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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2021 - Part 1


July 2021 - part 2 <--- August 2021 - part 1 ---> August 2021 - part 2


August 14, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Tomatin, Arran & Bruichladdich
Actually, only Bruichladdich on a technicality, as we'll in fact have a Lochindaal and a Port Charlotte to close things off today. But the Tomatin will be Tomatin, and the Arran will be Arran, for sure. (Angus: get a grip!)


Tomatin 11 yo 'Batch 4' (51%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1174 bottles)

Tomatin 11 yo 'Batch 4' (51%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1174 bottles)
Many tomatoes on this label, who doesn't love tomatoes? Colour: straw. Nose: I find bread starter, lemon peel, shortbread and fresh linens at first. This impression of lemon flavoured shortbread, which does exist and is dangerously tasty. Also some nice wee honey notes too. With water: more towards cereals, freshly milled grist, buttered white toast and cider apple. Mouth: very good, lots of easy green and citrus fruits, apples, banana, a little pineapple, some peppery watercress, all sorts of easy, typical and very pleasant things going on here. No tomatoes though! With water: drier, more on pollens, plain biscuits, mead and white pepper. Still eminently sippable. Finish: medium, still rather on lemons, apples and now oatcakes too. Comments: harmless, charming and extremely easy drinking Tomatin. However, given the lack of tomatoes, I'm wondering if it isn't possible to sue those excellent folks at Atom under some kind of product description violation? Obviously this is strictly theoretical you understand.
SGP: 551 - 83 points.



Tomatin 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #700747, hogshead, 216 bottles)

Tomatin 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #700747, hogshead, 216 bottles)
Has anyone actually met this elusive Lady yet? Is she the head brand ambassador? Or, perhaps she is contractually obliged to remain in her Glen at all times? Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, plain, raw, natural malt whisky. Cereals, fabric, stones, toast, linens, chalk; is this is the 21st century version of the early 90s Cadenhead Authentic Collection style? Some very nice greenery and grassy notes emerge with time. With water: moss, grass, vase water, wet leaves and a wee hint of eucalyptus. Mouth: indeed, rather raw and pure with a lot of ink, wool, aspirin and hints of lemon air freshener. It's very clean distillate but it's perhaps struggling a little being so 'alone' without much cask influence. With water: again, very clean and pure and with some nice notes of sunflower oil, chalk, limestone and more of these green grassy notes, even a little chlorophyl, but it does feel a tad too naked. Finish: medium, lightly lemony and citric, dominated by cereals, chalk and fabrics once again. Comments: I find it very cool that LOTG would bottle such a diversity of styles from crazy finishes to bare bones distillate like this. A fine drop but perhaps a bit too 'intellectual' at times?
SGP: 451 - 81 points.



Arran 24 yo 1996/2021 (49.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #721, sherry, 274 bottles)

Arran 24 yo 1996/2021 (49.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #721, sherry, 274 bottles)
There seems to be some uncertainty around the exact cask type of these recent OB Arrans for TWE. However, in the words of Donald Trump: who cares! Colour: rosewood. Nose: I too feel confident this is a sherry cask, and an excellent one to boot! Indeed, notes of boot polish (no doubt the power of suggestion hard at work there) and cherry cough syrup, herbal wines, Serge's beloved green walnut liqueur, tomato vines and some rather expensive strawberry jam. I find it a very clean and rather sharp, precise sherry style. Quite excellent! Mouth: nice arrival, punchy wood spices, cloves, aniseed, freshly made espresso, bitter chocolate, more walnuts - pickled this time - and rather a lot of strong black tea, black pepper and game meats. Getting more leathery with quite a few bitter herbs, ala some long aged Fernet Branca perhaps. Nicely umami as well with quite a bit of miso paste and dried mushrooms. Really excellent drop. Finish: good length, long in fact, all on bitter herbs, walnuts and coffee with a dark chocolate once again. Comments: Not sure how much Arran DNA remains in this wee beauty, but the sherry cask was undeniably superb.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.



Arran 24 yo 1996/2021 (53.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #757, "we think it's a wine cask of some kind", 273 bottles)

Arran 24 yo 1996/2021 (53.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #757, "we think it's a wine cask of some kind", 273 bottles)
There seems to be less certainty about this one at TWE HQ. One of the advantages of being slow / late / lazy with these samples is that by the time I get round to them we can do fun head to heads like this. Colour: rosewood - a notch darker. Nose: very similar profile, only here I find some more dried flowers and suggestions of pot pourri, also things like Cheng Pi (Chinese aged orange peels), bergamot, canvass and a firmer earthiness that would incorporate hessian and wine cellar mulch. Also excellent and to my nose also a sherry cask if you ask me. With water: becomes nicely mossy, mulchy, leafy, wet bracken, tobacco pouches, walnuts and fruit loaf. Mouth: good attack, lots of firm but clean oak spices, dark chocolate, walnuts, aniseed, cough mixtures, herbal extracts, this impression once again of mixed cocktail bitters with various manifestations of cherry going on. Pu erh tea, liquorice and dark fruit chutneys. With water: the spices and bitter chocolate tones are elevated, more bitter herbal extracts, more walnuts and more dry earthiness. Finish: long, slightly gamey, leathery, bitter herbs, chocolate, herbal cough mixtures. Excellent! Comments: I couldn't tell you which one of these I prefer to be honest, so same score, but I am left with the nagging feeling that I probably should have bought myself a bottle of either or both. Make of that what you will.
SGP: 461 - 88 points.



Lochindaal 13 yo 2007/2021 (56.9%, Bramble Whisky Company, Chateau Climens Sauternes Cask, 292 bottles)

Lochindaal 13 yo 2007/2021 (56.9%, Bramble Whisky Company, Chateau Climens Sauternes Cask, 292 bottles)
The good folk behind Bramble Whisky Co are also responsible for the best cocktail bars in Edinburgh: Bramble, Lucky Liquor Co and Last Word Saloon. If you find yourself in Edinburgh and fancy something delicious and fun to drink I would recommend that you check them out. Real, independent, authentic bars run by clever and passionate people still need support in these frustrating times. Colour: gold. Nose: big, bright creamy peat smoke. This rather quilted feeling to the smoke that suggests thickness and texture. There's also seawater, grapefruit, mineral salts, beach pebbles, kelp and an encroaching tarriness. You could also add to that some kippers, lemon juice and smoked olive oil. I find it big, fat and excellent! With water: a much more direct and sharply accented medicinal aspect. Bandages, antiseptic, iodine, herbal mouthwash, seawater and pink grapefruit. Mouth: a big briny arrival, a rush of tar, pickling juices, marmite, ointments, seawater and some quite herbal-tinged peat smoke. Also TCP soaked bandages, aniseed, green olives and camphor. Big, proper Islay malt whisky. With water: back to this feeling of pickling juices, cornichons in brine, antiseptic, aspirin, iodine, herbal cough medicine, dried seaweed, nori, anchovy paste. Loads of stuff going on here. Finish: long, deeply tarry and very peaty now, this lingering feeling of thick, oiliness and textural, peppery peat smoke. Comments: ex-sweet wine casks, such as Sauternes, are one of the exceptions that I think can really work wonders with whisky, especially peated ones, and this showcases that fusion just brilliantly. Mind you, full term maturation is its own ball game as opposed to finishing / re-racking etc. Top notch, superbly mouth-filling and delicious stuff from Bruichladdich. And a great selection by Bramble.
SGP: 667 - 90 points.



Port Charlotte 11 yo 2002 (66.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 127.39 'Intensely Tasty', refill sherry butt, 579 bottles)

Port Charlotte 11 yo 2002 (66.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 127.39 'Intensely Tasty', refill sherry butt, 579 bottles)
66.7%? Bezos could get his stupid cockrocket into orbit with just a miniature. Colour: gold. Nose: rather weirdly approachable even at full strength. This same impression of 'creamy peat smoke', that would kind of incorporate camphor, sarsaparilla, menthol resins, salted liquorice and brine cured fish. Deeply powerful yet with an essential feeling of control; the whisky has its hand on the tiller - you are just in the boat without a life jacket! With water: gets sootier, fatter, an oil slick over raw seawater, salted Dutch liquorice, pure mercurochrome, Gentian eau de vie mixed with Mezcal, petrol and camphor rubbed into sheep wool. Quite mad and quite brilliant. Mouth: oooft! Alert Alert Alert! But also superb too. Pure brine, anchovy sauce, umami paste, pickled mussels, natural tar liqueur, ointments, bandages farmyard. A whole lot of 'stuff' going on! But let's not be shy with the water… With water: soft, thick, turfy peat smoke, aniseed, iodine, camphor, bonjella mouth gel, mouthwash, carbolic acidity, mussels pickled in malt vinegar and brine. There's loads going on and the overall impression is just one of raw, but detailed, power. Finish: long, full of thick, deep peat smoke, farmyard, hessian, camphor, tar, petrol and iodine. Some umami black olive bread and rosemary too! Comments: It's a monster, but with time, patience and a full-loaded pipette, you can discover a pretty remarkable and wonderfully complex whisky. It does nothing to dispel the impression I have that those initial re-opening vintages, 2001 - 2003, at Bruichladdich produced some truly brilliant whiskies. 'Intensely Tasty', indeed.
SGP: 678 - 91 points.



Big hugs to Euan!





August 13, 2021



Summer Duets
Today Isle of Jura
Just like you and me, Jura a.k.a. Isle of Jura deserve more love if you ask me. There was that stunning official limited 21 yo earlier this year, and indeed a few excellent indies, even if some of them have been losing me a wee bit here and there. Let's try more of them then…

Isle of Jura 12 yo 2009/2021 (52.9%, Liquid Treasures, hogshead, 134 bottles)

Isle of Jura 12 yo 2009/2021 (52.9%, Liquid Treasures, hogshead, 134 bottles) Four stars
Lovely label that reminds me of… not kilts, quilts! Is there a hidden message (that we don't get)? Colour: white wine. Nose: in my meagre experience, it could happen that Jura would tend to gear towards Springbank, which is rather the case here, with this sooty, gristy, slightly waxy and yeasty breadiness. Quite some grass too, which would make you think of overburnt mezcal, other wie a leathery mustard that's pretty Jura too. Very intriguing. With water: LOL, and I mean LOL, it would get way easier and rounder, with vanilla coming out, tarte tatin, pear cider, and a tiny gentiany touch that always works wonders in my book. Mouth (neat): whacky, with notes of glue and mustard, leather and tobacco, pepper and chilli (sriracha), well I'm sure you could pour this over pizza. Some tight and tart limes and lemons in the background. With water: once again it would get a little softer, but it's got more metallic and dry Madeira-like notes that remind us of the older flat 'squeezed' bottles. Remember? Very dry. Finish: long, dry and sooty. Roots. Very Jura. Comments: a little Sartrian. Ha, existentialist whisky… here's Camus when you need him? (not talking about the Cognac house mind you).
SGP:362 - 86 points.

Isle of Jura 29 yo 1992/2021 (47.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Isle of Jura 29 yo 1992/2021 (47.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: more oak, wood, pinewood, moss, 'a walk under the fir trees', a tiny touch of soap (not unseen in Jura), some patchouli and pot-pourri, crème au beurre, even buckwheat crêpes, teak oil… A feeling of piney, oriental oils. 'Old Buddhist temple in China'. Mouth: very tight, with some concentrated lemon juice, pine liqueur, prickly pear juice, green peppercorns, thyme and sage… This you will find nowhere else than in Jura. Finish: medium, spicier yet, a little salty. Mint cordial and mustard, more dry madeira, extreme fino… Comments: another fighter for the island of deer. Not that many have been tamed – both whiskies and deer.
SGP:452 – 87 points.

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


August 12, 2021


Kilkerran on the tasting table

Kilkerran, that's the Springbank-operated and owned Glengyle Distillery in Campbeltown. Of course I'm a die-hard Springbank fan but still, I find it incredible that they would have managed to come up with such a high, and very coherent quality. When you try them you could almost believe they had been distilled at.. Springbank. Let's see what we have gathered… Oh and I seem to remember that the ex-Ben Wyvis stills have been installed at Glengyle. Am I wrong? But who remembers Ben Wyvis?

Kilkerran 5 yo 'Heavily Peated' (58.2%, OB, Online Tasting Week 2021, 1303 bottles)

Kilkerran 5 yo 'Heavily Peated' (58.2%, OB, Online Tasting Week 2021, 1303 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one was all the rage in… May. Indeed we're late as ever. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there's something of a young bourbon in this baby, hard to explain. Then rather smoked bacon and burning plastics (which can be nice under some rare circumstances), typical horse saddle and cow dung, cold cuts, leather, linseed oil, a lot of thyme (thyme tea), Bulldog sauce, old tobacco pouch, oil paint… Boy does it tell stories! With water: bursts with smoked butterscotch! Did anybody ever tried to smoke butterscotch? Mouth (neat): so good, so whacky, so robust and rustic, so smoky, plastic-like, dried-orange-y, with some lavender-flavoured chocolate, a wee feeling of drinking cologne at times, and sometimes Rochelt's best instead. Tough and charming. Forgot to mention heavy gingerbread. With water: water makes the texture even oilier. Bitter oranges, turmeric, that bacon again, beef jerky, ras-el-hanout, heather honey… Finish: very long but never stuffy. Pepper, demerara sugar and oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: the kind of tipple that hardcore tasters will enjoy, for they're so unusual and entertaining. Very high quality/age KPI.

SGP:565 - 89 points.

Kilkerran 'Heavily Peated Batch 4' (58.6%, OB, Peat in Progress, 2021)

Kilkerran 'Heavily Peated Batch 4' (58.6%, OB, Peat in Progress, 2021) Five stars
I've been neglecting these series for years, I believe I'm totally guilty of wilful misconduct. But remember the numbers of new bottlings have multiplied twentyfold since we started this very lousy website. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather amazing. Brake fluid, fresh panettone, ink, old wine cellar, church candles, seawater, mashed turnips and peas, then dried kelp and big fat mussels. Restless and mischievous. With water: raw lambswool and damp plaster, mud, and just Scottish beach sand. A drop of wine vinegar. Mouth (neat): much tighter than on the nose, although very oily as far as the texture is concerned, rather on lemon, yoghurt, sour wine and creams, and the greenest rhubarb ever. A fighter. With water: it would win using tropical fruits (too easy) and a brighter 'oystery' peatiness. In short, it got much more coastal. Finish: same, long and coastal. Oysters with some honey and Tabasco sauce, as well as kippers, clams and mussels. Comments: I would perfectly understand why Kilkerran would remain a little controversial, it's certainly not a consensual malt. Either it clicks or it doesn't. It would kind of chain-click at Château Whiskyfun.

SGP:466 - 90 points.

As I said, we've been lazy and naturally, we've got some older KK stuff…

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 4' (57.1%, OB, Re-charred oloroso cask, 15,000 bottles, 2019)

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 4' (57.1%, OB, Re-charred oloroso cask, 15,000 bottles, 2019) Four stars and a half
Re-charred oloroso sherry casks, that makes or breaks. Colour: dark amber. Nose: well, burnt plastics and new iPhone at first, then young balsamic vinegar and old books and papers, then hectolitres of maraschino and guignolet. In short, very heavy sherry that just offsets any peatiness, even the most motivated one (ha!) With water: more saltiness, gravy, balsamic vinegar, charcoal and pine oil. You could use this as some embrocation but that would be a little smelly. Yeah a Cosmo-Kramer kind of idea.  Mouth (neat): when they say re-charred oloroso, are they re-olorosoing the cask after it's been deep-burnt? I'm asking because that's what I'm feeling, with this heavy, high concentration of sherry-caramel that even the craziest PXs wouldn't display. Big black raisins, caramel indeed, and overcooked molasses. Rather menthol and liquorice than 'peat', besides. With water: well the peat remains buried under tons of marmalade-y sherry. We'll need a spoon to get the remains out of our tulip glass. Finish: very long and curiously lighter, as if the armistice was just signed. Orange wine and a touch of pencil shaving. Espresso, Cointreau and cigarette ashes in the aftertaste. Comments: what a journey! I like the brighter ones a little better but this one was an incredible storyteller. War, gloom and doom, rejoicing and celebrations.

SGP:564 - 88 points.

Let's make this a quartet.

Kilkerran 'Heavily Peated Batch 2' (60.9%, OB, Peat in Progress, 2019)

Kilkerran 'Heavily Peated Batch 2' (60.9%, OB, Peat in Progress, 2019) Four stars
55% bourbon and 45% sherry. Between us, I'm not sure the world needs this much peat and I would prefer that beyond a few exceptions such as, yes, Springbank, most distilleries would find their best styles and not try to make just 'any variants', which always sounds a little desperate, unsecure, vulgar and inelegant. But there, let's try this baby… Colour: gold. Nose: much narrower than Batch 4, shy and discreet, but perhaps is that the very high strength? Washing powder, baker's yeast, paraffin, starfruits, physalis, gooseberries… In short, there isn't much to smell at this point. With water: sameish. Mouth (neat): good classic heavy peater ala modern Laphroaig. If you ever run out of antiseptics… With water: ah there it takes off, remaining oily and even fat, but displaying lovely lemons of all kinds and indeed a rather medicinal peatiness. Iodine, lime, oysters, cockles… I could drink this with Oostende's famed shrimp croquettes. Finish: long, tight and bright, and indeed rather Laphroaiggy. Comments: extremely good, but I'm not sure it would stand out next to Islay's cream. More anecdotal than the magnificent batch 4.
SGP:566 - 85 points.

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


August 11, 2021


Our 700th Caol Ila and counting

I've just noticed that we've tried 698 Caol Ila to this very day. Why don't we push this to 700 and perhaps a little more than that? What do you say? There are so many excellent young ones around…

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, UK exclusive, recharred and refill hogsheads, 1128 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, UK exclusive, recharred and refill hogsheads, 1128 bottles) Four stars
What UK exclusive? Don't they already have Boris Johnson? Joking aside, I believe I could write the note for this and come up with a score without even trying a single drop. No I'm not bragging, they're just being extremely consistent with their bottlings. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: naturally, barley, grist, smoke, kelp, ashes, lemons, granny smith, gherkin brine, oysters… You just can't question this nose, all you can do is to nod in agreement. Perfect use of rechar. Mouth: hoppla. This wee sweetness that one can find in any Islayer by Diageo, a perfect smoke, kippers, smoked salmon, lemon liqueur, more oysters, salt, all that at a perfect strength. Oh and razorfish with a little garlic. No, really. Finish: medium, pristine, perfect. Comments: do we really need any? Sublime drop.
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Good, that was our #699 and let's make our #700 a French Coal Ila. I mean, a bottling of Caol Ila for France…

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, cask #2174)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, cask #2174) Four stars
Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: well there are obvious similarities, but this one hasn't got that 'rechar' roundness, which means that it's got rather more Islay mud and raw lambswool, smoky porridge, apple and lemon juice, oysters, crabs, ashes, and probably a wee pine-iness, around crushed pine needles. Vicks VapoRub too, sandalwood… I find it pretty complex for its young age, Mouth: this time it is a notch rounder, a little more on pear eau-de-vie, on the other hand there are more seashells, whelks and clams, oysters… And guess what else? A drop of Tabasco which will make it all even more gastronomical. Seriously, great drop, Caol Ila being a sure bet since… around the year 1732. Yeah right. Finish: long, a tad less perfect than the James Eadie, but that would also add some charms.  Comments: absolutely excellent, to think that this is whisky made by computers. Hope Bezos will never own any distilleries (wouldn't the fake kiln look like a penis? Err… )

SGP:466 - 87 points.

Good, we could stop here, given that 46% vol. is a perfect strength for Caol Ila (while it isn't for, say Auchentoshan…) But we've got a little more…

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #317187+317214)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #317187+317214) Four stars
One of the greatest mysteries of Scotch whisky is why no bottlers write 'unchill-filtered' in the same way. Now this stems from some modern dechar/rechar hogsheads, so careful… By the way, always loved this series. The Broras were something… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather rounder than the Orcines, while that would be the rechar part of the process. Having said that, no Caolilaness was lost, on the contrary, there's more brine and ashes than in a blend of brine and ashes. Whiffs of Ikea wood too, plywood, paint thinner, something oh-so slightly bacterial… Did they dechar/rechar some Hampden casks? … Mouth: my how good is this? It is a more resinous Caol Ila, with notes of pencil eraser, surely bacon, gum Arabic, smoked salmon… Excellent. It just goes down too well at 46%. I'm sure people would drink less when everything would be bottled at 60% vol. or more! Finish: etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Comments: whichever the wood witchcraft, Caol Ila remains Caol Ila. Never caught.

SGP:566 - 87 points.

Since we're at Signatory's (I want-to-fly-then-drive to Pitlochry before the end of this decade!)…

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (59.9%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #316637, 665 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (59.9%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #316637, 665 bottles) Four stars
These ones are not always easy-easy lounge-y drams that you would quaff while listening to Stan Getz… (loved Stan Getz by the way)… Colour: dark amber. Nose: a little numbing, earthy and full of tobacco and oyster sauce. Some leather some cigars, some acetone, some wood polish… Water's obligatory here, I would say. With water: right. Teak oil, varnish, acetone again, curry, Worcester sauce, tabasco… I suppose you get the picture. Mouth (neat): probably superb, possibly very spicy, certainly oriental in a way… But hot. In any Indian restaurant, they would have put 3 chillies next to this one in the drinks' menu. With water: richer, honeyed, spicy, caramelly… This is almost some kind of ready-made satay sauce. Finish: long and very spicy. Sriracha *** sauce, something Mexican… To be had with fajitas? Comments: a rather mad one that's clearly 'worldly'. I think I liked the pristine U-C-F better, but adventurous whisky folks will love this heavy concoction too. Conservatory rating.
SGP:576 - 85 points.

Let's check some ex-ASB from G&M's…

Caol Ila 16 yo 2002/2019 (53.6%, Gordon & MacPhail for Whisky Warehouse, Connoisseurs Choice, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 174 bottles)

Caol Ila 16 yo 2002/2019 (53.6%, Gordon & MacPhail for Whisky Warehouse, Connoisseurs Choice, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 174 bottles) Four stars
We shall always remember the flabbergasting pre-extension CIs by G&M. Smoky whiskies unlike any other. Colour: gold. Nose: pure, crystalline, oily, barley-y, almost a little paraffiny Caol Ila. Cut flowers in a vase, hay, clams, a little white chocolate, old flyers, magazines… Wasn't this one a tad fragile, in fact? Only one way to find out… With water: these notes of marzipan, ink and bitter almonds that are usually rather to be found in older CIs. Intriguing. Mouth (neat): strange stuff on the palate. Fanta, cardboard, bubblegum, Parma violets, notes of cologne… Was it an ex-Bowmore cask? 1985? With water: how funny indeed! I'm finding strawberry liqueur, wild raspberry eau-de-vie (king of spirits), pomegranates… It's as if quite a few molecules had decided to break free. Ver funny and very good, but Caol Ila, really? Finish: more fruity voodooing. Comments: what-the-fudge was this? How do you score such a deviant dram? I mean, really, raspberry spirit!
SGP:755 - 85 points.

A last one before we take leave of our senses…

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (57.7%, Cask 88, Refill Bourbon Hogshead, cask # 317318, 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (57.7%, Cask 88, Refill Bourbon Hogshead, cask # 317318, 270 bottles) Three stars and a half
A Refill Bourbon Hogshead, that sounds about right. Colour: gold. Nose: this is rather a naked, acetic one, with some muscadet and some green gooseberries, some white currants, some whiffs of tomato and even geranium leaves (nothing excessive, no worries), then the expected antiseptic, chalk and wool. With water: plasticine and paraffin all over the place. Rapeseed oil. Mouth (neat): extra! Tough, smoky of course, green, rather on green fruits and vegetables than on coastal things, and rather a little fatter/oilier. With water: indeed it is a rather fatter Caol Ila, this time I'm finding broken branches, tree bark, teas… It is not a 'loud and clear' Caol Ila but it sure does its job. Finish: I am reminded of the first official Caol Ila C/S. Notes of fish oil. Comments: very good, even if it's maybe not quite a pristine, chiselled, high-definition Caol Ila.

SGP:455 - 84 points.

(Muchas Danke Schoens to Oliver und Steffen in Germany, as well as to Tim!)

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


August 10, 2021



Summer Duets
Today indie Glen Garioch, young and old
I always enjoy doing these short 'young and old' sessions, as long as both are good. As for Glen Garioch, it's good fun to try to navigate between the distillery's various styles, which could have gone from the peatiest makes (early-to-mid 1970s) to some much fruitier, easier profiles (1990s…) via those wackier soapy batches that were also to be met at Bowmore at that time. Right, the 1980s…

Glen Garioch 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.4%, Cask 88, Unfiltered Series, refill bourbon barrel, cask #640, 230 bottles)

Glen Garioch 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.4%, Cask 88, Unfiltered Series, refill bourbon barrel, cask #640, 230 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: a firmer style again after quite a few very fruity years, with more oils and waxes, something clearly Clynelishy, an obvious minerality around limestone and damp chalk, a few drops of fruity beer, then rather various plums at the fruit section. Preserved greengages, a hit when I was a kid. Some porridge and some dough in the background, this is clearly malty. With water: it would just get a little gentler, but the profile, just as the song, would remain the same (with a nod to LedZep fans). Fresh dough at a baker's, yeast, plums, chalk, sunflower oil… Mouth (neat): tart, pungent and extremely lemony, you'd almost fear it would attack your gums. Impressive tartness, really, but then again, almost 60% vol. So… With water: very impressive, very tart, with more granny smith and lemons, green tea, chalk… It is both oily and waxy and very tart and almost acidic, which in truth works very well. Finish: very long, with more 'green' fruits, starfruits, goji, physalis, jujubes… A lot of vitamin C in this wee Glen Garioch! Comments: a fighter.
SGP:571 - 88 points.

And the older brother… (or twenty years earlier…)

Glen Garioch 31 yo 1988/2019 (49.1%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, 223 bottles)

Glen Garioch 31 yo 1988/2019 (49.1%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, 223 bottles) Four stars and a half
Let's see whether violets and lavender are still lurking in the shadow or if they were already gone, gone, gone. Colour: full gold. Nose: no soapy tones whatsoever, we're safe this far. We're rather wandering throughout some tropical forest, with eucalyptus smells, mushrooms (magic ones, if possible), cedar wood, thuja, green tea, patchouli, a little vetiver, whiffs of fresh-roasted pistachios, then pine needles, probably a little humus, old stump, menthol… This is all very lovely, refined and most elegant, but in my experience, these piney noses could lead to palates that have gone bone-dry and too resinous. Let's see… Mouth: something like that indeed, but we're extremely far from any ueber-resinousness. Strong tea, menthol tobacco, thyme tea, liquorice wood, grapefruit, nori, a wee feeling of turpentine, concentrated lemon juice, crunching pine needles (when we were kids), macha… Indeed it is all pretty green. Finish: rather long, very good, without any excessive dryness, I would say it would even tend to become lighter and fruitier. Citrus. Comments: a little frightening at times, but it overcame all obstacles. Pretty unusual and rather fascinating old Glen Garioch.

SGP:571 - 88 points.

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


August 9, 2021


A trough of Benromach

Not that Benromach's particularly farmy. Well, it sometimes is. What's sure is that we haven't seen any indie Benromach since around 2000. Mind you, even owners Gordon & MacPhail haven't bottled any in recent years. We'll try to do a wee round-up today, starting with a newer batch of the regular 10 (WF 88 in 2017, in the older livery).

Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, 2020)

Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, 2020) Four stars and a half
I do not believe they've changed anything to the recipe when they went for the new, much more traditional packaging. When I write 'traditional' I mean circa 1910 design ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, pretty farmy. Farmyard, hay, tractor oil, muddy slit, chalk, coal smoke, stale seawater, Play-doh, black olives, Asian fish sauce, crushed slate… Surely a lot of action in there, and a lot of character. Un-boring malt whisky. Mouth: absolutely excellent, starting very salty, tight, grassy (artichokes and just grass), with really a lot of olives, more salted fish, Seville oranges, salty tea and caramel… Not boring indeed. Finish: long, still very salty, sootier now, somewhat Springbanky, just even a tad 'dirtier'. Smokier aftertaste. Comments: great mud. I mean, you see what I mean. The 88 mark holds clear and easy. Possible BFYB in August, we'll see.
SGP:473 – 88 points.

Benromach 2009/2020 'Contrasts: Peat Smoke' (46%, OB, 1st fill bourbon)

Benromach 2009/2020 'Contrasts: Peat Smoke' (46%, OB, 1st fill bourbon) Three stars and a half
I believe the regular Benromachs are peated to around 10ppm, but for this one they used malt that had been flavoured to 42ppm peat. Now remember the relation between the peat in the malt and the peat in the whisky is anything but linear. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's clearly fruitier and cleaner, and believe me or not, I find it less peaty than the 10, even if we're much closer to classic coastal whiskies such as Caol Ila. Lemon, granny smith, crushed oyster shells, a drop of antiseptic, a wee bit of band-aid, and just a little green curry that's a little more 'Benromach' indeed. Rather Hazelburn than Longrow, if you see what I mean. Mouth: same feelings of freshness, coastal things, seashells, lemons, fennel seeds and even pastis, lemon curd, a rather minimal medicinal side, a little green pepper… It's certainly cleaner than 'Benromach'. Finish: medium, easy, a little more on salted liquorice and indeed more pastis/ouzo/raki. A very clean smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: really good, if maybe not excessively necessary in the grand scheme of whisky things.
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Benromach 2012/2021 'Contrasts: Peat Smoke Sherry Cask' (46%, OB, UK exclusive, first fill sherry hogsheads)

Benromach 2012/2021 'Contrasts: Peat Smoke Sherry Cask' (46%, OB, UK exclusive, first fill sherry hogsheads) Four stars and a half
This sherried variant is brand new while the malt was peated to 55ppm this time, a rather Tufnelian move. Colour: gold. Nose: we've come much closer to the regular 10 this time, with these lovely acetic, meaty and very fermentary notes, with some Tabasco, onion soup, Worcester sauce, then dried fermented fish and touches of hoisin sauce. Would you please pass the Peking duck? Mouth: ah, hurray, good dirt! And cracked pepper, leather, tobacco, Grisons meat, cold-smoked German (or Alsatian) sausage, marmalade, coffee and cocoa dregs, cinnamon and paprika… A lot of action in this one again. Right up my alley. Finish: long, with a little more toffee, raisins and bean curd. Comments: not a peat bomb at all but this time it is clearly ' smoky malt'. Excellent wild composition, on par with the fantastic regular 10 in my book.
SGP:466 - 88 points.

Benromach 11 yo 2009/2021 'Germany Exclusive' (48%, OB, 1st fill bourbon barrel)

Benromach 11 yo 2009/2021 'Germany Exclusive' (48%, OB, 1st fill bourbon barrel) Three stars and a half
Shall we find cold-smoked German sausages again? Oh and does Benromach need sherry? Colour: white wine. Nose: it is more on oils and chalk than the bourbon contrast: peat, more on that mud and clay, more on paraffin and shoe polish, on apple peel, green melons, honeysuckle… Mouth: it's really on hay syrup and wine, ever tried that? It can be extremely good but I believe it's hard to find. They make some in the Vosges mountains here. Notes of quinces, peaches, a rather delicate soot/metal side, a little melon, and an lighter overall profile for sure. Benromach 'light'? Or at least 'Lighter'? Finish: medium, with touches of bananas and pineapples, which are unusual in Benromach (but I haven't tried thousands). Comments: wasn't this lighter, cleaner baby triple-distilled?
SGP:642 - 84 points.

Perhaps a much older one as this little session's signature? Indeed we've never tried the…

Benromach 40 yo 'Heritage' (43%, OB, 700 bottles, 2019)

Benromach 40 yo 'Heritage' (43%, OB, 700 bottles, 2019) Five stars
A vatting of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry. I had found the 35 yo absolutely stunning (WF 91) but cannot not wonder why this 40 is still available, and at a fair price of around £600. Colour: golden with green/bronze hues. Nose: I'm always enthusiastic as soon as I detect 'beehive-y' notes mingled with anything resinous and/or waxy. Which is the case here, as you would guess. A lot of fir honey, old fir wood, beeswax, furniture and leather polish (or very well taken-care-of old Jaguar saloon), patchouli and dried pot-pourri, eucalyptus cigarettes, last year's apples, Chinese grocery store (old-style), a little menthol… So everything is well and lovely here on the nose, but we also know that these profiles may lead to a flattish, drying and cardboardy palate. We said 'may'… Mouth: not at all, this is not tired, nor has it become drying. I would rather mention more beeswax, certainly dried citrus (kumquats, bergamots), touches of aniseed and yellow chartreuse (the lighter, smoother one), wormwood or absinth, and indeed cough lozenges. Excellent, almost stunning. Finish: medium, not any drier or more drying, curiously fresh. Pine liqueur, kumquats, liquorice, touches of bitter almonds… You would have to wait until the very end of the aftertaste to find a tiny-wee touch of cardboard or black tea dust (Twinning's teabags). Comments: impressive freshness and complexity, imagine this at 45% ! Next goal, trying the 45 years old… (as they all say, it's good to have goals in life).
SGP:461 - 91 points.


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


August 8, 2021


Five Caroni 1997-1998

Or more, we'll see. Caroni's a bit like Port Ellen, every time anyone releases a new expression they tell you that the stocks are nearly exhausted. But naturally…


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

Caroni 23 yo 1997/2021 (48.5%, Rum Sponge, No.3B)

Caroni 23 yo 1997/2021 (48.5%, Rum Sponge, No.3B) Five stars
From two barrels of 'early landed' Caroni, so casks that have spent the larger part of their life in timid Europe before the restless Sponge put his paws on them and decided to marry them. Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical heavy Caroni, you would almost believe it was made by British Petroleum. So heavy oil, coal tar, olives and capers, eucalyptus, new rubber boots, then rather something meatier, around chicken soup, miso and baked marrow. Chorba, paprika, perhaps a few oak shavings, then pancake sauce, molasses… Mouth: you could immediately understand why this used to rather be a dresser in British-style rums, as even if this one was reduced by the Sponge, it's still fat, dry, rough, and really very petroly and tarry, with quite some salt too. I'm rather a sucker for this style (indeed, the Port Ellen of rum) but I would understand why some friends would say it is 'a little too much'.  Finish: long tarry, salty, thick. Heavy liquorice and bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: frankly, it's got everything you need and it further takes water, remaining very lovely and pretty fat even at just 40%. This starts well.
SGP:363 - 90 points.

Just a word about these 'shipped casks' that have not matured on location. Are they 'authentic', are they not? I would believe it's really all a matter of definition of what an origin is, as far as aged spirits go mine would/should address four pillars. 1. The origins of the raw ingredients. 2. The methods of production, usually traditional. 3. Where maturation takes place (own warehouse, region, country?) 4. Organoleptical assessment (possibly with a tasting committee). But in general, makers agree with what they do and tend to fly their own flags, which is only natural; for example, the origins of the molasses, let alone the sugarcanes, are rarely advertised as something important to rum, just as the origins of barley aren't very often in Scotch, while it is paramount in cognac or armagnac, or calvados... Right, to be further discussed over a glass of riesling.

Good, I'm afraid our holidays are over, all other Caronis we've got being high-voltage ones… (Fasten your seat belt S.)

Caroni 1997/2021 (60.6%, Wu Dram Clan, cask #59, 224 bottles)

Caroni 1997/2021 (60.6%, Wu Dram Clan, cask #59, 224 bottles) Five stars
This one seems to have been bottled for various most distinguished entities, including in Japan. Such a small world… Colour: amber. Nose: obviously very similar. Look, I'd have loved to write a long tasting note for this one too but frankly, the rums are the same and any differences, beyond what's related to the strengths, would probably be the work of the mind. Now we could comment on the label, which is very pretty and gracious. With water: perhaps a wee tad brinier, more on black tapenade perhaps… Perhaps not… Mouth (neat): it really is the same rhum, only punchier. Same tarry, olive-y, petroly, salty style. With water: again, perhaps a little more brine, a little more seawater, gherkins… Finish: long, excellent, bright. Perhaps grapefruits rather than oranges? Not too sure. Comments: these aren't easy to distinguish, really. Excellent.
SGP:363 - 90 points.

Caroni 1998/2021 (62.2%, Wu Dram Clan, cask #2109, 226 bottles)

Caroni 1998/2021 (62.2%, Wu Dram Clan, cask #2109, 226 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: rather different this time, a little more mineral and medicinal, more coastal too, with salted anchovies, a little harissa, overripe bananas… But at this high strength it's hard to get to its bottom, so to speak. So with water: it would converge again, as if water would work as a great equalizer. Perhaps a little caramel, beyond the liquorice and the tar? Some pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): a little brutal and varnishy, but that's the strength. Numbs your tongue if you're not careful. With water: yes, a little more on varnish and on coastal notes (clams) plus marmalade and a little toffee, and fir honey. Finish: long, on similar notes. Comments: very good rum once again, but I'm afraid this will be a very difficult session as you'll find many less differences and even nuances than if you taste, say six or seven Port Ellens.
SGP:363 - 88 points.

Not sure I should have thrown myself into this very narrow kind of session… I like to do them with whisky, but with rum? Umpff…

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2021 (60.7%, Liquid Treasures for Nanyang Whisky and Rejo Beverage, barrel, 218 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2021 (60.7%, Liquid Treasures for Nanyang Whisky and Rejo Beverage, barrel, 218 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: a notch fruitier, more stewed and jammy, but once again the nuances are tiny at 60% vol. Flower jams? With water: a tad tighter than the previous one. Brinier yet? Some carbon dust perhaps… Mouth (neat): salted caramel, seawater, and the largest bag of liquorice there ever was. With water: very salty, almost smoky at times. I remember some ultra-young Ardbegs at the SMWS, a good 15 years ago… Finish: very long. A wee sourness in the aftertaste. Pomelos. Comments: very very good…
SGP:463 - 89 points.

You have to be careful with these kinds of session because when the spirits display extreme aromas, such as heavy smoke or tar, our brain (or is it a matter of olfactory bulb) will start to filter those out and you'll have the impression that the spirits are decreasingly peaty, or phenolic, or salty etc. That's hard to control but when you're aware of that you can 'straighten up' your feelings. So to speak…

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (62.2%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, cask #47, 249 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (62.2%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, cask #47, 249 bottles) Five stars
We've had some very lovely Foursquares from this new series (and we'll have many more). Colour: amber. Nose: perhaps a little more biscuity, more on praline, cakes, nougat… But otherwise it remains a tar and liquorice bomb, only with less diesel oil than in the 1997s. Some menthol; I have to say some traits could suggest this was aged in the tropics rather than in Europe (or yeah, in the UK) but I'm not sure about that at all. What's more, with global warming, we may get a tropical climate in Europe too. With water: herbs and hay, dried kelp, some engine oil. Caroni, eh. Mouth: extremely punchy, with some concentrated lemon juice and just a lot of salt. Do not even consider not adding any water. With water: oh very good, citrusy, less buoyant than the others, more 'digestive', more 'old Macallan' (whatever that means)… In short, more malternative. Finish (neat): long, big and balanced. An elephant on a tightrope. Some tar is back in the aftertaste. Comments: this you could quaff.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Good, I've clearly overestimated my strength and should have left this kind of session to proper rum experts (psst, I say all rum blenders deserve a rise!) A very last one… (cross my heart…)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 (61.5%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for HNWS Taiwan, hogshead, cask #18159, 371 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 (61.5%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for HNWS Taiwan, hogshead, cask #18159, 371 bottles) Four stars and a half
No pic that I could find for this fairly new baby bottled for HNWS a.k.a. Home Need Wine & Spirits but it's probably similar to the one I've put. Colour: amber. Nose: this one seems to be even fruitier, easier, probably more elegant, but menthol and tar keep running the show. Clear whiffs of bicycle inner tubes too. Pomegranate jam? But remember, our brain's filtering out the smoky or phenolic notes… Nougat and praline. With water: sour cherries and sandal wood, that's rather very nice. Stewed apricots. Mouth (neat): huuuge, very 'nervous', almost biting. Loads of peppermint. With water: pink grapefruits, rubber, tar, liquorice, peach liqueurs… Finish: long, a tad medicinal. Cough syrup and orange juice. Comments: lovely drop but this is getting too tough.
SGP:552 - 89 points.

Phew, never again, they were all too similar (but as someone said, that repetition would have made Philip Glass proud, ha)... This was my Everest this year, it is much easier to taste 12 Ardbegs… or indeed 12 rums from various origins and at various ages. I believe that's what we're going to next time, this was way too narrow. But Caroni, what a make, mind you, to think that we could have had six Diplomaticos or Don Papas instead…  (And I insist, all rum blenders deserve a significant pay rise!)

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


August 7, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Five Miltonduff
I still find Miltonduff a deceptively robust and interesting make, one that's often surprising and entertaining to try. While the older ones, which we'll have a couple of today, are often glorious. Although, in mainstream circles, it remains a rather anonymous name - usually a sign the blenders are excessively fond of it. Which is understandably the case if you ask me.


Miltonduff 10 yo (54.2%, Cadenhead's for Edinburgh Shop, bourbon hogsheads / sherry firkin finish, bottled 2020)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 10 yo (54.2%, Cadenhead's for Edinburgh Shop, bourbon hogsheads / sherry firkin finish, bottled 2020)
Finished for six months in 50 litre firkin sherry casks, and it has the colour to prove it! Colour: ruby / coffee. Nose: modern, very active sherry that's really more about the wood than the wine. I find a lot of warm sawdust, cupboard spices, office coffee and these tart, almost acidic, red fruits and berries. I can see why six months was probably sufficient. With water: dark grains, rye bread, pumpkinseed oil and orange bitters. Also more herbal and aromatic, verging on some aged Fernet Branca perhaps. I prefer it with water. Mouth: quite sharp, hot and a little disjointed. These same slightly acidic and sharp fruit notes, young Kriek beer, acid drops, strawberry jam and also bitter instant coffee, cloves and a bit of astringency from the wood. Still quite a bit of wood sharpness and also some meaty tones coming through. With water: spicier and still quite prickly but also a bit more cohesive and 'together'. The oak in undeniably pretty dominant throughout here though. Some dried red fruits and over-stewed, bitter black tea. Finish: medium, bitter, very peppery and with a lot of quite assertive wood spice. Comments: As you can probably tell, this isn't my cup of malt at all I'm afraid. It feels very much all about the wood, but without much in the way of fruit to balance it out. Although, it's not without a few brutish charms.
SGP: 471 - 76 points.



Miltonduff 12 yo 2008/2020 (54.5%, Cadenhead for Whisky & More Biden, oloroso sherry hogshead finish, 318 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 12 yo 2008/2020 (54.5%, Cadenhead for Whisky & More Baden, oloroso sherry hogshead finish, 318 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: much better! Banana bread, golden syrup, sultanas, some subtle marzipan and  crystallised orange peel. A much more restrained, leafy and easy sherry influence here. Dare I say it, more natural. With water: more overtly fruity with many nice notes of apricot and damson jam, yellow plums and sultana. Mouth: nice attack, rather peppery, warming, lots of pumpernickel bread spiciness, olive bread and various other savoury, pastry notes. Indeed, 'breads' would be the watchword here. I'm also getting some dark beers such as shilling ales and malt extract. With water: could almost be some kind of young Calvados with these wee notes of bruised cooking apple and cider apple. There's some youthful sweet wines in there too and some lemon curd. Finish: medium, more notes of apple, brown breads, toasted seeds, beers and light spiciness. Comments: Much more to my liking. I think an intriguing and clever balance has been struck.
SGP: 561 - 84 points.



Miltonduff 20 yo 1999/2019 (50.7%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #5015, 222 bottles)

Miltonduff 20 yo 1999/2019 (50.7%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #5015, 222 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: fresh orchard fruits, citrus peels, crisp breakfast cereals, runny honey and green apple. The kind of natural, lightly fruity and extremely fresh mature malt whisky profile that's hard to be against. With water: a little shoe polish and hessian, some sunflower oil and green tea with lemon. Mouth: excellent richness on arrival, a syrupy yet natural sweetness that takes in honeys, nectars, pollen, golden syrup, baked banana and an impression of sweetened olive oil. Light but with this feeling of 'texture' which is always pleasing. With water: holds up perfectly with water. Green fruits, citrons, light waxes and some white pepper. Still this feeling of weight in the mouth along a nice peppery bite and fresh cereals. Finish: long, becoming heathery, cereal, lightly dusty, mineral oil, sandalwood and citrus piths. Comments: An excellent and pretty impeccable wee Miltonduff.
SGP: 551 - 87 points.



Further back into the depths of time if you please…



Milton-Duff 13 yo (85 proof?, OB for Italy, 1960s)

Milton-Duff 13 yo (85 proof?, OB for Italy, 1960s)
There's a few versions of this old 13yo OB out there and most range from just plain superb, all the way up to otherworldly brilliance in my view. This tall straight version in brown glass should be from around late 1960s, most of these were bottled at 85 proof (48.5%), not 100% sure with this one, could also be 43%… Colour: Nose: gold. Nose: classic old style malt whisky, full of metal polishes, soot, camphor, herbal liqueurs and many wonderfully resinous and crystallised exotic fruits. There's much in common here with some Clynelish of similar era with many fat mineral oil notes, sheep wool oils, waxes and bone marrow fat. Indeed, what marks these old bottlings out so often is an almost gelatinous impression of texture and thickness. Mouth: superb arrival! Wonderfully herbal, resinous, waxy and really doubling down on these notes of soot, mineral oils, bouillon and some powerful notes of cough medicines, fennel and aniseed. This impression of texture from the nose is borne out in a wonderfully mouth-coating oiliness. Mechanical oils, gentian, olive oil infused with herbs and long-aged mead. Finish: long, medicinal, green herbal wines, mentholated tobaccos, mineral oils again and many more oily and camphory qualities. Comments: This one was indeed, just plain superb!
SGP: 562 - 92 points.



Miltonduff-Glenlivet 25 yo 1964/1989 (51.9%, RW Duthie & Co for Europvin)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 25 yo 1964/1989 (51.9%, RW Duthie & Co for Europvin)
Duthie's was essentially a subsidiary of Cadenhead, with many legendary bottlings issued under its name during these years. It was in fact Duthie's that was supplying casks - many of which are now some of the most lauded ever bottled - to the likes of Samaroli, Corti Brothers and certain Japanese importers too. I believe these bottlings ended up being exported to Japan, one of the reasons they're now so scarce. Colour: gold. Nose: quite different to the 13yo, we're comfortably in fruit bomb territory here. Although, this same impression of 'texture' and body is immediately apparent. Bags of - in no particular order - mango, kumquat, papaya, passion fruit, guava, pineapple etc… Also crystallised lemon, blossom and citronella wax. Still a feeling of restraint though, even in spite of all that fruity excess. With water: sandalwood, olive oil, clay, wintergreen and marjoram. This green herbal freshness vibe increases with water, but overall it's still nicely waxy and oily as well. Mouth: the fruits are there but it's more controlled here, there's drying waxes, minerals, resinous herbal extracts, ointments, putty - even some residual cereals and caramelised sugars. An increasing feeling of complexity. Orange cough lozenges, green Chartreuse, mint tea, lime curds and pressed flowers. A lot going on, but globally the impression is one of subtlety. With water: bitter green herbs now, pollens, canvass, almost a saltiness begins to emerge with impressions of Dutch liquorice and black miso paste. Sharp, chiselled and becoming more assertive, narrow and powerful with water. Finish: long, resinous, honeyed, lightly saline, waxy and with many subtle medicines, herbs and hardwood resins. Comments: This one really commands attention and delivers complexity and evolution, in a way that's almost a narrative. Although, I'm not too sure the quality is higher than the OB. Almost 93, but let's just call it a tie…
SGP: 562 - 92 points.



Big thanks to Cicada and Andy.




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


August 6, 2021


A trio of Octomore

(or the funniest dungeons of malt whisky)

You know Octomore, don't you. The peatiest Bruichladdich, the cursor-pushing, record-breaking, Nigel-Tufnell- approved malt whisky that fuels race cars and makes widows. We'll have three…

Octomore 10 yo 2009/2020 (54.3%, OB, 12000 bottles)

Octomore 10 yo 2009/2020 (54.3%, OB, 12000 bottles) Four stars
208 ppm 'in the barley', but what's important is what goes through. We've often noticed that Port Charlotte could be 'smokier' than Octomore and by the way, we tend to prefer Port Charlotte (ex-bourbon or ex-refill). But let's keep an open mind… Colour: light gold. Nose: eating curry in a working kiln, really, plus bacon sandwiches. Goes on with a lot of tar and liquorice, creosote, new wellies, new diving gear, sriracha sauce, Tabasco, Worcester sauce, some kind of harissa… And then many fresh strawberries. Not the first time we're noticing that heavy peat and strawberries can sing together. With water: gums and burnt rubbers, creams and strawberry-flavoured jelly babies. Mouth (neat): smoked strawberries, peppered apples, pink grapefruits and muscat, plus a lot of tar and liquorice indeed. The sweetness is a little troubling but this is quite spectacular. Were some wine casks involved? Châteauneuf? I know I should check the website but I wouldn't like to miss the Procol Harum Special documentary on ABC. With water: sweet peat. Very sweet peat. Williams pear liqueur. Finish: rather long, very sweet. Many jams and liqueurs that would have just digested those 208 ppm peat. Comments: the smoke was eaten alive!
SGP:754 - 86 points.

Octomore 8 yo 2011/2020 (59.9%, The Cask Whisperer, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #4555, 246 bottles)

Octomore 8 yo 2011/2020 (59.9%, The Cask Whisperer, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #4555, 246 bottles) Five stars
This baby from Big Jim McEwan's Private Stock - 2nd Release. No wine in sight this time, this is what we'd call a clear lap in motor racing. Beep, beep, beep… Go! Colour: white wine. Nose: much narrower, and yet more elegant, tight, mineral, lemony, creosote-y, chalky… I find this awesome. A lot of ashes, ashtray, also green olives, capers, samphires… That's all stuff that's ticking the proper boxes. Gazpacho. With water: perfect tight acidic smoke, soot, whiffs of new plywood (at Ikea), which I enjoy, more olives, new electronics, new MacBook (you know, 'It didn't work because something went wrong', etcetera…) Mouth (neat): simple, on ashes, lemons and green peppers. The thing is, this works a treat. More smoky gazpacho and some green walnuts. With water: excellent. Creamy mouthfeel, citrus, barley, smoke, ashes, bananas, limoncello… Finish: long, clean, fat, a tad more resinous. Comments: the best, al natural, without any butchered wines. Great young smoky tipple, well selected Jim, and a rather paroxysmic, yet civilised smoke this time. Nah, it's just super-good.
SGP:468 - 90 points.

Wine, he said. Just like Jim McEwan, at WF we're afraid of nothing…

Octomore 11 yo 2008/2020 (58.8%, The Cask Whisperer, Whisky Shop Neumarkt, Rivesaltes cask, 322 bottles)

Octomore 11 yo 2008/2020 (58.8%, The Cask Whisperer, Whisky Shop Neumarkt, Rivesaltes cask, 322 bottles) Four stars and a half
A Swiss bottling, hurray! With Covid, I've been missing all Swiss events, sob… Rivesaltes is a Vin Doux Naturel, which is not really naturel since it's fortified, just like PX. Ah, the labyrinthic French regulations that often make no sense at all! By the way, Rivesaltes is located in the far-east of the Pyrénées, while the wines are mainly made out of grenache (white, grey, black) and various muscats. There are both whites and reds, all fortified like sherry and Port. Good, let's try this little Octomore… Oh by the way, it's to be noticed that Mark R. is now using a lot of Vin Doux Naturel at Waterford too. Colour: gold. Nose: I believe the Rivesaltes brings a very brioche-y side, you would say tarte tatin with pears instead of apples, with some very sweet pipe tobacco, fruit molasses, fortified jams, mirabelle liqueur… All that. As a consequence, the cursor being all on the jammy side, there isn't a ton of peat. With water: maraschino, almonds, battelman cake. Mouth (neat): very, very rich. The sultan's tiple. Big muscat and concentrated fruit syrups, boy is this rich indeed. Roses, Turkish delights, cherries… What's rather fascinating here is that there are no off-notes whatsoever. An exception in my book. With water: same as on the nose, more almondy notes, cherries, and this time a few aromatic flowers and herbs. Around sweeter aniseed… Finish: long, sweet, on smoked candied cherries (should anyone ever decide to make that). Only the aftertaste runs you off the road, with a leafy sourness. Bah… Comments: I'll be honest, I was sure this would be an utter disaster. Once again, I was wrong.
SGP:755 - 88 points.

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


August 5, 2021



Olympic Japanese trios, Day 8/8
We ended the latest session with a finished NAS from Nikka's Miyagikyo, so let's keep the momentum going… But I swear these will be the last Japanese on WF for a long while...

Miyagikyo 'Sherry Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 1890 bottles, 2018)

Miyagikyo 'Sherry Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 1890 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Apparently, that's cream sherry, so a blend of oxidative sherry (oloroso an all) with PX. Colour: deep gold. Nose: peonies and copper coins, I would say, then blood oranges and walnuts. A little hoisin, slivovitz, wee whiffs of struck matches, black raisins, garden peat, a little pipe tobacco from an old leather pouch, whiffs of old tools (in an old toolbox in an old garage)… Cherry stem tea… This is nice. Mouth: naturally, this is very good, leafier and more leathery than your average sherried malt, more herbal too, with overripe gooseberries and many dried fruits (dates first, then raisins and figs). Keeps unfolding with charry liqueur (guignolet) and many smaller exotic herbal touches, sandalwood, nori, yuzu, and even something a little coastal. Honey-and-soy-glazed unagi? And why not? Finish: rather long, leafier. Some herbal tea that you would have kept for too long in an old clay teapot – or something like that. Comments: hate that it's NAS but frankly, it's an excellent malt. €180-excellent? Well well well…
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Let's keep following the path, I guess you've noticed that there was always a clear relation between the previous whisky and the next one. Hey, did you notice?... Another example…

Yoichi 'Sherry Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 3132 bottles, 2018)

Yoichi 'Sherry Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 3132 bottles, 2018) Four stars
This was finished in 'cream' sherry' too. Cream ain't anything special, unless it's very old, and cream plus peat may well ignite world war III. The good news is that Yoichi's only lightly peated, and that it was only a one-year finishing, so WWIII will wait. Colour: deep gold. Nose: nah, it worked. Tobacco, eucalyptus, walnut liqueur, pecan pie, vieille prune, and even some kind of note of some kind of cognac. Korean plum wine, old brandy de Jerez, chocolate sauce, and echoes of some old Scotch malt, let me rack my brain… Yeah, I remember, some old Glenfiddichs were like this. Early 1970s distillations, sherry… And patchouli. Mouth: fuller than its bro the Miyagikyo, yet kind of tighter, certainly earthier, with some sides that remind me of the Nikka Pure Malt Black from twenty years ago. Those were lovely wee bottles. Chocolate, black tea, walnut wine, light peat, marmalade, a tiny drop of teriyaki sauce. Finish: rather long and rather more on tobacco and Assam tea. Comments: bad Q/P ratio but indeed it's a very lovely drop.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

Our last Japanese for the time-being…

Yoichi 'Bourbon Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 2934 bottles, 2018)

Yoichi 'Bourbon Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 2934 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Hope this is not a vanilla bomb, but we all know that they know how to do it… Colour: gold. Nose: ah well it is not a vanilla bomb. We're rather finding bergamots and yuzu once again, marmalade, blancmange, banana wine, gooseberries, only then vanilla pods and a little strawberry yoghurt that we had already found in other Yoichis a few days ago. What it doesn't quite have is p.e.a.t.; isn't Yoichi peated? Mouth: easy, rather soft, a tad liqueury and too much on fruit juices (greengages and grapes), but let's be honest, this is good. We're somewhat in Kavalan ex-bourbon territory. Apples, guavas and vanilla, with a mild lemony peat and some white pepper. Finish: long and very peppery this time. A tad biting. Wasabi? Comments: unquestionably very good, I was about to add 'of course', but maybe a little soulless. Not orgasmic malt whisky - but the price was a tad pornographic. Maybe not a drop that the cognoscenti will remember forever (and ever, and ever, and ever…) Oh I'm sure you got the picture.
SGP:552 - 85 points.

Last minute bonus...

We couldn't leave the Japanese Games without having tried a Karuizawa, don't you agree?

Karuizawa 1968/2010 (61.1%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, cask #6955, 210 bottles)

Karuizawa 1968/2010 (61.1%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, cask #6955, 210 bottles) Five stars
A very expensive bottle now (way north of €20,000), which goes to show, once more, that the value of a whisky does not quite lie in its packaging. Indeed I've tried this baby before but that was another bottle and a long time ago. What's more, I did an online 'masterclass' (yeah right, a tasting session) with this baby at Whisky Live Paris 2020 - there was also Springbank 12/100 Samaroli, Macallan 1962 and HP 1959; yeah a mean line-up – and I was having some leftovers. So let's be serious, avoid any forms of evaporation and just, as we sometimes say, kill it. Just hope we haven't got that Israeli spyware installed in our devices. Kill it was a figure of speech, officer! Colour: deep gold. Nose: it may have further improved after a good ten years in glass, becoming a tad rounder and better polished than it used to be. What's sure is that it is some kind of resin, eucalyptus and menthol bomb, with many sawn hardwoods singing in the back. Stunning notes of high-class gravy too. With water: decomposes into myriads of tiny herbal and floral notes, plus anything around umami and osmazome (meats and fats). Mouth (neat): extremely heavy, oriental, mentholated, with many molecules ending with -ol and even a feeling of high-ester Jamaican whisky, I mean, rum, with something glue-y and acetic, almost acetone-y. Where was the muck pit at Karuizawa? With water: some tropical fruits chiming in, more mints and herbs, heavy meads, ciders and beers… Finish: long and certainly 'oaky', but there's oak that tastes like oak from Home Depot, and these oaks. Comments: marvellously dry. Score unchanged.
SGP:472 - 94 points.

Sayonara and see you soon, Japan!


Today's Podium

Karuizawa 1968/2010 (61.1%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, cask #6955, 210 bottles)
Yoichi 'Sherry Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 3132 bottles, 2018)
Miyagikyo 'Sherry Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 1890 bottles, 2018)

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


August 4, 2021



Olympic Japanese trios, Day 7/8
That Shizuoka was something, let's have more…

Shizuoka 2019/2020 (61.1%, OB, Japan, quarter cask, cask #2019-531)

Shizuoka 2019/2020 (61.1%, OB, Japan, quarter cask, cask #2019-531) Five stars
This one too comes from the Karuizawa still, and is more or less 6 months old. As for finding a picture of the bottle, well, we've given up. Colour: white wine. Nose: just the same lemon plus glue and varnish combo as with the sister cask, with a little more turpentine this time, as well as a little more citrusy roundness. Must have been the quarter cask. With water: mercurochrome, nail polish remover, white Jamaican rum, bitter almonds. Tends to floor you with these smells. I mean, it floors yours truly. Mouth (neat): excellent, on marmalade and varnish, liquorice, celeriac perhaps… It's clearly less acetone-y than its sister. With water: wham! Mezcal, Hampden, Ardbeg and a good amount of model glue. Not that I've ever had model glue, mind you, but it is reminiscent of model glue. Finish: long and just superb, on the same notes plus a wee piney touch in the aftertaste. Some acetate. Comments: just brilliant. Just hope it'll give the lie to the proverb 'when the new make's too good, the whisky will be crap'.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Looks like I've already wrecked this little session. Having said that, since we've mentioned Hampden…

Miyagikyo 'Rum Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 3500 bottles, +2017)

Miyagikyo 'Rum Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 3500 bottles, +2017) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: no Hampden-like extravaganza here, rather a soft, well-balanced development on tiny touches of metal (tin box), lime blossom, then green bananas and guavas. Gears towards eucalyptus and teak wood, a little limestone and lambswool, a little patchouli, vetiver, then classic malty aromas, tarte tatin, brioche, ale… I find this rather complex and elegant; I like this nose rather a lot and am even finding a little fresh-squeezed cane juice. Mouth: a wee bit sweetish but otherwise very fine, rather on oranges this time, with some welcome minerality, bergamot and yuzu, more lime tea, woodruff tea, a curious touch of bear garlic (which isn't garlic as you very well know), and just never any roundish flattish rum notes. The gentleman who composed this was very talented. Finish: medium, earthier, with even a feeling of peat as well as a little icing sugar, cane juice, cider apples… Comments: I am very positively surprised but it's true that I had already enjoyed the 'Apple Brandy Wood Finish' earlier this year. Am I getting soft-hearted?
SGP:551 - 87 points.

… Let's find out…

Miyagikyo 'Bourbon Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 1926 bottles, 2018)

Miyagikyo 'Bourbon Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 1926 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: extremely aromatic, as if all cursors had been pushed to the max. Bananas, lime blossom (is that a distillery marker?), vanilla, biscuits, crêpes, buttered popcorn, guavas, orange juice, plus something that was already in the Rum Finish, bear's garlic! (or wild garlic). Mouth: the oak's  little loud on the palate, with a little too much tea, peppermint, cinnamon… Then  granny smith, an oily side (rapeseed), lime, Thai basil… And rather a lot of green oak. No problems but that does make it feel a bit 'from the lab' rather than 'from the warehouse', if you see what I mean. Finish: medium, citrusy. Comments: another one that's extremely good; now it was insanely expensive given that it's only an NAS and just a finishing. I liked the 'rum' better, having said that.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Next time, our last Japanese Session. We said 8 days, it's going to be 8 days.

(Thanks again, Chris at suhi+soul)


Today's Podium

Shizuoka 2019/2020 (61.1%, OB, Japan, quarter cask, cask #2019-531)
Miyagikyo 'Rum Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 3500 bottles, +2017)
Miyagikyo 'Bourbon Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 1926 bottles, 2018)

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


August 3, 2021



Olympic Japanese trios, Day 6/8
We'll simply go on with what we have… This lighter one, for example…

Kirin 'Housky' (40%, OB, Japan, Pure Malt, 1993)

Kirin 'Housky' (40%, OB, Japan, Pure Malt, 1993) Three stars
As I understand it this was a pure malt blend done in 1993 to celebrate Kirin's twenty years in whisky, made out of malt distilled in pot stills and malt distilled in a column still. Colour: light gold. Nose: easy and gentle, nothing too special, with some brioche, croissants, vanilla and beer. Mouth: better, with a little earth, lotus seeds, honey and popcorn. Now it would nosedive after twenty seconds, possibly because of the light strength. A wee feeling of incense. Finish: shortish but with a wee saltiness and notes of bananas. Nice profile. Comments: I was about to quote Karuizawa but I believe Kirin only bought it from Mercian in 2007. Well in the style of the cheap Karuis that were the norm before someone decided to single out the best casks and bottle them over a few years.
SGP:541 - 80 points.

We've got another new cat…

Kanosuke 24 mo 2018/2020 'New Born Peated' (58%, OB, Japan, white oak, 20cl)

Kanosuke 24 mo 2018/2020 'New Born Peated' (58%, OB, Japan, white oak, 20cl) Three stars
Straight from the city of Kagoshima, in the south of Kyushu, although the peated malt is imported from the UK. I'm not 100% sure it makes a lot of environmental sense to ship European malt to Japan and to reimport it as whisky, but hasn't the whisky world always done that? Colour: gold. Nose: rough and with really a lot of gritty, tannic oak. Some cherries and some pears too, plus a lot of wood smoke rather than straight peat. Water is needed, I would guess. With water: wood shavings, leaves, stems, green pepper, bitters, a touch of rubber and one of soap. I guess you need to earn this wee one… Mouth (neat): raw, on hot kirschwasser running from the still. Green smoke, pepper, green peppercorn, sour cherries… Well, indeed this is tough. With water: a little better, with some sweetness (Cherry Coke) popping out. Ginger tonic. Finish: long, extremely peppery and bitter. Comments: I'm sure the distillate's fine, but it looks like the oak's been pretty indomitable. I'm sure the right direction would be 'less oak'.  
SGP:274 - 70 points.

Another new cat to balance all this…

Shizuoka 2019/2020 (63.6%, OB Private for Whiskay, Japan, barrel, cask #2019-529) Five stars
Distilled in their ex-Karuizawa still. Let's see if that comes out (I'm joking…), now it should be very spirit-driven as it matured for only around 6 months. Loved what I could try this far. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: glue, marzipan, bitter almonds, olives, mezcal. This is unpeated. Lovely. With water: more of all that, word for word, it got only a tad easier and less dangerous. In theory… Mouth (neat): drinking varnish blended with limoncello and antifreeze. We should not drink this like that… With water: there, we tamed it. Well, barely… Big pears covered with glue and antiseptic, perhaps acetone, which I'm sure sounds pretty repulsive, while it is not, not at all. Huge fan of these styles. This should get splendid at 10/12 years of age. Finish: long, glue-y and diesely. Lots of congeners in this one, it seems. Bitter almonds in the aftertaste. Comments: loved the first Shizuoka I could try as it came as a huge surprise. Love this one too, even if the surprise is over. Fantastic varnishy distillate.
SGP:462 - 90 points.
(Picture and data updated)


Today's Podium

Shizuoka 2019/2020 (63.6%, OB Private for Whiskay, Japan, barrel, cask #2019-529)
Kirin 'Housky' (40%, OB, Japan, Pure Malt, 1993)
Kanosuke 24 mo 2018/2020 'New Born Peated' (58%, OB, Japan, white oak, 20cl)

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


August 2, 2021



Olympic Japanese trios, Day 5/8
We've just been at Mars's Tsunuki facilities, so maybe time to have some Mars from their other facilities…

Mars Maltage 'Cosmo' (43%, OB, blend, Wine Cask Finish, 2020)

Mars Maltage 'Cosmo' (43%, OB, blend, Wine Cask Finish, 2020) Two stars and a half
Some proper malt whisky from Shinshu (in the Japanese Alps they say) blended with Scotch and flavoured with red wine, apparently. They wouldn't tell you which one, could be cheap Zin… In our book, that's the unterwhisky category, but we may well be a little too opinionated, are we? No! Colour: apricot. Nose: of course they know how to do it, to prepare the casks, avoid any lousy winey notes (which were to be found in some early finishings circa 2000, remember?) but there still is some feintness, some sourness, a feeling of artificial strawberry flavouring (M&S yoghurt), also peonies and lotus tea. It's intriguing, it's funny, it's entertaining, but I wouldn't nose another glass. Mouth: it's okay, really, this heavy caramel isn't unpleasant, neither are the notes of blueberry tarte and muffins, but in my book we're a little too far from 'malt whisky'. Finish: medium, on hawthorn and rosehip teas. Caramel and strawberries in the aftertaste. Comments: as John McEnroe used to say, what's the point? Not a bad drink at all, on the contrary; but it is not quite the kind of whisky I prefer.
SGP:641 - 78 points.

Since we're having experimental ones…

Okayama '6 months aged' (60%, OB, Japan, 20cl, +/-2017)

Okayama '6 months aged' (60%, OB, Japan, 20cl, +/-2017) Two stars
This baby whisky stems from the Miyashita sake brewery where, naturally, they have the purest water in the world. Apparently. Colour: gold. Nose: hot, naturally, but some lovely fermentary aromas came through, together with dried fermented fruits (litchis?) and something metallic. Olives. It does sometimes remind me of shochu, but I know very little about shochu. With water: no changes. Stones, olives, beers, flints, stems, lees… Mouth (neat): hot, fermentary, on many dried fruits and some thick sweet ale. We've known some slivovitzes that were a bit like this. Does not quite feel like 6 months old malt whisky. With water: becomes a tad prickly. Zwetschke liqueur and ginger tonic. Finish: rather long, sour and sweet. Comments: very interesting but we're extremely far from any whisky orthodoxy. Nah, it's rather challenging, in truth.
SGP:660 - 72 points.

Six more months…

Okayama '1 year old' (60%, OB, Japan, 20cl, +/-2017)

Okayama '1 year old' (60%, OB, Japan, 20cl, +/-2017) Three stars
All right then… Colour: amber. Nose: more caramel, dried figs, dried bananas and sultanas. Oriental pastry, angel hair, makrouts, orange blossom water, molasses honey… What's sure is that it gained much richness and roundness from those extra-months. With water: thick rich beer. Let me brag a wee bit… fifteen years old Westvleteren 8! Mouth (neat): much better than the 6mo. More dried fruits indeed, including some fermented ones, arrack, fig wine, chutneys, mead… With water: really pretty good now, we're reaching rancio territories, Banyuls, young Pedro Ximenez, Catalunya dulce rancios… Finish: rather long and indeed all on sweet rancio. Not sure this was what they've been aiming for, but this is quite a (very mild) sensation. Comments: wait, Okayama, isn't that a Spanish word?
SGP:740 - 80 points.

I agree this wasn't the best Japanese session ever, but stay tuned…

(Thanks again, Chris)


Today's Podium

Okayama '1 year old' (60%, OB, Japan, 20cl, +/-2017)
Mars Maltage 'Cosmo' (43%, OB, blend, Wine Cask Finish, 2020)
Okayama '6 months aged' (60%, OB, Japan, 20cl, +/-2017)

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


August 1, 2021



Summer Duets
Today rums (perhaps more than a duet)
Whisky people seem to like rum more and more, but indeed there is rum and rum (Ed: was that really necessary, S.?)

Rhum J.M 21 yo 1999/2020 (43.15%, OB, for Excellence Rhum and Old Brothers, Martinique, 369 bottles)

Rhum J.M 21 yo 1999/2020 (43.15%, OB, for Excellence Rhum and Old Brothers, Martinique, 369 bottles) Three stars and a half
Said to be the oldest J.M ever bottled, let us respect this. Colour: amber. Nose: may feel a tad fragile, with these touches of old sawdust and old marmalades plus raisins 'from the old tin box'; now these whiffs of incense and hibiscus and roses do work well. Has this one lost its powers? Only the palate will tell, the nose being a little hard to grasp (to this whisky drinker)… Mouth: it is an older rum, with resins from the wood, liquorice, many elements ending with '-ol', stewed mangos and papayas, a wee brandy-like side (very Jerez, raisins and pine), some sour fruits (cherries), some salt… You do feel that it's nearing the end of its life, but just like great painters or musicians, it's still got beautiful things to say. Finish: medium, salty, intellectual. Raisins in rum. Comments: I wrote 'intellectual' because indeed, it would need your understanding. Remember, according to Caribbean distillers, 21 years in the Caribbean equals at least five centuries in Europe. If not six. As  consequence, tropical years are becoming very costly!
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Perhaps another J.M…

Rhum J.M 2007 (42.9%, OB, Martinique, +/-2018)

Rhum J.M 2007 (42.9%, OB, Martinique, +/-2018) Four stars
Colour: red amber. Nose: this is light, very floral, awesome and lovely, and as they used to say in the 20th century, rather feminine. Curious notes of fermenting barley, then squeezed orange, Timut pepper, citrusy hops, ylang-ylang, peonies… This is all very elegant, aromatic, vibrant, floral… Mouth: with rum too (and rhum), timing is everything. This has more knack, a better definition, and a brighter profile than that of the old 1999. I'm afraid it'll beat that one fair and square. Blood oranges, cinnamon, and something reminiscent of cedar wood. Smoking a Romeo & Julietta Cedros de Luxe #3, as I seem to remember them. Finish: medium, superb, balanced, earthy, spicy and fruity. Once again, anything reminiscent of incense is running the show. Comments: I'm a fan here, this in a large 'fishbowl' glass while watching something smart on Netflix, why not. BY the way, have I mentioned that I there were bags of raisins too in there?
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Let us go on for a little while…

New Yarmouth 1994/2021 (68.7%, The Colours of Rum, N°1, Jamaica, cask # 435081, 258 bottles)

New Yarmouth 1994/2021 (68.7%, The Colours of Rum, N°1, Jamaica, cask # 435081, 258 bottles) Four stars
This one by our Polish friends at Wealth Solutions. That wealth needs solutions is obvious in these greedy times, the fact that rum's one of those solutions remains to be fact-proofed. Nasdrovia! By the way, New Yarmouth is Appleton. Colour: amber. Nose: it is a little strong (ha, cough…) but it seems that sugarcane and crushed sesame are running the show this far. With water: tons of pencil shavings, so lead, coal and cedar wood, then ham and macadamia nuts. A feeling of 'bourbon', not a lot of complexities, but balance is perfect at +/-45% vol. Mouth (neat): hot, leafy, brilliant. Very brilliant, actually, even at 68.7%. With water: yeah there, this works a treat, with oranges and just all tropical fruits you could think of, over a bed of traditional oak spices (cinnamon, really) and more oranges. Finish: long, the body getting a tad thin now despite the heavyish strength. Comments: same overall quality as that of the J.M 2007, I would say. Very different from the high-ester rasta rums such as WP, Hamden or Monymusk.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Waterfalls 2013/2021 'MCPA' (53.6%, Barikenn, Mauritius, 260 bottles)

Waterfalls 2013/2021 'MCPA' (53.6%, Barikenn, Mauritius, 260 bottles) Three stars and a half
Most rums from Maurice/Mauritius I could try till this very day have been overly sweet and just cloying. But everything changes… Colour: gold. Nose: sulphury rum, that's new. Old guns, struck matches, black truffles… It's just that I rather enjoy this combo, provided it won't go too far, let's see… with water:  all on gingerbread, with much less 'truffles'. Mouth (neat): ha, some smoked gingerbread with lemongrass, coal tar, rubber and thyme. A little unlikely, perhaps, but water may wave its magic… With water: indeed, this has become excellent, spicy, not too 'Mauritian', going rather towards malt whisky. Finish: long and spicy. Rhubarb and curry (yep). Comments: this is rum for outlaws, people who ride Guzzi or BSA, who drive British cars, who drink German beers, who quaff Australian syrah or Californian merlot… I'm sure you see what I mean: us, because we have no borders!!!
SGP:372 - 84 points.

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

July 2021 - part 2 <--- August 2021 - part 1 ---> August 2021 - part 2




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Benromach 40 yo 'Heritage' (43%, OB, 700 bottles, 2019)

Kilkerran 'Heavily Peated Batch 4' (58.6%, OB, Peat in Progress, 2021)

Octomore 8 yo 2011/2020 (59.9%, The Cask Whisperer, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #4555, 246 bottles)

Karuizawa 1968/2010 (61.1%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, cask #6955, 210 bottles)

Shizuoka 2019/2020 (61.1%, OB, Japan, quarter cask, cask #2019-531)

Shizuoka 2019/2020 (63.6%, OB Private for Whiskay, Japan, barrel, cask #2019-529)

Caroni 23 yo 1997/2021 (48.5%, Rum Sponge, No.3B)

Caroni 1997/2021 (60.6%, Wu Dram Clan, cask #59, 224 bottles) 

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (62.2%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, cask #47, 249 bottles)