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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2012 - Part 2

August 2012 - part 1 <--- August 2012 - part 2 ---> September 2012 - part 1


August 31, 2012


Tasting two youngish Ardbeg

The excellent Malts of Scotland have just issued a new Ardbeg (quietly, without dropping bombs, girlz or air-to-ground missiles) so let’s try it. As for its sparring partner, I’ve found an old 1990 by G&M of similar age…


Ardbeg 1990/2001 (57.1%, Spirit of Scotland) Two stars As you most probably know, Spirit of Scotland is/was a range by Speymalt Whisky, aka Gordon & MacPhail. There used to be several 1990s, including single casks. Colour: dark gold. Nose: it’s an Ardbeg that’s rather more medicinal than others, as it really starts on embrocations and bandages, while it even becomes a little chemical over time (plastic). There seems to be some sherry as well (it’s a tad vinous) and it goes on with more overripe oranges and a slight butyric side. I’m not all for modern ‘peat, vanilla and basta’ profiles but this one’s a tad too dirty for me. I mean, dirty-ish. With water: becomes very milky – I mean, completely opaque. The plastic-like scents grow even bigger. Mouth (neat): frankly, this is very, very strange. Smoked overripe oranges, peppered salmon, plasticine, crystallised citrons and again this feeling of plastic. Burnt rubber, Macdonald’s Tex-Mex hamburger, Worcester sauce… and… Tabasco? What’s this? With water: I’ve never tried motor oil mixed with brine, but that may be it. Finish: quite long, very briny and a little lemony. It’s the best part, not only because it’s the finish. A bitterish/chemical aftertaste, though. Comments: its not the first time I’ve had troubles with these batches from 1990. Maybe they don’t stand bottle ageing? Not a disaster, but no glory for sure. SGP:267 - 73 points.


Ardbeg 1998/2012 (51.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 12032, 162 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: exactly the opposite of the 1990. Clean, straight, crystalline coastal peat. It’s actually very simple and straightforward – and of course flawless. Hints of hessian, fisherman’s nets, fresh seaweed and then just ideas of diesel oil. Again, it’s simple and it’s clean. With water: not sure water was needed. Little developments, maybe a little more coal and burning wood. Charcoal? Don’t I detect a little bacon? Mouth (neat): zing! Again, a crystal-clean profile on lemons and limes, touches of salt, kippers and then a little eucalyptus. Oh, and peat. With water: a beautiful sweetness came out this time. Kippers spread with limoncello and flax oil. Finish: long, ultra-clean, very coastal. Smoked oysters with pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m not sure whether this baby came from first fill bourbon or refill but what’s sure is that it’s not oddly vanilla-ed or wine-ed. Ardbeg no need no push-up bra. Now, it remains rather simple after 14 years, so maybe not an utter stunner but only older ones can beat it in my book. SGP:357 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Ardbeg I've tasted so far


Whiskyfun fav of the month

August 2012

Favourite recent bottling:
Clynelish 1998/2012 (50.7%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS 12025, 189 bottles)  - WF 90

Favourite older bottling:
None in August

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
North British 50 yo 1962/2012 (45.2%, Archives, hogshead, cask #29, 168 bottles) - WF 89



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Danny Gatton & Joey DeFrancesco do it the Jimmy and Wes way. Track: Kindred Spirits (Horace Silver). Please visit these fab jazzists' websites and buy their music!

August 30, 2012


Tasting three newish natural Aberlours

Most independent Aberlours – that is to say when there isn’t much sherry around - reek of ripe garden fruits in my experience. Perfect for the end of August…


Aberlour 17 yo 1995/2012 (55.9%, Single Cask Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 265 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: very typical, all on ripe apples and gooseberries, with a little vanilla around all that and then touches of oranges and muesli. The 17 years do not show much, it’s all pretty young and fresh, almost newmaky but in a very nice way (since Aberlour’s newmake is quite perfect for nosing/sipping just like that). A little cologne, fern... With water: a fruit salad with a little rosewater. Mouth (neat): a pretty perfect eau-de-vie made in Scotland. Apricotine like they make in Switzerland (right, they might make some in Austria too), kirsch and then a little pineapple liqueur, with a dash of hops and malt beer. Very natural. With water: an excellent multi-fruit juice. Very clean, very natural. A little barley sugar. Finish: medium long. Comments: the sherry doesn’t show much, it’s a very fresh, fully spirit-driven Aberlour. Me likes this. SGP:631 – 86 points.


Aberlour 1992/2012 (55.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #3919) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: the oak’s a little more obvious than in the 1995, there’s more vanilla, custard, then green tea and even something unexpectedly maritime – I could swear I can smell fresh anchovies. Yup, sounds unlikely but it isn’t, it’s a very interesting and pleasant nose. Also a little wax ala Clynelish and some humus and pine needles. With water: back to a fruit salad, with just a little rubber emerging. Mouth (neat): same as above, it’s a perfect naked Aberlour, with just a little more vanilla. Sweet, sweet, sweet. With water: same, there’s just a faint greenness that comes out, similar to the rubber that we got in the nose. In other words, it’s maybe a tiny notch too kirschy now. Finish: medium long, fruity, clean. Comments: I would have had it at 85+ without water. Ah, water… SGP:541 - 84 points.


Aberlour 1985/2012 (45.1%, Thosop by The Whiskyman, 219 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re close, very close to the 1992 by BBR, minus the anchovies and plus an even bigger fruitiness. We’re really in a western orchard here. Also a little yoghurt. With water: no changes. Maybe a little chlorophyll? Mouth (neat): creamy mouth feel and some crystal clean apples, pears and gooseberry juice plus a touch of custard and maple syrup as well as a little liquorice wood from the, err, wood. Simply good. With water – although water isn’t needed: nope, that wasn’t quite needed, nothing more happens. Wait, maybe more pineapples? Finish: medium long, fruity, with something slightly tropical. Pineapples again? Comments: just excellent despite a slightly ‘middle-of-the-road’ fruity profile. A very natural old Speyside. SGP:631 - 87 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Aberlour I've tasted so far



Block Today: HIP HOP - FUNK. Performer: Brian Culbertson. Track: Funkin' (from Bringing Back The Funk). Please visit Brian Culbertson's website and buy his music!

August 29, 2012


Tasting two old North British

The weather is still hot over Alsace but 28°C isn’t 38°C (thank you for the news, S.) so I thought we could restart the engine with something that’s usually not too demanding: old grains. And today it’s going to be North British, a distillery that used to distil maize in the old days if I’m not mistaken, although they might now distil cereals. Not too sure but anyway, isn’t it the wood that’s important with grain whisky…

North British 1978

North British 32 yo 1978/2011 (55.2%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #38476, 219 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: dark straw. Nose: starts with big bold notes of rum, and goes on with more rum. That translates into a lot of cane sugar – obviously – before it goes a little more towards tequila, with some cloves and cumin, and quite some pineapple, coconut, butterscotch, vanilla and plain sawdust and cinnamon in the background. Something bourbonesque as well, it’s really a world spirit. Certainly not un-nice, the cask was of good quality. And corn syrup (from the maize? I’m joking). Mouth: same rumminess, so to speak, with a roughish spiciness from the wood and then the expected coconut and vanilla. There’s a sourness that keeps growing, with something like mustard and carvi. Finish: rather long, sweet (almost bubblegummy) and fairly oaky. Slightly acrid aftertaste. Comments: not quite my kind of spirit but that’s me, obviously. Water does not change it much. SGP:550 - 78 points.

North British

North British 50 yo 1962/2012 (45.2%, Archives, hogshead, cask #29, 168 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: quieter than the 1978 at first nosing, but seemingly more complex, with whiffs of menthol coming through right away, followed by some wax polish, ripe bananas (or rather banana wine, I’ve just tried some from Guadeloupe the other day, it was excellent), honeydew, cedar wood and old leather. After that very nice start, we get more earthy tones, a little humus, liquorice wood and unlit cigars, and lastly a little ham and white port before it goes back to menthol and liquorice. Oh, and roses. I think this baby’s rather more complex than most other very old grains that I could try, and certainly not overly woody. Mouth: totally in keeping with the nose, but with more oak, which is normal. As often with very old whiskies, the oakiness became kind of mentholated, while the bananas are now flambéed. There are also more other tropical fruits, mangos, tinned pineapples… At the spice department, a lot of cinnamon and a little aniseed that gives it a feeling of yellow Chartreuse. Verbena. Finish: not the longest but it’s clean and, amazingly, the oak remains quiet. Comments: I almost never mention prices but at +/-150€, it’s quite a steal. Other bottlers will sell you their 1962s at thrice that price. SGP:660 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Grains I've tasted so far



Block Today: AFRICAN MUSIC. Performer: Bonga. Track: Kinga Kueta. Please buy Bonga's music.

August 28, 2012


Hi, I've got quite a few friendly messages from distinguished readers who were wondering if there was a problem at WF Towers. There is none, our little tasting sessions will be back, most probably right tomorrow. Hugs.


August 20, 2012


Hot hot hot
Today it’s a scorcher again and the temperatures have been in the upper 30’s for almost ten days in Alsace. No good for tasting malt whisky – not saying there aren’t alternative, more creative ways of sipping whisky but I’m not going to post tasting notes for Ardbeg + cranberry juice or Glenfarclas + Fernet Branca. Mind you, even my Macintosh is spluttering, so better remain on the safe side and take it all very easy. I could still try these two Clynelishes the other day but I’m sorry, that’s it for the moment.



Tasting two summerish Clynelish

Clynelsih Wemyss

Clynelish 15 yo 1997/2012 ‘Fresh Fruit Sorbet’ (46%, Wemyss Malt, hogshead, 331 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: typical Clynelish but with a good dose of vanilla and rather less minerals than usual. It's fairly medicinal as well, grassy and, of course, waxy but not that waxy. Other than that, we have apples and gooseberries, a little rhubarb, lime, maybe beach sand… As often, quality's high and this nose is pretty flawless. Mouth: excellent attack, slightly peaty, very lemony, very mineral this time, peppery… The same kinds of fruits as in the nose are back, rhubarb, more lemon, even more lemon, green cardamom, not too ripe pears… Having said that, it's not a boldly waxy Clynelish. So a Clynelish that's not the most Clynelish of all Clynelishes. Finish: rather long, spicier, nervous, grassy. A little menthol, white pepper and marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: again, not the most Clynelishesque of them all but quality remains very high. And there is some riesling. SGP:462 - 87 points.

Clynelish MOS

Clynelish 1998/2012 (50.7%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS 12025, 189 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: pleasantly raw, pleasantly sour, pleasantly yoghurty, this would go well with, ahem, caviar. It's actually the best vodka I've ever nosed (don't shoot, don't shoot!) Lime again, chalk, a little paraffin, grapefruit juice, limestone… You got it, it's an austere Clynelish. I think it's a very classy nose but it may be for Clynelish lovers only, because of its austerity, precisely. There's also a little marzipan. Mouth: bang! It's the kind of Clynelish that hits you between the eyes, with an extreme lemon and the most perfect waxiness ever. And pepper. It's actually very simple, but it's absolutely perfect. Finish: long, sharp, narrow but… perfect. Comments: did I tell you it was perfect (yet simple)? I even forgot to add water – water that may have made it less simple, but could it be more perfect? (Serge, what you wrote today is pure junk – Ed.) SGP:452 - 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Clynelish I've tasted so far



Block Today: AFRICAN JAZZ. Performer: Fela Kuti. Track: Chop and quench (I thought this would be appropriate today...) Please visit Fela's website and buy his music!

August 16, 2012


Tasting three Teaninich

There’s never been many Teaniniches in the market but it seems that the indies are willing to give this nice name more chances (after all, there’s ‘tea’ in it ;-))


Teaninich 27 yo 1983/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #7660, 391 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it's a rather mineral and grassy one, relatively austere at first nosing, with plenty of cut grass, chalk, clay and something slightly medicinal. Antiseptic. Then we have a little lime arising, even tonic water and lastly, some grapefruit and Alka-Seltzer. A very nice, sharp profile despite the touches of green bananas that start to come out after quite some time. Mouth: as nervous and tart as it gets, and that's nice. A mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup and barley water, which hints at some Lowlanders, as already happened with Teaninich in my short experience. Lemon drops. Finish: medium, tarty, nervous and lemony (sweets). The grass is back in the aftertaste, together with a little black pepper and, maybe strawberries. Comments: works well, it’s very ‘natural’ malt whisky, without make-up or push-up bra. SGP:461 - 85 points.


Teaninich 29 yo 1982/2012 (45.4%, John Milroy Selection, cask #7714) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: this one is completely different, much closer to barley, farmyard, porridge and even yoghurt. It's got something acidic and sour but it's quite nice, somewhat sauvignonesque. Mashed potatoes, muesli… And a little fresh mint in the background. Maybe also chives. After fifteen minutes, there's more passion fruits. Mouth: we're extremely close to the 1983 now, with pretty much the same kinds of flavours and maybe just a little more strawberries and maybe cranberries. A little less oak as well but the vanilla is there. Finish: medium long, clean, citrusy and peppery. Comments: same style on your palate, same ballpark, same score. Easy! SGP:461 - 85 points.


Teaninich 38 yo 1973/2012 (40.1%, Boisdale, cask #6066) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this baby's the most aromatic, by far, as it starts all on multi-vitamin juice, bananas and papayas, with a delicate oakiness in the background and touches of vanilla/custard. Also orange blossom water, overripe apples, light honey and then this slightly sour feeling again, absolutely not a problem in this context, quite the opposite. A little cedar wood as well, new humidor… Mouth: many more spices from the cask, which imparts a certain dryness this time. Liquorice wood and smoked tea (but it's no smoky whisky as such), cinnamon… Behind all those spicy notes, many fruits such as apples, papayas, pears, touches of rose jelly and Turkish delights, maybe tinned litchis… What's sure is that it's much more lively than expected - at 40.1%! Finish: not very long and pretty oaky but the fruitiness really balances all that. Funny medicinal touches in the aftertaste, rather cough syrup this time, eucalyptus sweets… Comments: quite a miracle at +/-40% after 40 years in wood. It's complex old whisky. SGP:571 - 87 points. PS: no that's not a picture of the label, it's the bar/restaurant in Belgravia.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Teaninich I've tasted so far




Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Andreya Triana. Track: Something In The Silence. Please visit Andreya Triana's website and buy her music!

August 15, 2012


Two fresh Lowlanders for hot times

I'm still waiting for some data about a fantastic new official Auchentoshan 1966 that we could taste with the MMs  a while ago before I publish my notes so in the meantime, here's a new youngish independent. We'll try to find a worthy sparring-partner…


Auchentoshan 1998/2012 'Lemon Sorbet' (46%, Wemyss Malts, 314 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: starts slightly bubblegummy, as almost always, with also these touches of lemon sorbet that this bottling's name suggest. They ARE there. Then we have a little more rhubarb, pink grapefruits, a little vanilla fudge and just hints of rocks/chalk. Lastly, a lot of lemon zests, a whole bag actually, with a feeling of limoncello and, maybe, drops of mojito, with touches of grass/mint leaves. Very nice and fresh. Mouth: the oak's a tad louder, with some pepper and cinnamon at first sips, then quite some barley sugar and cornflakes. The lemon's there but it's rather less obvious than in the nose, while there's more and more white pepper. Touches of coriander as well. Finish: medium long, between white pepper and lemon. The aftertaste is very peppery. Comments: I find this very good, less sweet than the young or middle-aged officials and probably a little oakier (and rougher). Oh, and it takes ice well! SGP:551 - 84 points.

As for the sparring partner, we could have had another well-known Lowlander but instead, I decided to go for a Kinclaith.  Maybe it's the last time we can try a newish Kinclaith! Remember Kinclaith used to lie in Glasgow's region, just like Auchentoshan. Well, it was IN Glasgow, within the Strathclyde grain complex.


Kinclaith 41 yo 1969/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #301453, 164 bottles) Four stars What a great idea it was to issue casks of absolutely all Scottish distilleries instead of piles of young Bunnahabhains or Caol Ilas! But that must have meant a lot of trouble sourcing them all… So, kudos again. Colour: pale gold. Nose: immediately Lowland, immediately citrusy, but quite different from the Auchentoshan, not only because it's much older. It's actually a very nice combination of warm sawdust and tangerines, with touches of coconut that may hint at some fairly recent re-racking in freshish oak. Then ideas of old roses, marshmallows, hay, cinnamon, sandalwood and just whiffs of farmyard. Hay again. Very nice nose again, quite vibrant, absolutely not tired. Mouth: we're between an old grain and an old Rosebank, and that is funny. Coconut again, bags of marshmallows, lemon pie, a little orange blossom water and then more and more vanilla, while there's also a slightly gritty oakiness that arises, between green tea and cinnamon. Finish: long, playful, with even more marshmallows and some kind of tart herbs. Lemon balm, that's it, lemon balm… More cinnamon again in the aftertaste. Comments: to think that I'll have waited until the distillery's been closed for 35 years (it stopped distilling in 1977) before tasting my seventh Kinclaith. Yes, only seven! And not many have been as good as this. SGP:461 - 86 points. PS: the ultimate sacrilege, polishing off a 41yo Kinclaith on ice under a very hot Alsatian summer.



Block Today: HARD BLUES. Performer: R.L. Burnside. Track: Let my baby ride (from the CD Come on In). Please visit R.L.'s Burnside's website and buy his music!

August 2012 - part 1 <--- August 2012 - part 2 ---> September 2012 - part 1

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



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

Clynelish 1998/2012 (50.7%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS 12025, 189 bottles)