old tools, coins… Mouth (neat): a salty side and lots of fermenting fruit. A lighter side of compost and bagasse. It calls for water… With water: those citrus notes return but also the herbal side. Not too sure about those light saline and petrol notes, is it from Providence or is it from Caroni? Finish: medium length. Pressed cane, hay, orange peel. Comments: my simple mind might need a bit more clarity and definition. I'm a basic taster, everyone knows it. We hope things are going fairly well in Port-au-Prince.
SGP:452 - 82 points.

Wait, let's have a white one. At least it won't have seen any Caroni...

Distillerie de Port-au-Prince 2021 (59%, Habitation Velier, Haiti)

Distillerie de Port-au-Prince 2021 (59%, Habitation Velier, Haiti) Four stars
289 gr ester/HLPA. Colour: white. Nose: oh how I like this better. Stupendous notes of white chocolate (huge white Easter rabbit) all over the place, plus just ripe apples and jujubes. Simple and effective. With water: you can get the fermenting cane, this is a bit like visiting the distillery. A lovely freshness, quite lemony. However, the esters are quite faint. Mouth (neat): yes rather perfect, a bit warm and 'uncertain', herbaceous and even veering towards vegetables, but it has depth. White asparagus and yellow peaches. With water: everything comes out, perfect. Lemon zest, cane juice, dill, a bit of fennel... That said, the still(s) seem to purify quite a bit. Finish: medium length, cane syrup, those yellow peaches, lemon zest... Comments: the first time I heard about this young distillery, I thought they were going to make clairin, or something of that type. Well, not at all, it's much more 'civilised' (a somewhat foolish word given the political context of Haiti, I must admit).
SGP:451 - 85 points.

TDL 2008 'Heavy' (64.9%, Swell de Spirits, That's The Spirit 0.1, Trinidad, 351 bottles)

TDL 2008 'Heavy' (64.9%, Swell de Spirits, That's The Spirit 0.1, Trinidad, 351 bottles)Four stars and a half
Sometimes there are somewhat cryptic things on the labels of Swell de Spirits, but at least it's entertaining. The contents aren't bad either, especially since TDL has been a major discovery for me over the past 12 months. In any case, some TDL (that is, Angostura, imagine). Colour: amber. Nose: it's a bit like when you fill up at a petrol station, you know the smells? But there's also an extraordinary fruitiness, with overripe tropical fruits, especially mangoes and guavas. Also, there's ink and oil from a fondue – after the fondue. With water: you almost find peat, as well as real gentian spirit (fermented, not macerated) and roasted (hojicha) and smoked (lapsang souchong) teas. Mouth (neat): watch out! Rose water, walnut stain, teak oil, homemade myrtle liqueur, Iberian ham… All this is quite extreme and frankly, let's say creative. With water: still crazy, it seems like someone has smoked lemons and ham with conifer wood – together. Finish: long and, as a friend once said about a very great Pauillac, 'conquering'. Comments: that said, all this is not very balanced, it's mostly very spectacular. Very difficult to score. Well, let's not get too excited.
SGP:663 - 89 points.

Since we are in Trinidad...

Ten Cane Distillery 13 yo 2008/2021 (64.4%, The Duchess, Tropical Reef Series, Trinidad, cask #18, 259 bottles)

Ten Cane Distillery 13 yo 2008/2021 (64.4%, The Duchess, Tropical Reef Series, Trinidad, cask #18, 259 bottles) Four stars
You remember, it's the famous distillery in Trinidad built and then quickly closed down after ten years by Pernod-Ricard – or wasn't it LVMH? I think so. It's gratifying to see barrels surfacing thanks to the independents. Colour: American coffee. Nose: yet another very unusual rum, this time starting off with old, somewhat oxidised or rusty metal, but tomato jam quickly takes over, followed by prunes and currants willing to gain control, along with some rubbery notes. With water: very, very nice wafts of grilled herbs (thyme) and cured meats, salty liquorice, umami sauce, miso… Mouth (neat): it's really massive, loaded with varnish and armagnac, tyres and burnt cakes, bitter chocolate… But we're nearly at 65% ABV, in case you hadn't noticed. With water: gentler, more on chocolate and liquorice. Can you imagine the cruel, almost philosophical dilemma at this strength, to dilute or not to dilute? Finish: very long, with more burnt rubber and salty liquorice. The aftertaste becomes civilised again, with toffee and marmalade. Comments: another somewhat mad rum.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Alright, seeing as we're in Trinidad, let's finish with a Trinidadian.

Caroni 1994/2019/2023 (52.8%, La Maison & Velier, Paradise #3, cask #6132, dame-jeanne #2, 215 bottles)

Caroni 1994/2019/2023 (52.8%, La Maison & Velier, Paradise #3, cask #6132, dame-jeanne #2, 215 bottles) Four stars and a half
Aged in demijohns in Cognac, since 2019. You see! The prices of these bottles are, in our own words, 'typo-y'. A second-hand little Toyota. Well, on the other hand, in January we found the 1996 Paradise #4 just sublime (WF 92). Colour: dark gold. Nose: yes, shoe polish, exhaust fumes, boat varnish, black olives, those tarry ropes also famous on Islay… With water: new rubber boots and that famous petrol station, as well as the new products section at IKEA. Not the food. Mouth (neat): of course it's magical. There's a lot of wood spices, as in many of these old rums aged in the tropics (the real debate is there, in my opinion), then this very marked saline side from all kinds of hydrocarbons, a side of ashes and charcoal... With water: would bend a little bit and become slightly astringent. Maybe it's better to savour it at the original strength, which isn't so high. Finish: quite long, dry, lacking just a tad in oomph. Comments: perhaps not entirely on the level of the other 'Paradise', but still absolutely excellent, of course. As usual, just one man's opinion.
SGP:453 - 89 points.

Oops, it's been a long time since we had a rum session without any 90+. It's true we've had neither Jamaicans, nor old Demeraras, nor great agricoles. We'll make up for it next time, that's a promise...

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

 

April 26, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today indie Balvenie and Burnside

I mean, one rare independent Balvenie by its name, and one of those teaspooned Burnsides that are so good.

Honeycomb
(Corrie Cooks)

It's another distillery that, nowadays, extensively practices finishing for its official releases, so we increasingly have to rely on independents to taste fully natural cask versions (bourbon, refill hogsheads, etc.). This kind of situation is becoming more and more common, even among certain top-tier names, which in my opinion do include Balvenie... But I'm rambling again, we love Balvenie anyway and undoubtedly, one cannot blame any particular brand for following a trend that is simply global. How PC was that?

 

 

Balvenie 15 yo 1974/1990 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Sailing Ships, Series No1, casks #18103-18130, 1200 bottles)

Balvenie 15 yo 1974/1990 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Sailing Ships, Series No1, casks #18103-18130, 1200 bottles) Five stars
An antique series by Signatory that strongly recalls the labels of Moon Import. The details, such as the name of the distillery, for example, were displayed on a certificate inside the box, not on the bottle itself, which only displays 'Highland' (and not even Speyside, ha). But we know what to think of the Balvenies from the early 1970s, don't we... Oh, be careful, there was a cask strength version of the same batch, 1,300 bottles at 57.1% vol. Magical (WF 93). Colour: gold. Nose: we're going to start crying because this style has now disappeared, gone, finite, over. Including at Balvenie. Incredible ripe quinces and mirabelles, quality mead, great old Sauternes, bright and juicy sultanas, and above all, lots of beeswax, it's like being in an old library or an antique shop in some chic streets. A sublime nose, extremely 'Balvenie'. Mouth: needless to say, one could drink litres of it. There's a bit of pine sap, but all the rest follows the same line, quince, mirabelle, candied oranges, beeswax, old Sauternes, dried grapes, some old spices (old paprika), figs... Actually, it's dangerous. Finish: medium in length, but sublimely honeyed. Comments: an immense classic, one of the distinctive and mandatory styles of that era, if one may say so. Same situation as with Macallan, we might say, vertig, gone with the wind.
SGP:652 - 93 points.

Burnside 28 yo 1994/2022 (50.5%, Le Gus't, blended malt, hogshead, cask #5143, 219 bottles)

Burnside 28 yo 1994/2022 (50.5%, Le Gus't, blended malt, hogshead, cask #5143, 219 bottles) Four stars and a half
Said to be Balvenie teaspooned with 'fiddich. I did check the official statistics to see if the sales figures for teaspoons in Scotland, and more particularly in the Speyside hamlets, had increased in recent years. It seems not at all, isn't that strange? Apart from that, all these 1994s are quite wonderful in general. Colour: pale gold. Nose: in truth, ripe mirabelle plum and acacia honey are found, just not much else. But it remains very beautiful, with a very nice vanilla, not-so-ripe banana, chalk, touches of papaya, melon and peach, a tiny bit of eucalyptus... With water: oh yes, it loves water. A bit of bread crumb, wool, porridge, then pistachio syrup and acacia flowers. The light eucalyptus is still there. Mouth (neat): a bit hot at first, then more on citrus, oranges, plums, apples and even pears, with even a slight young calvados side. It's very nice. With water: it really loves water, even comes a bit close to the 1974, with a beeswax side that suits Balvenie so well. Finish: quite long, more on malt and fruity beer, like an IPA. Honey and ripe apples in the aftertaste. Comments: maybe not an extremely pronounced profile, but everything it does, it does perfectly well.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

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

 

April 25, 2024


Whiskyfun

See you in Limburg (Germany)

Let me make it clear that no one's drinking straight from the casks (vom Fass) anymore.

Limburg

Do you see any issue with us tasting some Milton-duff?

 


(Ann Harrison, geograph)

Another distillery that enjoyed quite a bit of success in the 1970s and 1980s, especially in Italy. But it all mainly happened in Italy, did it not. Then Miltonduff somewhat faded away, before once again catching the eye due to the current scarcity of quite a few big names at the indies'. As our ancestors used to say in French, in the absence of thrushes, you eat blackbirds. And then we realize that they are just as good, if not sometimes better. Let's go, let's delve into the stock...

 

 

Miltonduff 11 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn's Choice, bourbon hogsheads, 756 bottles)

Miltonduff 11 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn's Choice, bourbon hogsheads, 756 bottles) Four stars
Some series that are generally affordable and nice. Colour: pale gold. Nose: quite strong, effective, with notes of liquorice and malt. Lots of roasted nuts and toasted bread, butterscotch and fudge, with a hint of sour beer, it's very pleasant and has a nice presence. Mouth: even more malty, somewhere between Ovaltine and a rather strong stout. Ginger cookies, demerara sugar, dried beef, toffee, a hint of amontillado (yep I see it's bourbon)... Finish: long, with a quite pronounced woody character, almost like European oak (I repeat, I see it's bourbon). One of Starbucks' flavoured coffee right at the end. Comments: it happens that ex-bourbon casks take on a sherry character. It's not common, but it happens. I really like this little dram full of presence.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Miltonduff 11 yo 2012/2023 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice, Winter 2023, First Fill Sherry Hogshead)

Miltonduff 11 yo 2012/2023 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice, Winter 2023, First Fill Sherry Hogshead) Four stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is very different. It starts with a pile of old magazines, so ink, a lot of shoe polish, then black truffle, then resinous woods such as thuja, and finally a sort of pumpernickel bread topped with blackberry and blackcurrant jam. I almost forgot the pipe tobacco; there's a lot of it. Mouth: very good, strong, with a slightly acidic side to start, then toasted wood and an avalanche of tobacco and green nuts. Allow me to mention again nocino and amaro (Montenegro – what a pity it's so sweet). Some marmalade brings a bit of sweetness, if you can call it that. Finish: long, with that persistent green walnut and tobacco. It's reminiscent of chewing tobacco – have you ever chewed tobacco? Comments: this Miltonduff shakes you up a bit. If you like Italian bitters or others, this one's for you.
SGP:562 – 87 points.

Fiddlers Pluscarden 12 yo 2010/2022 (50%, Thompson Bros. for Fiddlers, 1st fill bourbon, 277 bottles)

Fiddlers Pluscarden 12 yo 2010/2022 (50%, Thompson Bros. for Fiddlers, 1st fill bourbon, 277 bottles) Four stars
Presto, 98 points. Right. It's to be known that 'Pluscarden Valley' was the name that bottlers such as Sestante, and then daughter line Silver Seal, were using for Miltonduff, which is located ijn Pluscarden Valley. Fiddlers of Drumnadrochit is, as everyone knows, that inn by Loch Ness whose whisky stock is ample enough to make you spot Nessie for sure and 'without any doubt'. Everything there is good anyway; it's a must-visit. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's quite green and taut at the beginning, with even nettle soup, clay, lettuce, then greengages, cider apples, garden soil... And more and more malt. Even though it's not very strong, I think water will do it some good. With water: pure and good malted barley, more of that wet earth after the first rain of the day. Mouth (neat): very very good, malty, a bit rustic, with a comeback of cider apple, malt, stewed fruits (plums, rhubarb), clay and chalk, even yeast... With water: green banana, fresh bread, lemons, and green apple. It brightens up considerably and becomes almost cheerful. Finish: quite long, more complex, rooty, earthy and lemony. Nothing to discard in all of this. A touch of peat in the aftertaste. Comments: the opposite of the Decadent, and yet I find the levels identical.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Come on, let's have a bit of fun, after all, this is Whiskyfun... Guess what we have never tasted up to now?... An 'original' 12-year-old Pluscarden! Now that's an unexpected comparison...

Milton Duff 12 yo 'Pluscarden Valley' (61.1%, Sestante, 75cl, 1980s)

Milton Duff 12 yo 'Pluscarden Valley' (61.1%, Sestante, 75cl, 1980s) Five stars
Certainly not a common version, other ages were more usual it seems to me, especially at this alcohol strength. I must add that I absolutely adored the 14-year-old at 57.4% from Sestante (WF 93) but let's not forget that the official Milton-Duff 13-year-olds from the 60s and 70s were absolutely magical as well. The 12 years that followed much less so. Well, we're ready... Colour: dark gold. Nose: by the corn cob pipe (which means for goodness' sake), but what a sherry! It has everything, despite the 60%+. Old tools, copper, old ointments, old white wines that haven't really left the track yet, walnuts of course, overripe apples. What's amusing is that stylistically, the Thompson/Fiddlers isn't so far away. With water: it's just like a very grand dry sherry, perhaps one from the 19th century. Incredible morels, humus, old cigars, bouillon cubes, and probably lots of forgotten aromas. One day, an old friend mentioned for example the smells of a certain ladies' perfume no longer made since the 1950s. Crazy. Mouth (neat): but of course. What a thing! An abundance of wax, mandarins and candied clementines, quince jelly... You know what you're going to do? You're going to call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade subito presto. Gracias. With water: unbelievable, some mentioned old Glen Gariochs as Pluscarden Valleys but yet, on the labels it is indeed written 'Milton Duff Distillery'. Not to be confused with 'Milton', the former name of Strathisla – of course you would never make that beginner's mistake. Finish: always incredible, majestic. Peat, lemon, pine sap, waxes, turpentine... Incredible length as well. Comments: let's not joke, it's at the top. Twenty years ago, we were still thinking that this level of quality could, possibly, be surpassed by 'technology' one day. I have the honour to announce to you that today, we are sure that will never be the case. Totally exceptional whisky.
SGP:662 - 95 points.

Let's try to come back down to earth...

Miltonduff 13 yo 2010/2023 (48%, Hogshead Imports, refill barrel, 268 bottles)

Miltonduff 13 yo 2010/2023 (48%, Hogshead Imports, refill barrel, 268 bottles) Four stars and a half
They are so beautiful and timeless, these simple labels. Colour: pale gold. Nose: eeeeh? But it's very pretty indeed, with notes of hay, freshly cut grass, fruit peelings, candle wax, apple juice, and then these very slightly smoky touches, as if the neighbours of the neighbour's neighbour were burning plant matter in their garden. Which is strictly verboten, of course. Mouth: there's again just a little bit of smoke, I don't know if it belongs to Miltonduff or to the previous contents of this refill barrel, but it's very pleasant, subtle, and pairs very well with the waxy side of the distillate. Then come fresh turmeric, ginger, celery, peppers, and maybe some palm hearts. Not sure about that. Very nice oily and waxy texture, I love that and yes, it connects a wee bit with the 12 years old from Sestante's demise. Finish: more on the citrus side. Comments: I am very, very fond of this little bottle. Indeed, the style is close to that of the old Pluscarden (hint, hint).
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Blimey, Miltonduff! Let's take a short break... Alright, we are back...

Miltonduff 13 yo 2008/2021 (54.7%, Duncan Taylor for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, sherry octave, cask #8332833, 75 bottles)

Miltonduff 13 yo 2008/2021 (54.7%, Duncan Taylor for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, sherry octave, cask #8332833, 75 bottles) Three stars
Colour: amber. Nose: typical sherry octave, full of toffee, toasted oak, caramel, butterscotch and walnut cake. It's pretty heavy. With water: it's better, a bit varnished, with nice bitter touches, herbs, amaro, fruitcake with lots of spices... Mouth (neat): very powerful, extractive, concentrated, with oak, caramel, gingerbread, toasted hazelnuts and almonds, pepper, molasses, oak and cedar shavings... It's really thick. With water: hints of orange liqueur and still a lot of caramelized spices, doubly concentrated maple syrup... Finish: long, with pepper, pencil shavings, clove… Comments: more AC/DC than Carly Simon, if you catch my drift. Hard to get more extractive and boosted, in my opinion, even if it's well concocted, certainly. A bit too much for me.
SGP:472 - 80 points.

Miltonduff 17 yo 2006/2023 (52.9%, Kirsch Import, Simply Good Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #KI-2)

Miltonduff 17 yo 2006/2023 (52.9%, Kirsch Import, Simply Good Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #KI-2) Four stars
Back to the standard casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: yes indeed, chalk, both fresh and cooked pizza dough, polenta semolina, then mirabelles and quinces (the magical duo) as well as barley syrup and a bit of honey. It's perfect. With water: white peaches, yellow peaches, vineyard peaches... In short, peaches, it's perfect. Mouth (neat): once again, it's quite perfect, modern in style, with green apple liqueur, cider apple, a few pine needles, biscuits, green tea, and a moderate amount of vanilla. With water: the syrups return, of agave, barley, cane... The green tea is still there, so is the vanilla, the tender cinnamon, and the white pepper that adds some punch. Finish: long, tighter, more herbaceous, but ultimately it cleanses your palate and you're just ready for another small glass. Comments: rather more than just 'simply good', in my opinion.
 SGP:551 - 87 points.

Miltonduff 20 yo 2003/2023 'Lost in Time' (49%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, first-fill American oak cask, cask #63397, 192 bottles)

Miltonduff 20 yo 2003/2023 'Lost in Time' (49%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, first-fill American oak cask, cask #63397, 192 bottles) Five stars
We really like this new semi-official series that highlights the lesser-known stars of the Chivas Bros malt range. The question is whether Miltonduff is a lead or a supporting player. Given what we're tasting today, and what we've tasted a long time ago, I'd lean towards the former. Colour: pale gold. Nose: full of little pralines and candied sugar, little roots (liquorice, gentian, sweet radish, carrots), then dandelion flowers (don't mow your lawn, help the bees) and fruit peelings, especially apple. All very gentle. With water: more on barley and grains. Mouth (neat): ah, excellent! Some aspects remind us of the Plucarden Valley by Sestante, even if this new baby is more herbal, leaning towards green teas, lemon zest, green apples, indeed radishes... Some superb citrus balances everything. What would we do without citrus! With water: water isn't necessary, but since we're here, let's say that we find sweet and gentle roots, revolving around multicoloured carrots. Finish: very beautiful and long, a bit candied, on citrus marmalade. Comments: a super cask, undoubtedly. Miltonduff's stock is rising rapidly at Château Whiskyfun's trading department.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Let's find one from the 1990s...

Miltonduff 23 yo 1994/2017 (50.6%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12200, 262 bottles)

Miltonduff 23 yo 1994/2017 (50.6%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12200, 262 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh fruits and natural vanilla. That means pears, apples, bananas that are not too ripe, a variety of plums, and a bit of white chocolate. People always say white chocolate is not real chocolate, but still, it's found quite often in malt whiskies that aren't too oaky or winey. With water: closer to dough, baker's yeast, beeswax, cakes, and croissants... Mouth (neat): more spirity than expected, with wax, a bit of polish, all sorts of Kellogg's cereals (the best and the worst), thyme tea, lemon... With water: the citrus takes control, going beyond the usual limoncello. I think mixing this with white rum could create a great mojito with a lot of flair. Well, we're not going to try that. Finish: quite long but sweeter. I find well-ripened kiwi.. The aftertaste is a bit more woody. Comments: another one that was really good.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

How to conclude such a rejuvenating session? I think I have an idea...

Milton Duff 21 yo 'Pluscarden Valley' (57%, Sestante, 75cl, 1980s)

Milton Duff 21 yo 'Pluscarden Valley' (57%, Sestante, 75cl, 1980s) Five stars
We'll try not to fall into Maltesque quasi-lust, especially since after all, there's nothing to presume that this 21 would be even superior to the extraordinary 12 we tasted a few minutes ago. Colour: brown amber. Nose: it's top-notch, but maybe not as immediately thrilling, due to a more present sherry and a definite rum aspect. Very nice metallic sides (old pennies), a bit of bay leaf, ancient sauces, artisanal gravy, candied chestnuts, Maggi... With water: little change, perhaps even more metallic aspects, from an old toolbox (in an old garage or basement), also some very old Madeira stemming from an old solera started in the 90s. I mean the 1890s, of course. Mouth (neat): no, it's still magical, very powerful, chocolatey and lemony, almost rough, a bit in the vein of an old Armagnac, even if there is also this medicinal, camphorated, peppery side... There might be a bit of OBE. With water: once again, very little change, perhaps a bit saltier, more towards vegetable soups and poultry broths. Finish: long, kind of old-style, but also a bit more honeyed. Mead in the aftertaste, cocoa, and some ancient spices from 'that old tin box'. Comments: sublime, of course, but it must be said that the 12-year-old was stratospherically matchless.
SGP:462 - 92 points.

(Heartfelt double thanks, Logan)

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

 

April 24, 2024


Whiskyfun

The Mysteries of Japan, a few unusual whiskies

Japanese whisky remains enigmatic, ranging from the very authentic to the completely counterfeit, the blends of the two, the fakes that have become real, the improbable categories, the distilleries that don't exist, the shochu-whiskies, the malts that are grains... Let's have a bit of fun!


Wakame (La Fourche)

 

 

Nikka 'Pure Malt Black' (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2023)

Nikka 'Pure Malt Black' (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2023) Four stars and a half
This already ancient range of three 'made in Japan' whiskies includes this Black, a White, and a Red. Naturally, all the retail sites present them as purely Japanese whiskies, based on Yoichi and Miyagikyo, but fifteen or twenty years ago, everyone knew they were vatted malts or blends that included a good dose of Scotch, like Ben Nevis (which belongs to Nikka) and Ardbeg. And nobody was complaining , given the already established reputation of these Scottish distilleries and the very sweet price of these Nikkas at the time – prices which have quadrupled since then. I add that they are not necessarily blended malts, since unless I'm wrong once more, 'Coffey malts' are considered malts in Japan, whereas in Scotland they would be grains, as it's the type of still that decides, so to speak. In short, I don't know what's in my glass, but I know it's a 'Product of Nikka' and that it can be very good. It's been 20 years since I've tasted the Pure Malt Black! Colour: gold. Nose: lovely peat, nice fruitiness, indeed a Ben Nevis-like sensation, this earthy, basaltic and slightly salty and mustardy side, with a bit of new leather, this very nice pepper, these touches of menthol, these green walnuts that seem to indicate the presence of sherry... In short, it's a very nice nose, whether it's 100% Japanese malt (which it doesn't seem to be) or a world blend. Great work from the master blender. Mouth: oh but it's excellent! Marmalade, tobacco, pepper, more mustard and coffee (this combination is vomitive in real life, but it works in a whisky), slightly burnt walnut cake, a strong salinity, a very present smokiness, bitter oranges... And the low strength is never a problem. Finish: rather long, still on this dry but not drying style. Mint and salted liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like it a lot, forget my overly long and superfluous introduction.
SGP:564 - 88 points.

Right, we have a dilemma, do we continue with very old blends or with brand-new malts from 'New Japan'? Okay, let's try the young ones, three from 2018, take a break, and then taste two precious old ones from Suntory...

Kanosuke 4 yo 2018/2023 (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive #7, rechar bourbon cask, cask #20458, 814 bottles)

Kanosuke 4 yo 2018/2023 (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive #7, rechar bourbon cask, cask #20458, 814 bottles) Four stars and a half
Before you start to wonder how they managed to pull 814 bottles from a bourbon cask, please note that these are 20cl bottlets. Colour: gold. Nose: what we were expecting, that is to say something pretty crystalline, while being smokingly coastal and lemony. And after three minutes, many more breads, some sourdough, and thousands of litres of fermenting wash (watch your spectacles). Right, a washback in action. With water: smoked mussels, kippers, a little gasoline… Mouth (neat): will you believe me if I say that this is somewhere like the Pure Malt Black, only at cask strength? And yet, that's what I'm getting, mustard, smoke, tobacco, salted lime, a touch of cucumber juice, a little oregano, and a lot of salted liquorice. Did they let some friends from northern Europe roam the warehouse? With water: even closer to the Nikka. How bizarre… or not. No Ben Nevis in this Kanosuke, naturally! Finish: long and very saline, with some lime and cucumber juice, and even a drop of gherkin brine. Comments: we're fans of Kanosuke and just wrote a few wee lines about it in the latest edition of Whisky Mag French edition. I think, I don't think it's out yet.
SGP:564 - 89 points.

Shizuoka 2018/2024 'KS + WS' (46.6%, OB, Japan, for Sushi + Soul, peated, bourbon barrel, cask #939)

Shizuoka 2018/2024 'KS + WS' (46.6%, OB, Japan, for Sushi + Soul, peated, bourbon barrel, cask #939) Five stars
Sushi + Soul is a wonderful Japanese restaurant in Munich Germany (Glockenbachviertel, Klenzestraße 71 – that's easy right) they carry a huge assortment of Japanese whiskies (not Just Nikka Days and Hibiki, right – nothing wrong with those, of course). This is one of their own Shizuokas, fresh from the bottling line. I suppose they have a bottling line at Shizuoka, have they not? Colour: gold. Nose: pim pam poom, peat, mango, citron, lemon curd, coriander leaves and Thai basil. High-definition Shizuoka, not overly complex but could it be at just 4. Add elements from some ocean, I'm reluctant to mention wakame since that would be too easy with a Japanese whisky. Well, there, wakame salad. Awesome nose, pretty easy. Why make things difficult. Mouth: a feeling of serene fullness. Salty peat, more citron (if I mention yuzu you kill me – well, there, yuzu), gentler peppers (Szechuan, Timut), elderberry liqueur (Nussbaumer in Alsace make a great one, so much better than 'that famous brand')… And probably a little ginseng and some fresh raw wholegrain bread. Finish: long, a tad more gingery, and always with these smoked lemons, some olives, some gherkins, some capers and even some pickled samphire. Comments: dare I add that it would go very well with sushi, without you making fun of me? Wonderful young Shizuoka.
SGP:555 - 90 points.

Shizuoka 2018/2024 'KS + WS' (46.3%, OB, Japan, for Sushi + Soul, peated, bourbon octave, cask #287)

Shizuoka 2018/2024 'KS + WS' (46.3%, OB, Japan, for Sushi + Soul, peated, bourbon octave, cask #287) Five stars
I think we'll be close to the previous one, so we'll go quickly to save the planet (digital pollution is becoming madness, it seems, I think I might restart a printed newsletter as I used to do before 1995 – and I hope the Scotch Whisky Review will do the same). Colour: gold. Nose: joke aside, yes it's close but oddly, I find this one less marked by the cask, and even cleaner, closer to bread, barley, yeasts, but also to rubber, camphor, virgin wool, fresh shrimp, wet sand at low tide... And tar. I believe my heart leans a bit towards this one. Mouth: magnificent lemons and sea water. It seems more potent than the other, more acidic too, with a wonderful bitterness (seaweed, finger lime). Great tension, it's like a very grand Chablis matured exclusively in refill. Finish: long, more on yeasts and acids, fermentations, even glue, with a bit of raspberry vinegar, perhaps. What beautiful tension. Comments: the other was more modern, perhaps easier, while this one offers an incredibly salty and lemony side. And it's a bit sadistic, make of that what you will.
SGP:565 - 91 points.

A vatting of both casks is a drink of the angels and of the devils (perhaps WF 92) . Alright, we take the promised break and then come back for two possibly mad Suntory whiskies... or not, we shall see, they are a little unusual.

There we are, we're back.

Suntory '60th Anniversary of Kotobuki Seihan' (43%, OB, Japan, blend, 60cl, 2006)

Suntory '60th Anniversary of Kotobuki Seihan' (43%, OB, Japan, blend, 60cl, 2006) Four stars
Apparently, Kotobuki are printers. That's good, they could print my new newsletter. Impossible to know, or even guess what's inside the bottle, could be fully Japanese, could be Bowmore, could be anything else. Colour: gold. Nose: In any case, it's certainly not pure Bowmore, that's for sure, but there's a nice little maritime and smoky edge to it, even if the whole remains light, on a quite classic combination of toasted bread, wax, old wood and old books, as well as a slight camphoric and sandalwood side which, ultimately, does give it a 'Japanese' aspect indeed. A few tinned fruits, particularly rambutans – not something you find too often in our whiskies. Ultimately, it's the coconut that comes through, and that, that comes from the grain. Mouth: it's really good, definitely a high-level blend, with aged malts, even if as usual, after a very, very nice initial mouthfeel, the structure becomes a bit thin due to the grain. So not much chew, but very nice notes of flambéed bananas, black sesame ice cream, sweetened Earl Grey tea, old rum, herbal teas, rooibos. Finish: slightly short, but with more ham, old wax, a bit of caramel... Comments: there's a very charming side to this Suntory blend. A friend once told me, "you recognize blends by the fact that you put ice in them." Well, you shouldn't say that to our Japanese friends, but in this case, I wouldn't add ice, nor water for that matter. And by the way, congratulations to the people at Kotobuki, eighteen years belated.
SGP:652 - 86 points.

Suntory '50th Anniversary of Video Promotions, Inc.' (43%, OB, Japan, blend, ceramic, 2010) Five stars
This one is said to shelter some Yamazaki 1960 (!) ex-mizunara barrels (!!) and other old Yamazakis. Malt freaks don't know much about Suntory's numerous and rather crazy celebratory decanters (think about the Rolling Stones') but indeed it is a whole world, pretty close to that of the old Jim Beams (ah, the chainsaw decanter!) and, after all why not, to the Bell's bell decanters. What some people do not seem to gather, having said that, is that evaporation tends to strike these wonderful objects pretty heavily. Anyway, Yamazaki 1960, anyone?...

Colour: deep gold. Nose: easier, lighter, rounder than the Kotobuki, more on straight cakes, pastries, macaroons, scones… There are a few old teas and embrocations in the background, but all in all, this is an extremely civilized blend that rather feels middle-aged, like 25. Wait, am I not getting some acacia flower fritters? Mouth: much more action on the palate, oxygen has not taken its toll yet, or perhaps was this one particularly well sealed? When you think that certain distillers, including a Scottish one starting with M, sell some of their decanters lying down in some boxes... it's a disaster waiting to happen, or proof that no one cares about the liquid inside. Frankly, they might as well put tea or Colorex in there, it wouldn't make a difference. Indeed, some have done this for decorative bottles intended for shop displays, which bottles now find themselves, some of them at least, at auction. Well played. Well, this Suntory is very good, it's becoming drier and drier, with very nice touches of mushrooms, cigar, leather (previously called Russian leather, but that's a recently outdated expression). Nice salty and mentholated touches, old wood (is that mizunara?), even more tobacco, then chestnut honey, yellow chartreuse, black nougat, black Assam tea... It's a very great blend, that's certain. Though one would dream of it being at 46%, or even 50% ABV. Finish: not very long but even more complex, this time with broths rich in herbs, chives, chervil, parsley, then mushrooms... Mushrooms are fascinating beings, did you know that... O-kay, right, that's for next time. Comments: a very great blended whisky and a decanter that seems to hold up very well. You just have to give the whisky inside a little time. One of the best blends I've recently tried. Like, after Covid.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

There we have it, that was truly an extremely unstructured Japanese session.

(A million thanks, Chris and Logan!)

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

 

April 23, 2024


Whiskyfun

About Ten Blair Athol

Here is another Scottish distillery which currently has many bottlings at independent bottlers.


Some Malt Maniacs on tour at Blair Athol in 2003 (WF Archive)

Some are excellent; it's a far cry from the days of Arthur Bell and the time when, after being taken over by Guinness-UDV, Blair Athol 8 yo briefly joined the Classic Malts, alongside the other six (Lagavulin and the like). It is true that the distillery is very picturesque and strategically located from a tourism perspective. A word of caution to beginners: in Blair Athol, there is only one 'L', which has not stopped, however, a few absent-minded independents from offering 'Blair Atholl'. Let's see what we have, without adopting any sort of ranking...

 

 

Blair Athol 14 yo 2009/2023 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, oloroso sherry finish)

Blair Athol 14 yo 2009/2023 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, oloroso sherry finish) Three stars and a half
Colour: golden amber. Nose: very nice sherry on tobacco, walnuts and old coins and tools. Add some fried bananas and some maple sirup, as well as quite some cherry liqueur. Feels very sweet and PX-y for some oloroso. Mouth: sherry-led, and I mean sherry wine, not sherry cask. We love sherry but while you cannot not think of some glorious old sherry monsters of yesteryear that were just as 'boosted' as this, this feels a little too much and premix-y. Now, the end result remains pleasant, with PX, walnuts, raisins, nutmeg and some millionaire shortbread. Finish: long, more on caramel, walnut wine and chocolate. Rather a lot of chocolate. Comments: probably a pretty wet cask, but I think it rather worked, I don't find it too stuffy or cloying. BTWT I remember the distillery were having a superb sherry monster as a distillery-only bottling, quite some moons ago.
SGP:641 - 83 points.

Blair Athol 10 yo 'Bloody Sergeant' (51.8%, Macbeth, Elixir Distillers, household series, 2,800 bottles, 2023)

Blair Athol 10 yo 'Bloody Sergeant' (51.8%, Macbeth, Elixir Distillers, household series, 2,800 bottles, 2023) Three stars and a half
I've completely missed these as they were coming out last year. Warning, some red wine casks seem to have been involved here. I tell you, sometimes they just shouldn't tell. Colour: gold. It is not pink. Nose: indeed some pink gooseberries, some red currant and, above everything, some morello cherries. Together with the malt, they display a rather clafoutis-like profile.  Do you know clafoutis? With the cherry stones, naturally, they make the cake trickier to eat, but so much better. With water: geared a tad more toward the malt. Mouth (neat): rather blood oranges and toffee apple. Grenadine and more redcurrant. Beaujolais, or at least Gamay? With water: water works very well, it mingles the flavours and lets more spices and herbal teas come out. Finish: rather long, much grassier. Stalks and stems? A little stout and chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: good fun to follow this baby in your glass. A strange idea well executed, I would say.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Since we're on the subject of red wine...

Blair Athol 10 yo 2013/2023 (57.7%, Lady of the Glen, refill wine barrique, cask #310876, 307 bottles)

Blair Athol 10 yo 2013/2023 (57.7%, Lady of the Glen, refill wine barrique, cask #310876, 307 bottles) Four stars
Not a finishing here, it is full maturation in a barrique, possibly Bordeaux. Colour: pale apricot. Nose: intriguingly dry, then with some muesli and fresh wild carrots. Love wild carrots – any carrots for that matter. A few macaroons, plus allspice, ras-el-hanout, a very tiny bit of Parmesan cheese… It's actually all elegant and even slightly discreet, but that may be the high strength. With water: adios wine, hello malt whisky! And a nice one, very 'Midlander', with melons, ripe apples, mirabelles and quince, sweet beer, ripe gooseberries... Mouth (neat): surprisingly spicy and fruity at the same time, you would believe this is some Indian whisky. Once again blood oranges and many spices, especially pepper. Touches of mushrooms, morels… With water: water does not erase the wine on the palate, but malt and wine had ten years to get better acquainted and start a family (what?) Hints of bubblegum (the children, ha). Finish: medium, fruity and a little tart, which is lovely. Leafier aftertaste. Comments: as is often the case, care must be taken when diluting a whisky that has been significantly influenced by wine; they can become astringent. I think it is best to limit it to two or three drops, even when the whisky is very strong.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

More wine… Ahem…

Blair Athol 11 yo 2011/2022 (58.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, wine cask, cask #HL19177)

Blair Athol 11 yo 2011/2022 (58.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, wine cask, cask #HL19177) Four stars
It just says wine cask while the colour isn't particularly pink, let's see if we find red berries…  Colour: deep gold. Nose: we're pretty close to the lovely 2013, but it's rather rounder, creamier, more on chocolate and praline, some thicker brown beer, a small meaty side – we could have said sherry butt, brown bread dough... With water: some earthiness, yeast, beer, lees, leaves, crude chocolate… Mouth (neat): really rich, very much on oranges, vineyard peaches, mango chutney, garam masala, marmalade, chocolate, walnut liqueur - nocino… A lot of action in this wee youngster. With water: water works extremely well on the palate. The oranges are back, together with some light caramel, praline, and rather milk chocolate this time. Finish: long, with some demerara sugar and triple-sec. Choose your brand. Comments: as good as such a combo can be, in my opinion. They make these better these days, that's for sure.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

I recall several interviews during which people would ask me whether I preferred whisky or wine. At the rate things are going, this question is going to become ridiculous, or at least useless or irrelevant.

Blair Athol 12 yo 2010/2022 (56.9%, Whisky Is The Limit, second fill sherry hogshead, cask #301692, 387 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2010/2022 (56.9%, Whisky Is The Limit, second fill sherry hogshead, cask #301692, 387 bottles) Four stars
Colour: rich amber. Nose: the chocolate truly dominates this time, followed by hazelnuts and toasted almonds, then Christmas fruit bread (we're really behind schedule), pumpernickel, dried apricots… It feels a bit more like first fill than second fill, truly. With water: Williams pear comes to the forefront, which is rather promising. Also sloe. Mouth (neat): very strong, earthy, spicy, and meaty. It's almost as if they've added game to the casks, perhaps grouse (which weren't exactly asking for it). Clove. With water: it's softer and rounded out again. Figs, honey… Finish: quite long, with some notes of broth, leek, nuts, bone marrow dumplings… But the chocolate comes back in the aftertaste, along with the honey and oranges. Comments: pretty superb. A very fine bottle, but ensure you have a good pipette.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Blair Athol 14 yo 2009/2023 (55.3%, Maltbarn, Seventies, sherry cask, 285 bottles)

Blair Athol 14 yo 2009/2023 (55.3%, Maltbarn, Seventies, sherry cask, 285 bottles) Five stars
Ah these superb labels, they really should make posters out of them and sell them, truly. In any case, those from this new beautifully retro series. Colour: dark gold. Nose: we're in the realm of oranges and citrons, maple syrup, figs and honey, roasted peanuts... I think we've reached a new level, let's see this... With water: a bit of burnt wood, ash, mosses, mushrooms, chocolate, a touch of metal... It strongly reminds one of a very good amontillado. Mouth (neat): oh how good it is. Perfect sherry, crisp and spirited, oranges and mandarins, honeys, orange blossom water… With water: yes, that's it. Orange blossom is very prominent. Finish: medium length, freshness and perfect balance. Comments: could I have been influenced by this label that I adore? Come on, of course not. When a sherry cask has remained as fresh as this, it can only work superbly. If you've run out of Blair Athol in your bar, you know what to do...
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Blair Athol 11 yo 2010/2021 'Old Master Q' (53.6%, Hong Kong Whisky, refill sherry butt, 309 bottles)

Blair Athol 11 yo 2010/2021 'Old Master Q' (53.6%, Hong Kong Whisky, refill sherry butt, 309 bottles) Four stars
Old Master Q is that little character from the very famous eponymous comic strip in Hong Kong. Apparently, he's quite clever and rather good with double entendres. We've already tasted a Tomintoul with him on the label, but I don't know if it will have been published by the time we publish this. You get the idea. Colour: straw. It's very much refill, superb. Nose: ah yes, barley, vanilla, cereals, apricot syrup, guava juice... We're really not in sherry territory anymore. With water: and mandarins, madeleines, biscuits... Mouth (neat): it's very good, it's smooth, it's fruity, with a solid malted base, vanilla cream, orange liqueur... You might have said bourbon, I wouldn't have called foul. With water: there, perhaps yes, it's got a more earthy side, more on nuts, a bit of smoky tea... Finish: rather long, with more ginger when water is added. Otherwise, it remains more citrusy and tight. Comments: it's quite protean, depending on how much water you've added. The quality is high, Master Q!
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Perhaps it's time we turned our attention to some older Blair Athol, isn't it?...

Blair Athol 31 yo 1992/2023 (43.3%, The Maltman, bourbon barrel, cask #4783, 167 bottles)

Blair Athol 31 yo 1992/2023 (43.3%, The Maltman, bourbon barrel, cask #4783, 167 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one ticks absolutely all the boxes. I imagine it's the natural strength of the cask, so we should benefit from added complexity… but also from a little fragility, let's check that. Colour: white wine (what's more!) Nose: peach juice, crushed peach, Bellini (with champagne), hints of pine sap, Provence melon, wafts of rose petals and lychee, gewurztraminer, mandarins… A lot of mandarins, truly. Mouth: it's perfect, very fresh, loaded with citrus and honeys, herbal teas, wood spices, cinnamon (cinnamon rolls), with the absolutely charming side of precious old woods. Finish: a regal return of fresh peaches. And champagne. In short, Bellini – we are in Venice, amongst hundreds of thousands of other tourists who come on those monstrous and dreadful giant cruise ships. Oops, let's move on, Venice does not belong to us… Comments: there was no need to fear any excessive fragility. The fruitiness was just perfect, the champagne as well.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Blair Athol 30 yo 1993/2023 (54.4%, Douglas Laing, 75th Anniversary, Xtra Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #DL17911, 399 bottles)

Blair Athol 30 yo 1993/2023 (54.4%, Douglas Laing, 75th Anniversary, Xtra Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #DL17911, 399 bottles) Four stars and a half
Possibly the last time we have the opportunity to say 'happy 75th birthday, Douglas Laing, you sure all look much, much younger than that!' Colour: amber. Nose: It's all about jams, dried figs, dates, raisins of all kinds and from all origins, sweet wines (Rivesaltes, Banyuls, rancios, Malaga), then comes menthol tobacco, vetiver, liquorice, dried apricots... What's impressive is that there's absolutely no fragility, even when the Chinese sauces, such as hoisin, or the red one for dim sum, etc., come into play. With water: much rounder, much more on dried fruits and some slightly rustic cognac (good woods). Mouth (neat): it's a magnificent cask, powerful, quite peppery, liquorice-flavoured, marked by black propolis and pepper, with all the dried fruits right behind, as well as, of course, old walnuts. We do not speak of people here. With water: this time, water increases the complexity, releasing plenty of little herbs and more or less wild berries. Particularly sloe withered by frost. Finish: long, a bit wilder, raspy, on fruit skins. A bit of caramel, burnt sugar, autumn leaves... Comments: the slightly less thrilling finish costs it a point or two, but everyone should royally not give a darn. There, it's said.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

And since we're celebrating anniversaries, this little last one…

Blair Athol 35 yo 1988/2023 (55.9%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, oloroso sherry butt, cask #6847, 450 bottles)

Blair Athol 35 yo 1988/2023 (55.9%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, oloroso sherry butt, cask #6847, 450 bottles) Five stars
It's worth noting, the Blair Athol 30th Anniversary edition by Signatory was already a 1988 (WF 91). Also noteworthy, the owners of Signatory could perfectly walk to Blair Athol to choose casks, chat or share a few drams. Right, only the walk back might then be more challenging. Colour: tawny. But we don't care about that. Nose: what to say about these chicken and beef broths, these leeks and asparagus, these countless raisins, these very old Jamaican rums and armagnacs from the first half of the last century, and all this metanoïcal aspect that transcends geography? And, above all, these figs? Maybe it's already time to call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade. With water: it shifts to malt extract, soy sauce, green walnut, Worcester, lovage, but also dates and prunes. The balance is never broken. Mouth (neat): yes, of course, a perfect sherry, powerful but balanced, half coffees, half chocolates and half dried fruits (forget maths!) With water: there you go, yes, a just perfect, rather peppery sherry. Let's leave it there, if you don't mind. Finish: long, chocolatey, with a hint of smoke, cigar, ristretto. Comments: I believe this was the last 35th Anniversary Signatory Vintage we had yet to taste. So, for the last time, happy anniversary, Signatory! The world of 'sharper' whisky wouldn't be the same without you.
SGP:661 - 92 points.

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

 

April 22, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today two
superb wee Lowlanders

A quick tasting session featuring an old Littlemill by Silver Seal that I've always wanted to try and a very rare independent Glenkinchie serving as a sparring partner. Apparently, it's a Glenkinchie, but we have no doubt about that...

 

 

Littlemill 23 yo 1990/2013 (54.8%, Silver Seal, cask #33, 10 magnums, 150cl)

Littlemill 23 yo 1990/2013 (54.8%, Silver Seal, cask #33, 10 magnums, 150cl) Five stars
There are only ten bottles, but they are magnums. That's got quite some panache don't you agree? We remember that Littlemills from the late 1980s and early 1990s were or are for the most part extraordinary, for a reason that remains unknown to me, as earlier vintages had been much less remarkable... Colour: white wine. Nose: we often mention the white Sauvignons from the central Loire, like Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, well, we are right in there. Massive quantities of wet chalk, flint (with a slight mineral smokiness), lemon and green apple, not to forget pink grapefruit and mango, but without any vulgarity. As they say, it speaks. With water: a few touches of vanilla and Earl Grey, a three-kilo pack of Banana Foam... Palate (neat): it's very tight, very much on lemon zest, with almost a slightly soapy side, as in many artisanal limoncellos (no names, I value my health). Liquorice allsorts, marshmallows, passion fruit, green tea... With water: and there you have it, an explosion of exotic fruit candies and, let's say, an old Bushmills malt side. A perfect fruity bomb. Finish: rather long, leaning towards an all-vitamins fruit juice. Comments: this style almost takes you back to childhood. Sadly, I don't see many new Littlemills anymore, but let's remember that the distillery stopped speaking in 1994...
SGP:751 - 90 points.

A Lowland Distillery 13 yo 2009/2022 (57.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #303994, 251 bottles)

A Lowland Distillery 13 yo 2009/2022 (57.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #303994, 251 bottles) Four stars
With a lovely drawing of Glenkinchie Distillery on the label, which surely isn't there by complete chance. Colour: white wine. Nose: to tell the truth, it's not far from the very fruity profile of Littlemill, and rather different from the slightly patisserie-like and quite light character of the official Glenkinchies. On the other hand, we haven't tasted thousands of official Glenkinchies either. I find quite a bit of greengage plums, apples of all kinds, hints of fennel and anise, rhubarb, white peach, a touch of green banana... Very nice! With water: a camomile and lemon liqueur aspect, a fifty-fifty. A bit of light honey. Mouth (neat): it's rather lively, a bit herbal and, above all, very lemony. A hint of fresh coriander. With water: we're coming back around to Littlemill, but with a less exotic and more northern character, we might say. Greengage plums and apples lead the dance, and I also detect a bit of cane sugar. Finish: medium length, fresh, fruity, almost approaching an (excellent) grain whisky at this stage. Comments: perhaps we should have tasted this Glenkinchie before the Littlemill. It's always the problem with ascending alcohol levels.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Hold on, we could add a little independent Auchentoshan, there aren't that many of those…

Auchentoshan 25 yo 1998/2023 (54.3%, A Few Barrels Company, Uniqueness of the Cask, bourbon barrel, cask #100976, 119 bottles)

Auchentoshan 25 yo 1998/2023 (54.3%, A Few Barrels Company, Uniqueness of the Cask, bourbon barrel, cask #100976, 119 bottles) Four stars and a half
We tasted an excellent Octomore by A Few Barrels Company the other day, so let's see what's happening on the other side of the spectrum. It's true that between Octomore and Auchentoshan, well, you see... Colour: straw. Nose: it's amusing to find a rather uniform style among all these Lowlanders, this tense and fruity side, but here we're even more into marshmallows and fruit syrups here, including lemon syrup. I also find more tinned peaches and a very light rum side, quite amusing. Well, it's not Hampden either... With water: very delicate, it's like a Bellini (champagne and peach puree). Palate (neat): superb, very vertical, all-in on lemon, green walnut, and clay. The structure is very herbal but that works very well. With water: the Bellini is back, as are the assorted fruit candies, especially the raspberry and blackberry ones. Oh yes, really, these Lowlanders take you back to childhood, to the times when we started tasting 'canards' (ducks - a drop of eau-de-vie on a sugar cube). Finish: medium length, fresh and very fruity. Comments: magnificent Auchentoshan. As elsewhere, the independents are flying the flag high for the distillery!
SGP:641 - 89 points.
 

April 21, 2024


Whiskyfun

  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!

 

Some rums, once again

There are many fine things lineing up, but that won't stop us from starting off by calibrating ourselves with, well, the help of little aperitifs that we have never tasted before, or only very sporadically. Like this one...

Magazine ad for Myers's, 1980s. The young woman didn't particularly seem happy with her decision, did she?

Myers

 

 

Myers's Original Dark (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/- 2022)

Myers's Original Dark (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/- 2022) Three stars
I had tasted it ten years ago and found it quite alright (WF 79), even though its reputation wasn't great-great. That's non-experts for you. Apparently, it's a very ancient recipe; what's certain is that the rather orange hue, as opposed to golden, suggests a liberal use of caramel. But let's not restart the caramel wars, shall we? Colour: orange gold. Nose: actually quite good, with petrol, tar, and discreet yet clear salty notes. Essentially, it's more The Platters than Parliament in terms of funk, but it works quite well. Sugarcane, very ripe bananas, a hint of olive oil… Mouth: yes, not bad at all, salty, with tar, a bit of varnish, petrol (who hasn't had to siphon a friend's tank at four in the morning, out in the country?), and then indeed bananas. I would be curious to taste it without the caramel layer, it seems promising. Notes of ash as well. Finish: a bit short but still salty and nicely Jamaican. Orange and mint in the aftertaste. Comments: we are in a good day, we'll raise the score (who cares, right?). A very nice, very British-tasting aperitif.
SGP:552 - 80 points.

Aldea 6 yo (43%, Rum Explorer by Château du Breuil, Canary islands, +/-2022)

Aldea 6 yo (43%, Rum Explorer by Château du Breuil, Canary islands, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Distilled by Distilleria Aldea and partially aged in France and finished in pineau at Château du Breuil. These rather large Calvados makers seem to be diversifying pretty successfully, in whisky and, indeed, in rum. But Canarias is not an easy choice, I hope this will be better than the deep-sweetened Arehucas, for example (WF 40). I much prefer the Madeirans – I know those are Portuguese and not Spanish. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather metallic nose and a bit on the polish initially, without muted grape juice notes, leaning more towards charcoal, fireplace ashes, a bit of mustard and bitter oranges. I would have said... Madeira rum, but it is true that it's also pure cane juice (I believe). Mouth: the pineau is noticeable, giving it a sort of premix vibe, sweet-smoky-salty, not unpleasant at all but it loses you a little. It's not a rum that's immensely rummy, if you catch my drift, but yes, it's not disagreeable. Plenty of sultanas and peach syrup. Finish: medium length, quite nicely fruity, a touch of liquorice. Comments: it's really not bad, in my opinion, even if it struggles a bit following the astonishing Myers's, which is normal.
SGP:641 - 78 points.

Black Tot 'Master Blenders Reserve 2023' (54.5%, Elixir Distillers)

Black Tot 'Master Blenders Reserve 2023' (54.5%, Elixir Distillers) Four stars and a half
Every time it's said, it's marvellous to see these master blenders who, out of sheer altruism and love for humanity, are ready to part with their personal reserves with boundless grace. In any case, here is an intriguing blend that generously features Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana. In essence, a very British blend, or in any case, a very 'Royal Navy' one. Colour: full gold. Nose: it's very elegant, and at the risk of plunging us back into the Napoleonic wars (but no, that ended too badly for us!) there is a little Guadeloupean aspect to this rum that seems to house quite a bit of "grand arôme". In any case, it's mainly very balanced, without one origin dominating the others, not even Jamaica. Earth, tar, motor oil, dried grapes, eucalyptus, orange liqueur... With water: it's really the sugar cane that stands out – even if I imagine that only molasses rums were used to compose this blend. Mouth (neat): it's more marked by tar, a commendable bacterial aspect, pepper, seaweed, capers... The peppery note is prominent. With water: it loves water and develops a side of sandalwood and jasmine, very ripe mango, cinnamon, orange marmalade and rose water (Turkish delights). It's quite sinful, really. Finish: fairly long, a bit sweeter and gentler. As usual, the balances between the different components change with dilution, even more so in the finish. In my humble opinion... Nice salinity at the end. Comments: probably the cream of the crop of what you can do in terms of 'international' blending.
SGP:642 - 88 points.

El Salvador 2013/2023 (65.5%, L'Esprit Rhum, cask #MDH 2013-2, 264 bottles)

El Salvador 2013/2023 (65.5%, L'Esprit Rhum, cask #MDH 2013-2, 264 bottles) Four stars
Aged for eight years on location, then two years in Europe. The estate/distillery is confidential but if you ask me, this could well from the makers of Cihuatan, so no bad news. We need to remain careful at 65.5%. Colour: gold. Nose: high varnish and barbecued herbs (thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds), pine resin, coal tar and just a lot of burnt sugar. Let's hope these rather wonderful roasted herbs will remain, once water's been added. With water: the herbs have remained but are rather in a fresh state. I also find banana peel and apple, dandelion flower, a bit of popcorn, sesame halva (pure sin)... Mouth (neat): rather sweet – herbaceous, but at this strength, we'll move on very, very quickly. With water: it shifts towards pink grapefruit, fudge, and vanilla cream. It remains quite simple but really very pleasant. And you can add litres of water. Finish: medium length, clean style. Apple juice with a hint of pepper. Comments: these are more like fillers, reminiscent of many Speyside whiskies. Take, for example, Glendullan or Strathmill. But that does not detract from their interest; we are well above the style of Puerto Rico (is there a style?) or the Dominican Republic, for example.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Since we're at it, tasting ethanol bombs…

Foursquare 2007/2022 'Fortitude' (62.9%, Man and Dram, Barbados)

Foursquare 2007/2022 'Fortitude' (62.9%, Man and Dram, Barbados) Four stars and a half
Awesome Dada label. Colour: gold. Nose: interestingly, we're finding the same notes of parsley, rosemary, thyme and bear garlic as in the Salvadorian. Where do these molecules come from? Let's try to find out… With water: vanilla, melon, cane juice, nougat. Typical balanced style of a self-blend from Foursquare's. Mouth (neat): oranges at the helm, as fresh fruit, as liqueur, as marmalade, as candied bits and pieces… And a lot of alcohol. With water: just excellent. More oranges yet, and more pepper as well. Finish: medium in length, with a fresh texture that remains quite light, typical of these self-blends. In fact, I find that's how you recognise them. Comments: I agree we did this one a little quickly, but there wasn't much to say, everything was perfectly 'as expected', with no winey wood in the way.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

Zodiac 2024 – Verseau (63.6%, Famille Ricci, Trinidad and Nicaragua blend, bourbon, 420 bottles)

Zodiac 2024 – Verseau (63.6%, Famille Ricci, Trinidad and Nicaragua blend, bourbon, 420 bottles) Five stars
A new bottling straight from the French Riviera! This is actually a 50/50 two-cylinder blend of T.D.L. (Angostura) 16 yo 2008 and Compania Licorera de Nicaragua (Flor de Cana) 16 yo 2004. It's safe to say that this is a 16 year old. In theory, the T.D.L. is set to lead the dance. Colour: bright amber. Nose: there's always that fear of singeing your nostrils during a tasting session. In any case, you get the scent of mango cake and banana tart, with tiny hints of tar and more and more honey, yellow Chartreuse and fresh mint. These T.D.L.s are incredible. With water (incredible viscosity): earth, roots, quince, honey... Mouth (neat): superb, even at this near-lethal strength. It seems to me that we find this yellow Chartreuse again, ripe mangoes, even a drop of absinthe. Not to forget the wood glue... (alright, something reminiscent of wood glue). With water: more spices, gingerbread, a bit of ginger and turmeric, even saffron. Finish: long, fruity and balanced. And significantly very "good", simply put. Comments: I would have loved to taste the two components separately. And it would indeed be fun to sell two 50cl bottles assorted in a pack like "you've got the final say". In the style of these "ready to cook" ingredient assortments for the weary but committed urbanites... In short, it's a binary blend of very high quality.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Back to Jamaica…

HD 9 yo 2014 (54.5%, Morisco Spirits, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, +/-2024)

HD 9 yo 2014 (54.5%, Morisco Spirits, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, +/-2024) Five stars
I highly doubt that this is a rum produced by the Harley-Davidson company. Colour: yellow gold. Nose: you know the recipe. Take sea water and lime juice, 50/50. Add chunks of carbon, brake fluid, about fifty olives (half green, half black) and throw in some rubber bands. Add gasoline as you wish – depending on the day's price – and mix well, making sure not to expose it to an open flame. With water: the glue that's late to the party. Mouth (neat): it's so good, so typical, really heavy on new rubber and olive brine... What more can I say? With water: as always, Hampden loves water. It should be noted, however, that there isn't a lot of fruit, not even rotting bananas. Finish: long. Comments: it's a spirit that is quite indifferent to age, I don't think you can even establish any sort of relationship between age and intrinsic quality (especially blind). There are not many distillates like this. In short, I'm growing even fonder of Hampden, I don't know where this will end. The only thing that could change our perception is if the charming owners started forbidding independents from alluding to the origin, but we are not there yet. As a true-blue Frenchman, I might even go on strike!
SGP:563 - 91 points.

Un petit dernier, as we say...

Zodiac 2023 – Bélier (59.3%, Famille Ricci, Jamaica and Panama blend, bourbon)

Zodiac 2023 – Bélier (59.3%, Famille Ricci, Jamaica and Panama blend, bourbon) Five stars
Right, some 14 yo Hampden DOK and some 16 yo Panama. We think the Panamanian might overshadow the Hampden, leaving not a trace of it behind, don't you agree? LOL. And isn't there a teasingly provocative side to these blends? The 'worst' part, as you know, is that DOK is Hampden's highest mark in terms of ester count. Over 1.5 kg/HLPA. Colour: dark gold. Nose: how amusing! It's like a honey cake smoked with fir wood. I'm serious. With water: here come the glues, the varnishes, carbon, brand-new rubber boots, olives, and perhaps even black garlic reduction—I really love that... You do detect a certain unusual sweetness, perhaps from the Panamanian element, but it's quite anecdotal. Mouth (neat): this smoked honey is crazy! Joking aside, the Jamaican dominates, as expected. Be careful, it's a bit throat-burning... With water: very Hampden. Nice depth, perhaps more fresh fruits (papaya), maybe not. The Panamanian is a bit like the piccolo within a symphony orchestra. Finish: smoked bananas and black olives. Yes. Apple and oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: a fun way to dilute your Hampden without lowering the alcohol level. Jokes aside for good, it's excellent and takes water well. Superb, these astrological (or should I say astronomical) blends by the Ricci Family.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

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

 

April 20, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

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


Dailuaine, Glenfarclas and Macallan 

Orbiting around Speyside today. I thought it would be a suitable occasion to return to these wee pairs and triplets, an approach we haven't done for a while. 
Angus  

 

 

 

 

 

Dailuaine 11 yo 2012/2023 (58.8%, Watt Whisky, refill sherry butt, 552 bottles)

Dailuaine 11 yo 2012/2023 (58.8%, Watt Whisky, refill sherry butt, 552 bottles)
Don't Dailuaine and sherry usually go well together? Colour: bright straw. Nose: a leafy and vegetal profile that reveals plenty of distillery character I would say. This rather typical Dailuaine fatness that involves waxes, broths and cooking oils. The refill sherry brings a nice mineral edge to proceedings. With water: seems to get even bigger, with these notes of oily toolbox rags, rapeseed oil, camphor and putty. Mouth: these bigger aspects are well balanced by sweetness, such as honey in porridge, or sweetened breakfast cereals. Also some more vegetal notes such as bouillon and roast parsnip, but again with this honeyed side adding balance. With water: works well with water, really a mouth-coating, super oily dram with some waxy aspects and now also a lot of beery and ale notes along with some spiced breads. Finish: quite long, with some aniseed, green twigs, bitter herbs and more cooking oils. Comments: something of a beast, were they 'making Mortlach at Dailuaine' as Diageo sometimes seem to try out one distillery's profile at another. I would say water is obligatory here, a big, fat, heavy dram for when only such a whisky will do. 
SGP: 471 - 85 points. 

 

 

Dailuaine 33 yo 1989/2022 (46.3%, OB 'Casks of Distinction', cask #4144, refill American oak hogshead, 88 bottles)

Dailuaine 33 yo 1989/2022 (46.3%, OB 'Casks of Distinction', cask #4144, refill American oak hogshead, 88 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: It isn't hard to imagine the same distillate from the Watt Whisky bottling we just tried, arriving at this sort of profile given sufficient years. This is really classic full bodied distillate with a lot of texture and inherent oiliness, given a long time in refill wood. So what we have is many variations on waxiness, cedar wood, mineral oils, hessian, many wee herbal details, tiger balm, ointments and camphor. Love this profile, and it seems quite a few of Diageo's makes end up here given enough time. Mouth: superb arrival! Pure wax, honey and crystallised fruits of all colours and types. Still superbly fresh as well, so you have wee coconut and tropical notes, that sit alongside sharper aspects that also suggest acidity. Gorse flower, mint, guava, lime and pineapple all showing up. Finish: long, and doubling down on these impressions of coconut liqueur and exotic fruit salad vibes - really a pina colada! Still wonderfully waxy and bright as well. Comments: hard not to love older Dailuaine when it clings so closely to its supposed distillate character of being a kind of 'diet Clynelish' with these inherent waxy qualities. Very old school and excellent.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

 

 

Glenfarclas 43 yo 1977/2021 (43.1%, OB, private for Jeroboams, fourth fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #7288, 215 bottles)

Glenfarclas 43 yo 1977/2021 (43.1%, OB, private for Jeroboams, fourth fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #7288, 215 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: honeysuckle, yellow plums, many orchard fruits, baked apples and youthful sweet wines. It's also pretty floral with pressed flowers and various delicate, aromatic types of tea. This honeyed side only increases, becoming more concentrated, crystallised and harmonious. Mouth: superb, assertive arrival in the mouth. Spicy, but controlled, on herbal notes, medicinal touches, aniseed, cough syrup, jasmine tea, dried mint and preserved exotic fruits. Carries the age extremely well and retains good freshness and power in the mouth which seems above the ABV. Also some feelings of waxy citrus rinds, mineral oils and wee leather and tobacco notes. Finish: good length, back on honeys, lemon curds, flower teas, cinnamon and various herbal infusions. Comments: A big, bright, fruity and still very much alive and kicking old 'farclas. I suppose that's fourth fill for you? 

SGP: 651 - 91 points. 

 

 

Glenfarclas 29 yo 1992/2022 (52.6%, OB for Kensington Wine Market 30th Anniversary, cask #2906, sherry butt)

Glenfarclas 29 yo 1992/2022 (52.6%, OB for Kensington Wine Market 30th Anniversary, cask #2906, sherry butt)
The opposite end of the wood spectrum I suppose? Incidentally, I have never been to Kensington Wine Market, but I can more than vouch for the owner's taste in Maple Syrup, which should be sufficient motivation for you to visit if you're ever in that neck of Canada. Colour: mahogany. Nose: a bright sherry profile that's immediately full of damsons, black cherries, plum wine, incense and wee umami touches of soy sauce and cocktail bitters. Hyper clean and wonderfully rich! Goes on with many of the usual suspects - sultana, freshly brewed coffee damp pipe tobacco - but wonderfully and effortlessly so. With water: broadens and becomes ever so slightly lighter with lemon balm, fruits stewed in armagnac and impressions of aged Drambuie and walnut oil. Mouth: a sherry bomb in the truest sense. Huge, jammy and sticky dark fruits, colliding with coal dust, walnut oil, hessian cloth, cola cubes and again this umami, almost salty vibe that suggests squid ink and Maggi! Really terrific and immensely powerful. With water: superbly plummy, jammy and juicy now. Rich dark fruits, aniseed, slightly funky bodega or dunnage style earthiness, and then more tobaccos and an increasingly dominating rancio aspect. Finish: very long, deeply warming, earthy, rather meaty now as well and still full of tobaccos, rancio, plums and bitter herbs. Comments: I'm not too often in the mood for these kinds of mega sherry bombs, but when that mood does strike, a whisky such as this is totally perfect. Love the tension between freshness, fruitiness and intensity of sherry character. Same score as the 1977, but the totally opposite side of the Glenfarclas coin. 
SGP: 561 - 91 points. 

 

 

Glenfarclas 20 yo 1969/1989 (58.2%, Signatory Vintage, dumpy, casks #52-54, 900 bottles) 

Glenfarclas 20 yo 1969/1989 (58.2%, Signatory Vintage, dumpy, casks #52-54, 900 bottles) 
Colour: deep amber. Nose: not a million miles away from the 1992, but perhaps straighter, more mineral and on metal polish, natural tar, herbal bitters, some top notch VORS oloroso and wee dried exotic fruit notes. Clearly a bit more 'old school' but same ballpark in terms of quality so far I would say. With water: roast game meats, game salami, cloves, black truffle, coffee beans and damp humidor impressions. Massive and getting more clearly old school now! Mouth: excellent arrival, very meaty, gamey and spicy with quite a lot of wood spices and things like liquorice root and aniseed. Bottle aged herbal liqueurs and old tar liqueur like Claquesin. Mint, suet, marrow and rancio! With water: terrific rancio now, full of herbal cocktail bitters, green walnut liqueur, tarragon, eucalyptus, pipe tobacco, lovage and various stocks and broths. Finish: long, rich, full of sweet ales, herbal cough syrups, more liqueurish vibes and still plenty dark fruits and game meats. Comments: very fascinating to this next to the 92, this is clearly of a different era, but I would say, for once, I prefer the more modern one by a small margin. Now, both are superlative sherry bombs of the highest calibre. 

SGP: 662 - 90 points. 

 

 

Let's stick with some classical sherried Speyside please. How about some old Macallan, anyone heard of this distillery? 

 

 

Macallan 2003/2023 'Speymalt' (59.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, #13603613, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 298 bottles)

Macallan 2003/2023 'Speymalt' (59.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, #13603613, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 298 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: juicy, jammy, generous and modern in the best sense. Rather lot of sweetness and some quite specific notes of strawberry and raspberry jams. Also bramble leaf, quince and cassis. With some time comes these deeper and earthier notes that also involve tobaccos and bitter chocolate. With water: gets rather orangey, with aged Cointreau, bitter marmalade and some figs and prunes. Mouth: another sherry beast! Immediately big, spicy, assertive and rather hot with wee chilli pepper notes that recall some Tabasco and then herbal bitters, winter ales and pumpernickel bread. Feels like it needs water. With water: creamier and more complex now with water, which is quite the improvement. Getting more towards camphor, dark fruit jams, more bitter marmalades, freshly roast coffee beans and bacon frazzles - if you are a connoisseur of UK pub snacks. Pretty excellent once reduced I'd say. Finish: long, richly fruity, bready, spicy and still with a nicely intricate mix of jams and reduced dark fruit notes. Comments: I really like it, but I can't help but feel such a cask would show better with a few degrees reduction. Dear G&M, please can we have an 18yo 100° proof Speymalt…? Seriously. 

SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Macallan 18 yo 1967/1986 (43%, OB, Corade Import France)

Macallan 18 yo 1967/1986 (43%, OB, Corade Import France)
I rarely try old Macallan anymore these days, so this is a bit of a treat. Let's try to put out of our minds gargantuan and garish visitor centres, or vast decanter bottlings that you would require a separate seat on the airplane to take home… Colour: amber. Nose: old school sherry, but rather the fresher and fruitier kind, dominated as such by many dark fruits and delicate earthy and tobacco notes. I find many specific notes of sultana, fig and prunes soaking in Armagnac. There's also these very neat touches of leaf mulch and old sherry rancio too. A superbly balanced and enchanting aroma that doesn't really exist today - outside bottles of nice old sherry anyway. Mouth: a notch more drying than the nose suggested, going more towards earthy tones, dried mushrooms, tobacco leaf and things like walnut oil and salted liquorice. The overall impression is still full of 'beautiful old style sherry' though, and also a feeling of impressive freshness and power even at 43%, which I am almost always finding with these old Macs. Finish: medium to long, getting a little more floral and tad more honeyed, revealing some yellow plums and quince jelly in the aftertaste. Comments: simple in some ways, but utterly delicious is the overriding feeling upon tasting this old 18yo. Seriously, a simple but neat and quite perfect style that makes for a crazily quaffable profile that, as we've observed many times before 'Macallan built a brand upon'… 

SGP: 641 - 91 points. 

 

 

Macallan 18 yo 1965/1984 (43%, OB, Corade Import France)

Macallan 18 yo 1965/1984 (43%, OB, Corade Import France)
Colour: deep orangey amber. Nose: I find this a more complex affair, less directly on fruity old sherry, and more a mix of petrichor and earthy notes, lots of leaf mulch combined with crystallised honeys, flower nectars, some very long aged dessert wines and mentholated pipe tobaccos. This one presents even older and more complex that 18 years I would say. It even starts to develop some delicate dried tropical fruits notes such as mango and papaya chunks. Detailed and highly compelling. Mouth: beautiful arrival, once again drier, but also more diversely fruity, more waxy and more on things like pollens, honeycomb, long aged SGN riesling and camphor. Feels like a different kind of sherry cask at work. I find a little herbal cough syrup and other faintly medicinal impressions. Finish: good length, perfectly drying, herbal, honeyed and waxy with many delicate dried fruits and some lovely fruit and herbal tea notes in the aftertaste. Comments: a notch higher once again I would say. I enjoy the simplicity and directness of the 1967, but there is something highly enigmatic and alluring that comes from this more complex and varied profile. Feels older than 18 in a very positive way.

 SGP: 652 - 92 points.

 

 

Macallan-Glenlivet 20 yo 1974/1994 (53.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherrywood matured)

Macallan-Glenlivet 20 yo 1974/1994 (53.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherrywood matured)
Colour: amber. Nose: ah, one of those old sherry casks that seems to lend a kind of extremely deep and also luminous fruitiness. Immediately chock full of rancio, walnut liqueur, aged pinot noir, bone marrow and quince, but also interspersed with many stunning green, dark and exotic fruits. Also herbs, tobaccos, meats and medicines galore. Everything and the kitchen sink in other words! With water: leaner, more mineral, more gamey and more leathery, with a deeper earthiness and black pepper, bitter herbal extracts and resinous fir wood. Mouth: stunning! Really almost like a liqueur in texture and with this vivid, stunning sweetness. The fruits become almost sticky, like pure jams and purees. Also still wonderfully balanced between gamey notes, sweet tars and medicines, prunes, some ancient Armagnac and mineral oils. With water: loses some of the impressiveness as it gains a little bitterness, but it's still pretty wonderful. Finish: very long, back on tars, cough syrups, liqueurs, dark fruits poached in old armagnac and the most sublime rancio. Comments: sip this one neat I would say, But otherwise, a stunning old Macallan that's up there with the very best of them. Another bottling that makes you think of 1974 as being some kind of borderline in malt whisky after which things started to take a bit of a downward turn in terms of quality and individuality.
SGP: 661 - 93 points. 

 

 

Big hugs to Carsten and the folks at the Golden Promise!

 

 

 

 

April 19, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today Strathmill on the table

Another of these distilleries that are rather well-known for supplying some major blended brands with 'fillers', so to speak, thus providing the base malt without too deviant a character. And yet, we do enjoy tasting these slightly lesser-known malts as often as possible, as they can grant us with excellent surprises.

 

 

Strathmill 15 yo 2008/2023 (56.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, for Kirsch Import, refill bourbon barrel, cask #804815, 141 bottles)

Strathmill 15 yo 2008/2023 (56.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, for Kirsch Import, refill bourbon barrel, cask #804815, 141 bottles) Four stars
With its fine age and a true refill barrel, one would expect to be close to the heart of the distillate. And perhaps a bit overwhelmed at 100 proof, let's check that that. Colour: straw. Nose: quite lovely, with fresh barley, cut hay, vanilla, orgeat syrup, rice pudding, marshmallows... It's hard to get more natural than this. With water: similar, just with a bit more of sweet citrus, orange syrup... Mouth (neat): strong, leaning towards lemony hops, rather strong beer, white pepper, a touch of wasabi, vanilla... It burns very slightly and also becomes quite bitter (Italian bitters). With water: everything falls into place, with a return of our friend limoncello, lemon balm water and sweets, well, lemon candies. Finish: fairly long, with a comeback of barley and some assorted fruit candies. Tea and a bit of cider in the aftertaste. Comments: a bit anonymous, but exactly a very, very good 'filler', capable of supporting a great blend.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Strathmill 27 yo 1996/2023 (55.7%, Maltbarn, Seventies, sherry cask, 141 bottles)

Strathmill 27 yo 1996/2023 (55.7%, Maltbarn, Seventies, sherry cask, 141 bottles) Four stars and a half
Stunning new label designs, whether you experienced the late '60s and early '70s or not. Somewhere between an Emerson Lake & Palmer album cover and a Soviet Olympic Games poster. Very classy, without being cheaply retro. Off to a good start... Colour: deep gold. Nose: some cask! Extraordinary lighter pipe tobacco, old walnuts, indeed pure dry sherry (fino-esque), miso soup, hints of black (fermented) garlic… Well, this is shaping up to be quite the distinguished affair so far. With water: softer, on apples and pears, walnut cake, those slightly more intense honeys we so love (fir, chestnut). Mouth (neat): here it becomes quite rowdy without water. Loads of pepper, very bitter oranges, bitter almonds, capsicum, new leather... Water should be a great help. With water: it continues to flirt with bitterness, with notes of amaro, Cynar, pepper... Finish: the same, lasting a good while. Bitter orange in the aftertaste, and of course walnuts. Comments: the nose is absolutely sublime and ensures a high score; the palate is somewhat more confrontational.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

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

 

April 18, 2024


Whiskyfun

A few Longmorn, vertically

Let's say four of them, does that suit you? It's a top-notch distillate, everyone knows that…

Longmorn's awesome old steam engine (Chris Allen, Geograph)

 

 

Longmorn 2005/2022 (62.3%, Or Sileis Taiwan, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #18072, 619 bottles)

Longmorn 2005/2022 (62.3%, Or Sileis Taiwan, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #18072, 619 bottles) Four stars and a half
You can't miss it, there's a rather spectacular dragon on the label. Colour: mahogany/coffee. Nose: deeply chocolatey, with prunes and armagnac, and a hint of gunpowder, but let's not jump to hasty conclusions. With water: a profusion of toffee, grilled steak, barbecue sauce, hoisin too, mole sauce (chocolate), a drop of Worcestershire sauce, another of aged balsamic... It really recalls the old, very sherried Longmorn from G&M's. Mouth (neat): it's richly textured, but a tiny tad overpowering. Imagine hoisin sauce mixed with chestnut honey and very moist pipe tobacco. With water: more on tangerine, orange marmalade, peppermint, rancio, aged Pedro Ximénez... It's very traditional. Finish: long, chocolatey, quite 'brandy-ish'. Toffee and marmalade linger in the aftertaste, with a touch of tar and liquorice. Comments: very, very traditional. Pleased to see the continuation of crafting true sherry monsters.
SGP:652 - 88 points.

Longmorn 25 yo 1998/2023 (53.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Kirsch exclusive, Germany, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #20600101)

Longmorn 25 yo 1998/2023 (53.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Kirsch exclusive, Germany, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #20600101) Four stars
Our German friends love their sherried malts and their malts sherried, that a fact. Colour: full amber. Nose: it's heavily on tangerine, cinchona, fir honey, ferns and mushrooms, but also boot polish and asparagus cream. Odd combination, I know. It then veers increasingly towards beef broth, gravy, barbecue sauce… With water: it shifts to basalt, slag, spent matches, black truffle… Mouth (neat): it's gentler at first, but balsamico and crushed pepper quickly take over. Like Jägermeister, yet without a gram of sugar. With water: the return of oranges, pepper, cinchona, bell pepper… Finish: long, sharper, a bit vinegary. And this notion of sugarless Jäger… And myrtle. Comments: truly an adventurer, not easy to track. Beware, it will capture your full attention, even if you're in front of a 36-episode North Korean series on Netflix.
SGP:472 - 85 points.

Longmorn 16 yo 1997/2013 (48.5%, Sansibar, sherry cask, 143 bottles)

Longmorn 16 yo 1997/2013 (48.5%, Sansibar, sherry cask, 143 bottles) Four stars
It was probably time we tasted this baby. Colour: straw. Nose: it's from a sherry cask but bears no resemblance to the two behemoths we've just sampled. It's much more reminiscent of Clynelish, with wax, ripe apples, melon, roasted chestnuts, jujubes, bamboo shoots, a hint of turmeric... Mouth: very good, very fruity, with melon and lemon, a bit of wild mint, verbena, grapefruit... The sherry is not at all evident. There's even a slight medicinal and peaty aspect, as if it came from an old Laphroaig barrel, which I strongly doubt. Finish: medium in length, but waxy and quite mineral. Candied citrus notes appear right at the end. Comments: in summary, a Longmorn that's not very Longmorn. But very good...
SGP:562 - 86 points.

Longmorn 30 yo 1993/2024 'Lost in Time' (54.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, 2nd fill hogshead, cask #56087, 180 bottles)

Longmorn 30 yo 1993/2024 'Lost in Time' (54.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, 2nd fill hogshead, cask #56087, 180 bottles) Five stars
I really believe that this new 'rather all about the distillate' series is very smart (if a tiny-wee tad pricey, but not even sure about that and who's counting anyway?) We're a bit tired of first fill stuff and new woods, aren't we? Isn't it time to put, well, time back onto the pedestal? So isn't this rather counter-culture malt whisky by today's standards? Hippy drops? Rather Janis and Jimi? Colour: light gold. Nose: I'm reminded of their new Braevals. This is some statement. Apples and plums, ales and gueuzes, peaches and apricots, then brioches and macaroons, yellow melons, some very mild vanilla, rather barley syrup… With water: just perfect pure apple juice with drops of barley syrup. Mouth (neat): exceptionally fruity, neat, ultra-clean, just on barley syrup, apples, plums and oranges. Truly a statement, as this could have been a (brilliant) twelve-years-old just as well, IMHO. Forgot to mention white clover flowers – that says a lot, you won't find them in a 12. With water: total, simple, barley-y fruity purity. Finish: rather long, with many more small fruits, including white berries, small plums, and just a dollop of prairie honey. Comments: almost a seasoned hard-rock band finally playing unplugged – and amazing the world. A statement indeed.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

Wgiskyfun 101

  But why specify the colour of a whisky?

I'm often told it makes no sense to note down the colour of a spirit in our records, since caramel is often added before bottling, rendering terms like 'deep gold' or 'mahogany' meaningless. I get that, but I generally respond that while the fact that a Toyota is painted turquoise doesn't change its roadworthiness, it's still "a turquoise Toyota". In essence, the colour is simply a descriptive feature, characteristic of all spirits, but it doesn't necessarily define their quality or, in some cases, their style or age. However, this very old Speyside, rich in paxarette, is indeed 'mahogany' in colour, whereas this very young Highlander, bolstered with red wine, is definitely 'rosé gold'. See what I mean?

 

April 17, 2024


Whiskyfun

Glossy Glenlossies, part four and last

We'll try to get through what we still have in stock…

 

Glenlossie 10 yo 2010/2020 (54.3%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, cask #2479, 343 bottles)

Glenlossie 10 yo 2010/2020 (54.3%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, cask #2479, 343 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, with hints of hay, freshly cut grass, apple, and lemon. Not too much vanilla, but a charming earthy aspect. With water: Italian lemon biscuits, the name of which escapes me. A touch of sweet woodruff, which I adore. Mouth (neat): a nice lemony zing and green apple. Lemon brioche, again with a very pleasant earthy side. Pear as well. With water: simply put. The sweet woodruff makes a comeback. Finish: medium length, balanced flavours and a lovely lemony freshness. Comments: youthful and completely without fault, especially if you love lemon as much as I do.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Glenlossie 11 yo 2008/2019 (59.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1358, 301 bottles)

Glenlossie 11 yo 2008/2019 (59.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1358, 301 bottles) Four stars
This too, should be without fault. Colour: white wine. Nose: very interesting to compare with the rechar version, here there's less vanilla, but more white flowers, roses, and peppermint. It's very elegant, one could almost dab a few drops behind their ears. Also, notes of Golden Grahams and Fruit Loops – pick your favourite brand. With water: fresh fruits, apples, peaches… Mouth (neat): fruitier and decidedly sweeter than the 2010 (icing sugar), then much more herbaceous and peppery as a second impression. With water: our beloved peaches make a comeback. Barley syrup, apple juice. Finish: quite long, with a very nice balance between garden fruits and all things gently malted. Comments: all these young casks are excellent, nothing to criticise especially since the prices are always very fair. Truly loyal whiskies, in essence.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Glenlossie 19 yo 1997/2017 (50.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12017, 140 bottles)

Glenlossie 19 yo 1997/2017 (50.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12017, 140 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: completely different, with more vanilla, coconut, clementines and even pineapple and banana than in the younger ones. A bit of polish as well, where does that come from? With water: acacia honey and muesli with a bit of white chocolate and shortbread. That would make for a good breakfast. Mouth (neat): polish and paraffin again, then banana peel and citrus fruit skins. This one is really intriguing. With water: it shifts more towards citrus fruits, zest… Finish: medium length, quite mellow, with hints of ginger tonic. Comments: the same, it's honest, loyal, and merchant-ready as we say.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

We're not going to have only 85-pointers, are we?...

Glenlossie 22 yo 1997/2019 (51.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 161 bottles)

Glenlossie 22 yo 1997/2019 (51.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 161 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is different, perhaps more complex, with a focus on waxes and mastic, then papayas, bananas, and vineyard peaches. A bit of praline cream and pistachio nougat. All of this works very, very well and doesn't really need water, but still, we have our procedures... With water: the fresh barley comes back to the fore. Mouth (neat): papaya juice with chamomile and apricots, all coated in beeswax. Does that speak to you? With water: a perfect, graceful fruitiness, without the slightest, well, let's say 'tawdry' aspect. I hope you'll forgive me. Finish: medium length, leaning more towards our local fruits, like apple for example. Spanish oranges coated with honey in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe we've reached a new level.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glenlossie 23 yo 1992/2015 (51.7%, Sansibar, Samurai Series for Spirits Shop Selection, bourbon, 317 bottles)

Glenlossie 23 yo 1992/2015 (51.7%, Sansibar, Samurai Series for Spirits Shop Selection, bourbon, 317 bottles) Four stars
It's good to taste this youngster before it reaches ten years from its bottling, isn't it? Colour: straw. Nose: here's a Glenlossie with a more lemony note, characterised by green apple, then evolving into barley sugar, tangerines and a few hints of Coca-Cola. My deepest apologies. With water: a lot of paraffin and plaster. Mouth (neat): very pretty fruitiness but also sodas again, Coca-Cola as well as 7up and other delights intended to bring our youth into line. Ginger tonic and a very faint taste of paper. With water: very nice citrus, abundant zest, quinine… Finish: quite long, even more on quinine, with a bit of sweet pepper and even milder paprika. Comments: a malt that's a bit more 'art house', if you catch my drift. I really like it.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Another octave please… (never thought I'd ever write that)…

Glenlossie 19 yo 1992/2012 (51%, Feinkost Reiffercheid, Romantic Rhine Collection, sherry octave, cask #892622, 69 bottles)

Glenlossie 19 yo 1992/2012 (51%, Feinkost Reiffercheid, Romantic Rhine Collection, sherry octave, cask #892622, 69 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: no heavy sherry at all, rather flints, clay, sunflower oil, acacia honey, mirabelle plums, quince eau-de-vie, beeswax… I have to say I am a little bit surprised here. Twelve years later, imagine! With water: one might say it's a little miracle. Chalk, vanilla, beeswax, yellow plums, apricots… Mouth (neat): frankly, I would have guessed a Balvenie of a similar age. Honey, well-withered quinces, mirabelles, a drop of olive oil... With water: edible flowers of all kinds and tangerine. Finish: medium length but with a very nice quinine and yellow fruits. Beeswax again in the aftertaste. Comments: just a simple little octave, really? Can we get a photo of the cask? Seriously, a very, very pretty little Glenlossie, not very 'sherry octave' though, it must be said.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

There's old and there is older…

Glenlossie 16 yo 1970 (43%, Sestante, Italy, 75cl, +/-1986)

Glenlossie 16 yo 1970 (43%, Sestante, Italy, 75cl, +/-1986) Four stars and a half
Colour: full gold. Nose: yet again some Balvenie-ness, that is to say mirabelles, quinces and acacia honey (very roughly). There's also old Yquem, apricot, roasted hazelnuts, a bit of metal polish, some chamomile and some verbena, 'a meadow in springtime'… Well this is all rather splendid and in a higher league, definitely. Two minutes later, a toasted aspect emerges, warm praline, cakes fresh from the oven… Mouth: herbs, mints, absinthe, chartreuse, a bit of chalkiness, some sultanas, figs, various honeys… It's the complexity that's rather astounding here, glad we still had this one to taste. Then it continues with honeys of all kinds, sweet beers, caramels, fudges and toffees… Finish: not very long but more on Parma ham served with a bit of honey. Italian friends, please don't tell me this is sacrilege! Comments: just another era.
SGP:451 - 89 points.

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead, warehouse tasting, hogshead)

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead, warehouse tasting, hogshead) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: roasted nuts and pinewood, pipe tobacco, then cassata, muesli and strawberry yoghurt. With water: some cardboard touches, candle wax, sesame oil… This is truly an unusual Glenlossie. Perfect for fooling people in a blind tasting. Mouth (neat): very good, robust, quite coastal, but extremely herbaceous. It's like a slightly off-kilter Ben Nevis, to be honest. With water: very amusing, with notes of Bénédictine and herbal liqueurs from the former Eastern Bloc countries. Used to adore all of them, from Gdansk to Dubrovnik and even further south. Finish: medium length. Peach syrup, a bit of orgeat. The question always remains, 'to add water or not to add water?' In this particular case, the latter would have been the right choice. Comments: a very amusing and unusual Glenlossie. Do they serve their best casks during their 'warehouse tastings'?
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 23 yo 1993/2017 (56.8%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles)

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 23 yo 1993/2017 (56.8%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles) Four stars and a half
Not too sure if this was for their 175th anniversary. Colour: gold. Nose: it's all rather about waxes. Some soft woods, encaustic, old books, apricots, mirabelles and quinces… With water: awesome, some yellow chartreuse and some bergamotte sweets (from Nancy in Lorraine, France). Mouth (neat): extremely good, yet simple, on the moisten-most heavily honeyed nougat there is. Honeycomb. With water: honestly, this was a brilliant cask. I suspect some bees had invaded it and colonised it. Finish: rather long, still wonderfully honeyed. Comments: either you like proper honey or you don't. If you don't, there's nothing we could do for you.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

I believe the next one will be our last Glenlossie until the year, say 2028.

Glenlossie 20 yo 1997/2017 (52.2%, Signatory Vintage for Acla da Fans, hogshead, cask #6773, 309 bottles)

Glenlossie 20 yo 1997/2017 (52.2%, Signatory Vintage for Acla da Fans, hogshead, cask #6773, 309 bottles) Four stars
Another Swiss bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: once again a pretty 'yellow one', with mirabelles, quince and honeys. Quite some vanilla too, this is very 'bourbon' indeed. With water: branches and stems, teas, chamomile, beeswax (bits)… Mouth (neat): excellent, on cane-juice rum, oranges, bergamots again, meadow honey and a little ginger/turmeric. With water: no further changes. Overripe apples? Finish: same, pear cake, mirabelle tarte, earl grey… Comments: awesome drop, typical 1st-grade filler, I would say.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Very well, within ten days we will have tasted 36 (thirty-six) Glenlossies. Not bad, is it? We haven't exactly touched the stars, but we've never haunted the malt dungeons either. Anyway, it seems that we can always rely on the independents...

(Thank you Diego (RIP my friend), Max, Tomislav and other friends for all these Glenlossies)