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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2016 - Part 1



July 2016 - part 2 <--- August 2016 - part 1 ---> August 2016 - part 2


August 14, 2016


A few rums at random

Nothing too serious, no special plans, no order, and no coherence today. Mind you, this is the month of August, and nothing serious may take place in August in France.

Bacardi 8 yo (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2015) Two starsMolasses-based rum distilled in huge columns, so probably not a very ‘congeneric’ rum. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely light and even evanescent, with touches of vanilla, sugar cane syrup, and ripe bananas. Rather Cuban style, but some Cubans have more depth, especially the Santiagos. At least this Bacardi does not seem to wear too much make up. Mouth: feels sweetish at first, with a sour oaky side (peppery tannins), then we have vanilla and corn syrup. A little cinnamon. Makes me think of many a cheap Scottish blend. Finish: short, with quite some oak, as if the spirit was too light to stand this much oak. Comments: some may have invented the word average after having tasted this newish expression. Not too bad, in my opinion, but totally forgettable. SGP:440 - 70 points.

Diplomatico 2002 'Single Vintage' (43%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2016)

Diplomatico 2002 'Single Vintage' (43%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2016) Ouch, just another sugar bomb? This baby’s been finished in sherry. Colour: orange. Nose: jams, praline, chocolate cream, maple syrup, banana cake, raisins, perhaps litchis and pineapples… Not unpleasant, but some aspects suggest this baby’s been heavily ‘arranged’. Like when some good people let some fruits macerate in rum. Mouth: very sweet and sugary, as expected. A blend of Kahlua (coffee liqueur) with Dutch pineapple liqueur. The Dutch know how to make liqueurs out of just any raw materials ;-). Finish: short, sticky, sugary. Some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: what’s the purpose of bottling some single vintage rum when it’s obviously been ‘arranged’ and contains around 50g of sugar per litre? Would any ‘vintage effect’ remain? Some very liqueury rum. Read ‘adulterated’ if you wish. SGP:720 - 60 points.

Dictador 20 yo (40%, OB, Colombia, +/-2015)

Dictador 20 yo (40%, OB, Colombia, +/-2015) Advertised as a 20 years old, but it’s one of these nasty soleras where any figures seem to be very shady. The price (+/-50-60€) suggests it just cannot be genuine 20 yo rum. Colour: amber. Nose: totally on coffee liqueur. There’s even more coffee liqueur than in the very similar Diplomatico. Similar as far as styles are concerned, because the Diplo was fruitier on the nose. So coffee liqueur, and perhaps a touch of parsley. Mouth: even more of that feeling of coffee liqueur, plus some honey and some raisins. Another one that’s more a liqueur than proper rum, unless you use a very loose definition of rum. Finish: short, with a touch of sour fruit. Ginger and nutmeg in the aftertaste, and of course more coffee. Comments: there was much less happening in the Bacardi, but at least it tasted kind of ‘natural’. Now if you like coffee… Having said that, according to several sources, there’s less sugar in this Dictador than what we ‘feel’, which I find mysterious. SGP:730 - 65 points.

All right, since we’re having sugar bombs…

Arcane ‘Delicatissime’ (41%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2015)

Arcane ‘Delicatissime’ (41%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2015) Two stars and a half I had found the ‘Extra Aroma’ rather good despite the ultra-heavy sweetness (WF 70), but this one’s another expression. The light colour feels rather ‘honest’. But apparently, it is only 18 months old. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much nicer! Fresh sugar cane, grass, green bananas, some kind of curry powder, caraway, fennel, ginger… And even a little gingerbread. So far, so nice! Mouth: there is a sweetness again, but it’s much better integrated this time. Pineapples with caraway and cloves, then a funny feeling of young calvados. Finish: medium, fresh, and quite spicy. Pumpernickel dipped into cane syrup. Comments: I find this very good, we’re almost at 80 in my book. It’s pure cane juice distillate, so kind of agricole. I had feared this would be just another sugar bomb, but it was not. Phew! SGP:641 - 79 points.

Barbancourt 2004/2016 (46%, L’Esprit, Haiti, cask #BB86, 228 bottles)

Barbancourt 2004/2016 (46%, L’Esprit, Haiti, cask #BB86, 228 bottles) Four stars Another one from that excellent little house called Whisky & Rhum. They’re located in Brittany, in Rennes and in Vannes, you’ll easily find them. This is ‘column’ Barbancourt, as they switched from pot still to continuous distillation in 1990 according to more knowledgeable sources (more knowledgeable than me, that’s for sure). Now it always remained pure cane juice. Colour: straw. Nose: instantly more interesting than the others, even than the good Arcane. There’s much more depth, more sugar cane, more grassy/earthy touches, and a rather lovely feeling of camphor plus just faint hints of sawdust. Mouth: excellent! Not too sure at which strength it flows out of the columns (around 90% vol., I wager) but the cane-iness was kept. I also enjoy these notes of green apples, liquorice wood, and gingery marmalade. Finish: medium to long, always pleasantly grassy and cane-y, with just a little liquorice and oak spices in the aftertaste. Comments: very good. There’s also a version at cask strength but we’ll rather have it on another Sunday. Mind you, 66.2% vol.! The sugary ones have been too tiring. SGP:451 - 86 points.

I was wondering, since more an more good people are considering that sweetened or additive-ed rums shouldn’t be entitled to call themselves ‘rum’, while other good people are claiming that ‘they always did it that way’ hence that adulterated rum is still a traditional category, may I humbly suggest that natural rums would call themselves ‘straight rum’ if they wished, whilst the made-up ones would simply be ‘rum’?  Wouldn’t the word ‘straight’ work? What’s sure is that we only had one, or perhaps two straight rums today.

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



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August 11, 2016


Little duets, today by The Laddie

What more to say about Bruichladdich? I remember well the reopening party, they had that giant 40 yo lobster that no one was ready to ‘attack’. Luckily, there were two hungry (and thirsty) Alsatians and… we just ate the whole beast. Superb flesh, those lobsters used to feed on distillery waste and they were really getting huge!

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2006/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, first fill bourbon hogshead, 153 bottles)

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2006/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, first fill bourbon hogshead, 153 bottles) Four stars I believe those were already the unpeated batches, while they had started very lightly peated in 2001. Colour: light gold. Nose: starts with a creamy vanilla, fresh sponge cake, and raw barley from ‘one of those farms’, and gets then finely herbal and minty, with a meloniness (yeah right) that’s rather green than yellow or ‘orange’. Relatively firm and ‘solid’ for a Laddie. With water: classic relatively ‘naked’ Bruichladdich, with tiny whiffs of sea air and even touches of antiseptic. A drop of Port Charlotte in there? Mouth (neat): really very punchy, a little fizzy at first (Schweppes Orange), then totally fruity, with blood oranges, the obligatory melons (any kinds), and perhaps nectarines. The grassy backbone starts to stand out after ten seconds, so rather the melons’ skins than their flesh. With water: same, plus a little mint. It even got sweeter. Lime liqueur? Green tea. Finish: long, fresh, with some peat smoke now. Comments: top class young Bruichladdich that doesn’t taste ‘young’, possibly thanks to an excellent hogshead. SGP:652 - 87 points.

So that one was young, but the cask was first fill – and yet not dominating. Let’s see if we can find the opposite, an older Bruichladdich from a refill hoggie this time… Oh yes we can (sounds a bit 2000s, S...)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1989/2015 (52.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL10859, 225 bottles)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1989/2015 (52.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL10859, 225 bottles) Four starsThe younger one was post-reopening, this one’s pre-closure. Colour: light gold. Nose: nah, this is unquestionably more complex. I’m not saying ‘superior’, but more complex for sure, with brighter fruits, around oranges, ripe kiwis, those melons, and perhaps cranberries and the sweets made thereof. Perhaps very tiny notes of lavender, which isn’t bad at all here. With water: indeed, lavender bonbons and many flower, lilies, lilac, honeysuckle… Mouth (neat): a feeling of lavender sweets, and something 1980s-Bowmore-ish, but without excesses. In France we used to have violet-flavoured liquorice, called Zan. That was superb. Also Seville oranges but quite curiously, no melons this time. With water: limoncello! I often find limoncello in good whiskies, which I like, maybe I should start limoncellofun.com. Ach, better not. Finish: medium, with more lemony things and even a touch of mango. A dash of salt in the aftertaste, which is rather very Bruichladdich. Comments: super-good once again. Same ballpark, even if styles are opposite. And yet close. An yet opposite… Oh… SGP:651 - 87 points.

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



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August 10, 2016


An American flight

And so it is America’s turn! I’m still trying to recover from the fantastic Westlands that we tried within the last months, and perhaps shall we find some more today, by the way. But first, a wee apéritif, as usual…

Wild Turkey 8 yo (86.8 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-1980)

Wild Turkey 8 yo (86.8 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-1980) Four stars There was also a version at 101 proof that’s perhaps better known. They still make this baby, apparently, but it’s suffering from a seemingly incurable epidemic, it’s lost its age statement. I believe this baby comes from the beginning of the Pernod-Ricard era. Colour: gold. Nose: feels rye-driven, but I may be wrong. Spicy flowers, lavender sweets, speculoos, praline, a little wood smoke, curry powder, sweet mustard, a pack of cinnamon mints… There’s a lot happening in there! Mouth: really very spicy, and as it’s a little rough, we’re very far from some modern vanilla-ridden bourbons. Spicy sweets (they have some in China but the name escapes me), crystallised oranges, more cinnamon mints, caraway and clove, bitter chocolate… What’s really striking is how dry this is, you’d almost believe you’re having some strong oloroso, with flying walnuts and mustard. Finish: long, ultra-dry, very spicy. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Comments: very good. Contemporary offerings are much rounder and sweeter. SGP:272 - 85 points.

Hope the apéritif won’t kill them all…

PennyPacker (40%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015)

PennyPacker (40%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015) Two stars I had never seen this before, but it seems that it is an old brand. In Germany they say that Heaven Hill ship it in tankers to their country, where they bottle it. Is that possible? Colour: gold. Nose: totally the opposite of the old Wild Turkey, much softer, rounder, more vanilla-driven, with very little ryeness. It’s quite pleasant, it’s just that there isn’t much happening. Possibly high maize content. Mouth: it is okay. Ish. Eau-de-vie-ish, a little rough, probably very young, with a vanilla-ed oakiness that feels ‘stuck over it’. Not sure this should be drunken neat, should it? Finish: short, with some burnt wood and more vanilla. The aftertaste is a little drying. Comments: a very simple bourbon. It’s not terrible, though. SGP:341 - 70 points.

Marshall's (40%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015)

Marshall's (40%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015) Two stars It’s not straight bourbon, and while the label says ‘Old Time Distillery’, I doubt the brand owns any distillery. Oh and it’s a budget brand, it seems. Colour: gold. Nose: whaaah! Watery and kind of disjointed, dirty-ish at first nosing, but it tends to improve a bit, with bitter oranges and a spicy/bready side that I always rather enjoy. Very curious about the palate… Mouth: not bad, very similar to that of the PennyPacker, only even lighter. Small fruit sweets, orange drops, Fanta, vanilla… Probably a very high maize/corn content once again. Finish: short and relatively clean, a little sweeter than the previous one. A discreet earthiness in the aftertaste, which isn’t bad. Comments: I cannot see why I’d come up with a different score. It’s loyal cheapish bourbon, I think. SGP:441 - 70 points.

George Dickel No. 1 (45.5%, OB, American spirit, +/-2015)

George Dickel No. 1 (45.5%, OB, American spirit, +/-2015) one star and a half This is fully white, and while they call it ‘White corn whisky’, it sure is no whisky since it’s unaged. Colour: white. Nose: not u-nice, not un-nice. It’s clean, fruity and herbal (rhubarb), void of any roughness, with some buttered sweet maize and perhaps drops of tangerine juice. I do like all this freshness, and perhaps did the traditional heavy filtration play a large part in that. Mouth: I like the fresh and fruity/bready arrival, but I’m less fond of the way it unfolds, as it’s becoming spirity (medicinal alcohol) and vodka-ish. I guess that was to be expected. Finish: medium, with a little lime and pear this time, which is good. Comments: I don’t know. Some parts are nice, but a price of 65€ for a bottle of new make seems a little steep. Let’s say ‘no’. SGP:520 - 68 points.

Let’s do craft if you don’t mind…

Garrison Brothers 2015 (47%, OB, Texas straight bourbon)

Garrison Brothers 2015 (47%, OB, Texas straight bourbon) Two stars and a half A genuine distillery, with stills and a very high score by Jim M. (who said just like any new distillery in the world, who?), founded 2005. This very bottle was released in 2015. Colour: deep gold. Nose: classic, pencil shavings, toasted bread, popcorn, pumpernickel, caraway, cinnamon, ginger, and a wee rye-y/earthy side. Rather oak-driven, but not too oak-driven. Mouth: young bourbon with unexpected hints of olive oil, then gingerbread and liquorice wood. Good breadiness, and despite its origins, no gunpowder that I can feel (hey, I’m joking!) Finish: rather long, with many oak spices as well as a sweeter side, around marmalade. Earthy and bready aftertaste, as it should be. Comments: solid craft bourbon, perhaps less extravagant than other young craft Americans (talking about the genuine ones, not about the simple ‘brand-builders’), that’s all I’m going to say. SGP:451 - 79 points.

Koval Bourbon (47%, OB, bourbon, +/-2015)

Koval Bourbon (47%, OB, bourbon, +/-2015) Four stars This baby straight from Chicago. I’m totally in love with their ultra-smart minimal packaging, and perhaps with their whiskies too, but I’ve only tried one of them so far, the Four Grains (WF 84). It is single barrel bourbon, so I guess they vary. Colour: gold. Nose: very different from the Garrison, which was more ‘in your face’. This is subtle and complex, light in a beautiful manner, and rather more floral than the usual bourbons. Iris and lilies. And there’s a wonderful breadiness, you’d think you’re having breakfast in a posh ski resort somewhere in South Tyrol. Yes, I’m speaking with experience. Mouth: exceptionally good, I think. Amazing depth at what ought to be a very young age, with citron squash, notes of kiwi, celeriac, natural vanilla, radish… What’s totally amazing is the celeriac, I’m a sucker for celeriac. And the freshness, not many bourbons are this fresh. Finish: what, goji in whisky? And carrots? One of the most more-ish young whiskies I’ve tried this year. Only the aftertaste is a little less thrilling (tannic), but that’s more than normal. Comments: impressed. I’ll have to try to distil celeriac… BTW some Alsatian distillers do that, but I never came across a good ‘eau-de-vie de céleri’. SGP:462 - 87 points.

Westland 2 yo (46%, OB for Kalish & Sons, single malt, Heavy char new American oak, cask #97, 188 bottles, 2014)

Westland 2 yo (46%, OB for Kalish & Sons, single malt, Heavy char new American oak, cask #97, 188 bottles, 2014) Four stars The wonders of Belgian brewer’s yeast (amongst other smart choices). Colour: deep gold. Nose: while the Koval was clearly a bourbon, this one goes more towards sherried malt whisky – and yes I know this is no sherry cask – for it’s got these raisins, these overripe quinces, all these fresh pastries rather than bread, some kind of Indian ginger-based sweets, cinnamon cake, walnut cake… In shot an awesome nose, rather more candied than the fresher Koval. Mouth: so good. I’m sure they flew to Istanbul, plundered the poshest pastry shop down there, brought everything back, and stuffed the barrel with their loot. Orange blossom, dates, raisins… And even that very special tobacco called Latakia (which is Syrian). A funny fizzy orangeness coming through after a few minutes. Finish: medium to long, still quite oriental. I’ve tried some excellent arrack that used to taste a bit like this. The aftertaste is more chocolaty, though. Comments: between the Koval and this Westland, I choose both. Now I did enjoy the former’s freshness just a wee tad better. Even better. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Good, I had planned to spot here, but since we’ve just had one from high char oak, we could as well try another one…

Ezra Brooks 12 yo (49.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #599, 2015)

Ezra Brooks 12 yo (49.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #599, 2015) Three stars Some single barrel bourbon from Heaven Hill. I’m really curious about this one, since I never tried any Ezra Brooks… Colour: deep gold. Nose: I’m tempted to write that this is much more commercial. You know, caramel, butter cream, fudge, vanilla, butterscotch maple syrup, and the largest bag of buttered popcorn ever. I may have used the word ‘butter’ a little too often. Mouth: powerful, but a little indistinct. Sweet oak, vanilla, toasts, cakes, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla, Starbucks’ best (I mean, worst)… Bwah bwah bwah… Finish: medium, with some molasses-covered vanilla cake and a slice of cinnamon cake. Comments: good bourbon, but I feel it’s uninspired and uninspiring. It’s really lacking the edges and asperities that the ‘crafts’ had, but yeah, it’s very good, most certainly. SGP:541 - 80 points.

(Thanks a bunch, Claude and Scott)

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



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August 9, 2016


Little duets, two excellent indie Glenrothes

Haven’t the owners been rather quiet recently? Not so at the independents, there are many new Glenrothes, they flow like honey! And we won’t complain…

Glenrothes 19 yo 1996/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, cask #2522, 328 bottles)

Glenrothes 19 yo 1996/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, cask #2522, 328 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: honey indeed, and Weetabix, Golden Grahams, Kellogg’s best, then tarte tatin and maple syrup. Gets then very brioche-y, which is great. Custard. We’re actually close to the well-aged officials, which I always enjoyed a lot. Great nose, very classic. With water: gums, Haribo’s best (say crocodiles), jams, acacia honey… Mouth (neat): super-good! Brighter and fruitier than the OBs this time, and above all, ridden with pineapples. As jams, jellies, tinned, liqueurs, syrups, whatever. This is extremely spectacular, but of course you need to enjoy pineapples. Oh and it’s not quite ‘pineapple from youth’ (what’s that molecule again? Ah yes, methyl butanoate). With water: totally excellent, with a perfect balance, an entrancing fruitiness and no excesses. In other words, the pineapples calmed down. Finish: medium, jammy, with some vanilla, some honey, and a tiny cup of cappuccino. Comments: extremely easy and sexy. Malt whisky that will convince everyone. SGP:641 - 89 points.

Glenrothes 26 yo 1989/2016 (52.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #18173, 255 bottles)

Glenrothes 26 yo 1989/2016 (52.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #18173, 255 bottles) Four starsColour: dark straw. Nose: a grassier, waxier, more mineral Glenrothes, as if it was made north of Inverness. It’s got the same slightly exuberant fruity notes (pineapples, pears) but it’s also got more grass and more firmness. Funny notes of IPA too, perhaps is that hops? Or a wee yeastiness? With water: gets a little shy. Not that it doesn’t swim, but it gets less emphatic than the 1996. A little butter cream. Mouth (neat): this time it’s a full-fruity one, starting citrusy and even citric, so much more on sweet grapefruits (the pink ones) than on pineapples, and going on with cranberries and greengages. And gooseberries. With water: not many changes. Perhaps more apples? Finish: medium, fruity, slightly grassy, with some barley sugar. Comments: totally excellent, just a little less wham-bam, less ‘noticeable’ than its bro. SGP:541 - 86 points.

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



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August 8, 2016


Some legendary old Longmorn

But before those pretty legendary Longmorns, a little apéritif from the sample library. What shall we find… eeny meeny…

Longmorn 17 yo 1987/2003 (58.3%, OB, Cask Strength, batch #LM17 003)

Longmorn 17 yo 1987/2003 (58.3%, OB, Cask Strength, batch #LM17 003) Three starsAhem, this is a bit strong for an apéritif, isn’t it. Bah, what’s done is done. Colour: pale gold. Nose: sweet beer all over the place. Californian IPA, perhaps. And vanilla, and roasted nuts, and a saucerful of apple compote. Sweet hops is very dominating here, and intriguing. With water: huge saponification (spirit and water creating soapy smells), let’s wait… zzz… zzz… Ah yes, pure hoppy barley. Very nice. Mouth (neat): very powerful, and very beerish again. Plenty of malt and apples, with a thin layer of marmalade and honeydew. It works well despite the coarseness, which was to be found in all bottlings in this series in my humble opinion. With water: no changes, almost. Grassy maltiness, peelings, apples, raw malt. A little burnt coffee, perhaps. Finish: long, rather sharp and, again, coarse. Comments: very good, perhaps just not as ‘wow’ as some independent Longmorns. Ask G&M… SGP:441 - 82 points.

So, the 1973s…

Longmorn 1973/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary)

Longmorn 1973/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary) Five stars From when Mr. Samaroli himself was still in charge. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sit down and prick up your ears, the whisky’s got something to say. Fabulously complex, as expected. Virginia tobacco, sultanas, chestnut honey, dried figs (plenty), mint honey, dried litchis, old Sauternes… And myriads of other dried/honeyed elements. I’m finding this astounding. Forgot to mention dried apricots. Mouth: rougher than expected, but splendid. Stout, raisins, figs, prunes, salted butter fudge, cereal bars… Perhaps is there a wee soapy side, almost unnoticeable, but that may come from the bottle. Beeswax. Finish: long, rounded, figgy (?)… Not quite a Christmas cake – this is not the season anyway – but we’re close. Or rather panettone, since the bottler is Italian? Comments: I was ready to go two or three points higher, only the wee touches of soap prevented me from doing that. I think I’ll have to try another bottle… SGP:651 - 90 points.

Longmorn 1972/2002 (43%, MacKillop’s Choice, sherry wood, cask #1099)

Longmorn 1972/2002 (43%, MacKillop’s Choice, sherry wood, cask #1099) Four stars and a half Ah, 1972… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got everything you would expect from an old Longmorn, and everything you would expect from a very lightly sherried old Speysider. Amazing wild herbs and soft dried fruits combination. Verbena, wormwood, honeysuckle, quince jelly, honey, then rather a mentholy/tropical gig, with mangos and stewed rhubarb… Mouth: perhaps a wee bit oaky and drying at first, but this feeling of tropical honey is just mesmerizing. Dried mangos and papayas, plus slices of pineapple and coconut. Feels rather ‘bourbon wood’ but strictly nothing to complain about. Finish: medium, with an oakiness that’s a tad more apparent, around tea tannins. A lot of freshness left in the aftertaste. Comments: almost a wonder. Perhaps at a slightly higher strength? SGP:651 - 89 points.

Longmorn 21 yo 1964 (86 US proof, Duthie for Corti Bros, Sacramento, USA)

Longmorn 21 yo 1964 (86 US proof, Duthie for Corti Bros, Sacramento, USA) Five stars A series that made the mouths of many whisky aficionados water… It’s from when Cadenhead/R.W. Duthie were still in Aberdeen. Colour: straw. Nose: bang. This is philosophy, not whisky. It’s a whole. A concept. There’s everything in there, fruits, waxes, herbs, some mysterious animal and vegetal substances (ambergris? White truffle? Spanish ham?) What’s stunning, and what I always cherish, is the way it becomes mentholy over time. And that includes camphor, eucalyptus, fir tar, and so on. It’s Ueberwhisky, so far. Mouth: please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Now, everybody knows that the old Longmorns could be totally stellar, but this is just ‘it’. Only the body’s a little less totally fantastic, but remember 86 US proof are only 43% alc/vol. Finish: it’s where it loses points, losing fruitiness and becoming a little too grassy/tea-ish for my taste. But we were at more or less 93/94, so, there was room. Comments: there used to be the sherried 1964s, and there were these lighter, paler ones. Both were great. Mind you, in the old days, plenty was no plague. SGP:562 - 92 points.

That’s enough for a summer session (but thanks Diego and Max)

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



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August 7, 2016


The Olympic cachaça marathon

Since the Olympics in Brazil have started, and since we’ve got quite a few cachaças at hand, wouldn’t it be sensible to try a few today, and check if some of them would make for some good malternatives? We may stumble upon some ‘industrial’ ones bearing very little interest, as is the case with any spirits (that may happen even in Scotland, mind you), but we could also find some gems. So what is cachaça? Well, it’s rum, but it doesn’t seem that the Brazilians are pretending it is rum. It’s distilled cane juice and not molasses, as is rhum agricole, and some say it’s actually closer to our beloved Haitian clairin. So, let’s have a few, while always keeping in mind that I know next to nothing about cachaça, and that is why we’ll have them ‘at random’, without any preconceptions. There.

Leblon (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Leblon (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) Two stars and a halfSome good people say this is the best cachaça in the world, but I’m sure many other makers will disagree. It is triple distilled in pot stills and aged in cognac casks. Probably for a short period of time according to the colour, unless it’s been heavily filtered/discoloured… It also seems that Bacardi recently bought the brand. Colour: extremely pale white wine, almost white. Nose: instantly ‘clairin’ seen from WF Towers, that is to say fermentary and briny, with plenty of green olives and capers, and very sour grapefruits in the background. And bags of grass. Mouth: a very minimal sweetness at first, and then some lime liqueur and perhaps gherkin juice. Add a few olives and a touch of earth. Only problem, it’s a little bit too light, while the juice is perfectly all right, with this wee dirty side that we always enjoy. No sleek commercial stuff. Finish: a little short, which is a shame. Very nice coastal notes, limes, more olives, seawater… But seawater is stronger! Comments: up my alley as far as the profile is concerned, but do stronger versions exist? SGP:372 - 79 points.

Morro Vermelho ‘Tradicional’ (42%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Morro Vermelho ‘Tradicional’ (42%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Three stars and a halfPot still cachaça from Minas Gerais, said to be quite traditional, as the name suggests. It’s matured for one year in jequitibá wood, which is akin to mahogany, apparently. Colour: almost white. Nose: much huger than the Leblon, rougher, perhaps a little more spirity as well, but with more of that brilliant dirtiness that we do enjoy so much. It’s even kind of smoky. Mouth: really wild, citrusy, gherkiny, olive-y, earthy, smoky… We’re totally in clairin territories (only saying this because I’m a clairin lover and because I know a little more about clairin, but I doubt the Brazilians would approve.) Also very nice gentian notes, roots, celeriac… Finish: medium, much bigger than that of the Leblon. Comments: I think we already found one cachaça that I like better than the best cachaça in the world. Ha, reminds of tequila Patron, ‘the best tequila in the world’. Yeah yeah… SGP:272 - 83 points.

Taverna de Minas ‘Ouro’ (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Taverna de Minas ‘Ouro’ (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Four starsThis one is two years old. It’s also from Minas Gerais, from the city of Itaverava, and apparently, totally artisanal. Colour: white wine. Nose: beautiful! It’s got stunning notes of fresh gingerbread, speculoos, caraway, natural vanilla, almond oil, moss… It’s much less olive-y than the others, and that may come from the longer maturation, but what a nose! Mouth: there, the sugar cane is striking, and the olives are arriving, but the speculoos and gingerbread remain there. Some lemon too. I’m very impressed, especially given the low strength. It’s a fat spirit, seemingly very ‘congeneric’, and that’s what we like. Finish: long, fresher, more lemony, but the speculoos never gave up. Comments: a slightly rounder cachaça, but the whole experience is just perfect and impressive. SGP:352 - 86 points.

Kapoeira (38%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Kapoeira (38%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) Three starsAnother one that, according to some, is meant to be ‘the best tequila in Brazil’. It stems from the Sao Paulo region, not from Minas Gerais. Colour: white. Nose: it’s a grassy one, very fresh, almost ethereal after the Taverna. Lemonade from the fridge, lime juice… And very few congeners. While the two previous ones were rustic, this one’s for Rio’s poshest bars. Mouth: really good, with more oomph, earth, gentian, celeriac, turnips, lemons, as well as a pinhead of horseradish. Liquid sushi, if you will. Finish: short, but very clean, zesty, ultra-fresh. Comments: this one should go down well. Do they make double-magnums? SGP:352 - 82 points.

Boca Loca (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Boca Loca (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) According to the luminaries at The Whisky Exchange (London, baby) Boca Loca means ‘crazy lips’. Nothing can beat experience. It is organic cachaça. And of course it’s ‘premium’. What isn’t these days? Colour: white. Nose: very spirity, not unlike some aguardiente I tried in Cuba. Wood alcohol. Well, I don’t find this very pleasant, it’s pretty aggressive yet characterless. Some coconut after a few minutes, not always a good sign. Mouth: better, but there’s a sweetness that’s not very pleasant. Feels sweetened, although I doubt it is. Lips, perhaps, but crazy, certainly not. Finish: short and a little sugary. Comments: pass. SGP:630 - 50 points.

Sào Miguel (39%, OB, Cachaça, +/-2012)

Sào Miguel (39%, OB, Cachaça, +/-2012) Three stars Artisan cachaça from the region of Rio de Janeiro this time, matured for one year in umburana wood, which is a cherry wood. It is organic. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: superb! This one’s meatier, you’re almost nosing ham that was cooked in spiced wine, although it tends to develop on gingerbread, rather in the style of the Taverna de Minas. It’s also got a mezcal/agave side, some smoke, and of course olives and gherkins. This one might be my favourite so far, but let’s not count our chickens… Mouth: totally destroys the Crazy Lips. Now it’s a  little more ‘burnt’ than the Taverna, and while I almost love it, I’m having difficulties dealing with these burnt notes. Burnt wood? Does that come from the cherry wood? Finish: quite long, a tad saltier. Lemony smoke. Comments: perhaps is this one more for very experienced cachaça boys. I’m sure it’s great, but it certainly isn’t easy. SGP:362 - 81 points.

Pff, this is not the easiest session ever, but let’s go on…

Thoquino (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Thoquino (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) one star and a half This is single-estate cachaça, from the north of Rio de Janeiro. Not too sure whether it’s post still or column cachaça. No, nothing to do with Toquinho, the great Brazilian musician. Colour: white. Nose: it’s fresh, but there isn’t much happening. Quite the opposite of the Sào Miguel, but I wouldn’t say it’s unpleasant, just a little… err, let’s say uninspiring (any excuses, S.) Mouth: feels sweetened, just like the Boca Loca. Lemon liqueur and lime liqueur and other liqueurs. Indeed, even sugar cane. Average. Finish: short, sugary. Comments: not too bad, but the sugar puzzles me. Are they allowed to sweeten cachaça? SGP:541 - 68 points.

Praianinha (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Praianinha (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) This one’s made by Thoquino too. It’s meant to be ‘tradicional’, which probably doesn’t mean much. Colour: white. Nose: noses even sweeter. Citron liqueur. That’s pretty all, folks. Mouth: it is liqueur. Exactly not what I was hoping for. More citron liqueur. Finish: medium, too sweet. Comments: really hard to a malt whisky enthusiast. I’m sure it goes down well once poured over two kilos of crushed ice, but other than that, it’s not a spirit, it’s a liqueur. Anti-cachaça. Or shall we call it a doctored cachaça? SGP:830 - 45 points.

Okay, another chance…

Thoquino 2 yo (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Thoquino 2 yo (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) Two stars Aged for two years in jetiquibà wood, just like the great Morro Vermelho. Hope there will be other similarities. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ah, this is nicer. Still a bit indefinite, with whiffs of wood and ink, but at least it doesn’t feel liqueury, or artificially fruity. A little rubber. Mouth: relatively fine. A little earthy and smoky, but the rubber didn’t totally go away. Lemon marmalade. I do enjoy these soapy touches, though, which remind me of a tequila. Finish: medium, similar. Perhaps half an olive in the aftertaste, but that’s a little late. Comments: I’d call this a cachaça of acceptable proportions, but it sure isn’t a proper malternative. SGP:551 - 72 points.

Vale Verde ‘Ouro Extra Premium’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Vale Verde ‘Ouro Extra Premium’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Four stars Of course the name is a little scary (Extra Premium, not Vale Verde) but I’ve heard good things about this brand from Minas Gerais. This one is a three years old, matured in oak this time (carvalho). Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: oh yes! We’re in Jamaica, and I’m wondering if they’re using dunder pits and bacterial fermentation as well in Minas Gerais. Superb nose, fresh and deep, smoky, tarry, olive-y, lemony, yet relatively rounded, with pink grapefruits and perhaps notes of plantains… And even guess what, peat! Mouth: totally and plainly yes! A blend of Haitian clairin and Jamaican high-ester rum, but with a superb lightness. Pristine spirit. Finish: rather long, earthier, tarry… With more smoky liquorice in the aftertaste… But what a shame that they didn’t bottle this at 45% vol! Comments: indeed, this IS extra-premium. Where is this green valley? On Islay? SGP:363 - 87 points.

In an ideal world, we would manage to try an older Vale Verde now, to check if it behaves like a whisky from Islay indeed… But of course this is an ideal world!...

Vale Verde 12 yo ‘Edição Especial’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Vale Verde 12 yo ‘Edição Especial’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Four stars and a halfI so hate it that they bottled this at 40% vol! It’s ex-European oak – you would have thought that the USA were closer. Oh and apparently, it’s been voted best cachaça by a bunch of Brazilian experts. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is not funny, who did pour a blend of 90% Benriach 1976 and 10% Ardbeg 1975 into those European casks? What’s the trick here? This is simply sublime, as complex as any aged spirit can be, and indeed totally ‘Scottish’. Impressed. Mouth: holy featherless crow! Please call the anti-sugarcanoporn brigade! Sure they should hang the comrade who decided to go down to 40% vol., but other than that, this is a superb combination of tropical fruits (mangos, bananas, and papayas first) and coastal/briny/smoky elements. Salt, smoke, ashes, salty liquorice, and all that. Finish: shortish (boo-hoo-hoo) yet superbly olive-y and smoky. Plus ultra-ripe bananas. Comments: I just cannot go to 90, because of the lack of power, zing, and oomph, but we’re very close. A perfect malternative, for sure. SGP:553 - 89 points.

All is well! We just need a ‘signature’ cachaça, and we’re off. Maybe this one…

Sapucaia ‘Velha Reserva De Familia’ (40.5%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Sapucaia ‘Velha Reserva De Familia’ (40.5%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Three stars This one is a 10 years old from the region of Sào Paulo (home of Ayrton Senna!) It was matured in oak casks. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: subtler, perhaps more elegant, with notes of perfumed fur coat, benzoin, vetiver, green oranges… There’s also a little fresh paint, carbolinium… and then green apples. Really intriguing, I’m curious about the palate… Mouth: it hasn’t quite got the oomph of the old Vale Verde, I’m afraid, and perhaps is it less well-chiselled, but it’s still very nice, almondy, with nice touches of almond soap, lemon liqueur, a little salt… Finish: medium, rather fresh. Lemon and a touch of salt. Comments: very good, but I liked the nose better. SGP:452 - 82 points.

Good, I should have tried forty-three cachaça instead of just twelve, given that I’ve called this ‘a marathon’, but I don’t think that would have been serious and sensible. Better put an end to this session, while I’m happy that we found quite a few new proper malternatives. Oh and check their prices, some are incredibly low…

The Podium:

GOLD Vale Verde 12 yo

SILVER Vale Verde ‘Ouro'

BRONZE Taverna de Minas ‘Ouro'

(Thank you Stijn!)



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August 5, 2016


Little duets, today Hazelburn

They’re very discreet, and yet they make a brilliant malt. Actually, I’m not sure they distilled enough Hazelburn in the past to keep us happy (and quiet). Mind you, it’s triple distilled, so they need to do much more work.

Hazelburn 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014)

Hazelburn 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014) Five stars Not quite the latest batches, I’m late once again, but remember we have only one taster at WF, and that that taster’s only got one liver. Colour: white wine. Nose: if their aim was to make a much lighter Springbank, I’m happy to report that they failed miserably. Granted, this is lighter than Springbank (and than Longrow, a fortiori), but it’s still got his magnificent fatty and mineral profile that’s so amazing to us lovers of the ‘old Highlands’ style. Sunflower oil, paraffin, tinned pineapples and oranges, perhaps roses and perhaps litchis. So it is theoretically lighter, but it’s no light whisky. Mouth: well, I believe they could distil it seventeen times, it would still be some fat and ‘wide’ spirit. Exceptional palate, as waxy and lemony as waxed lemons. Plus clay, olive oil, drops of seawater, and a gingery earthiness that’s just perfect. Finish: long, waxy, mineral, perfectly bitter. Comments: love these total failures. A lighter Springbank, mwahahaha… (insert long cavernous echoes here)… Oh and I think it beats the Rundlets and Something 10 yo that came out at the same time fair and square. And the price is insane (£36 or something). Go buy bottles (S., please!) SGP:452 - 90 points.

Now, is the next one an official or an independent bottling?

Hazelburn 13 yo 2001/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles)

Hazelburn 13 yo 2001/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles) Four stars Yeah, independent or official? Beginner special; the owners of Springbank that make Hazelburn also own Cadenhead. Colour: white wine, all great. Nose: very similar, which isn’t a surprise, but I find it rather more timid, shy, closed… Ah? With water: raw wool, washing powder, chalk, grass… As unsexy as malt whisky can be. Much better than pornographic malts, for sure. Mouth (neat): it’s to be wondered if ‘someone’ didn’t build some kind of gigantic pipe that goes from Clynelish to Springbank. A pipe that goes both ways. Now I wouldn’t say this is totally perfect, I love the zesty lemons, I’m a little less fond of the (very relative) paraffiny/soapy notes. Love the medicinal part, though. Antiseptics. With water: same, more or less, water doesn’t change much. Finish: long, much earthier, gentiany, rooty… All that, I cherish. Comments: this is very difficult. It’s great whisky (a lighter Springbank, really, that’s the best of the decade) but the official 10 was so totally perfect that, well it kind of got the death seat. Now if you would excuse me, I need to down that little 10 yo… SGP:452 - 85 points.

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



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August 4, 2016


Top-form new Edradour

I’ve been to Edradour again a few months ago, and was flabbergasted by the amount of (smart) work they’ve done there. Oh and by the whiskies, but to put things into perspective, perhaps should we start with, well, you see, those batches…

Edradour 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2000)

Edradour 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2000) Still Pernod’s make. Might be a little difficult… Colour: amber. Nose: well, this batch was rather less offensive than others, despite the ‘inherent’ soapiness and the notes of stewed cabbage. There are some nice leathery oranges on top of all that, as well as notes of flower jelly. Roses? Or rather peonies? (not saying you may make jelly out of peonies, mind you). Mouth: yeah no, the plastic-like notes are there, the soap as well, and that makes the whole experience pretty difficult. Finish: medium, a little better. Oranges and chocolate. Comments: it was the last time we’re trying these batches, and remember, that was for the sake of comparison. SGP:361 - 55 points.

Let’s get serious!...

Edradour 15 yo ‘Fairy Flag’ (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Edradour 15 yo ‘Fairy Flag’ (46%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars A bizarre label, but it takes all sorts to make a world, doesn’t it. Colour: deep gold. Nose: leather, chocolate, tobacco, and saltpetre, this is a nice start. Goes on with a newly opened pack of cigarettes (soon banned everywhere!) and a little camphor (tiger balm), then rather Seville oranges and some kind of sooty earth, gravel, flints… And let’s not forget our beloved walnuts! Mouth: unusual and excellent. Turmeric, celery, pink grapefruits, chocolate, blackberries, raisins, more tobacco… It’s rather singular (they say idiosyncratic in good circles, don’t they) but that’s totally and asset, while it was an obvious flaw in the old Pernod bottle. Finish: long, with chestnuts, leather, and cracked pepper. Not a common combination, but indeed it works. Comments: a dry, unusual style that really works. Excellent characterful malt, while character is not exactly what many other distilleries seem to be seeking these days. And yet, yes it’s probably ‘older’ distillate by the former owners, as Signatory started distilling in 2002 if I’m not mistaken. Go figure… SGP:352 - 86 points.

More 15 yo please…

Edradour 15 yo 1999/2015 (56.4%, OB, casks #902-903, 472 bottles)

Edradour 15 yo 1999/2015 (56.4%, OB, casks #902-903, 472 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: another one that’s maybe not for Whisky Live Buckingham, as it’s got a rustic, earthy side upfront, but it’s all to my liking, with earth indeed, pipe tobacco, soot, ‘old wine cellar’, musty stuff, orange rinds, a new box of 8-9-8 (that’s cigars), and really, a wonderful earthiness. With water: flints and used matches, but in an orderly fashion and without excesses. Perhaps was it for Buckingham, after all. Entering an old wine cellar where the air is cool while it’s steaming hot outside. Mouth (neat): very super good, once again a notch unlikely, with plenty of orange zests and some funny herbs (no, not those, rather peppermint and perhaps sorrel), and then a growing peppery profile that’s surprising yet good. Pepper and orange zests work well together. With water: excellent! Tonic water, oranges, ginger ale, lemongrass… But the whisky’s ruined, it gets as cloudy as camel milk once water’s been added. Finish: long, a little more peppery and leathery. Comments: really very good, once again. We could spend hours arguing about which 15 we liked best. Okay, it’s a draw. SGP:451 - 86 points.

Edradour 10 yo 2004/2015 (60.7%, OB, Straight From The Cask, sherry butt, cask #407, 912 bottles)

Edradour 10 yo 2004/2015 (60.7%, OB, Straight From The Cask, sherry butt, cask #407, 912 bottles) Four stars and a half Yes that’s a lot of bottles at cask strength, even from a butt, but they’re 50cl bottles. Oh and this is Signatory’s own make now, not Pernod’s heritage. Colour: amber. Nose: extremely nutty and sooty, as if you’d be entering some kind of damp place where they keep walnuts and pecans. That’s all fictional, of course, not sure that would be the right place for keeping nuts. We’ve also got the leather and tobacco combo, a few ‘good’ struck matches, and then several autumny scents, between mushrooms and, well, autumn leaves. With water: exceptional! Incense, pot-pourri, ‘visiting a Balinese temple’, earth, mushroom… A very umami-esque whisky for sure. I’m all for this, it’s oh-so uncommercial. Mouth (neat): a blend of Spanish brandy and Demerara rum this time, I assure you. Raisins, prunes, bitter oranges, ginger, and repeat. I find this excellent and really powerful. With water: amazing how it swims. Pecan pie, good caramel, sweet pipe tobacco, prunes… In truth we’re in Armagnac territories. Finish: long, a bit spicier, but still very armagnacky. That would be armagnac at cask strength, no need to say. Comments: a Gascon malt whisky, who could resist that? Besides, I think it’s dear Ian Henderson who distilled it. SGP:462 - 89 points.

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



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August 3, 2016


Little duets, Ardbeg vs. Ledaig

I’ve written a few times already that modern Ledaig was the new Ardbeg, which seems to have ‘gently’ infuriated quite a few friends. Which, to tell you the truth, is understandable, as good people would like hidden gems to remain hidden as long as possible. And, well, maybe was I wrong… And there’s only one way to find out, setting both whiskies in the ring. Provided, no need to say, that they fight in the same category (age, strength, cask…)

Ar6 (55.7%, Elements of Islay, bourbon, 2016)

Ar6 (55.7%, Elements of Islay, bourbon, 2016) Four stars and a half I so liked Ar1, 2, 4 and 5. Nope, never tried Ar3 (S., you useless ‘whisky blogger’!) Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a rather austere one, it seems, but it is quite ‘Ardbeg’, with a lot of tincture of iodine, hessian, Islay mud, ashes, and a wee feeling of capsicum and cocoa powder. It’s only after a good two minutes that gentler notes of custard and coconut oil come out, but they’d never get in the spirit’s way. Phew! Now what it hasn’t got, and what was in ‘old’ Ardbeg, is this very peculiar combination that used to involve coal tar and resinous camphor. With water: fresh almonds, paint, and linseed oil! That, I like a lot. Like a fish in water. Mouth (neat): a millimetric arrival, on lemon, smoked fish, tar, and vanilla. Totally modern Ardbeg ex-first or second fill bourbon. Full, big, and a tad simple, but there sure is a virtue to simplicity. With water: these notes of paint and almonds again, then verbena and other aromatic herbs. Ex-chartreuse cask? Finish: long, saltier, tarry, aromatic and herbal. Ardbeggian. Comments: frankly, I wasn’t totally convinced as long as it was unreduced, but indeed it totally loves water and becomes wonderful. A true Esther Williams of whisky. They should sell it with a bottle of Evian or Vittel. SGP:567 – 89 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon barrel, cask #10, 235 bottles)

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon barrel, cask #10, 235 bottles) Four stars and a half Labelled as Tobermory but it’s well a Ledaig. Let’s see what our American friends have come up with… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: yeah well, the cousinhood is very obvious. The cask has been a little less active here, so there’s almost no custard whatsoever (let alone any coconut), but the cores are very similar indeed. Hessian, coal smoke, mercurochrome, green pepper, seawater… It’s almost troubling, to tell you the truth. With water: carbolinium, brine, and mud, with also a lot of ashes. Cigar ashes. Mouth (neat): punchy and chiselled, very straight, on something like smoked and salted limejuice. Certainly more brine and seawater than in the Ardbeg, and less roundness. With water: another perfect young Ledaig. Perhaps a notch tart and bitter (over-infused green tea) but many whisky enthusiasts love this, including this very one. Finish: long, clean, salty, very coastal, ashy and smoky. Lemon-flavoured marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s one of the mezcaly ones. I’m totally unable to decide between these two whiskies, I’m afraid, for they’re so totally in the same league (and boxing category). SGP:467 - 89 points.

Well, with that we're well set…



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August 2, 2016


Little duets, Lochindaal vs. Port Charlotte

Specialty Drinks have just released a new bunch of ‘Elements of Islay’ bottlings, including an intriguing Ln1. Which stands for Lochindaal, which is some quasi-experimental peated Bruichladdich. There’s some new ‘Ar’ too, but we’re very curious at WF Towers, and with whisky, curiosity never killed any mouser… So it’s going to be the Ln first.

Ln1 (62.5%, Elements of Islay, first fill bourbon, 2016)

Ln1 (62.5%, Elements of Islay, first fill bourbon, 2016) Four stars and a half So this is Lochindaal, a peated malt by Bruichladdich that sits somewhere between Port Charlotte and Octomore as far as smokiness is concerned (50ppm in the malted barley). The name Lochindaal's been used in the past by third parties for both Bowmore and Bruichladdich, but this is different. Colour: straw. Nose: rather aggressive at first nosing, which is normal at this strength, and then more and more mentholy and medicinal. There’s smoke, antiseptic and camphor just everywhere! Some leaven too, but let’s not go too far, it needs water… With water: smoked grass, garden bonfire, and more camphor and eucalyptus. Would love to know about the cut for this. Mouth (neat): a feeling of sucking some smoked lemon bonbons. Some green tea and grass in the background. Very powerful, with a sweet side. With water: swims extremely well, like most ‘un-wine-ed’ Bruichladdichs. You can literally drown it and bring it down to 30% vol. it would still swim. Wonderful combo with wet clothes, diesel oil, iodine, and indeed quite some lime and camphor. Finish: very long, with a fatness, and yet a lightness that’s brought by the lemony side. Very grassy aftertaste, with some coconut coming through with water. Comments: absolutely excellent, perhaps just not flabbergastingly complex. More Lochindaal please! SGP:467 - 88 points.

So, let’s find a Port Charlotte, just to check the peat level ‘in the glass’. Oh and why not a sherry monster for a change? I remember those early private sherry bloodtubs with much fondness…

Port Charlotte 10 yo 2003/2013 (63.1%, Scoma, sherry hogshead, cask #617, 290 bottles)

Port Charlotte 10 yo 2003/2013 (63.1%, Scoma, sherry hogshead, cask #617, 290 bottles) Five stars Yes a total monster, most probably. Colour: office coffee. Nose: Very sulphury, but I think there’s ‘good’ sulphur (matches, guns) and ‘bad’ sulphur (ard-boiled eggs, cooked cabbage). It’s the former situation that’s occurring here, with also notes of coal dust (or, as I sometimes say, brake pads after the Nordschleife), used fireworks, charcoal, ashtray, bitter chocolate, liquorice… This is quite spectacular, but sometimes they don’t swim well when the sherry’s ‘like that’. Let’s figure out… With water: magic. Sake, cigars, soy sauce, umami… It gets very ‘Japanese’. Mouth (neat): gives you some kind of wafer when unreduced! Bang! I get some heavy smoky liquorice, but other than that, it tends to numb your palate, so, quick… With water: wonderful sherry/peat combo. Leather, tobacco, strawberry jam, cassis bud tea, marmalade… Perfect. Finish: very long, with a bitter/leathery side that works to perfection here, and a sweeter Campari-like aftertaste. Comments: big, fat, and excellent. SGP:567 - 90 points.

(and hvala, Tom)

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



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August 1, 2016


Little duets, today Ben Nevis

Always something happening in any Ben Nevis malt whisky! Which reminds me that I should try a newer batch of the official 10 as soon as possible, but sadly, that won’t happen today…

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (50.5%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry, 360 bottles)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (50.5%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry, 360 bottles) Five stars This series is called ‘good vibes’, I don’t think Peter Tosh would have disapproved. Colour: straw. Nose: oh perfect! A mineral fruitiness, with peaches and hot limestone in the heart of summer (yes I speak with experience), then aspirin tablets, lamp oil, cantaloupes, a little seal blubber, and a lot of grapefruits. Wonderful style, not seen anywhere else. With water: wonderful farmy development. Hay, farmyard, grains… And a trace of suntan lotion. Mouth (neat): exceptional! Tell me about a hidden gem… Stunning peachy fruits, tangerines, pink bananas, cranberries… This fruitiness is totally glorious. With water: indeed, indeed. It’s not that it’s a surprise, especially given the bottlers, but still, it is a surprise. Finish: medium, fresh, fruity. Blood oranges. Comments: I knew it ‘could’ be excellent, but this excellent?! In the same cluster as Clynelish and Pulteney (when Pulteney’s not killed by wood). SGP:651 - 90 points.

Bwaah, I had thought this 1996 would be a gentle challenger, but it’s rather a winner. A tougher job for the older bro… Let’s find one that’s not too sherried… Perhaps this?...

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1973/1999 (50.8%, OB, casks #355-356, 400 bottles)

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1973/1999 (50.8%, OB, casks #355-356, 400 bottles) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: yeah yeah yeah. Linseed oil and orange peel, plasticine and fresh almonds, the same peaches as in the 1996, and some very nice whiffs of high-brand moisturizer. Guerlain or something, I’m no expert. With water: strange, the hand cream comes to the front, which makes the whole a notch too soapy/creamy for me. Mouth (neat): mineral, waxy, oily, citrusy, almondy. Yes we’ll keep this short and sweet. With water: not sure, it kind of falls apart, with the good stuff on one side (lemons) and a bizarre chemical waxiness on the other side (Play-doh, plastic). A shame, this started very well. Finish: medium, still oddly sappy, but the background stuff is excellent, lemons, zests… Comments: not too sure about this one. In theory, many Ben Nevisses from the late 1960s and early 1970s were superb whiskies, but in practice, this one kind of failed. Now, it’s still very good whisky, just not as legendary as others. And it’s not impossible that it got a death seat after the 1996. SGP:461 - 81 points.

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2016

Favourite recent bottling:
Benrinnes 30 yo 1984/2015 (56.6%, Silver Seal, cask #2268, 480 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Tamdhu 23 yo 1950/1973 (83° proof, OB, Highland Distillers) - WF 94

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Caol Ila 8 yo 2007/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon barrel, cask #315325, 320 bottles) - WF 90

Favourite malternative:
Uitvlugt 18 yo 1997/2016 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #MGA4, 637 bottles) - WF 91



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Donny McCaslin. Track: Perpetual Motion. Please visit his website and buy his music...

July 2016 - part 2 <--- August 2016 - part 1 ---> August 2016 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (50.5%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry, 360 bottles)

Hazelburn 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014)

Longmorn 21 yo 1964 (86 US proof, Duthie for Corti Bros, Sacramento, USA)

Longmorn 1973/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary)

Port Charlotte 10 yo 2003/2013 (63.1%, Scoma, sherry hogshead, cask #617, 290 bottles)