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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2017 - Part 1


July 2017 - part 2 <--- August 2017 - part 1 ---> August 2017 - part 2


August 14, 2017


No less than nine young Chichibu

No that's no pleonasm, some are now ten years old! Oh and I've got complains because we've had too many J-whiskies last week, especially those Kurayoshis that are fake Japanese… (old Scotch that's young, distillery bourbons or Irish whiskeys that are not from that distillery - if it even exists, Japanese whisky that's not Japanese, where are we heading to?) But today it’s Chichibu’s turn! Many whisky lovers believe that Chichibu’s the best fairly recent piece of news that happened to Japanese whisky, and indeed the older one that we had a few days ago, the Metropolis for Zoetrope, was superb (WF 90). So let’s do a little ‘historical’ tour of Chichibu today, if you don’t mind…

Chichibu 'Newborn Peated' 2009/2009 (61.4%, OB, Japan, new American hogshead, cask #452, 361 bottles)

Chichibu 2009/2009 'Newborn Peated' (61.4%, OB, Japan, new American hogshead, cask #452, 361 bottles) Four stars I remember sister cask #451 had much impressed me back in 2010 (WF 88), while just like this one, it was not even, err, one. Colour: pale gold. Nose: one of the Islaymost casks for sure. Antiseptic, sea air, fresh bitter almonds (crushed), lime juice, moss, mint tea, camphor, Barbour grease, and indeed a lot of ‘coastal’ smoke. A bit of damp chalk in the background. With water: some new rubber and more lemon. Crunching a lemon wearing a new scuba diving suit (you, not the lemon). Mouth (neat): extremely ‘spiky’, lemony, and salty. Totally sharp! Grapefruit bonbons. With water: ultra-chiselled lemony peat, with some vanilla and sweeter fruits from the American oak. Perhaps banana sweets? Pear drops? Finish: long, and fairly sweeter, with some mint and cough syrup coming back in the aftertaste. Comments: yeah, brilliant, this is how the whole legend of Chichibu started. Well, not quite a legend, only hard facts. SGP:557 - 87 points.

Chichibu 2009/2012 ‘The Peated’ (50.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 5000 bottles)

Chichibu 2009/2012 ‘The Peated’ (50.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 5000 bottles) Four stars I hope they used the same recipe… Colour: gold. Nose: softer and gentler, probably better balanced, with some vanilla, some sweeter smoke, hessian, those tarry ropes, drops of embrocations, and once again wee touches of bananas. Really gentle. With water: kiln, porridge and ink. Mouth (neat): that’s the thing with active oak, they can make your spirit a touch too peppery. Indeed, this one’s very peppery, beyond the lemony smoke. Burnt herbs. Much less mellow and easy than on the nose, but it’s still quite beautiful. Love these bitter almonds, for example, I’m a sucker for those. With water: Ardbeg Ten from ten years ago. There. Finish: rather long, on more almonds, some kind of smoked marzipan, and green pepper. A touch of nutmeg. Comments: I liked the immaculateness of the quasi-new make a touch better, but other than that, this is great. SGP:556 - 86 points.

Chichibu 2009/2012 ‘The Floor Malted’ (50.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 8800 bottles)

Chichibu 2009/2012 ‘The Floor Malted’ (50.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 8800 bottles) Three stars and a half No peat this time, I suppose… Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, no smoke, rather herbs, barks, and autumn leaves at first, then rather greengages and green gooseberries. It’s all pretty delicate, with a little butterscotch and brioche coming out after one minute. With water: lemon-scented candle wax, going towards some young Clynelish. Mouth (neat): as usual, the youth feels more in an unpeated whisky than in a peater. Pears and lemons are topping all this, and would come with a little soft oil (sunflower) and custard, as well as orange drops. Same kind of grassiness in the background. With water: very good, just a little simple. Cider apples and white cherries, with a drop of easy acacia honey. Finish: medium, a tad grassier. Comments: high quality, and pretty easy. The youth feels a bit, but its top distillate, without any doubts. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Chichibu 2009/2013 ‘Port Pipe’ (54.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 4200 bottles)

Chichibu 2009/2013 ‘Port Pipe’ (54.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 4200 bottles) Two stars and a half Port, the Kenny G. of malt whisky ;-). Or wasn’t that PX? Only a personal opinion, naturally, and some Port-ed whiskies have been great indeed. Colour: apricoty straw. And there it happens… Nose: a little bizarroïd, I’d say. Some kind of raspberry bread, although I do not know of anyone baking raspberry bread on this wee planet. There must be a reason… Ideas of thin mints as well, peonies, cassis buds… With water: caraway butter? Does that even exist? Seville oranges. Mouth (neat): some good parts, but otherwise, it’s too wacky for me. Sour red fruits mixed with dough and crystallised oranges… Strange combination. A lot of nutmeg too, much more than ‘average’. Cloves. With water: the malt is having the upper hand, and that is good news. Orange blossom, panettone… Finish: medium, on bread and oranges. Comments: water saved it on the palate. Perhaps did the Port have something? SGP:651 - 79 points.

Chichibu 2009/2013 ‘Chibidaru’ (53.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 3800 bottles)

Chichibu 2009/2013 ‘Chibidaru’ (53.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 3800 bottles) Four stars A chibidaru or chibi daru is a quarter cask. I had tried a 2010/2014 a few years ago that had been much to my liking (WF 87). Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes I remember those notes of patchouli, mint tea, linden tea, raw leather, fino sherry, green walnuts… Right up my alley! With water: some fino that you would have taken from a middle criadera butt. Green grapes and green walnuts. Mouth (neat): splendid! Starts oily and sweet, on the best out of an XXL pack of marshmallows, and gets then acridly herbal, which doesn’t sound too good – but I like it. With water: the marshmallows are back. Some herbal teas as well, mint, thyme, linden again… Finish: medium and rather sweeter, with a little barley syrup. Oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: rather wonderful, the smaller casks seem to have let the whisky age rather faster, not only adding more ‘flavour’. SGP:561 - 87 points.

Chichibu ‘On The Way’ (55.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 9900 bottles, 2015)

Chichibu ‘On The Way’ (55.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 9900 bottles, 2015) Three stars The equivalent to Ardbeg’s ‘Almost There’, marketing-wise. Unless that would be ‘Still Young’. Let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: raw malty oak, or raw oaky malt (!), with a cup of nail polish remover and three cups of grist, as well as some kind of lemony custard and a drop of rosewater. With water: gets rather simple, all on sweets. Preserved fruit salad. Mouth (neat): high-impact all-fruit combination, with oranges, lemons, tangerines, rhubarb, and a lot of sweet vanilla from the oak. With water: really easy, fruity, sweet. Don’t look for any complexities, the meaning of life isn’t to be found in this young baby. Finish: medium, sweet, ueber-easy, good. Ripe melon in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect, but really very un-complex. SGP:641 - 82 points.

Chichibu ‘On The Way’ (58.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 10700 bottles, 2013)

Chichibu ‘On The Way’ (58.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 10700 bottles, 2013) Four stars So this one should be even younger. This is the ‘Still Young’, unless it’s the ‘Very Young’. Oh let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: well, I have to say I’m finding this more complex, with these lovely herbal tones that we had already found in the Chibidaru. Linden, cherry stems… Some muesli too, raw malt, a touch of soot, and a few autumn leaves. Indeed, more complex. With water: gets totally muesli-esque. Mouth (neat): oh yes, this is excellent. Very punchy, citric and herbal, with some peppermint, lemons, paprika, green apples, and one cough pill. Something by Vicks, I’d say. With water: more fruit-forward, but the mentholy side remains there in the background. Finish: medium, sweet, with even a few sugary notes. Barley syrup. Comments: I’m rather more for this little one. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Chichibu 2010/2013 ‘The Peated 59.6ppm’ (50.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 6700 bottles)

Chichibu 2010/2013 ‘The Peated 59.6ppm’ (50.5%, OB, Ichiro’s Malt, Japan, 6700 bottles) Four stars Some high-voltage young Chichibu, should we expect some kind of Octomoreness? Colour: white wine. Nose: you bet! We’re wandering throughout the Port Ellen Maltings. There are those famous – albeit very discreet – notes of strawberry yoghurt, then ashes, kelp, and simply some burning fir wood, as well as three or four brand new rubber bands. Or is that new tyres? With water: really all on heavily smoked barley. Or its husk. Mouth (neat): yes, typical. Lemon liqueur and bags of charcoal ashes, plus tincture of iodine and cold cigar ashes. You really feel the peat level was pimped up. With water: it’s very good and this time, I’m rather thinking of some rather sweeter young Port Ellen. Finish: long, sweet, ashy, smoky. Drinking peach juice to which you would have added a lot of cigar ashes. Comments: it’s the sweetness-peatiness axis that’s rather unusual. I approve, as they say in Washington. SGP:647 - 86 points.

And the last one will be the…

Chichibu 2009/2014 (61.6%, OB, Japan, for Sushi + Soul Germany, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #609)

Chichibu 2009/2014 (61.6%, OB, Japan, for Sushi + Soul Germany, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #609) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: some lovely kind of Haribo-ish herbal tea. I get wulong tea (blue-green), pears and pineapples jellybeans, tinned apricots, and some natural vanilla. Perhaps drops of vanilla-arranged light rum. Behind that, a custardy feeling and a little sour dough. With water: jellybeans and liquorice allsorts, plus cut grass and raw barley. Watch it kids, there’s some alcohol inside! Mouth (neat): strong, excellent and rather cherry-like this time. Cherry-flavoured bubblegum and more of Haribo’s best (where’s that cheque, Haribo?) With water: same feeling, plus touches of bitter oranges. The barrel made it all really sweet. Finish: medium, candied, sweet. The cherries are back, and they would come with  Provence melons (the ones that are orange). Comments: another fat sweet fruity Chichibu, with a rather awesome purity and a wee, very discreet Irish side. SGP:741 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: SOUL BLUES. Performer: Mighty Sam McClain. Track: Too Proud. Please visit his website and buy his music...

August 13, 2017


Our traditional bag of rum on Sunday

Anything, really, any styles and origins, at random. A good way of travelling afar while remaining at the tasting table.

Aldea 22 yo 1991/2013 ‘Tradicion’ (42%, OB, Spain)

Aldea 22 yo 1991/2013 ‘Tradicion’ (42%, OB, Spain) one star and a half This is cane juice column-distilled and aged on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands, Spain. Spanish agricole, in a way. Some Spanish rums I could try were extremely sugary, so let’s proceed with caution. Colour: gold. Nose: rather easy, rather caramely, with raisins and fudge, crème brulée, and a little toasted oak. It’s very ‘average’ in the better sense of that word, not very agricole for sure, are pretty easy. Quite Latino, this one! Mouth: sweet and sweetened, that’s not too good. Sugar, molasses, liquid caramel, banana liqueur, and just a few bitter grasses in the background. Totally in the style of most Central Americans, with these typical notes of coffee liqueur. Finish: short, on caramel and more coffee liqueur. Triple-sec and toasted oak in the aftertaste. Comments: let’s say it’s kind of okay, but the high sugar content really disturbs me, as usual. SGP:830 - 68 points.

Foursquare 10 yo ‘Criterion’ (56%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2017)

Foursquare 10 yo ‘Criterion’ (56%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2017) Four stars and a half Another single blended rum by Foursquare, with both pot and column rum inside. It was aged in Madeira and bourbon wood. Colour: deep gold. Nose: another galaxy, as expected. First a few notes of bourbon (pencil shavings, but no solventy notes), then a rather soft development, less wild than Triptych, and at times frankly Martiniquan. Apple pie, praline, a new pack of cigarettes, cane juice, barbecued bananas, hay, and the faintest whiffs of burning wood. With water: a little more sweet oak, some bourbon again, and a blend of cane juice and custard. Very nice and even more Martiniquan. Mouth (neat): an unusual arrival, on crystallised lemons and some kind of spiced marmalade, before it goes on with more gingerbread, caraway, and honeycomb. Tarte tatin, more barbecued bananas, liquorice… With water: cane juice comes out even more. Finish: medium long, cane-y, with some vanilla and oranges. Comments: I may be totally wrong, but this Criterion feels less ‘high-esters’ than the Triptych. An easier style, but as high-class as expected. SGP:561 - 88 points.

Monymusk 9 yo 2007/2017 (46%, Van Wees, Ultimatum, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #7, 349 bottles)

Monymusk 9 yo 2007/2017 (46%, Van Wees, Ultimatum, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #7, 349 bottles) Four stars Monymusk’s sometimes named Clarendon, after their parent company. Just like Foursquare, they have both pot stills and columns. Let’s hope this one’s from the pots, and a long-fermentation version. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: yep. It’s not a very heavy one, unlike Hampden or Worthy Park, but it does have these tarry notes, the brine, the olives, and notes of lime and lemon that do hint at artisanal cachaça. There are pears as well, having said that, and a little cracked pepper. Nice freshness. Mouth: unusual! Pepper and olives at first, then more and more tar and pipe tobacco, this is definitely the heavier style. There’s a dirty side that’s pleasant (well, I for one like that), bits of burnt rubber, some kind of peppered liquorice, and even a little strong mustard. This one’s very nicely aggressive – yup that’s possible. Finish: long, rather acrid, with pears and strong beer (Duvel) in the back. A bit dichotomous, I’d say. Comments: heavily peppered pears, could that work? Love it but it is certainly not a very easy rum. SGP:462 - 86 points.

Angostura 15 yo ‘1787’ (40%, OB, Trinidad, 2016)

Angostura 15 yo ‘1787’ (40%, OB, Trinidad, 2016) Two stars This one’s advertised as ‘super-premium’, which always sounds as very bad news. I have both the ‘1824’ and the ‘1919’ at WF 70. Colour: amber. Nose: hold on, this is much nicer than expected, with distinct notes of peach syrup and flowers (mullein, dandelion, roses), and a pleasant petroly/smoky background, as if someone had poured a few litres of heavy Caroni into the vatting tank. The whole’s aromatic, fresh, and pretty elegant. A good surprise. Mouth: woosh, too bad they’ve sweetened it. Fruit syrups, Toplexil, preserved pineapples, maple syrup, limoncello. Feels like if at least 30g/l sugar have been added. Finish: medium, sweet. Toothpaste for kids. Comments: not my preferred style, as you may know. Very syrupy, but let’s be fair, the nose was really nice, so we won’t murder it. But super-premium? SGP:831 - 72 points.

And now perhaps a very old one for the road? Very very old?

Red Heart Jamaica Rum (90° US proof, Henry White and Co., bottled by Port of London Authority, Jamaica, for USA, 4/5 quarts, 1910s)

Red Heart Jamaica Rum (90° US proof, Henry White and Co., bottled by Port of London Authority, Jamaica, for USA, 4/5 quarts, 1910s) Four stars An amazing very old bottle, harbouring a rum that was shipped from Jamaica to London UK, where it was bottled and then shipped in the very early 20th century to the National Distillers Products Corp. in New York. Should we expect some 100 year old funk? Colour: amber bronze. Nose: funky indeed, with this blend of rotting bananas and coal tar, all that being coated with some chocolate and cough syrup. Some camphor, some eucalyptus, some liquorice. This could have been distilled ten years ago, to tell you the truth! After ten minutes, more tar, more ashes, more soot, pine needles, and some black olives. Also violets. Wonderful. Mouth: some one hundred years old liquorice allsorts, really. Add a touch of strong honey, a drop of coffee, two drops of liquid tar, and a spoonful of raw liquid chicory. Check Leroux! The freshness is really amazing, you wouldn’t guess it as such an old bottle. They may have added a little proprietary ‘syrup’ back in around 1915, but that doesn’t feel much. To whom would we complain anyway? Finish: long, sweet, very ‘Wedderburn’. Sweet liquorice. Comments: it had probably been ‘improved’ at some point, but I think it’s lovely and typically Jamaican. SGP:653 - 85 points (why do I dare scoring such an old glory?)

(Many grazzies, Francesco!)

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Alain Jean-Marie. Track: Haiti. Please visit his website and buy his music...

August 12, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
A Trip To Orkney
Sometimes you just need to have some Highland Park. And possibly a couple of bonuses as well. Lets begin with a suitable aperitif...


Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, bottled 1980 for the Queen’s visit to Italy) Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, bottled 1980 for the Queen’s visit to Italy) This one was bottled on the occasion of a British couple called Liz and Phil visiting Italy. Apparently they paid 14064487.46 Lira for a glass of 1876 Macallan at some bar in Bologna while they were there... Colour: Amber. Nose: Earth, waxes, oils, some syrupy peat, a little turpentine in a good way and then a little unfolding dark fruitiness. Goes on with some rancio and notes of aged oloroso along with walnut liqueur and herbal bitters. A nice fresh coastal quality pervades in the background along with a zing of preserved lemon. Classic old style HP nose, rich in character and hugely enticing. Mouth: Lean and muscular with a slightly ashy peatiness and more earthy, resinous sherry. Notes of aged madeira, brown bread, old cognac and a rather nervous mineral edge balanced by more raisiny notes and other various dark fruits such as dates and sultanas. Finish: Not the longest but it remains wonderfully drying, poised, nervous and flinty with more of these aged, dry sherry notes lingering throughout. Some further notes of dried herbs and orange liqueur. Comments: Mrs and Mr Windsor were well received it would seem. A Highland Park for quaffing with great friends on the cliffs of Yesnaby. SGP: 345 - 90 points.  


Highland Park 16 yo 1980 (43%, Hart Brothers, +/-1996)

Highland Park 16 yo 1980 (43%, Hart Brothers, +/-1996) Colour: White wine. Nose: Hey this is lovely! A beautiful mix of herbs, wildflowers, the most delicate of peats, a whole hillside of heather, various grassy notes, tiny touches of wax, some dunnage warehouse and lots of various fruit notes. The fruit is in fact quite syrupy with notes of tinned pineapple and damson jam. Goes more towards dryness with a little time with these very pleasing notes of camphor, resin and coal hearths. Mouth: opens up a nice mix of green fruits, soft phenols, some drying medicinal notes and various seashore aspects. An elegant and pleasing complexity with the kind of well balanced mouthfeel which I find quite particular to whiskies bottled at 43% for some reason. It’s amazing the different just 3 degrees of alcohol can make to a whisky compared to similar whiskies at 40%. More dry herbal notes with a nice stodgy barley quality as well. Finish: Surprisingly good length. Fruity, dry, peaty and with an elegant oiliness. Comments: Straightforward, delicious and surprisingly old school Highland Park. Well recommended if you find a bottle. Highly drinkable stuff! SGP: 235 - 89 points.



A strong start. Let's go for a bit of a wildcard next...  


Highland Park 1973/1984 (57%? Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.2?) Highland Park 1973/1984 (57%? Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.2?) Ok, in theory this bottle is ‘likely’ the above stated whisky. However, it came from a cellar that had been flooded and the label was sadly destroyed beyond purpose in the process. Looking at the early SMWS bottlings though, the 4.2 is the only one of the early stopper cork bottlings to use this particular bottle shape with the slightly sharper shoulders. So, I think there is a strong chance this is the 4.2 Highland Park. But, lets just try it and see how it goes... Colour: Light gold. Nose: A little tight and sharp at first - very ‘early SMWS’ in my book. Unfolds with some pleasant heathery notes and unusual notes of potpourri, engine oil and sherbet. Did you ever try those fizzy sweeties Refreshers? Some buttery popcorn, chamomile tea, tangerines and some coastal zip. It’s quite an unusual nose this one but it’s pretty entertaining nonetheless. Becomes a little more honied with time and develops a subtle herbal edge. With water: a little fruitier, towards green and white fruits, a little more herbal and perhaps more forgiving. A glimmer of peat alongside sharp pink grapefruit. Mouth: Graphite oil, crispy bacon, various other kinds of oils, a mercilessly chiselled mineral profile and some white stone fruit notes. Overall it’s blisteringly dry, salty and quite austere. Salted almonds and verging on bone dry Manzanilla. With water: still dry but a little less austere now, some more easy going fruitiness, some lime juice, a little freshly ground black pepper and even a whisper of honey and other glazed fruits, perhaps even a meagre slice of kiwi. Finish: Long, bone dry, coastal, hugely mineral, salty and crisp. A cold slosh of Atlantic foam on the gums. Comments: This is a brute of a whisky. The kind of dram that could do with the bottle being left open for a year or two to tame it a bit. It’s tough stuff but its purity and intensity commands admiration and I could well believe this is some uncompromising, ‘young old’ Highland Park. Probably best drunk while standing on the bow of a ship facing down a storm. SGP: 134 - 88 points.  


Highland Park 22 yo (51.4%, Duncan Taylor, bottled 2009 for Runrig Live at Scone. 750 bottles) Highland Park 22 yo (51.4%, Duncan Taylor, bottled 2009 for Runrig Live at Scone. 750 bottles) Let's have some rest and recreation after battling the SMWS... Colour: Chardonnay. Nose: Heather beer, mead, some moss, caraway, gravel, sandalwood; pretty typical HP in other words. Maybe a little simplistic at first though. Some vague green fruitiness and some lemon peel. Water is called for... with water: ahh, that worked! A lovely mix of dried herbs, salted dark chocolate and various nuts. Some cereal notes such as muesli develop as does a slightly salty, seaweed edge. Mouth: Some soft, slightly earthy peat along with green peppercorns in brine, some salted caramel, herbal tea, a touch of tropical fruit and a lean minerality. Again it’s simplistic but quite perfectly composed. With water: lots of herbal bitter notes, not unlike Fernet Branca, natural tar liqueur and pine sap. Some greengages, fresh sourdough bread and a little star anise. Finish: Decent length, still on various herbal qualities, a little saline freshness and final lick of barley sweetness. Comments: A times a little shy but water definitely works well here. Probably the ideal dram for your hipflask at a Runrig concert - if that’s your thing. It would certainly help get you through their rendition of Loch Lomond. SGP: 344 - 85 points.  


Highland Park 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail. +/-1980) Highland Park 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail. +/-1980) These old G&M bottlings are usually solidly dependable and hold something of a style of their own amongst the various other HP bottlings from the same era I feel. There are also a number of different batches I suspect. Colour: Gold. Nose: Another world! This is riddled with farmyard and mechanical aromas. Engine oil, boiler sheds, a hay loft, tool boxes, wood resins, aged mead, treacle, the aromas really go on and on. Also camphor, a little tar, some creel nets, fermenting sourdough and some beach pebbles. Develops a little more sweetness such as marzipan and various liqueurs. Really quite special. With water: the earthiness is heightened at first with a note of dried mushrooms before more waves of coastal notes such as fresh oysters and sandalwood. Even something like tea tree oil and aloe vera. Enthralling stuff! Mouth: If you could liquify a tractor and serve it on a rugged shoreline then you might have something close to this. There’s a slight earthy, natural dirtiness to the spirit that is muscular and slightly meaty as well. This goes more towards various light waxy notes, heather, shellfish in brine, peat oils and even a touch of chilli. The density and fatness of the spirit is remarkable. With water: a softer and lighter peatiness that’s less oily and more towards dried herbs, earthiness, black olives and dried anchovies. Terrific flavour development and complexity! Finish: Looooong. Full of leaves, herbs, delicate phenols, oils, minerals and little farmy and waxy notes. Comments: There are Highland Parks and then there are Highland Parks! This is every sip the latter. The kind of whisky to get lost in late into the night. SGP: 365 - 92 points.  


While we’re on Orkney it would be rude not to visit Scapa wouldn’t it? Especially as we have the perfect sparring partner for that 8yo HP...  


Scapa 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s) Scapa 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s) Colour: Gold. Nose: Surprisingly similar to the HP with this combination of anchovies, earthy peat, engine oil and some green fruits. More of this farmy and mechanical profile but perhaps globally more easy and more towards some overt green fruit qualities. Touches of mead, molasses, a little ink, some iodine and old rope. Every inch as Orcadian as the HP was with these big coastal qualities and buoyant freshness. More specific herbal notes towards freshly chopped chives, bay leaves with notes of lemon oil and carbon paper. Really terrific nose! With water: becomes more tropical along with notes of various teas, some pipe tobacco, rancio and tool boxes. Mouth: Beautifully savoury with notes of pastry, rosemary, various spices, darjeeling tea, camphor, various resins and medical ointments. A bitter chocolate note along with seaweed, tar, olive oil and aged sauternes. With water: really perfect combination of all of the above. Treads a sublime tightrope between farmyard, seashore, toolbox and peat bed. Finish: Long, majestic, hugely complex and captivating. Comments: I thought the HP would win this by a point or two but this is a stunning Scapa. And to think, it’s close to the HP in many ways but differs in the most surprising ways, who’d have thought a Scapa would be peatier than an HP for example? I almost went to 93! SGP: 356 - 92 points.  


One for the road...  


Scapa 15 yo 1965/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy) Scapa 15 yo 1965/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy) Colour: Light gold. Nose: We’re very much back in time in ‘Dumpy’ territory here with these notes of boot polish, pitch, steel wool and various minerals and waxes. So typically Cadenheads but also you have these wonderful tertiary aromas of wildflowers, sandalwood, seashore aromas and various medical tinctures that really cry ‘Scapa!’ Develops with curious notes of slightly overripe mandarin, camphor, some aspirin, freshly baked oatcakes and some assorted shellfish. Globally it moves more in a coastal direction with these occasional medical inflections along the way. Little notes of tea tree oil, chamomile and some Banffian touches of mustard powder. Mouth: less thrilling than the nose. There’s a feeling of weakness with these notes of plastacine, grass and metal polish which suggest quite a fragile old whisky which may have suffered a little too much OBE. Having said that there are still some lovely touches of wormwood and old chartreuse along with other herbal notes and some floral aspects. White pepper, cloves, orange peel, nutmeg and a little liquorice. Finish: Medium length and pleasingly complex with an elegant mix of spice, citrus peel, various oils, a wee nibble of wood and some medicinal echoes. Comments: A fragile old bottling but a pleasing and old style dram nonetheless. It seems as though time is really starting to separate the men from the boys amongst this Cadenhead Dumpy series. How fascinating it would be to try drams like this at the time they were bottled... SGP: 434 - 84 points.  



August 11, 2017


Kurayoshi, with age this time

It’s still unclear if this is genuinely and totally Japanese, as some friends from over there  - whom I trust – declared that all Kurayoshis were actually Scottish. Scotch wearing kanjis, in other words. Very troubling, very very troubling. Shouldn’t they change their regulations before no one will trust Japanese whisky anymore? (not talking about the single malts of course)…

Kurayoshi 8 yo ‘Sherry Cask’ (46%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016)

Kurayoshi 8 yo ‘Sherry Cask’ (46%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016) Three stars It says ‘made in Nippon’ on the label, which is even more troubling… And that it’s ‘Japan aqua vitae’. Is that like those Americans that are actually Canadian? Colour: pale gold. Nose: noses like Speyside young malt indeed. Malt, muesli, porridge, raisins, croissants, vanilla, and overripe apples. It’s fair. Mouth: nothing bad to say. Reminds me a bit of Kininvie, with this beerish, ale-y maltiness and the notes of fresh ripe pears and apples. Or young Glenfiddich-like? Finish: medium, malty, porridge-y, with a salty touch and notes of manzana liqueur in the aftertaste, as well as burnt raisins. Comments: indeed, tastes a bit like those oceans of young malt whisky they have over there in Speyside. Frankly, it’s more than fair. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Kurayoshi 12 yo (50%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016)

Kurayoshi 12 yo (50%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016) Three stars This one’s ‘made in Japan’ according to the label, maybe that’s why the latter is deep purple (no, not particularly proud of that one). But what does ‘made in Japan’ really mean in Japan? Colour: straw. Nose: hold on, this is a very nice nose. Well, if they do indeed produce this in a certain ‘Matsui Distillery’, meaning that it would be actually distilled and matured there, well, kudos to them. If they’re simply independent bottlers in disguise, well, same, because this is nice, rather mineral and grassy at first, then with pears and apples, as well as a little sweet ale. It is William-Granty. With water:  porridge, mud, and barley. Scottish. Mouth (neat): good, malty and sweet, with peaches and a citrusy development, with touches of peat this time. This is really good. With water: easy apple juice and muesli. Finish: medium, a little weaker now. Sweet barley. Comments: works. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Kurayoshi 18 yo (50%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016)

Kurayoshi 18 yo (50%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016) Four stars Same, made in Nippon etcetera. By the way these bottles don’t say ‘blended malt’, they say ‘pure malt’. And no no no, despite the label’s design, this is not Yamazaki 18. Other countries, other ways… Colour: straw. Nose: some wax and some white fruits, with a very Speyside-y development, all on vanilla and orchard fruits, with a touch of mint in the background. Ex-re-refill Glenfarclas springs to mind this time. With water: traditional Speyside. Mouth (neat): fruit syrup, malt, a little white chocolate, some preserved peaches, some crystallised oranges. This is solid. With water: sweet, easy, good. No, really, it’s good. Finish: medium, fruity, with notes of hop. IPA.

Comments: £260 at some auction in Europe! I’m wondering if we couldn’t launder all of Scotland’s unsold malts by sticking nice labels with big kanjis on them. We could buy a small broken 100L pot still and then call all our sourced whiskies ‘Kaledonya Distillery Pure Malt’. Or don’t you even need to own a still to become a Japanese distiller? What do you say? Some money to be made, no? Ha, money. But yeah, this 18 is good, just not £260-good. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Any resemblance is purely coincidental, I suppose.

All right, perhaps something authentically Japanese and we are done.

Hakushu ‘Distiller’s Reserve’ (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2017)

Hakushu ‘Distiller’s Reserve’ (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2017) Two stars and a half Yep, NAS. Not too sure about the very prominent ‘1973’ mention on the neck label. I find this nasty, especially since of course, it’s not to be found on any older ‘age-stated’ bottle of Hakushu. Gee, 20th century tactics… As for the word 'reserve' in whisky speak, we know that it means , well, you know... Now I’m usually fond of Hakushu, so… Colour: straw. Nose: where’s the peat? Apple juice, vanilla, bubblegum, barley syrup. Elementary. All right, perhaps a little lemon? Mouth: it’s a little better, sweet, slightly grassy, with green apples and notes of pears, plus a little green tea and a drop of grapefruit juice. Can’t find no peat in this fella – OK, just a little. Finish: short, on the same notes. Not bad, not tremendous. Nice-ish mandarins in the aftertaste. Actually, the aftertaste is really nicely citrusy and herbal. Verbena and lemon balm, a little coconut. A little too late, perhaps? Comments: 70 to 80€ a bottle of this quite fair but rather rudimentary young malt whisky? When Springbank 10 is at 50€ and Lagavulin 16 at 60€? Would you please pass the joint? SGP:451 - 79 points.

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August 10, 2017


A few Miyagikyo or Miyagikyu
or Miyagikyou

Already seen all three spellings as far as Nikka’s famous distillery on Honshu is concerned. Once again, they upped their game very recently, since the strength of their entry-level NAS went from 43% to 45%. Let’s try it, and then, see what happens. What could possibly happen?...

Miyagikyo (45%, OB, Japan, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo (45%, OB, Japan, +/-2017) Four stars I have to say I had enjoyed the one at 43% two or three years ago (WF 85). Colour: pale gold. Nose: very grassy, very citric, all that in a good way. Is this Sauvignon Blanc from the eastern part of Loire? Indeed there’s also a lot of chalk and limestone, certainly some fresh mint, and some kind of smoked fresh bread, which goes perfectly well with the rest. I find it rather deep, and not too young. Ish. After five minutes, a little coconut arises, probably from some rather active oak. Also pineapple. Mouth: same feeling of Sauvignon Blanc, with this citric arrival, almost angular, and a long development rather on grass, green pepper, and green malt. Some candle wax or something in the background. Finish: rather long, with green spices. Perhaps green curry? A medicinal touch in the aftertaste. Comments: very race-y. The youth feels a bit on the palate, but they composed this ‘nervous’ Miyagikyo with craft and skill. SGP:361 - 86 points.

Good, I think we’re ready for a little madness…

Miyagikyo ‘Malty & Soft’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo ‘Malty & Soft’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Four stars We just had the Yoichis in this ‘Key Malts’ series, here are the Miyagikyos. Never had the ‘Malty & Soft’ before, neither at 12 or with NAS. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather in the style of the regular NAS, just even greener and almost acidic. I find it profound, and always love these very sharp, very well chiselled styles. Lemon and clay infused in strong green tea. Or there, old stone teapot. With water: lovely. Barley, clean mud, pomelos juice. Yes you may squeeze pomelos. Mouth (neat): really sharp, starting lemony, with green oranges as well, and then more sweet barley (syrup) and a slightly prickly pepper – which I do not hate at all (?) With water: gets a tad rounder and fruitier (peaches) but also grassier. Same Sauvignony kind of profile. Finish: long and millimetric, which is no oxymoron. A narrow malt that’s excellent. Comments: at times, there are echoes of Clynelish. SGP:461 - 87 points.

Miyagikyo ‘Fruity & Rich’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo ‘Fruity & Rich’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Four stars Well the latter wasn’t very ‘soft’, let’s see if this one’s ‘rich’. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is very fruity, and even Haribo-ish. A pack of sweets and a little green oak, then liquorice wood, Chinese mushrooms, and wulong tea. I’m sorry but I don’t find this ‘rich’. Unless… With water: goes towards lemon balm and ripe peaches. Still no obvious richness. Mouth (neat): the same pack of jelly babies, bears, and crocodiles, orange drops, and green tea sweets. Ever tried that? In fact there is a feeling of macha, which is troubling, isn’t it. With water: excellent. Rather tropical fruits this time, even bananas. Finish: medium, clean, and indeed very fruity. Melons. Comments: perhaps were the real names lost in translation? What’ sure is that this works very well, even if I found the ‘Malty & Soft’ deeper. SGP:641 - 86 points.

Miyagikyo ‘Sherry & Sweet’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Miyagikyo ‘Sherry & Sweet’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Two stars and a half In general, the Japanese sherried whiskies don’t do things by half, but this one’s not very dark, let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: bang, the same massive box of used matches as in the Yoichi in the same series. And there’s a lot of gunpowder too, so I think we could safely use the S word here. Behind this thick wall, some walnuts, mentholated tobacco, and perhaps dried porcinis. With water: mead and gunpowder. I know, sounds like the title of a mid-1960s spaghetti western. Mouth (neat): indeed, it reminds of the Yoichi. Unusual notes of burnt caramel, maraschino, and simply burnt cake. Some bitter notes of, well, bitter walnuts and bitter almonds. Not the easiest Miyagikyo ever. With water: it’s complicated. Finish: long, and it’s still quite complicated. Comments: not a fan of this one. Not for pacifists, there’s too much gunpowder for them. SGP:452 - 77 points.

Miyagikyo ‘2000’s’ (57%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Miyagikyo ‘2000’s’ (57%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015) Four stars One of the last ‘kind of age-stated’ Miyagikyos, only available as 20 or 50cl. This multi-vintage baby contains malts from each and every vintage of the 2000s. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s got some light rum sides at first, but the malty side takes off a few seconds later. A nice blend of mint, lemon juice, grass juice, raw malted barley, custard, and green liquoricy oak. No, liquoricy oak is not a registered variety of oak. With water: nice earthy development, with autumn leaves and fresh tobacco. Mouth: very good! Many fruits, from pineapples and bananas to williams pears and papayas, coated with custard and maple syrup. Quite some tart oak in the background. With water: perfect, this one swims like… wait, let’s check Google… Kosuke Kitajima! Finish: long, very clean, fruity and barley-y, with a signature rather on pineapples and grapefruits. Comments: everything’s been perfectly mastered in the 2000s. Too bad that wasn’t always the case with rock music. SGP:551 - 85 points.

And now a logical continuation…

Miyagikyo ‘1990’s’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Miyagikyo ‘1990’s’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015) Five stars This multi-vintage Miyagikyo is much darker. More sherry? More ‘S’? Colour: amber. Nose: cool, no ‘S’! Rather cigars, prunes, burnt raisins, marmalade, and certainly some good oloroso. Then greases, soy sauce (there), citron liqueur, and mushrooms. This is really special – so far. With water: wonderful! Smells like the exhausts of an early Kawazaki H2. Two-stroke engine, nicknamed the widow maker. Mouth: truly excellent. A massive arrival, heavy and concentrated, with much more smoke this time, liquorice, bitter chocolate, old walnuts, and allspice. Gets then very clove-y, in a great way. A rather spectacular whisky, this. With water: perfect, walnut wine, ink, linseed oil, bitter chocolate. What’s not to like? Finish: long, wonderfully herbal and tertiary. Shall we mention umami or would that be a little too much? Comments: a brilliant, very characterful composition. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Miyagikyo ‘1980’s’ (53%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Miyagikyo ‘1980’s’ (53%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015) Five stars Yes we’re following a train of thoughts. This time they’ve blended all vintages from the 1980s. Ah, Pizzicato Five, ah, Ryuichi Sakamoto! Colour: pale amber. Nose: sweet Vishnu! I mean, sweet Hachiman! This is just perfect. Malt and all kinds of cakes of the creation. Chestnut purée in the front, and touches of sandalwood, incense and rose petals in the back. Superb balsamic touches flying over all that. With water: yess! Old humidor! Mouth (neat): perfect, really. Big malt, oranges, cakes, quinces, honeys, coffee beans… I can’t wait to add drops of water, that may unleash more things! With water: indeed, many honeys, marmalades, fruit juices, tobaccos, and chutneys. No we won’t list them all, but you could do me a favour and call the anti-maltoporn brigade, thank you. The number is 879-5646-63… No, wait, that’s David Beckham’s, apologies. Finish: long, like chewing a cigar. There. Comments: great work, really. I didn’t recognise the 1987, but that may be me. Geee… SGP:462 - 91 points.

Would it be safe to have a last one? A very last one? Like, a single cask?

Miyagikyo 25 yo (59%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, cask #64630, 2014)

Miyagikyo 25 yo (59%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, cask #64630, 2014) Five stars This one will cost you a leg and an arm. Or is it the other way ‘round? Colour: gold. Nose: p.e.r.f.e.c.t. Orange fudge and these lovely small figs they have in Turkey. Plus mint honey. Enough said. With water: beeswax! Do you hear me, beeswax! Is there a better smell in this world? Mouth (neat): amazing, truly amazing. Sweet parmesan cheese, linden tea, mint, liquorice, bitter oranges, honey. That’ll be the expurgated version. With water: another one that’s totally high-definition. A Seiko Quartz of whisky. Just joking, it’s a Patek. Finish: long, herbal, green, a little tannic but this is this rather perfect green and liquoricy tannicity. Comments: rather sublime. We’ll have managed to keep this short and sweet, don’t you agree? SGP:461 - 92 points.

(Many thanks again, Chris in Munich)

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



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August 9, 2017


Nikka’s Yoichi to the max

So, Japan again, from the old guard this time. I haven’t seen a proper age statement on a new Yoichi for a while, which in my book, does downgrade the distillery a bit. But today we’ve got some of the last AS bottles mind you, and some recent NAS as well, those have become inevitable. Let’s see if the flag is still flying rather high…

Yoichi (45%, OB, Japan, +/-2017)

Yoichi (45%, OB, Japan, +/-2017) Four stars The current NAS that goes for, ach, more or less the same price as the 10 or even the 12, naturally. £75 for an NAS, come on! It better be excellent… Now it cannot be worse than the earlier NAS at 43%, because that one was really weak in my opinion (WF 77)… Colour: straw. Nose: barley and custard, with apple pie and then a growing vegetal smokiness. Then some mentholated earth, a marker that I always enjoyed. Rather pleased so far. Mouth: frankly, this is really good. Good smoke on wood and cider apples, plus a touch of lemon, and a dollop of seawater. It’s not that it’s very complex, but the composition works rather well, in its slightly minimalist way. A hint of pineapple in the background adds joy to the combo. Finish: medium but bright and very well balanced. Nice smoky fruitiness. Comments: we’ve known Caol Ilas… Seriously, this is a very good surprise, and smokier than I had expected. A return to form? I’m really very happy. SGP:453 – 86 points.

Now let’s try the funny ‘Key Malts’ they have at the Distillery. Same prices as those of the 12yo Key Malts when they were having those. Apparently, that would be 6,800 Yen a bottle.

Yoichi ‘Woody & Vanillic’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Yoichi ‘Woody & Vanillic’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Three stars and a half Only WF 78 back in 2009, but that was the earlier 12 yo. Right, and that was 2009. Colour: deep gold. Nose: varnish, cellulose, vanilla, nail polish, sawdust… Quick, water! Although it seems that there’s some quince, always a hit at WF Towers. With water: good fruit syrup, vanilla, and cake crumbles. Some kind of breakfasty recipe, perhaps (we don’t do bacon in France!) Mouth (neat): my, this is barley syrup! But I quite enjoy this feisty mix, with coconut sweets, custard, candyfloss, and of course a lot of vanilla. Marzipan and macaroons, plus pineapples. Some similarities with the regular NAS. With water: a little simple, but more than good. Vanilla and oranges this time, with a mentholy background. Finish: medium, rounded, rather on maple syrup. Comments: excellent albeit a little ‘elementary’. But I guess that was the whole point in the first place. Very little peat this time, if any. SGP:541 - 84 points.

Yoichi ‘Sherry & Sweet’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Yoichi ‘Sherry & Sweet’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Three starsWell, sherry shouldn’t be sweet, but I’m digressing… Liked the older 12 quite a lot back in ’09 (WF 84). Colour: deep gold. Nose: praline, rubber, and indeed, a little sulphur. Walnuts and used matches hold together in an old leather pouch, or something like that. Frankly, I didn’t expect this much sulphur in a Yoichi. With water: struck matches and gunpowder all over the place. Mouth (neat): ah, no, this works very well. Burnt orange cake, cooked honey sauce, candied angelica, cherry liqueur, a drop of yellow chartreuse… It’s quite different from your usual sherried malt, perhaps more candied? Nice feeling. No sulphur that I can detect on the palate. With water: very good. Burnt raisins on a burnt kougelhopf. Yes, a Proust’s madeleine. Finish: quite long, beautifully raisiny, with orange zests and just a touch of clove. Comments: yeah go score this. If you hate sulphur in the nose, say 70. If you don’t care, that’ll rather be, say 86 or even 87. Good, say 80 altogether. Oh those scores! SGP:552 - 80 points.

Yoichi ‘Peaty & Salty’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017)

Yoichi ‘Peaty & Salty’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, +/-2017) Three stars and a half Liked the older 12 a lot. Colour: gold. Nose: bizarrely, it’s rather the shiest among them three. A rather round peat, say young Caol Ila ex-rejuvenated barrel or something. I know, a shortcut. Whiffs of iodine, cough medicine, almonds, oysters… With water: no, rather a soft Talisker. Mouth (neat): sweet peat! Lou Reed could have written a song about it. Oranges and grapefruits, as sweets and as fresh juices, plus brine and green pepper, as well as a large teapot of lapsang souchong. With water: same. It’s one of the easiest peaters I’ve tried this year (we’re in 2017, am I not right?) Finish: medium, easy, uncomplicated, perhaps a wee tad cardboardy? There is some salt(iness) but not much. Comments: perhaps does it mimic the Scottish peaters a little too much? But yeah, it’s good and flawless. SGP:453 - 83 points.

Yoichi 10 yo (57%, OB, Japan, single cask, cask #18D1A, 180ml, +/-2014)

Yoichi 10 yo (57%, OB, Japan, single cask, cask #18D1A, 180ml, +/-2014) Four stars It seems that this wee baby comes from the last ‘Single Cask Set’ aka the Tarudashi Genshu Yoichis that were only available at the Distillery. Colour: amber. Nose: a very peaty Yoichi this time, with many more ‘Japanese’ notes, that is to say cedar wood, incense, cinnamon, earth, smoked almonds… And let’s not forget our beloved Pu-erh tea. And walnuts, and roasted chestnuts. With water: pencil shavings coming out, it’s the wood that speaks out. Mouth (neat): very spicy, quite hot, extractive, with spices, oranges, lemon zests, burnt caramel, perhaps also chives, Peking duck sauce (I know Beijing lies in China), ginger… With water: really spicy. Cloves, cinnamon, caraway… The usual gang. Marmalade in the aftertaste. Finish: long, very spicy but rounded, with more marmalade. A feeling of rosewood – on the palate? Comments: very very good but the oak and its spices are a little too apparent for me. Marginally too apparent. SGP:562 - 85 points.

Yoichi 15 yo (61%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #412163, 180ml, +/-2014)

Yoichi 15 yo (61%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #412163, 180ml, +/-2014) Two stars This one from the same set. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sulphur again! Even more sulphur than in the ‘Sherry & Sweet’, mind you. A machine gun after target practice, a kilogram of black truffles, and a whole box of used matches. Really extreme in this style. Water may not help, it rarely does in this kind of context… With water: indeed. Burnt soy sauce and rubber. Mouth (neat): rubber and burnt fruits, especially raisins, plus some steak that you would have forgotten on the barbecue. A very strange feeling, everything got kind of burnt to death. With water: a little better because water brings the fruitiness out. Raisins and oranges – overbaken, of course. Finish: long, burnt. Comments: it’s a style, as they say in art school. Funny but it went too far from me – was it a wacky cask that they never dared bottling before? These burnt raisins would never leave you alone! SGP:372 - 75 points.

Yoichi 20 yo (60%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #400690, 180ml, +/-2014)

Yoichi 20 yo (60%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #400690, 180ml, +/-2014) Five stars Another one from the latest Tarudashi Genshus… Come, come, I’m ready… Colour: full gold. Nose: oh wait wait wait, this one’s so different! Smoky and mentholy in the most gracious manner, with patchouli, old clothes, oranges still on the tree, verbena, tobacco, precious teas, elderflowers… What’s this spell? With water: oh sugar, stuff from a beehive! Always love it when that happens. Honey… Mouth (neat): magic. Yoichi at its best, and we all know that Yoichi’s best could be totally stellar. Magnificent herbal and floral arrival, with many kinds of mentholated raisins in the fat and long middle, and then the most elegant citrus. Some kind of brilliant old herbal liqueur, just without any obvious sugar, something that the chiefs of the monks would have kept for themselves. Buggers! With water: Zeus’s own mead indeed. Indeed, there are notes of great artisanal mead. Finish: long, with the most welcome bitterish and smoky signature. Always love it when some bitterer notes come along at this point, that keeps your palate fresh – as fresh as a palate can be after seven Yoichis. Comments: very impressed here. Now go find this – and remember, only 180ml. Yes, 18cl. SGP:573 - 92 points.

(Arigatogozaimashita Chris at Sushi + Soul in Munich)

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



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August 8, 2017


New Japan by seven

Almost no more age statements and many new names, that’s the Japanese landscape today as far as whisky’s concerned, and perhaps is it time that we adapt to the situation. No? (very bad pun, S.) But just one word of caution, unless labelled as a single malt from one particular distillery, Japanese whiskies may partially, or even entirely contain whisky from other countries, especially from bonnie Scotland. Weird rules… Well, no rules.

First, a current NAS blend by a large company, just as a point of reference…

Toki (43%, OB, Japan, Suntory, blend, +/-2017)

Toki (43%, OB, Japan, Suntory, blend, +/-2017) Two stars“This new expression embodies how tradition meets innovation to move forward.” Scary, innit, they may have forgotten to add "and make this a better world". Now it seems that all whiskies inside are Japanese, which is obviously better. What’s much worse is the price for some NAS blend, £80.55 at the good TWE! Colour: white wine. Nose: fine, rather grassy at first, with a mineral side and quite some grapefruits and white peaches. The fruits are having the upper hand after just thirty seconds. Refreshing, good. Mouth: indeed, good and refreshing, with a bitter kind of maltiness that I always enjoy, and little custardy notes. So I find it rather bright. Finish: medium, with a little ginger and juniper this time, as well as orange drops. Comments: it’s young and fair. Sure not £80.55-fair, but fair. The Suntory ‘Royal’ has much more happening. SGP:551 - 75 points.

Kurayoshi ‘Pure Malt’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016)

Kurayoshi ‘Pure Malt’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016) Two stars and a half A new brand only for Japan so far, by sake makers Matsui in Tottori, south of Honshu, with perhaps some Scottish whiskies inside, as well as, perhaps, some White Oak, which cannot be bad. Not too sure, only rumours… Colour: gold. Nose: starts well, on sweet oak and a good maltiness that’s quite Japanese, then goes toward porridge and fresh baguette, before some rather lovely whiffs of spearmint and, perhaps, kombucha tea come out. Nice simple nose. Mouth: starts smooth and rounded, with some vanilla and ripe white fruits, but tends to become a little oak-bitter. Slightly plank-ish, I’d say, but good otherwise. Finish: medium, well balanced, pleasant… Not much else to say. Comments: reminds of the first naked Arrans. SGP:441 - 78 points.

Kurayoshi ‘Sherry Cask’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016)

Kurayoshi ‘Sherry Cask’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016) Two stars and a half Aged in sherry casks ‘for more than three years’, which is very reassuring. Colour: gold. Nose: a slightly bigger version, with the expected raisins and toasted brioches and breads. We’re rather in Founder’s Reserve territories, to give you an idea. Quite gentle so far, and well balanced. Mouth: a good drop for sure, with oranges at first, then more orange blossom water, oriental pastries, earl grey, those sorts of things. Finish: medium, all on orange-y things. Comments: I enjoy this little one. It’s fresh, it’s easy, and it’s well made. Good for summer, which is timely, isn’t it? SGP:541 - 79 points.

We’ll have older Kurayoshis soon. In the mean time…

Reki ‘Pure Malt’ (40%, OB, Japan, Helios, blended malt, +/-2017)

Reki ‘Pure Malt’ (40%, OB, Japan, Helios, blended malt, +/-2017) Three stars Helios, on Okinawa, are rather known for their rums. Apparently, this mysterious whisky is distributed by the Sapporo brewery, which leads some good people to believe that the content doesn’t entirely come from the distillery on Okinawa. Who knows? What’s sure is that the blue glass bottle is lovely (if a bit Haig Club). Colour: gold. Nose: noses a little Scottish indeed. Some fat maltiness, sourdough, a touch of mineral sulphur (sulphur as in sulphur), some rather aromatic herbs, rubbed lovage, a touch of natural rubber, hints of tangerine… This one sure talks. Mouth: it talks indeed, and I like it quite a lot. An excellent surprise! Malt and oranges first, then cassata, orange cake, baklavas, a lot of custard this time, and an interesting lemony spiciness. Melissa water. Big mouth feel at just 40% vol. Finish: medium, very pleasantly honeyed this time. Some tar in the aftertaste. Comments: surprise surprise, while I wasn’t expecting much. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Okayama (40%, OB, Japan, Miyashita, single malt, +/-2017)

Okayama (40%, OB, Japan, Miyashita, single malt, +/-2017) Two stars and a half Miyashita are well-known sake makers, but they also have a small whisky production, that’s mainly distributed by Japanese general stores Isetan but you can find them in Europe too. It seems that they are/were very expensive. This one was matured for 3 years in brandy casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: now that I’ve written about sake, I’m finding sake. Am I dreaming? Some very fresh sweetish beer(ness) and honeysuckle, gooseberries, and guavas. Another one that seems to be very refreshing… Mouth: weiss beer, custard, a lot of white chocolate (really a lot, it’s almost Easter), and perhaps a little syrup. Rhubarb wine. Intriguing (as they say at Scotland Yard). Finish: medium, with some vanilla and coconut from the wood, as well as a touch of ginger. Comments: quite ‘different’, and quite to my liking, although it may need a little ice. SGP:551 - 79 points.

Akashi 5 yo ‘Cognac Cask’ (55%, OB, Japan, White Oak, single malt, 2017)

Akashi 5 yo ‘Cognac Cask’ (55%, OB, Japan, White Oak, single malt, 2017) Four stars and a half A new one from White Oak Distillery, matured in ex-Limousin oak (so French oak) Cognac casks. You may find it in Europe but it’s extremely expensive, north of 200€. Colour: gold. Nose: haven’t I mentioned Arran before? Vanilla, brioche, cakes, well a pastry shop early in the morning, when everything’s still warm. Some leaves as well, broken branches, a touch of humus… In short, all fine. With water: interesting, cut stems and leaves, green tea, caraway, dried rose petals… Mouth (neat): yeah, very very good. Gingerbread, muesli, mulled white wine, wholegrain bread, rye, dried apples (slices), touches of caraway, star anise, cinnamon… Love this. With water: love this even more. An utterly perfect breadiness. Finish: quite long, wonderfully bready and spicy. Comments: if you will, it’s going towards Westland, just across the ocean. While Westland, in my book… SGP:451 - 89 points.

Good, we’ve had a fair share, and will have many more in the very near future. But I’m asking you, could we end this little tour of new Japan without a Chichibu? And not just any Chichibu, mind you…

Chichibu 2009/2017 ‘Metropolis’ (61.4%, OB, Japan, single malt, for Zoetrope, bourbon barrel, 196 bottles)

Chichibu 2009/2017 ‘Metropolis’ (61.4%, OB, Japan, single malt, for Zoetrope Bar, bourbon barrel, 196 bottles) Five stars It seems that this is the oldest Chichibu to date! It was bottled this year for the famous Zoetrope bar in Shinjuku. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ouch, solvent! Let’s let it breathe a wee bit… zzz zzz… oh wow! Mandarine Impériale and citron liqueur, that’s quite something. And some rye, a touch of lavender essence, violets (not FWP, by Jove!), lemon/ginger tea, orange-flavoured custard… With water: that field of mature barley rippling under a light breeze while you hear a distant bagp… I mean koto. Mouth (neat): amazing, very thick and oily, ridden with all kinds of small citrus fruits (bergamots, kumquats (the Dutch’s favourite), clementines)… With water: the best part. Citrons! Finish: citrons for a long time, plus gingerbread and honeydew. Ginger, turmeric and ginseng in the aftertaste. Comments: there’s one aspect that always strikes me in any Chichibu, whether peated or not, it’s precision. Another luminous example… (and good to check, once again, that they got it right from the start). SGP:651 - 90 points.

(With herzlichen Dank to Chris at Sushi + Soul in Munich)

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



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August 7, 2017


A small bag of American
whiskeys and bourbons

Blanton's Original ‘Single Barrel’ (46.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, barrel #359, 2016)

From the land where you can be a distiller without distilling anything. It’s all a bit controversial, believe me. I’m good at spotting controversies, nobody spots controversies better than me. I spot them all the time, believe me (Steve, when are you going to restart your blog?)
Blanton's Original ‘Single Barrel’ (46.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, barrel #359, 2016) Two stars and a half One of Buffalo Trace’s most famous makes. Always rather liked Blanton’s. Colour: gold. Nose: typical oak juice, pencil shavings, lavender and coconut cream, and spicy bred sprinkled with (rather a lot of) custard. Caraway bread. Mouth: a rather spicy arrival, on maple syrup and sawdust, before more and more oak gets in the way. Really very oaky, with some ginger and bags and bags of cinnamon, over-infused tea, and bitter cocoa. Finish: medium, gritty, very oaky. Comments: I don’t know what happened here, this Blanton got very dry (well, drying) and frankly over-oaked. Some may have better vatted this cask, if you ask me, but that’s only me. Some other casks have been much more to my liking. SGP:361 - 77 points.

Quick, some double-checking…

Blanton's Original ‘Single Barrel’ (46.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, barrel #958, 2016) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: very similar, obviously, but this one’s got a little more lavender, violets, and rye. Buckwheat crepes, cologne, caramel, vanilla, and orange zests. Pretty nice, with more action than in cask #359. Mouth: this one’s rounder and more citric, and while there’s a lot of oak again, the spirit’s big enough to stand all this tannicity. Bitter oranges, vanillin, black tea, zests, and once again, bags of cinnamon. Finish: rather long, with a bitter edge, and notes of raspberry jam. Very marmalade-y and clove-y aftertaste. Comments: I'm still not buying all this oak, sunshine, but I thought this cask was a little better. SGP:461 - 79 points.

Ezra Brooks (45%, OB, Straight Rye, +/-2016)

Ezra Brooks (45%, OB, Straight Rye, +/-2016) Three stars Rye, but remember that in the US, a rye whiskey is whiskey that contains at least 51% rye, and not obligatorily 100%. That always sounded strange to European ears… Colour: gold. Nose: much rounder and smoother than the Blantons, with more vanilla and syrups, and certainly less oak. Whiffs of cologne, bread, violets, and lavender hand cream. Very easy so far… Mouth: very smooth, with some chocolate, raspberry ganache, orange liqueur, ginger tonic, and manuka honey. There is some straight oak, but it’s more than bearable in this case. Finish: medium, on raisins, dried pears, oranges, and rye bread. Pass the oysters please… (no, no oysters in sight in this EB.) Comments: easy, uncomplicated, fine. And not expensive ($20!). SGP:551 - 80 points.

Balcones ‘True Blue Cask Strength’ (65.7%, OB, Texas, blue corn, 2016)

Balcones ‘True Blue Cask Strength’ (65.7%, OB, Texas, blue corn, 2016) Two stars There’s been a lot of riff-raff around Balcones in recent years, but the spirit always stayed true to its original values. No ideas about this baby’s age, probably very young. Colour: amber. Nose: Mars bar, caramel, sweet maize, warm praline, milk chocolate, and peanut butter. Shall we call this ‘decadent’ or ‘pleasantly childish’? With water: some sweet oak coming through, coffee beans, wax polish, warm sawdust… Mouth (neat): very sweet, very fruity, with an unexpected maltiness (Ovaltine), litres of café latte, some tinned pineapples, and notes of pink pepper (Nepalese Timut or else). With water: very good. Oak-aged pineapple spirit and spicy marmalade with cinnamon. Finish: long, with much more cinnamon, which can be seen as a little tiring. Cedar wood and even more cinnamon in the aftertaste, especially when reduced. Loses many points now. Comments: I think this is very good, but I’m not sure I can take this much oak. I know some friends who can, and who consequently love this, though. SGP:551 - 75 points.

Tennessee Whiskey 13 yo 2003/2017 (51.1%, North Star Spirits, 154 bottles)

Tennessee Whiskey 13 yo 2003/2017 (51.1%, North Star Spirits, 154 bottles) Four stars Probably from the same parcel of casks of George Dickel that some German bottlers were having in recent months. Colour: amber. Nose: certainly more complex, fruitier, and less oaky than all the other ones. Little dull vanilla this time, rather stewed tropical fruits, mangos, then pecan pie, roasted peanuts, some lightish pipe tobacco (dad’s Amsterdamer), and a good slice of pear cake. With water: wee metallic touches. Maybe that’s the mangos. Copper. Mouth (neat): there is some oak for sure, but this time balance was achieved. More pear cake, sweet cappuccino, preserved apricots, marmalade, and a spoonful of cocoa powder. Mango jam. With water: very good, with more cappuccino with peach and apricot jams, more oranges, and a few Turkish delights. A drop of rosewater. Finish: rather long, on pretty much the same flavours. Fruity fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: another world. What would we do without the indies (and the cask brokers)? SGP:651 - 86 points.

A last one for the highway…

Heaven Hill 20 yo 1996/2017 (50.8%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary, bourbon, 102 bottles)

Heaven Hill 20 yo 1996/2017 (50.8%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary, bourbon, 102 bottles) Four stars No the whisky's not that red. There was a good 19 yo by CAD last year. Colour: pale amber with apricoty hues (right). Nose: sweet vanilla and coconut are back, and so are marmalade, mirabelle jam, and a soft leather/tobacco combo. Some corn syrup, touches of Demerara molasses, pineapples, and quite some milk chocolate. The rounder side of American whiskey again. With water: cakes, croissants, millionaire shortbread… Mouth (neat): very sweet, very easy, with many preserved fruits (pineapples, pears) and even more corn and maple syrups. This baby would go well on pancakes. Some fudge, and the expected cinnamon. With water: sweeter and fruitier yet. Cranberries, pomegranates, marshmallows, tinned pineapples… What’s quite miraculous is the oak never gets totally dominant. Finish: medium, fruity, with a rye-ness, more bread (which we love) and even more pastries. Comments: that the body comes from the oak is no problem to me, this is just a little ‘light’ (talking about bodies). And yet it’s flavourful bourbon. In fact, I like it quite a lot, even if this is not my preferred style of whisky. SGP:551 - 85 points.

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



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August 6, 2017


Rum at randum. I mean, at random.


Botran ‘Anejo Reserva’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2016)

Botran ‘Anejo Reserva’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2016) Two starsNot much hope here, but you have to start somewhere. Seriously, the Botrans that I could try have been rather okay (72-75 points) while their compatriots the Zacapas have always been rather poor. Colour: gold. Nose: okay indeed. The oak feels though (essences, chips) but there are nice-ish oranges and certainly quite a lot of curaçao and triple-sec. The jury’s still out… Mouth: indeed, okay. A little flabby, with disturbing notes of coffee liqueur and triple-sec again, but there’s a cane-iness. Shall we call this ‘acceptable’? Finish: short to medium, with oranges and coffee, plus some plain syrup. Comments: sure I would never drink this, but as they say in Haiti, we’ve seen worse. It seems that this one’s sweeter than the other Botrans. Rum’s lower-middle-class. SGP:541 - 70 points.

Hampden 18 yo 1998/2017 ‘HTR’ (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 381 bottles)

Hampden 18 yo 1998/2017 ‘HTR’ (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 381 bottles) Five stars Hampden already? We’re too fast, much too fast… Colour: white wine. Nose: olives, carbon paper, ink, brine, brake pads, kippers, plasticine. I repeat, olives… Not. Mouth: oh, old black olives, forest mud, plasticine, cigar tobacco, smoked fish, citrons… Finish: long and perfect. Dusty aftertaste – but that’s good petroly dust. Brake pad dust and heavy Dutch liquorice. Comments: this was short. It’s another perfect Hampden, just a tad rounder and easier than others. Not obligatorily a bad thing, mind you. Love. SGP:463 - 90 points.

Hampden? Caroni!

Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 ‘HTR’ (65.8%, Cadenhead, Trinidad)

Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 ‘HTR’ (65.8%, Cadenhead, Trinidad) Five stars Some Caroni at almost 66% vol.? Piece of cake, since I seem to have noticed that Cadenhead’s always had the ‘lighter’ styles (lower esters)… But, err, the ‘HTR’ mark means heavy Caroni… So let’s proceed with caution… Colour: amber. Nose: no, this is too strong, you do not get much, apart from notes of new linoleum and pencil shavings. With water: oh! Smoked brioche, lit cigars (rather double-corona-like), Grisons meat, polished woods, roasted nuts… Well I do not think this is highly phenolic, but it’s perfect. Rather agricole in fact, which is a little bizarre, yet welcome. Wait, pineapples? Mouth (neat): e.x.t.r.e.m.e. Too strong, I give up, I surrender, I’ve got other rums to taste after this one… With water: very very very good. Cedar wood, vanilla, flower extracts, and a whole bag of liquorice. Finish: long, rather rounded for Caroni, with some cane honey and marmalade, although the aftertaste is frankly saltier. Comments: I think this is totally excellent, just not very ‘HTR’, but I’m no expert, I could be wrong – or simply lost. This is like Bielle or Bellevue! SGP:552 - 90 points.

Old Slave (70° Proof, OB, Don Carlos Vintners, Jamaica, 1960s)

Old Slave (70° Proof, OB, Don Carlos Vintners, Jamaica, 1960s) Three stars and a half I’m not sure anybody would still use – or indeed create – a brand such as ‘Old Slave’ today. Colour: pale gold. Nose: so very Jamaican! But it’s funkier than modern Hampden or Worthy Park, less well-defined, and certainly rather fruitier. Rotting bananas and pineapples, rusty old tools, guava jam, old cellar, old mouthwash (we used to have Eau de Botot), oysters… Once again, the jury’s still out… Mouth: it does remind me of old Appleton, but it feels a bit doctored, as if someone had added coffee extracts. Some kind of earthy caramel, some salted liquorice, some ham… Wasn’t this pure genuine dunder/muck rum? Finish: medium, salty, with pineapples, liquorice, and cured ham. That’s a combo that works. Comments: it’s the strength that’s a little too low, but this style works well, provided you like liquorice. And perhaps a little dust. SGP:562 - 83 points.

Stock’s Jamaican Rum (50%, Stock, Jamaica, Italy, 1960s)

Stock’s Jamaican Rum (50%, Stock, Jamaica, Italy, 1960s) Two stars Stock is a well-known Italian spirit company that used to be located in Trieste. Seen from here, they were/are just bottling anything (including prosecco, ha!) Colour: white wine. Nose: oh! Diesel oil, concrete dust, seashells, seawater, kelp, green olives, ink… So very Jamaican indeed. And then, overripe bananas and pineapples, as in many rums. With water: careful, water nearly kills it. Hints of lovage (Maggi plant). Mouth (neat): blasted, this is quite good. I mean, it’s still good, even if you feel that some sugar’s been added. Or maybe fruit syrups/concoctions. Smoky caramel, salted liquorice, and crystallised pineapples. Really very good, just the sugar is a little tiring. With water: brings out more sugar. Finish: medium, sweet, sugary. Comments: great juice that almost hates water, and probably the sugar it had to endure all those years in the bottle. SGP:741 - 76 points.

(Grazzie mille Francesco and Morten)

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



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August 5, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild

A couple of Tamdhus



Tamdhu 9 yo (58.4%, Creative Whisky Co for The Good Spirits Co. Ex-bourbon barrel finished in ex-Koval bourbon casks, 270 bottles) Tamdhu 9 yo (58.4%, Creative Whisky Co for The Good Spirits Co. Ex-bourbon barrel finished in ex-Koval bourbon casks, 270 bottles) Apparently this was matured in bourbon before being finished in smaller bourbon casks previously used by Koval distillery. Is that a double-bourbon Scotch? Discuss... answers on a postcard... Colour: Light yellow. Nose: Lots of fresh oak - as you might imagine - juicy fruit bubblegum, some sawdust, ground green pepper, a little caraway and some liquorice. With time perhaps some icing sugar and a few squished jelly babies (I like to start with the head, what about you Serge?) The sweetness dominates on the nose and kind of cloaks the alcohol quite well. With water: These jelly babies are growing up fast! The pepper becomes white and there’s some vanilla pods. Mouth: Quite prickly start with not a little vanilla but there’s a lot of juicy spice as well. Some cream soda, custard, crumbled digestive biscuits, with time a little bit of cereal poking through. Quite dense and sticky on the palate. Notes of apple crumble and Blinis (peach syrup and Prosecco; it’s refreshing) with more caraway and some little flashes of clove rock and even a little turmeric. Still quite peppery. With water: some slightly drier notes of muesli emerge with water which is quite refreshing after such sweetness. Some green fruits, builder’s tea and a grassy lick of rapeseed oil. Finish: quite long and a little more balanced between the spice, the sweetness and the obvious wood influences. Comments: It’s very much a dram driven by its wood shenanigans so not really my cup of tea. However, I think it’s a technically well executed example of that vanilla-driven style of whisky. Should please lovers of sweeter whisky. SGP: 731 - 81 points.  


Tamdhu ‘Batch Strength’ (58.5%, OB, Batch 2, 2015)

Tamdhu ‘Batch Strength’ (58.5%, OB, Batch 2, 2015) The L-code confirms this was bottled in 2015 - unless they’ve changed the way L-codes work and it wasn’t. In which case I’m sorry. What does ‘Batch Strength’ mean? If I was feeling cynical I might have hazarded that it was a marketing invention to find something other than ‘cask’, ‘natural’ or ‘marrying’ strength. But then, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am never cynical... Colour: Light amber. Nose: A pleasingly leafy and earthy sherry. A little spice; a little milk chocolate; a little dark fruitiness - clean but slightly jaggy in profile. Some black coffee, cocoa and oddly a little rhubarb crumble. A little simple maybe. With water: Drier, more towards freshly baked brown bread, cornmeal and something slightly yeasty. With time a little gravelly minerality emerges which is very pleasant. Mouth: Treacle sponge pudding, mulling spices, cinnamon stick, orange liqueur, molasses. Quite a sticky mouthfeel with little flourishes of green fruits. Again, a little simple perhaps. Some notes of honey, black pepper and olive oil. With water: as on the nose the water balances out the sweeter aspects of the sherry and brings forth a slightly drier profile. All on nuts, dark chocolate, a little balsamico and some slightly saline notes that recall a good Manzanilla. A lot more complexity with water. Notes of peanut butter, wood spice, raisins and espresso. Finish: decent length, drying, some dark berry fruits and a nice, lingering earthiness. Comments: I like it, but I feel it’s a bit singular and simplistic in style. Decent, modern sherried whisky but I feel there are better things around the £60 mark, which is where this one sits pricewise in the UK. SGP: 532 - 82 points.




August 4, 2017


Glenburgie by four

At Pernod’s again. Glenburgie’s one of their faithful workhorses, let’s see if we find a few asperities in these (don’t you mean idiosyncrasies, S.?)

Glenburgie 17 yo 1998 (54.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #9914, 275 bottles)

Glenburgie 17 yo 1998/2016 (54.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #9914, 275 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: aww, were these tropical fruits there in the first place? Lovely passion fruits, mangos and pineapples, this is very surprising. It’s akin to some of the perfect undisclosed Irish that are to be found at the indies these days and to tell you the truth, had I tried this blind, I’d have said Redbreast. Impressed. With water: becomes beautifully chalky. Banana peel. Mouth (neat): totally Irish, totally Redbreasty. I’m checking the label, no, it says Glenburgie indeed. Blood oranges, mangos, more passion fruits, some light honey… What a sexy Glenburgie! With water: some menthol! Finish: medium, but supremely tropical. More maracuja. Comments: now it’s true that both Redbreast/Midleton and Glenburgie belong to Pernod-Ricard… But let me check the label again… No, it says Glenburgie. Or was it rather Glencraig? Nah, they removed the two Lomond stills in 1981… SGP:641 - 89 points.

Glenburgie 20 yo 1995/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, casks #6490+6491)

Glenburgie 20 yo 1995/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, casks #6490+6491) Three stars and a half Always loved this self-restrained series - and even more so the Unchill-filtered Collection), but let’s be careful, the strength being much lower after the TSMOS. Colour: straw. Nose: oh, my, this is another Glenburgie that’s rather tropical, even if we’re not reaching the 1998’s heights. Between oranges and apples… What’s sure is that it’s very fruity, easy, fresh… Apple skins and mangos, barley water… I love this easy cleanliness. Mouth: no problems, it goes the distance after the 1998. Assorted sherbets with a little maple syrup and vanilla cream, plus some butterscotch. All more than fine. Finish: medium, on skins and peelings. Mangos, kiwis, melons… Comments: extremely easy and good, even if it’s perhaps not the most high-rolling Glenburgie ever. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenburgie 25 yo 1992/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular)

Glenburgie 25 yo 1992/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular) Three stars and a half Another one that’s brand new. Picture from another bottle. Colour: straw. Nose: the tropical fruits have nearly gone this time, this baby’s much more orchardy and ‘western’, so to speak. Acacia honey, apple compote, beeswax, marzipan… With water: honeydew and more apple compote. Touches of sweet cider. Mouth (neat): very good, rather zestier and more mineral. Tense, on limestone, grapefruits, cider apples, rhubarb… I do like this style quite a lot. With water: gets a little more citrusy, which translates into more grapefruits, especially softer pink ones. Finish: medium and a little more barley-y. Comments: you just can’t have anything bad to say about these whiskies. One more that’s ‘average’ in the best sense of that word. SGP:551 - 83 points.

Perhaps a very old one as the last Glenburgie today?...

Glenburgie 36 yo 1980/2017 (47.4%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 257 bottles)

Glenburgie 36 yo 1980/2017 (47.4%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 257 bottles) Four stars and a halfIt’s great to have a 36yo Glenburgie, but careful, 1980 used to be one of the ‘depressive’ (or depressed?) vintages almost everywhere in Scotland. But as always, there were exceptions… Colour: pale gold. Nose: doesn’t quite feel 36, and it’s even rather bright and fresh at very fist nosing, although going rather toward the mineral side, with some clay, plasticine, paraffin, linseed oil… In truth it’s a little shy and delicate. So far. Mouth: ah, this Irishness is back this time, although less loud and clear than in the TSOS and Signatory. Pink bananas and not-too-ripe pineapples, I’d say. What’s absolutely lovely, and almost stunning, is the way many tiny fruits and herbs are sneaking into the basket, starting with melons and white peaches, and going on with verbena, lemongrass, and dill. The freshness is totally impressive here, that’s the wonders of proper refill wood that lets the spirit talk and unfold over the years. Finish: medium, rather more on apples and green tea. Perhaps not the most stunning part… Comments: nothing to add. Forgot to mention a feeling of patchouli on the palate, typical of very old whiskies ex-refill wood. SGP:561 - 89 points.

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



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August 3, 2017


Three funny whiskies from Belgium

Not content with making some superb beers such as Orval, Cantillon or, yeah, Westvleteren (I’m rather an 8-er), our dear Belgian cousins are also making whisky. I have to say the first batches I could try quite some years ago had been a little, say ‘weak’, but now’s the time to try two or three newer bottlings. Allez!...

Goldlys 14 yo ‘Burgundy Cask Finish’ (43%, OB, Fillers, Belgium, cask #2760, +/-2016)

Goldlys 14 yo ‘Burgundy Cask Finish’ (43%, OB, Fillers, Belgium, cask #2760, +/-2016) Two stars and a half I know the Belgians love their Bourgognes (and their Champagnes), but using pièces to do a finishing is something that I’d never dare to do.  Let’s only hope it was white Burgundy. What, you say it was red? Oh and let’s be careful, it seems that this is only grain whisky… Colour: gold. Nose: butter, yoghurt, wholegrain bread, pumpernickel, muesli, stewed pears, Golden Grahams… So far, so rather nice. Mouth: frankly, this is fine. It’s got a breadiness, some soft spices, bags of gingerbread (and dare I add speculoos?), some goji berries, and indeed some vanilla. No vituperating red berries, which is good and great. Finish: a little short, but sweet and fruity, with more muesli and goji berries, and more sweet bread again in the aftertaste. Comments: serious whisky, and it rather feels like malt while it’s grain. What’s the trick? The Burgundy cask? SGP:541 - 78 points.

Belgian Owl 36 mo (46%, OB, Belgium, single malt, first fill bourbon, +/-2017)

Belgian Owl 36 mo (46%, OB, Belgium, single malt, first fill bourbon, +/-2017) Three stars So some 3 yo that’s ‘sustainable’, gluten-free, and entirely made out of barley raised in Belgium. Oh and they’ve got the ex-Caperdonich stills, mind you! Can I have the ex-Brora ones? Colour: white wine. Nose: easy, pastry-like, with ripe pears and apples, some mirabelles, some tinned peaches, and notes of ultra-ripe Provence melons (the orange ones). Croissants aux amandes. It’s soft whisky, it hasn’t got any flaws, and I like it so far. Mouth: there, this is pretty perfect! Easy, rounded, nicely on pears and pastries, with raisin buns, custard, sweet apple juice, and a moderate peppery side. Finish: medium, with more cereals, sweet bread, and always pears. A feeling of Gueuze in the aftertaste, but I may be dreaming. Comments: well, kudos! They haven’t tried to ‘acquire’ flavours from odd casks or wines, and rather chose Mother Nature for guidance. Very promising. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Belgian Owl 42 mo (73.7%, OB, Belgium, single malt, bourbon, cask #1523509)

Belgian Owl 42 mo (73.7%, OB, Belgium, single malt, bourbon, cask #1523509) Three stars and a half They’re telling us that this is ‘cask strength’. I love their way of being transparent, since at 73.7%, I would have never guessed that it was. Colour: straw. Nose: starts smooth and even a little discreet, but I seem to detect whiffs of tequila and butter pears. But let’s not push our luck, mind you, almost 74% vol.! With water: full cerealy mode on. Barley, vanilla, cakes, white chocolate… Mouth (neat): you can stand a tiny drop, but not more. It’s like Siouxsie and the Banshees, remember? Cough, cough, rôôôôô… Ahem… I seem to detect a little icing sugar, having said that. With water (down to approx 40% vol.): very very good! Lemon and apples, plus pears, barley syrup, and actually not a lot of vanilla. Better like that. Notes of watermelon. Finish: medium, clean, cerealy, wit some brioche and some sweet bread, middle-east style. Only a touch of sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: this beats many ultra-young Speysiders if you ask me. Right, perhaps not Caperdonich… Not too sure… En tout cas, bravo les Belges, ceci est de haut niveau. Belle pureté d’arôme. SGP:551 - 84 points.

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


SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter ;-))
Fake booze news galore
So last week everyone went bananas because an “Aldi gin has been named the best in the world” (that headline was everywhere in the press, worldwide!) at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).

We’ve seen that happening many times with whiskies too, haven’t we? Isn't Japanese whisky in general the best in the world? Or was that Taiwanese whisky? The only problem is that no one took the time to check the actual results, because in fact that humble gin was in the 37-38% A.B.V. category, so one of the dirtiest dungeons there is with anything distilled spirits. And no, Aldi’s gin did not “beat other rival brands that are actually four times more expensive”, since those were simply in other categories. And how many candidates were there in that miserable category? 2? 3? Even worse in the general press – many old newspapers and magazines are becoming click-baits these days, but do they have a choice? - a Chinese gentleman has just bought a single shot of The M*****n 1878 from a well-known Swiss hotel, for around 8,000€. The only problem is that all serious whisky aficionados and bottle merchants know that this very bottle is 'most probably' (ahem) a fake made in Emilia-Romagna, Italy (love you, friends), the same-ish very rare bottles being to be found in almost all old Italian collections, quite bizarrely. And we know that the hotelier and staff are very friendly and honest, and that they most probably got got caught themsemves. FYI, some crucial old stories about these series of fakes: Dave’s in Whisky Mag UK in 2004 and one about Carbon testing that's not directly online anymore. Enough is enough. What’s sure is that the general press is not well these days.



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August 2, 2017


Sweden’s Smögen, thoroughly

Sweden’s become a real whisky nation, by doing one thing right (that would be making excellent whiskies), and by not doing several things that others are doing. Such as pretending that you have the best whiskies in the world, being noisy on Facebook, being a little too arrogant, over-packaging your stuff, or systematically over-storying any new ‘limited’ bottling – while launching dozens of them every year. Typical Nordic self-restraint? (picture Allezzoomzoom)

One good example is Smögen, let’s simply have a few of them. Perhaps more than a few, actually, starting with the most ‘natural’ and most recent bourbon barrel…

Smögen 5 yo 2012/2017 (61.3%, OB, Sweden, bourbon barrel, cask #18/2012, 276 bottles)

Smögen 5 yo 2012/2017 (61.3%, OB, Sweden, bourbon barrel, cask #18/2012, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine (refreshingly pale). Nose: I find it sitting between Ardbeg and Laphroaig (hope Smögen’s owners won’t kill me with surströmming for having written that). And no, that’s not Lagavulin, although... Creosote and ‘new scuba diving suit’, beach bonfire and burning kelp, peppered lemons, rubbed peppermint leaves, and just a touch of soy sauce mixed with sour dough. And then some mezcal and some olive brine, which just cannot be bad news. Impressed so far. With water: hessian, coal smoke, and an intriguing floral side, hard to describe. Hold on, isn’t that myrtle?

Mouth (neat): really, between Ardbeg and Laphroaig, but with grassier/spicier elements, samphire, green cardamom, bags and bags of bitter almonds (very vivid), green liquorice, and a mineral smokiness in the background. Coal? Some tar as well, definitely, the whole remaining dry all along. Ashes. Perfectly un-doped. With water: no I won’t keep mentioning those Islay distilleries, I promise. Notes of very strong coffee (the ristretto-est ristretto), salted fish, a touch of caramel (probably the barrel), and always a lot of smoke. Finish: very long, spicier. Cloves, caraway, liquorice, ashes, salt. Comments: this starts well, this starts very well. They could have called it ‘Almost There’, but… apologies… Loved the dryness. SGP:268 - 88 points.

Smögen 5 yo 2011 (64.2%, OB, Sweden, owner’s private bourbon bloodtub, cask #62/2011, +/-2017) Four stars and a half This little baby’s pretty much off-commerce as I understand it, but it was made from Optic malt peated to 96ppm phenols. Swedish sorcery, most probably… Colour: pale gold. Nose: I had feared this would be Ragnar Lodbrok’s very own tipple, but no, it’s even rather mellow, or at least approachable. It seems that the wee bloodtub tamed the fierce spirit, and I even find notes of lemongrass, spearmint, and certainly lip balm. I’m not sure Ragnar ever used lip balm, what do you think? With water: we’re moving towards the barrel before, with some hessian, peaty mud, and a wee bit of speculoos. Do they also make speculoos in Sweden? Mouth (neat): very thick, it almost flows like honey. But it’s relatively gentle, well-coated with custard and barley syrup, with notes of citrons, poached peaches, and the softest caraway seeds. Behind this gentleness, a lot of peat smoke, naturally. With water: menthol cigarettes, cough syrup, grapefruits. Finish: same, for a long time. Comments: this one was a little gentler than the barrel, but I liked it just as much. Precision and attention to detail, this is almost a Swiss watch (what?) SGP:457 - 88 points.

Smögen 4 yo 2013/2017 ‘Sherry Octaves’ (53,6%, OB, Sweden, first fill American oak oloroso sherry octaves, 1382 bottles, 2017)

Smögen 4 yo 2013/2017 ‘Sherry Octaves’ (53,6%, OB, Sweden, first fill American oak oloroso sherry octaves, 1382 bottles, 2017) Five stars This was fully matured in those first fill American oak oloroso sherry octaves. It’s heavily peated Optic. Colour: gold (not that dark). Nose: perfect, smoked coffee! Plus one drop of slivovitz, two drops of diesel oil, and one black olive. Totally love this. With water: grassy mud. Love the smell of grassy mud. Mouth (neat): exceptional. Perhaps a tad deviant, but exceptional. A Wedderburn of whisky? Do they use dunder pits over there? Wait, did they add surströmming to the wash? Any other explanations for this fantastic… spirit? Salted caramel everywhere, fudged flavoured with oyster sauce, spiced coffee (I imagine, never tried that)… Fantastic stuff, even if it doesn’t play it quiet and complex. In other words, not all lace. With water: careful with water, don’t add too much of it. Notes of smoked ale (ex-Islay cask). Finish: long, getting bitter, which is great. I’m not for spirits that get sweeter. Comments: puts it on the map of the greatest distillates of the world, nothing less. Oh, and another example of the superiority of (carefully made) small batch vattings over single casks. SGP:368 - 91 points.

We will not stop now…

Smögen 4 yo 2012/2016 ‘French Quarter’ (61.1%, OB, Sweden, French quarter virgin Cognac casks)

Smögen 4 yo 2012/2016 ‘French Quarter’ (61.1%, OB, Sweden, French quarter virgin Cognac casks) Three stars and a half French quarter virgin Cognac casks? Pardon Monsieur excusez-moi ? There are at least two words that don’t quite match, but I’m joking, and no I won’t tell you, that would be rude. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one’s more extractive, more mentholy/terpenic, and that’s probably that French oak, but it does get gentler and more citrusy, also with whiffs of cigars and smoked tea. No, a lot of smoked tea, one of the most tarry lapsangs. With water: farmy, that’s the word, and that’s an understatement. Cow stable. Mouth (neat): yes indeed, menthol and oily herbs. Cherry stems, grapefruit marmalade, peach leaf tea, allspices, a little green oak… No beef so far. With water: salted fish coming out, especially anchovies. This baby tends to lose you, if I may. Finish: long, the French oak battling the smoke. Comments: a little less a fan this time, but we’re still flying quite high for sure. SGP:466 - 83 points.

Let’s quickly have a few older bottlings, all probably unavailable today. For sport…

Smögen 3 yo ‘Sherry 1:1’ (51.8%, OB, Sweden, casks #32-35, 932 bottles, 2014)

Smögen 3 yo ‘Sherry 1:1’ (51.8%, OB, Sweden, casks #32-35, 932 bottles, 2014) Three stars and a half A younger sherried one, let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: nice sherry, with a lot of coffee and marmalade, ‘dry’ raisins, and dried dates filled with marzipan. In the background, some iodine. With water: new wellies, old kelp. Mouth (neat): a tad rough(ish) but that’s the young age. Marmalade and cranberry juice over smoked meats and allspice. With water: oranges and pink grapefruits, plus some leather and tobacco. Plus the obligatory walnuts. Finish: long, rather spicy. European oak. Comments: reading an author’s first novel after having read his/her latest Pulitzer. SGP:456 - 84 points.

Smögen 4 yo 2011/2015 ‘Sherry 1:3’ (53.7%, OB, Sweden, casks #36-38, 666 bottles)

Smögen 4 yo 2011/2015 ‘Sherry 1:3’ (53.7%, OB, Sweden, casks #36-38, 666 bottles) Four stars Our talented friend Ralfy would say this is a devilish bottling. Colour: deep gold. Nose: wow, it’s impressive that these sister casks would have become so much better polished after just one more year. Figs, raisins, dates, dried pears, and hints of Jamaican rum. Really. With water: earth and smoke. A box of rusty old nails. Mouth (neat): very good, bold, action-packed, spicy, with bitter herbs and liqueurs. Less ‘smooth’ than the nose suggested. Big backbone. With water: more herbs and liqueurs, and even a little mustard. Finish: long, on spice cake. Not space cake. Comments: a big fellow. SGP:456 - 85 points.

Sure we’ll have other Swedish whiskies soon (Box, Mackmyra…)

Smögen 2011/2016 (60.5%, OB, Sweden, for Tommy Andersen, Sauternes, cask #55/2011, 85 bottles)

Smögen 2011/2016 (60.5%, OB, Sweden, for Tommy Andersen, Sauternes, cask #55/2011, 85 bottles) Four stars Sauternes! This is a privatbuteljerad, mind you (of course, a private bottling). Colour: gold. Nose: all on vanilla fudge, praline, milk chocolate, and mild pipe tobacco. Then the expected apricots and mirabelles. No stuffy Sauternes so far. With water: I’ll only say one thing, this is clever. Fermenting plums, hay, and drops of cough medicine. The sort that will cure everything. Mouth (neat): I won’t deny that this worked. Lemongrass over coconut cream and mirabelle jam, with a smoky/citric background. With water: loves water. Perhaps a wee hint of banana? Finish: long, rather smooth (love that word) and fruitier than expected. Coconut again in the aftertaste. Smoked coconut, that is. Comments: Sauternes and whisky is a tricky combination, but when that works, that works. Ask Glann ar Mor. Or Glenmo. SGP:555 - 87 points.

Smögen 3 yo 2011/2014 (60.9%, OB, Sweden, bourbon barrel, cask #20/2011

Smögen 3 yo 2011/2014 (60.9%, OB, Sweden, bourbon barrel, cask #20/2011, 378 bottles) Three stars Another very young single cask and no wine to cover it up, let’s see… To think that our Swedish friends cannot even argue that whisky matures faster because of the climate! Colour: white wine. Nose: a rounder nose after the first (and older) bourbons that we tried. This is a little gentler, and perhaps more, say crystalline. No, wait, it just needs oxygen, and would then take off. Can you smoke mud? With water: menthol, not mental (yeah like, you shouldn’t be too proud of that one, S.) Mouth (neat): a young brute that’s got quite a lot to say. Bitter artichoke liqueur mixed with Cointreau and Jägermeister. No, Jägermeister doesn’t obligatorily kill. With water: sweeter, rounder easier. Finish: long and roughish. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: an apprentice Smögen. SGP:456 - 81 points.

Ah yes we had forgotten this one… (doing 1, 2, 3 and 4 would have been smarter and, above all, more Cartesian, S.)

Smögen 3 yo ‘Sherry 1:2’ (55.7%, OB, Sweden, casks #28, 30, 31, 39, 959 bottles, 2015)

Smögen 3 yo ‘Sherry 1:2’ (55.7%, OB, Sweden, casks #28, 30, 31, 39, 959 bottles, 2015) Three stars and a half More good coffee? Colour: amber. Nose: more good coffee indeed, and also brine, cigars, new calf leather, and earthy Pu-erh pea. No complains so far. With water: doesn’t change much this time. Perhaps notes of old iron and mentholy mushrooms (but of course those exist, just check rhodopaxillus nudus). Mouth (neat): this one’s quite brutal, and quite salty. It’s the most ‘fino-ish’ of them all so far, I’m even finding mustard and walnuts, beyond the dry coffee and beyond the salty side. With water: good salty sherry. Salty fig sauce, good on ham. Finish: long, perhaps somewhat incoherent? Not unlike a blend of Glenfarclas with Caol Ila. Oh whatever, it’s still extremely good. Starting to split hairs, we’ll have to stop this madness soon. Comments: SGP:466 - 83 points.

Smögen 4 yo 2011/2015 ‘Sherry 1:4’ (57.2%, OB, Sweden, casks #25, 26, 27, 29, 909 bottles)

Smögen 4 yo 2011/2015 ‘Sherry 1:4’ (57.2%, OB, Sweden, casks #25, 26, 27, 29, 909 bottles) Five stars Ex-sherry quarter casks. I find it amazing that they manage to follow all these cask variations, it must be computerised and run on Linux… Colour: pale amber. Nose: wait wait wait wait, sherried Ardbeg? Oops, I usually keep my promises! With water: who the hell did pour some old Uigeadail and labelled it as Smögen? Who? Mouth (neat): my this is good! Smoked dates and prunes, that’s pretty unstoppable. With water: the beauty of flawless simplicity. Love everything in this whisky, especially its simplicity. Doing Zen, you know… Finish: I enjoy the wee bits of cloves. We’ve know some very young peated/sherried Isle of Jura for Japan that… Oh forget. Comments: yeah. SGP:467 - 90 points.

I want you to witness what I'm about to do, let’s solemnly declare that the next one will be the last one. Today.

Smögen 4 yo 2011/2015 (57.3%, OB, Sweden, fresh Sauternes barrique, cask #7/2011, 429 bottles)

Smögen 4 yo 2011/2015 (57.3%, OB, Sweden, fresh Sauternes barrique, cask #7/2011, 429 bottles) Three stars Sauternes again, so hit or miss, although I would suspect that… Colour: dark amber (oh skip this)… Nose: it’s a hit. I’d even swear I’m finding a little botrytis, some mint for sure, some eucalyptus certainly, and a good bottle of old-style cough syrup for sure. No cavalcade-y apricots and mirabelles this time, rather this intriguing medicinal side instead. Burnt bread. With water: perfect nose, the plums being back. Mouth (neat): not so fast, it’s not as ‘mingled together’ as I had hoped, and I’m finding quite a lot of coconut, as balls or as macaroons. There’s also a grassy spiciness that gets in the way, the wonders of active French oak I suppose. With water: sure it’s very good, but I’m not sure this baby’s settled down yet. Perhaps thirty more years of bottle ageing will do? Finish: long, with tangerines. Tangerines? Comments: very good, but like pieces of a larger puzzle. Oh well, I know what I’m trying to say… SGP:556 - 80 points.

You don’t say we’ve tried eleven of them, do you? What’s absolutely obvious is that Smögen has become one of the most interesting, and one of the best whisky distilleries out there. Swiss watchmakers, he said…

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



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August 1, 2017


Striking Old Speysiders vintage 1973

We don’t know much about these. Well, what we know is that they’re usually magnificent…

Speyside 43yo 1973/2016 (47.7%, Maltbarn, sherry, 149 bottles)

Speyside 43yo 1973/2016 (47.7%, Maltbarn, sherry, 149 bottles) Five stars Yes, one that I should have tried last year. Mea Culpa, mea maxima Culpa. Colour: pale gold. Nose: hell, damnation and putrefaction. Honey, pollen, overripe plums, beeswax, cut flowers, figs, chamomile, bergamots... Mouth: I repeat, honey, pollen, overripe plums, beeswax, cut flowers, figs, chamomile, bergamots… and blood oranges, loads of blood oranges. Finish: medium-long, even more on blood oranges. Comments: was that short enough? Brilliant whisky, never found this many blood oranges in any malt. It was worth the wait. Warning, these ‘73s can kill. SGP:651 - 92 points.

Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Archives, butt, cask #9, 120 bottles)

Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Archives, butt, cask #9, 120 bottles) Five stars I have to say it is a bit boring to know that the whisky will be superb beforehand. Kills the suspense, doesn’t it. Shall I tell you more about Australian starfish? Perhaps better not… Colour: pale gold. Nose: this cask imparted more mentholy notes, but other than that, tangerines and oranges are ruling the show, while there’s also just anything from a beehive, from wax to honey through propolis (those mentholy notes) and pollen. Mouth: gasp, what a star! Everything is perfect here, oranges, waxes, soft spices, floral notes, herbal teas, rosehip… Finish: medium, with our friends the blood oranges playing first fiddles. Comments: these are the best whiskies you can find these days. Yes I wrote that. Other than that, age doesn’t matter. SGP:651 - 93 points.

Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.8%, Archives, butt, cask #8, 107 bottles)

Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.8%, Archives, butt, cask #8, 107 bottles) Five stars So, this one’s obviously older than the other one, since this is cask #8 while the other one was #9. Oh, did you know that all echinoderms have five-point radial symmetry, which means that their body plan has five sections (or multiples thereof) arranged around a central disk? It’s also to be known that there are about 2,000 species of echinoderms, which means that the very good people at Archives could go on like this for decades and decades. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is a little shier, so rather more on grapefruits than on blood oranges. It’s a little grassier too, mineral… I wouldn’t say there’s a wow effect this time, but we’re still flying high. Peaches. Mouth: more power, mezcal notes, grapefruits, mint, then pink grapefruits and blue lemons. I’m joking, that would be regular lemons. Finish: medium, first grassy and lemony, then a little gritty. Green oak. Comments: it’s the nose that was a wee tad disappointing – speaking relatively. The palate was perfect, despite the oaky spike in the aftertaste. SGP:561 - 90 points.

That was a happy, short, clean, session. See you tomorrow.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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July 2017 - part 2 <--- August 2017 - part 1 ---> August 2017 - part 2



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Chichibu 2009/2017 ‘Metropolis’ (61.4%, OB, Japan, single malt, for Zoetrope Bar, bourbon barrel, 196 bottles)

Miyagikyo ‘1990’s’ (55%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Miyagikyo 25 yo (59%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, cask #64630, 2014)

Miyagikyo ‘1980’s’ (53%, OB, Japan, distillery exclusive, 2015)

Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.8%, Archives, butt, cask #8, 107 bottles)

Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Archives, butt, cask #9, 120 bottles)

Speyside 43yo 1973/2016 (47.7%, Maltbarn, sherry, 149 bottles)

Smögen 4 yo 2011/2015 ‘Sherry 1:4’ (57.2%, OB, Sweden, casks #25, 26, 27, 29, 909 bottles)

Smögen 4 yo 2013/2017 ‘Sherry Octaves’ (53,6%, OB, Sweden, first fill American oak oloroso sherry octaves, 1382 bottles, 2017)

Yoichi 20 yo (60%, OB, Japan, single cask, sherry, cask #400690, 180ml, +/-2014)

Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 ‘HTR’ (65.8%, Cadenhead, Trinidad)

Hampden 18 yo 1998/2017 ‘HTR’ (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 381 bottles)