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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2011 - Part 1

July 2011 - part 2 <--- August 2011 - part 1 ---> August 2011 - part 2


August 14, 2011


Sunday Special, my favourite wines of the last two months

Remember I don't and won't score wine but these are the wines that I tried in the last two months and that I would score above 90, were I to score wine. Right. Sorry about the very crappy iPhone captures.

The whites...


Hurst Larmandier

Riesling 1979 Kuentz-Bas

  Gewurztraminer Brand 1974 Hurst   Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus


Moussiere Pur

Vin de Paille 2005 Berthet-Bondet

  Sancerre La Moussière 2008 Alphonse Mellot   Pouilly Fumé Pur Sang 2006 Dagueneau  


Meursault Knoll

Rully 2009 Jacqueson

  Meursault Les Narvaux 2004 Mestre-Michelot (bombastic)   Loibner Grüner Veltliner 2007 Veingut Knoll, Austria  


Chablis Riesling

Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Sélection de Grains Nobles 2005 Domaine Weinbach

  Chablis Mont de Milieu 1990 La Chablisienne   Riesling 1988 Kuentz-Bas  


Heimbourg Laffitte

White Collioure Penya 2008 Domaine Madeloc (blew me away)

  Riesling Heimbourg 2006 Zind-Humbrecht   Château Laffitte-Feston Rêve d'Automne 2009 Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh  

The reds...

Brane 73

Canon Reignac

Brane-Cantenac 1973. Nice old Bx from a little vintage.

  Canon-La-Gaffelière 1982. Surprisingly good.   Reignac 2003. Only a Bx Sup but...  


Turque Hermitage

Moulin A Vent Pierres Dorées 2009 Jean-Paul Brun

  Côte Rôtie La Turque 1991 Guigal (classic)   Hermitage 2009 Dard (much too young but quite some potential)  

August 12, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Let's have a few real babies today if you don't mind. After all, baby whiskie are the future, aren't they?
Aass egge Aass & Egge 3 yo (40%, OB, Norway, 'eau-de-vie de bière', 50cl, 728 bottles, 2011) This is no whisky as it was distilled from beer that had contained hops, which is forbidden in whisky. Remember, to add anything other than grain, water and yeast (and caramel) to whisky, you first have to dump that into an oak cask. Of course I'm joking. Colour: straw. Nose: good, I have distilled beer myself in the past, and this nose is much nicer than what I had managed to come up with. It's fresh and very clean, with obvious notes of vanilla from the cask, then a little sweet beer indeed, boiled cereals, touches of bananas, apples and pineapples and then just a little white chocolate. Also hints of moss. No 'bubblegummy' notes whatsoever, which is an achievement in itself in my opinion.
Mouth: we're farer from traditional whisky now, with much more sweetness and 'eau-de-vie-ness'. It reminds me of beer eau-de-vie like a few distillers make indeed (Wolfberger in Alsace), but this has less soapy notes. Correction, it's got no soapiness at all. Touches of sweet ginger in the background, a tad gin-y. Finish: not very long but clean, pure, with vanilla and sweet ginger in the aftertaste. A little pepper too. Comments: I really like this and I don't think you can make better 'whisky' using this recipe. It reminds me bit of some high-end genever. SGP:660 - around 79/80 points. (and many thanks, Ivar)


Spirit of Lewis (40%, OB, Abhainn Dearg Distillery, +/-2010) From the first 'large batch' from Abhainn Dearg (no, I don't know how to pronounce 'Abhainn Dearg' either) although 'large' is a tad far fetched. Colour: straw. Nose: bigger, greasier, farmier and much more 'newmaky' than the Norwegian. A lot of porridge, Swiss cheese, yoghurt, manure, then more cider and ale. Whiffs of vinegar as well, before it gets rounder and more on vanilla. It's very wild and pretty immature, but there's a lot of character in this, which is always good news for the future. Mouth: more difficult than on the nose. Dirtier, slightly bitter, very porridgy… The peat is more intense as well. Quite some pears in the background, cardboard… A little hard. Finish: medium long, sweet, with a dry smokiness in the aftertaste as well as quite some brine. Comments: still a curiosity, or a collector's item at such young age in my opinion, but there's a lot happening and it may become very good after quite some extra-years of maturing. I know that sounds very PC but I mean it. SGP:454 - around 65 points.
I believe there are two kinds of start-ups in whisky, guys who use equipment and contacts they already have (eau-de-vie or small cognac stills, a neighbouring brewery…) and then decide to make 'whisky' out of that, and people who start from scratch and buy/build 'state of the art' equipment to come up with Scotch-type whisky, sometimes with a regional style/twist and usually with an insane attention to detail. In my opinion, the second option usually works much better, and it's what our Swedish friend Pär Caldenby did at Smögen last year. Let's try a 7mo cask sample and check how that worked out…
Smögen 7 mo 2010/2011 (+/-69%, Smögen Distillery, Sweden, cask sample) From an ex-Markers Mark barrel, air dried and not kilned, from 'B/B' cooperage. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: wow! Sure it's new make but it hasn't got any of these ueber-fruity notes. The first thing that springs to mind is Ardmore, I don't know why. There are peaches and apricots as well as fresh mushrooms, roots and moss on top of a dry peatiness. It's quite incredible that this would be so 'focussed'. Another word that springs to my mind is 'Chichibu'. Par
Pär Caldenby
With water: the moss comes out more, together with some fresh mint and dill as well as, as expected, more porridgy/yeasty notes. After all, this is almost new-make (or do you call this SPS, Swedish Plain Spirit?) Very South-Shore-Of-Islay now. Mouth (neat): amazing! Oily, powerful for sure but once again, it's extremely 'focussed' without being simple. It's not simple at all, actually, it's simply got a very precise style and that style is very Scottish (which is a compliment in my mouth, of course). The peat is superb, and so are the tinned peaches that we already had in the nose. With water: the peat became even more superb. Wonderful spirit. Finish: very long, with a peppery aftertaste ala Talisker. Comments: very, very impressive and I mean it. I'm 100% sure it'll be a winner once mature - after all it's already a winner while immature! SGP:448 - no score because it's not available but it's definitely up there with the works of the best true artisan whisky distillers such as Ichiro Akuto at Chichibu or Jean Donnay at Glann ar Mor.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: this by him. It was on 'Yarona'. Please buy all his music and go to all his gigs.


August 11, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Let's choose another easy all-rounder to start this little session… Another Glenlivet, for example…
Glenlivet Glenlivet 15 yo 'French Oak Reserve' (40%, OB, +/- 2009) Three stars I suppose this one was finished, and not fully matured in French oak. Colour: gold. Nose: it's rather more flowery and fruity than other official Glenlivets, a little more perfumy as well (our beloved old roses - think gewürztraminer). No litchi though, rather quite a lot of vanilla and then apple pies and juice. Maybe hints of sour wood. It's rather punchy for a 'light' whisky. Pleasant nose. Mouth: less body now, it's maybe a tad flabby (CHECK) but otherwise it's pleasant again, 'modern', quite spicy (cinnamon galore). More apple pie, vanilla fudge, then white pepper… Finish: quite short but clean, on vanilla, caramel and cinnamon. Touches of white wine. Comments: a fine, lightish dram that 'explains' well what the influence of French oak can be. SGP:441 - 81 points.
Let's have a much older one now… And a powerful one at that.
Strathisla 1970 Strathisla 40 yo 1970/2011 (59.6%, The Whisky Agency Private Stock and Malts of Scotland, joint bottling, oloroso hogshead) Five stars Ah, these joint bottlings! And almost 60% vol. at 40 years of age, that's quite stunning. Did this one mature in a dry hot place? Colour: full amber with reddish hues. Nose: oooh, this is punchy! Reminds me of Stagg in that sense, at least for a little time. The good news it that it calms down after a few seconds - or we get used to the powa, and becomes a typical old oloroso-ed whisky, with bags of dried fruits, touches of balsamic vinegar and hints of cured ham. With water: becomes a little mineral for a while, then honeyed and jammy. Apricots, molasses. Also notes of old sweet wine, that is to say old sherry. Wee hints of manure in the background. Mouth (neat): it's cough syrup! Heavy oak extraction but we're well below the limits here, with some mint and cough drops at first sips, then more prunes, fruitcake, liquorice and a little raspberry eau-de-vie. With water: the oak's dryness comes more to the front, together with more orange marmalade and kumquats. Bitter herbs (touches). Finish: very long, rather dry. Black pepper and maybe a little tamarind and liquorice. Comments: a muscular old sherry monster that could be 20 years younger. Maybe not excessively complex in my opinion, but excellent. SGP:662 - 90 points.
And now a peated one, because we'll need quite some peat after the restless old Strathisla. I think no unpeated would make it!
Caol Ila Caol Ila 1983/2011 (53.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #4800) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts on a lot of coffee, which came unexpected. And I mean espresso. Then there's a subtle smokiness, and then a much more old-school peatiness that reminds me of some much older versions that were distilled in the 1960s. Fun! We're talking diesel oil, linseed oil, bandages, tar, cigar smoke… Then more fresh walnuts, apple peel, seaweed… Quite superb I must say. With water: hello, wet dogs! And more peat smoke, ashes, sea water, wet gravel, even antiseptic, ink… Mouth (neat): surprising yet again! Starts very oily and sweet (barley sugar) but it's soon to get acrid (in a pleasant way), herbal and extremely phenolic and smoky. Did they use malt made for Ardbeg? (yeah, sure, in 1983… very early 1983 then!) With water: got earthy, rooty, almondy… Peated marzipan? Who's going to try to make that? Finish: long, with rather more brine and touches of lemon. Comments: a fairly old Caol Ila that's clearly bigger than most other fairly old Caol Ilas in my opinion. Cleverly chosen, BB&R! SGP:467 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: he's in WF's Hall of Fame (should that exist), he's genius made man, he's completely crazy and his name is Hermeto Pascoal. Let's have his frenzied O galo do Airan (with roosters inside - it was on the fab LP Festa dos Deuses, issued in 1992) and then buy all of his music. No, really, buy some.

Mermeto Pascoal

August 10, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Still a good month and a half before the official end of summertime so I guess starting with a fresh Rosebank is in order. What's more, it's a brand new one…
Rosebank Rosebank 19 yo 1991/2011 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #311, 285 bottles) Four stars The excellent bottlers already had several 1991s, all of high quality. So, statistically speaking, this should be very good as well… Colour: white wine. Nose: it's a version with rather less lemon and grapefruit at first nosing, and rather more yeasty and muesli-like notes, but it's all fresh and, as they say, vibrant. I also like these whiffs of dill and wild carrots. Also a little mint and wormwood. Development: more on the expected lemony notes, a bit of freshly mown lawn and touches of sour wood… Very nice Riesling-esque profile. Mouth: again, it's fresh and grassy, with the lemon roaring in the background. Touches of liquorice allsorts, leaven, porridge, sorrel soup, nettle soup (no stings to be feared) and then a rather liquoricy oakiness… It's all very good, fresh and lively, close to the distillate yet not without quite some fresh oak. Finish: long, a tad sweeter. Barley sugar, lemon drops, a bit of cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, even if I feel it was about to lose a bit of its inherent freshness (ahem). Not too sure these casks should go to 22-25 years. SGP:661 - 87 points.
After a relatively youngish Lowlander, let's choose something very different if you don't mind. We've had a few middle-aged Macduffs recently, now's the time for a much older one…
Macduff 1973 Macduff 38 yo 1973/2011 (47%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 188 bottles) Five stars There's a nice but strange bug on the label. May I suggest the bottlers should add the names of all these wonderful animals to their artwork? (*) Colour: deep gold. Nose: brilliant! Another 'beehivy' old malt from bourbon wood, well in the style of many recent '72 Caperdonichs. Nectar, figs, apricot pie, honey, beeswax… You know what I mean. What's interesting is that this Macduff is rather smokier in my opinion - and the oak is perfect. Liquid pleasure! Mouth: well, we have another old winner. Same feelings as with the nose, same freshness, same beehiviness (S., you're a barbarian), then more liquorice and a polished oakiness, not drying at all considering the age of this little glory of a whisky. And I love the faint notes of mint and camphor. Develops on more citrus, oranges, even a little passion fruit juice… Some cordamom and green pepper from the oak. Finish: medium long, on liquorice, crystallised lemon and green tea. Comments: fruity but also amazingly firm and kind of compact. Great oakiness - this was bottled at the right time. SGP:651 - 91 points.
(*) Update:
According to our friend Tobias, the bug appears to be a longicorn (Cerambycidae). Again, knowledge is power.
And now the usual peater as #3, another young Caol Ila at kerosene strength…
Caol Ila 2000 Caol Ila 10 yo 2000/2010 (63.5%, The Single Cask Collection, bourbon barrel) Four stars 63.5%? Was it filled at 63.5% as well? Was the warehouse airtight and climate-controlled? Colour: white wine. Nose: as often with very young CIs, this is extremely sooty and ashy when nosed neat. It's liquid smoke! Then more Vicks and Synthol, maybe tiger balm. With water: becomes very mineral, sharp like a blade, grassy, with whiffs of exhaust fumes and always a lot of soot and ashes. And antiseptic/bandages. Mouth (neat): now it's liquid root liqueur. Gentian spirit, celeriac, tuberose and then pear - which means it's still young. It's very powerful but less excessive than the ABV suggested. With water: sweeter, as always, but still very ashy. Hints of lime. Finish: long, clean, narrow but spectacular. Big peat. A salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: one of the most extreme Caol Ilas I could try in recent times, much drier and peatier than usual. For dedicated peatheads exclusively (count me in!) SGP:358 - 86 points.
the ABV shoudl read 58.5% instead of 63.5%, although the original 'officia'l sample was well labelled as 63.5%.


Pure Festival  

Whisky Not Wellies
I just couldn’t not ‘advertise’ this, as always when good whisky and good music are being served at the same time.

This time it’ll be a whisky and music festival with Ardbeg, The Raveonettes, Smoke Fairies, An Cnoc, Charlie Waller, Whyte & Mackay, Kassidy, Dominic Roskrow, James Yorkston and many other bands and whiskies. It’s called Pure Festival and it’ll happen on September 24th and 25th in Islington, which lies in the North of London as you may know. A wonderful idea in my opinion…

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some good old soul blues with Lynn White singing Your time to cry (from her CD Home Girl). Big song by Joe Simon, irresistible sound. Please buy Lynn White's music (aren't we being very eclectic at WF Towers?)

Lynn White

August 9, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
A middle-aged Speysider at 40% vol., that should make for a perfect start…
Cragganmore 14 Cragganmore 14yo (40%, OB for the Friends of the Classic Malts 2010, 13000 bottles) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: starts well in the style of the 'regular Cragganmore 12, on an orange cake that just came out of the oven, or is it Mirabelle pie? Also whiffs of patchouli and dandelions, honey and then more cake and a little caramel. Also hints of roots, leaves… It's all relatively light so far, but balanced and quite complex. Mouth: it's true that 40% vol. can be a little weakish by today's standards, and this one isn't big. Having said that, its notes of roasted nuts, toasted cake and malted barley are most pleasant. There's also a little chocolate, ginger and honeydew. As I said, it's light but well balanced. Finish: a little short but the salty touches are amusing. Quite some liquorice as well, a little mint, green tea… Dired figs in the aftertaste. Comments: an afternoon malt, whatever that means. To be sipped in half-measures, instead of tea? SGP:441 - 82 points.
Let's have a rarer distillery now. There aren't many new Mannochmores around, but we'll all remember the incredibly powerful 'Manager's Dram' from ten or fifteen years ago. Never tried it? You're missing something…
Mannochmore Mannochmore 28 yo 1982/2011 (49,4%, Liquid Sun, bourbon hogshead, 131 bottles) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: yes, that's the spirit ;-). Grassy, austere, mineral, flinty, almost a little metallic… Then more cider apples, marzipan, leather… This one isn't easy-easy I must say… Old skool? With water: more grass, more wet gravel… Mouth (neat): lovers of old style malts will like this, even if again, this isn't very sexy. Grassy, herbal, a tad bitter, with only apples as the 'fruity layer'. Then a little more sweetness (barley sugar) as well as some pepper and cloves. With water: more of the same, more barley sugar, a slightly bigger earthiness. More porridge as well. Finish: rather long, very grassy. Pleasant honeyed notes in the aftertaste - it was about time ;-). Comments: again, it's no easy whisky and it probably lacks 'wideness'. Having said that, all whisky lovers should try Mannochmore at least once and this is a good occasion. SGP:271 - 80 points.
And now, the usual peaty malt… I've had some 1981 Caol Ilas that were immense (ha, the Flora & Fauna CS!) but others have been kind of dirty and 'chemical'. Maybe not a very consistent vintage…
Caol Ila Wemyss Malts 1981/2011 ‘Whispering Smoke’ (46%, Wemyss, Islay, hogshead, 228 bottles) Four stars This is Caol Ila. Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: this is whispering indeed. Distant whiffs of coal smoke, sea spray, then apple peelings  and fresh walnuts as often with these older Caol Ilas, Also touches of orange rinds, peaches (and peach leaves - did you ever try peach leaf wine?), wet sand and just a wee bit of rubber. Is this one fading away? Only the palate will tell…  Mouth: good, no, no vanishing flavours, it's still full bodied and very satisfying. The peat isn’t big but there's a lot of brine, soft lemon juice, marzipan, these leafy 'things' again, a slight earthiness, something very faintly medicinal (maybe eucalyptus drops?)… It's all soft but less 'whispering' than on the nose. Finish: medium long, more and more on brine and lemon, without the usual ashes this time. Comments: starts shyly indeed, but the clean and pleasantly sharp finish is quite superb. Definitely one of the good 1981s in my opinion. SGP:355 - 87 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: another blast from the past with Mama Lion and Lynn Carey ('the female Robert Plant') doing Ain't no sunshine in 1972, one year after Bill Withers' original. Please buy Mama Lion's music...

Mama Lion

August 8, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
There are some whiskies that I think I already tried several times, and that I let sleep on my shelves because of that. It’s the case with Glengoyne 21, I had thought I already tried it several times… But I just checked that I haven’t, at least not ‘formally’. Blimey, time to put things straight…
Glengoyne 21 Glengoyne 21yo (43%, OB, +/- 2010) Three stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: much rich sherry in this one! Chocolate, dried fruits, cigar humidor, dried bananas, bananas flambéed, honey… There’s even a hint of wood smoke. Also cigarette tobacco. Nice nose, very classic. Mouth: same, old style sherried malt whisky, maybe slightly grapy at some point and lacking roundness but other than that, it’s all fine. Sultanas, honey, chocolate, old Port, toffee… A little caramel as well. Finish: medium long, with more chocolate and cinnamon. Comments: the sherry’s quite big. Could have been a Glenfarclas. A light dram, Glengoyne? Not this time. SGP:541 - 84 points.
I don’t know why, this baby made me feel like I should have some more Caperdonich 1972. There are many on the market, and many are brilliant, as you may know…
Caperdonich 1972 Caperdonich 1972/2011 (52.4%, Malts of Scotland, Sherry Hogshead, cask #1145, 76 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale amber. Nose: ah yes, it’s one of these extravagant ones. Incredibly fragrant, with as many dried fruits and flowers as God had created. Not much else to say, except that it’s also amazingly ‘beehivy’. You know, honeys, waxes, pollens, nectars… And no stings. Utterly seductive, Raquel Welsh made whisky (stay sober next time, S.!) With water: awahouwahoo! (that was a lost tribe’s dialect). Mouth (neat): it’s not whisky, it’s syrup, or a liqueur. And many spices, and mirabelle liqueur, and mead… Now, maybe the oak is a tad too loud? Just a tad? With water: hurray! Not more big oak, rather (even) more jams, honeys and ripe fruits. What a cavalcade. Finish: long, smooth and honeyed but not lumpish at all. Superb ‘responsiveness’. Comments: simply wonderful, like many other 1972 Caperdonichs. I may have written this before: it’s no whisky, it’s a sin. SGP:651 - 92 points.
That called for another one… And we have many others yet to try!
Caperdonich 1972 Caperdonich 38 yo 1972/2011 (53.6%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare, cask #7440, 181 bottles) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s a less expressive version, with less sherry and a little more oak. Now, maybe it’s also a little more subtle, a little more cerebral so to speak. Superb whiffs of dandelions, honeys, plums, apricots… No, this is just as stunning. With water: the oak comes out a little more but let’s be serious, this is brilliant. Mouth (neat): amazing, it’s an explosion of fruits and spices. A wee tad less oaky than cask #1145. A lot of crème de menthe, though (mint liqueur). With water: pure magic. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: sadly, yes. Some sweet oak in the aftertaste and just a little white pepper. Comments: I think every serious whisky lover should stock up these irresisitible 1972 Caperdonichs before they become too expensive or… too oaky (that may happen soon in my opinion). Or before they’re gone for good. One day I’ll try to do a nice large session, opposing old Caperdonichs, Strathislas and Longmorns. Should be interesting. SGP:651 - 92 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: that Mandrill was, and still is it seems, one of the best bands on earth - and the most pillaged, sorry, sampled - is no secret and this is another fine example of their stunning composing skills. It's called Moroccan Nights and it was on their 1973 album 'Composite Truth'. Please buy all of Mandrill's music.


August 5, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
We'll start this session with a blend, but not just any blend. I already loved it when I first tried it - blind - at the World Whisky Awards 2011, which it won by the way
Hankey Bannister Hankey Bannister 40 yo (43.3%, OB, +/-2010) Five stars The brand belongs to Inver House, that belongs to International Beverage Group, that belongs to Thai Beverage, a large company that also makes the… infamous Mekhong whisky - or so it seems. Not that all that matters much… too us. Colour: gold/amber. Nose: what's striking at first nosing is the rather superb woody smokiness, then the loads of orange marmalade and various roasted nuts (mainly hazelnuts and pecans). Develops more on cured ham, beef bouillon and whiffs of cigar box as well as touches of humus and mint. A wonderful whisky, very complex, rather smokier than other high-end blends in my opinion. Mouth: starts smoothly but gets then earthy, rooty and smoky, with very obvious notes of old pu-erh tea, more humus, fresh mushrooms and something very pleasantly leathery yet again. A meatiness as well, something that reminds me of the old Inverness distilleries. Quality is very high. Finish: very long, dry, superbly bitter and orangey. Comments: very high quality and a price that's rather fair considering this comes in a beautiful lamp stand decanter. SGP:453 - 90 points.
Let's have a typical all-rounder from Speyside now…
Glenlivet 18 Glenlivet 18yo (43%, OB, +/- 2010) Three stars I haven't formally tried the 18 since 2007, shame on me. Colour: gold. Nose: caramel and oranges all over the place, then more malt and orange cake, with cereals in the background. Then pleasant whiffs of fresh mint and a little sherry and smoke. Exactly what I would call 'a pleasant, flawless nose'. Mouth: mirroring the nose, flavour after flavour. Oranges, malt, cornflakes and a little honey, then hints of apple juice and ale. Touches of smoke and liquorice. Fine. Finish: medium long, malty and honeyed. Comments: as I said, very pleasant. Typical access-category malt for Chivas lovers, they'll love this even more, just like we do. 'Perfect' in its category. SGP:541 - 82 points.
As we often do, we'll have a peater as #3… Well, we couldn't have had it before a blend and a rather gentle Speysider anyway.
Dunnyvaig Dunnyvaig 14 yo 1996/2010 (50%, Silver Seal, 330 bottles) Five stars The name suggests Lagavulin (Dunnyvaig Castle being close to Lagavulin) but everybody says this is Ardbeg. I think G&M had filled quite some 1996 Ardbeg but other than that, I haven't seen many 1996s out there. Ah yes, a few DLs… Colour: straw. Nose: it's troubling, this could be Lagavulin indeed as it's rather sweeter and closer to sweet barley than the 'average' Ardbeg, but it's true that Ardbeg wasn't distilling much in those days, and not too sure about the purifier either (blimey, the purifier again!) But enough babbling, this nose is quite superb, very pure, moderately smoky but very 'coastal', with notes of tarry ropes, seashells, damp earth, fresh walnuts and just a little camphor. With water: little smoke left, rather notes of old books and a lot of soot. And wet dogs (we're so sorry, dogs). Mouth (neat): more 'Ardbeg'. Bags of ashes and bitter herbs, tar, liquorice and then quite some brine. Radishes and barley sugar. With water: liquorice wood everywhere. Finish: long, saltier. As always. Ashy/smoky aftertaste. Comments: right, the palate is very 'Ardbeg', rather drier than Lagavulin. Not quite a 'peat monster' but all this is excellent anyway. SGP:357 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a fascinating piece by French guitarist Marc Ducret, called Julie s'est noyéee (Julie drowned), from his CD 'Gris'. On the trumpet: Enrico Rava! Please buy Marc Ducret's and Enrico Rava's music.


August 4, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Let’s have the rather humble Speyburn 10 yo for a start. I mean, it was fairly humble last time I tried it but that was four years ago. Maybe it did improve?
Speyburn 10 Speyburn 10yo (40%, OB, +/- 2010) Two stars Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, malty and slightly porridgy. Cereals and apple juice. Sadly, there are wee whiffs of plastic that arise after a few seconds (new plastic pouch) as well as some orange squash and vanilla sugar that give it a slightly milky/creamy profile. Mouth: sweet, even sugary. Resembles some blends – but that’s not obligatorily bad news. Well, it depends. Sweetened apple juice, caramel and cornflakes. Simple but nicer than on the nose in my opinion. Finish: short, more on malt.  The aftertaste is a tad molassy. Comments: average malt whisky in my opinion. No powerhouse but it’s more than drinkable. SGP:320 - 76 points.
On to another one that’s usually pretty ‘natural’, provided it’s not heavily winised or bourbonised…
Arran 15 Arran 15 yo 1996/2011 (53.7%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask for Germany, refill hogshead, 341 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: powerful and extremely close to the grains. Muesli and apple juice, then vanilla and gooseberries plus fresh oak. Needs water I guess... With water: exactly the same profile plus just a little mint. Hints of wine vinegar – which isn’t bad at all. Mouth (neat): very sweet spirit, with a lot of sweetened apple juice, touches of kiwis and lemons, vanilla, café latte and cane sugar syrup. And corn syrup. Creamy mouth feel. With water: became even creamier, it’s almost a liqueur now. More cane sugar syrup, barley sugar… Barley sugar liqueur? Finish: rather long, very balanced, sweet, thick. Comments: it’s very ‘median’ malt whisky. Hard to describe, not peaty, not fruity, not sherried, not mineral, not waxy… A not malt? But very good it is! SGP:531 - 84 points.
Let’s have a malt that everybody likes now: Aberlour A’bunadh. The latest batch I had was #30 and it was great, as expected (WF 88). But sadly, I cannot try all the batches so let’s jump to #35 if you don’t mind, I believe it was bottled this year. Not too sure…
Abunadh Aberlour 'A'bunadh' Batch #35 (60.3%, OB, +/-2011) Four stars The label states ‘Single cask Spanish oloroso sherry butts’, which is confusing. Either it’s single cask and then it’s ‘butt’, or it’s ‘butts’ and then it’s no single cask. Yeah, Serge here, nitpicking again… Colour: amber. Nose: funnily enough it reeks of newish American oak as much as it smells of sherry, at least much more so than earlier batches as far as I can remember. A lot of vanilla, cappuccino, milk chocolate and then a slight flintiness. Oranges as well, of course. With water: flints all over the place, then herbs (bison herb vodka) and fresh oak (not dried). Also earth, humus… Very nice. Mouth (neat): very rich, very creamy, very ‘modern’. A lot of ginger, oranges, vanilla and white pepper. Some technology in there, probably, but it worked brilliantly. Typical 21st century malt whisky. With water: ditto. Mastered maturation. Creamy, sweet, rich… And without much sherry. Finish: long, in the same style. Sweet ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely different from the earlier A’bunadh’s in my opinion, that is to say much less on sherry and much more on fresh oak. Extremely drinkable, in any case. SGP:652 - 87 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Marc Johnson's Right Brain Patrol doing a fusionesque Around that time (from their 1996 CD 'Magic Labyrinth'). Frankly, wow - and let's remember Marc Johnson was Bill Evans' last bass player. Please buy Marc Johnson's music.

Marc Johnson

August 3, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
We'll start this new little session with a well-known 'semi-official' bottling of Linkwood. I think we haven't tried any recent batches…
Linkwood 15 Linkwood 15 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Licenced bottling, +/- 2010) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: aaah, old style sherry maturing, and with flying colours. Orange liqueur, figs, dates, kumquats and toasted brioche and toffee. Then a little more malt (Ovaltine), raspberry jam and chocolate but it never becomes winy or prune-y. Beautiful nose, almost a blast from the past. Mouth: hey-hey, no drop of style or quality here even if there's much more bitter chocolate and cinnamon that make it a tad drying. Many raisins (sultanas, Corinthians), a little tobacco and molasses, heavy honey (chestnut), and then touches of cloves and pepper. Almost perfect. Finish: quite long, on more raisins and honey. Comments: makes me think of the old-style Macallans, especially the good years of the 18. Recommended at this price! SGP:452 - 87 points. PS: it's to be noted that this one benefited enormously from a little breathing. When I first tried it, six months ago, it was pretty dull in my opinion.
Good sherry, good sherry… Let's have more if you don't mind, with the…
Glenfarclas 1971 Glenfarclas 40 yo 1971/2011 (51.6%, OB, Family Casks for The Whisky Shop Dufftown, first fill sherry, cask #152) Five stars The distillery had some excellent 1971 'Christmas Malt' ten years ago… Colour: amber. Nose: ah yes, yes and yes! Textbook old sherried Glenfarclas with all its usual attributes. Well, 'usual' is a tad far-fetched. Dried fruits in abundance, oxtail soup, marmalades, precious wood (it has to be precious), soft spices, walnuts, treacle toffee and pecan pie. And myriads of tinier aromas. Superb. With water: as usual, more tobacco, leather, plum pie and just hints of metal (gun). Touches of cranberry juice, gingerbread. Very elegant. Mouth (neat): yessss! No excessive oakiness, no invading tannins, no heavy spices… Rather red berries and raisins, chocolate (lots), orange marmalade, fruitcake and prunes. Ultra-classic, elegant old sherry monster. With water: gets more citrusy. Mandarine liqueur, touches of cardamom. Finish: long, chocolaty and spicy, with figs in the background. Comments: absolutely gorgeous old Glenfarclas, a classic among the classics. And swims pretty well! SGP:462 - 92 points.
Why not try to find an even older sherry monster now? I think I have something appropriate…
Longmorn 1964 Longmorn 46 yo 1964/2010 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, sherry hogshead, cask #1539) Five stars Sister cask #1538, bottled for LMDW in 2007, was superb (WF 91). Colour: mahogany. Nose: this Longmorn has arrived to this point where all great spirits converge, especially rums, armagnacs and cognacs. Frankly, this could be cognac. A 'malty' cognac for sure, but a cognac. Polished oak, sandalwood, cigar box, very old sherry, sugar cane (okay, old Demerara rum), leather polish, kumquats… It's all quite fabulous I must say, but water may make it oaky and too dry, especially on the palate. Let's see... With water: oh, it became oak juice. Not that it's unpleasant, not at all, but a few drops sort of disjointed it while it became very opaque. Soy sauce, lovage, walnut stain. Mouth (neat): heavy, rich, chocolaty and mineral attack, dry, herbal (cough syrup), pleasantly oaky, kind of antique… And, above all, extremely concentrated. This couldn't be rum but it could be cognac, although little cognac houses would have the good idea of bottling such an old glory at cask strength. Méchants, méchants Cognaçais ;-). Not over-oaked in my opinion. As for Longmorn's usual fruitiness, well, it may be hidden somewhere now ;-). With water: it didn't drown as much as it did on the nose but it does become drying and quite tannic. Coffee beans, bitter chocolate… Finish: medium long, on the same notes. A lot of bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: very excellent, it just doesn't swim too well in my opinion. Is that a flaw or not? The jury's still out... SGP:361 - 91 points (a better swimmer would have been a sure 93 - and many thanks, Herbert!)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: probably not WF's usual kind but hey, he's the irresistible Marc Ribot! Let's listen to Todo el mundo es kitsch(including so many current whisky ventures, says I) and then buy Marc Ribot's music.


August 2, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
I always like to start a flight with a relatively light dram, and an unpeated one if possible. Such as this Bunnahabhain?…
Bunnahabhain 1979 Bunnahabhain 32 yo 1979/2011 (46.9%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #1774) Three stars and a half I've had quite few late-1970s Bunnahabhains and they were quite inconsistent, some good, some not. Curious about this one… Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes, it's one of these Bunnahabhains that are much grassier, and much less honeyed and nutty than most others, especially the OBs. Yet, this is quite floral and fruity, with peaches and wild flowers (and maybe peonies and even roses) as well as cider apples and whiffs of humus. Also a little fresh butter and then tonic water. Nice nose, rather elegant. Mouth: very grassy and quite oaky at first sips, very vegetal. Apple peeling. It's quite raw in fact, rawer than on the nose. Also orange rinds and quite some ginger. Lemon drops. Finish: medium long, with more liquorice wood and tea tannins. A little earthy in the aftertaste. Comments: it's pretty rough considering both the distillery and the age in my opinion. SGP:361 - 84 points.
Right, after the old one that didn't taste very old, let's have another old one that should taste older.
Glenlossie Glenlossie 1975/2010 (49.7%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #5951) Three stars and a half Cask #5950 was superb in my opinion (WF 90), let's see if this sister cask will match it. Colour: straw/gold. Nose: it's not that different from the Bunny at first nosing. Maybe more humus and infused tealeaves, wet rocks, fern, fresh walnuts, liquorice wood, grains… I like this kind of herbal profile, both grassy and aromatic. Nice sharpness. With water: more grass, more leaves and humus. Mouth: fresh fruits and quite some oak, tannins, herbs and liquorice plus a little meat (ham). There's also something a little bitter and resinous (propolis). Not bad at all but I do not recognise its sister cask here, as if the oak took much more of its share. With water: the fruits come out a little more, with touches of oranges, but it's still very grassy and tannic. Finish: medium long, on liquorice wood. Comments: it's certainly good but I feel it lacks fruitiness and sweetness to make it to 85 in my book. SGP:361 - 84 points.
All right, bring a peater…
Bowmore 1994 Bowmore 16 yo 1994/2011 (46%, Signatory, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogshead, cask #565+567, 773 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: raw and not very mature, close to the new make and quite medicinal (antiseptic), which is… great. Also brine, sea water, damp earth and just touches of eucalyptus and mint. Medium peated. Mouth: a very earthy and rooty young Bowmore, with litres of gentian spirit and smoked tea. Then more pepper and even a little mustard. Not wide, not complex, but pretty perfect. Finish: long, with more salt, more ashes and simply more peat. Earthy aftertaste. Comments: is this what we could call a down-to-earth whisky? Funnily tequila-ish. SGP:266 - 86 points.
Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2011

Favourite recent bottling:
Strathisla 48 yo 1963/2011
(51.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for Limburg, Book of Kells label) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Bowmore 35 yo 1966
(43.7%, Kingsbury, cask #3300, 300 bottles, +/-2001) - WF 95

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:

Clynelish 12 yo 1998/2011 (46%, Coopers Choice, cask #7732)  - WF 88

MUSIC - Recommended listening: how about a little Australian blues today? It's Marco Goldsmith's Blue Heat (great website, vintage 1996!) and they're playing I want your love. Pass the Lark please... And buy Marco Goldsmith's music!

Blue Heat

August 1, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Let’s start this little session with a ‘light’ but very old malt, an ‘octave-invigorated’ Glenrothes from 1970.
Glenrothes Glenrothes 40yo 1970/2011 (40.6%, Duncan Taylor, Octave, cask #495777) Three stars and a half Picture is from another bottle. Colour: gold. Nose: ahem… Maybe there’s a trick here but this is brilliant at first sniffs, with the old malt’s usual fruitiness (an orchard in mid-September  - well, in the northern hemisphere) and a good deal of ‘light’ vanilla, white pepper and ginger, probably from the little cask. Maybe it’s simply quick seasoning but it’s seasoning that works. In the background, aromatic herbs (I get sage and maybe thyme), touches of olive oil and just a little sawdust. As often, the palate may well tell us the truth… Mouth: very unusual and rather pleasant, even if not as luscious as on the nose. The young oak imparts some rather heavy herbal and spicy tones (around cardamom) and I wouldn’t say Glenrothes shines through, but it’s pleasant indeed even if not very ‘natural’. Quite some ginger, bison grass vodka, leaves (peach or cherry)… Wee touches of ripe apples in the background – maybe that’s Glenrothes speaking? Finish: a little short, with some dry oak in the aftertaste but it’s not fully plankish. Comments: I think ‘invigorated’, which is a word the bottlers use themselves, is exactly the right term here. And the trick worked pretty well in my opinion. SGP:361 - 84 points.
Okay, let’s another malt by Duncan Taylor if you don’t mind. They already had some very good – albeit older - Glen Morays so let’s have a new one now…
Glen Moray Glen Moray 27 yo 1983/2011 (55.3%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #3204) Four stars Picture is of an earlier version. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a raw, slightly perfumy spirit. Roses on a bed of vanilla, sawdust and orange cake. In the background, a little mint, cut grass and hints of humus. Not hugely expressive so far but water may help… With water: it’s the grass that comes out, together with more notes of fern, humus and freshly broken branches. Mouth (neat): good, easy ‘garden’ fruitiness, a profile that’s not without reminding me of former owners Glenmorangie (I mean, their whisky). Notes of peaches (not the juicy ripe ones), then almond oil, liquorice and marzipan, then wee touches of tinned litchis. Amusing, I’d say. With water: good, easy fruitiness with some fresh oak in the background (leaves, chlorophyll). Apples, gooseberries and liquorice wood. More vanilla after a few minutes, more roundness. More liquorice as well. Finish: long, grassy and liquoricy. Some strong mint in the aftertaste, suggesting quite some oak extraction. Comments: a good example of a very average malt whisky, ‘average’ being a positive word in my mouth here. Or should I rather say ‘median’? Nice American oak influence. SGP:551 - 86 points.
Let’s try to find a peated one by Duncan Taylor as #3… No, wait, the Glen Moray called for more sweetness, let’s rather have an old grain, such as the…
Port Dundas Port Dundas 38 yo 1973/2011 (54.3%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #128322) Three stars and a half In all honesty, I wouldn’t be able to guess the distillery when tasting any grain whiskies blind. Except that there are more chances that it’s an Invergordon when it’s a very old sherried one, and, say a Girvan when it’s a very young ex-American oak grain but that’s just ‘following the market’, nothing to do with tasting abilities. But why am I telling you all this? Colour: full gold. Nose: vanilla and café latte all over the place, as well as whiffs of freshly sawn oak. All that isn’t unpleasant – at all -, it’s just a tad monolithic. Right, simple. Water may help unleash more aromas… With water: it’s bourbon. Maple syrup, vanilla and oak. Mouth (neat): sweet fresh oak, and big time. Vanilla, toasts, a little marzipan, then more marshmallows and Turkish delights that are also to be found in much younger grains in my experience. Some nougat as well. Again, it’s simple but it’s very full and satisfying. Oh, and quite some coconut as well. Wit water: once again, it’s (almost) bourbon. Very sweet, very oak-driven. Finish: medium long, sweet, coconutty. And a lot of vanilla. Maybe a tad cloying in the aftertaste? Comments: someone asked me on Facebook (or was it on Twitter? Google+?) if Europe was making bourbon as well. Well, this is very close – and it’s very good in my opinion, even if not quite my cup of malt. In the style of Greenore. SGP:730 - 84 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: between Aziza Mustafa Zadeh and Egberto Gismonti, this is Portugal's Maria Joao (a few accents missisng, I' sorry) doing a wonderful Coisas Da Terra that was on her 1994 CD 'Danças'. Please buy it - and her other works!

Maria Joao

July 2011 - part 2 <--- August 2011 - part 1 ---> August 2011 - part 2

heck the index of all entries:
Nick's Concert Reviews



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Dunnyvaig 14 yo 1996/2010 (50%, Silver Seal, 330 bottles)

Glenfarclas 40 yo 1971/2011 (51.6%, OB, Family Casks for The Whisky Shop Dufftown, first fill sherry, cask #152)

Hankey Bannister 40 yo (43.3%, OB, +/-2010)

Longmorn 46 yo 1964/2010 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, sherry hogshead, cask #1539)