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



November 2016 - part 2 <--- December 2016 - part 1 ---> December 2016 - part 2


December 13, 2016



The Pre-Christmas Duos
Young and old Linkwood

So yeah, Linkwood, which can be very good. We’ll first have a very strange experiment from Ukraine, and then an older regular one by specialists Gordon & MacPhail.

Linkwood 1997/2016 (46%, Scyfion, Ukraine, Troyanda Zakarpattya cask finish, 314 bottles)

Linkwood 1997/2016 (46%, Scyfion, Ukraine, Troyanda Zakarpattya cask finish, 314 bottles) Four stars Even in my wildest dreams, I had never dared hoping that I would be able to try a Troyanda Zakarpattya cask finish one day ;-). In fact it’s a white desert wine from the Carpathians, said to be pretty good. In my experience and in general, desert wines work better ‘on’ whisky, unless there were too many litres left in the casks (which isn’t quite legal, but you know, why would some Scots waste them…) Colour: deep gold. Nose: first, the sweet wine doesn’t get in the way, and second, the malt is/was rather natural, well balanced, and seemingly ready to welcome the wine. So fruit jams and flowers abound, but the whole isn’t extravagant. It reminds me of the best Muscats de Beaume de Venise. Mouth: ah yes, very good, well done. Roasted raisins, honey cake, oriental pastries, malt, baked apples, roasted almonds and peanuts, pecan pie… All is good and very well balanced. Finish: medium, rather fresh, and never too raisiny. Comments: I suppose our friends have been monitoring the cask very closely, these finishes can soon go over the top (see many current PX finishes elsewhere). Not the case at all here, again, well done Ukraine (I feel like I’m at the Eurovision song contest ;-)). SGP:551 - 86 points.

Down 25 years…

Linkwood 1972/2013 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speyside Collection, cask #14796, 277 bottles)

Linkwood 1972/2013 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speyside Collection, cask #14796, 277 bottles) Four stars and a half This baby from a first fill sherry hogshead. The press release is talking about Evel Knievel, but I doubt he’s been involved with this little whisky in any way. Better like this. This bottling is currently being kind of relaunched within a new set of six old whiskies that’s pretty appealing (Glenlivet ’48, Strathisla ’53, Mortlach ’54…) As for the 1972 vintage, you may know what I think. Colour: gold. Nose: very subtle and elegant, with deep floral tones, roses, irises, some sandalwood, perhaps distant whiffs of church incense, certainly some soft honey (acacia, also acacia flowers), honeysuckle… I know some ladies may consider this being sexist, but apologies, I think this is a rather feminine nose. And a beautiful one at that. Mouth: a few bits and pieces of pencil shavings at first, then some kind of cake filled with stewed red apples, raisins, and fresh mint leaves. All that is covered with the same honey as in the nose. A very soft malt, extremely approachable and drinkable. The strength is perfect given the style. Finish: medium, a wee bit spicier. Anis biscuits and amaretti. Comments: an epitome of elegance, softness and easiness in malt whisky. SGP:541 - 88 points.

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



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December 12, 2016


The pick of the Scottish dungeons

My nose is slowly recovering and I believe I may be ready to restart our little tastings, even if perhaps not on a daily basis yet. Having said that, maybe is it better to rather have some ‘humble’ ones instead of some very complex old whiskies just now, you never know. So I went to a discount shop and bought just all the Scotches that were priced below 10€ (VAT excluded). There were six of them, let’s try those babies by ascending price tags, from 7.29€ to 9.49€, all prices for 70cl bottles of course. Oh and let’s remember that many good people just cannot afford more expensive whiskies, so please let’s (try to) not make too much fun of these little Scotches.

Charles House (40%, Makro, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

Charles House (40%, Makro, blended Scotch, +/-2016) At 7.29€, it’s the cheapest of the Los Cheapos, but greatest of news, the label proudly displays a Silver Award at the IWSC 2011. But then again, could you quote one single brand or distillery that never won any award at the IWSC? While you’re racking your brain, lets try this wee baby… Colour: gold. Nose: wood alcohol, raisins, burnt wood and sawdust, cardboard, rotting apples, sour pears. You know… Mouth: yuk from Yuk’s. Acrid, bitter, and sour. A blend of stale cider with brutally burnt oak chips plus molasses. Really bad and, in fact, not quite ‘swallowable’. Weak body but this feeling of burnt and bitter wood keeps insulting your taste buds for a long time. Finish: sadly, there is one. Hard to describe, but certainly very unpleasant. Comments: every few months there’s a newborn whisky blogger or ‘expert’ that starts to question the validity and the usefulness of the 100-scale. Yeah, that old chestnut. Well, here’s the answer. SGP:130 - 29 points.

William Peel (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

William Peel (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016) One of the best-selling Scotches in France. The brand belongs to the French company Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (ex-Belvédère), and the label claims that’s it’s a ‘selected old reserve’. As we all know, with just any Scotch, old means young. The William Peel brand hasn’t got a very high reputation, but yeah, it’s cheap. Price of this 70cl bottle, 7.94€ VAT excluded. Colour: gold. Nose: a little nicer than Makro’s miserable Charles House. Meaning that it does have wee notes of malt whisky, as well as touches of toffee and cereals. Having said that, there’s quite a lot of burnt wood and cardboard as well. Toasted oak. Mouth: it does go down, it’s not totally undrinkable. Gritty oak, used teabags, caramel, cane sugar, apple pie, a touch of orange. And perhaps even a little malt. Finish: medium, quite sweet. That’s a little disturbing, but it makes the palate a little rounder and softer. Comments: ice and/or Coke are needed, but at this price, I doubt you could do much better. Kind of honourable, I’d say. SGP:430 - 40 points.

Long John (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

Long John (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016) We’re already at 8.44€! Long John used to be huge in France, but I think the name has been losing a little lustre. It’s one of Ricard’s brands, the latter telling us on their website that Long John is aged for a minimum of 3 years before blending, a statement with which we are very comfortable. Aren’t we? Colour: gold. Of course it’s gold. Nose: relatively fresher and fruitier than the William Peel, with a curious mentholy side, but also rather more yeasty, fermentary notes. Apple compote in yoghurt? What’s good is that I do not get those ugly notes of burnt wood that may be encountered elsewhere. Mouth: well well well… No, it’s similar to the William Peel. Perhaps a little rounder? Some burnt wood for sure, cardboard, pepper, a forgotten glass of ale from last night… Now I do get a little candied orange, which is nicer. Finish: short, dry, a little cardboardy. A little roasted malt. Comments: certainly not a sipper, but it’s one whisky that you won’t obligatorily need to use only as an antifreeze agent. SGP:440 - 45 points.

Label 5 (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

Label 5 (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016) This one costs a fortune, 8.94€ for 70cl! Yeah, everything is relative. Label 5 is the fourth largest Scotch brand in France, after Ballantine’s, Clan Campbell, and Chivas Regal, all three from Pernod-Ricard’s portfolio. Label 5 belongs to La Martiniquaise, and of course, also won Silver at the IWSC (in 2012). Have you finally found a brand that hasn’t yet, by the way? But what are you doing? ;-) Colour: gold (I’m not joking). Nose: pretty nice-ish, I have to say. There seems to be more fresh malt, more pears, more honey, more raisins… It’s not impossible that there would be more Speyside malt in there, Glen Moray for example (I believe Glen Moray still belongs to La Martiniquaise, am I not right?) Mouth: yes it’s pretty nice for a cheap blend, its got various orchard fruits, it’s even got some citrus, and it does not try to kill your taste buds with plenty of cardboard, crappy oak, or stale black tea. That’s good. Finish: medium and, guess what, it’s clean and still quite fruity. The finishes are where many cheapo whiskies fail (and some expensive ones too), so, kudos to Mr. Label! Not quite Chanel though, because Label 5, Chanel N°5… Got it? Comments: I think it’s pretty good Scotch whisky. Never thought I would write that. SGP:541 - 65 points.

Grant’s (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

Grant’s (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016) We’re delving into luxury now, 9.14€ a bottle, imagine! This baby is labelled as the ‘Family Reserve’, so at around 5Mio cases per year, it seems that the family is either very thirsty, or very large. Yes, or both. Colour: blue. I’m kidding, that would be gold. Nose: rather absent, both the William Peel and the Label 5 were much more expressive. H-e-l-l-o? Anybody in there? A little chocolate, perhaps. An emptied cookie jar. A little green malt as well, perhaps. Mouth: ah yes, this is better. Blends, unless old and prestigious, are never nosing whiskies, and everything usually happens on your palate. This is a good example. Pears, oranges, butterscotch… It’s pretty Glenfiddichy, in fact, no surprise here. Finish: perhaps not. More dryness, this cardboard that wakes up… But that’s all kind of okay. Comments: a little below the Label 5 for me. 0.20 extra-Euros not obligatorily well spent ;-). SGP:441 - 62 points.

William Lawson’s (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

William Lawson’s (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016) Bacardi are in charge here. If you never saw the old Lawson’s video ad with Sharon Stone, you may now, it’s easy to find on Youtube. This blend is advertised as being powered by Macduff/Glen Deveron malt whisky. Let’s see (not that we would be able to find out, mind you, that would be presumptuous). By the way, the price got extortionate, 9.49€ a bottle! Colour: try to guess. Nose: a little dusty. Tea, turnips, cardboard… Nah… Mouth: oh no! Cardboardy and tea-ish arrival (dry malty beer, cocoa) and then a few Sourish fruits. Cooked. Needs ice! Finish: short. Orange sweets, perhaps. That’s a little nicer. Comments: I’m disappointed. William Lawson’s older blends (the 12 yo, or a recent 13 yo, are much more to my liking). I find this NAS pretty poor, and I think earlier versions have been better too. SGP:331 - 42 points.

We may have had enough. Next time we’ll have some roaring malts again, and kick-start our Christmas tastings. It was about time! Now, have you finally found a whisky brand or distillery that never won any award at the IWSC?

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



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December 6, 2016


Two Clynelish for Sylvain

My nose isn’t back to normal yet, but I wanted to pay tribute to my departed friend Sylvain. His favourite distillery used to be Lochside, but as I haven’t got any Lochside left in WF’s untried-sample library, we’ll have one of my own preferred distilleries instead. Dear Sylvain, this little session is for you.

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2016 (54.3%, Archives, hogshead, cask #12357, 223 bottles)

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2016 (54.3%, Archives, hogshead, cask #12357, 223 bottles) Four stars and a half Both the bottler and the vintage do have excellent reputations, so what could go wrong? Colour: straw. Nose: it seems that this is a pretty chalky/citrusy nose, with some grapefruit, clay, limestone, flints… In short, quite a blade. As far as I can tell. With water: muddy waters and some softer citrus. Perhaps tangerines? Mouth (neat): really sharp, in the better sense of that word, hyper acidic and mineral, and rather totally in the style of those blade-y Sancerres. And it seems that you just crunched a piece of chalk (knowing that when your nose is practically out of order, your palate’s barely functional). With water: gets a little grassier, it seems, and a tad rougher. Finish: rather long, with some grassy bitterness as well as the usual chalky lemons, but some tangerines are back in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly irrefutable. SGP:462 – probably between 88 and 90 points.

Clynelish 26 yo 1990/2016 (45.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 258 bottles)

Clynelish 26 yo 1990/2016 (45.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 258 bottles) Four stars This baby might be waxier than the 1997. Colour: white wine. Nose: one of these Islayesque batches, with echoes of old ‘phroaig. Or so it seems. A little creosote and a few bandages, then the expected waxed fabrics, linoleum, and clay, with a layer of mandarin jelly. Love mandarin jelly. Mouth: some plasticine for a start (yes, or so it seems) and then waxed… err, stuff, and lemon squash, while it tends to plateau a bit after two seconds, but then again, that may be me. Well, that’s probably me. Not the biggest Clynelishy middle ever, in any case. Finish: perhaps a little short for Cynelish, but the medicinal part really makes it special. Lime and tonic water in the slightly evanescent (for Clynelish) aftertaste. Apparently. Comments: a seemingly slightly deviant Clynelish, extremely hard to score when your nasal appendix is rather deficient. SGP:362 - ?? points.

Fly well and far, Sylvain!

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



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December 4, 2016

Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2016

Favourite recent bottling:
Rare Cask Reserves 37 yo 1978/2015 ‘Paradise 1’ (55.4%, OB, William Grant, sherry wood, cask #5856, 276 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Bowmore 30 yo (51.4%, OB, 30th Anniversary of Scottish Licensed Trade News, 3 bottles, 1994) - WF 94

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016)  - WF 87

Favourite malternative:
Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 65’ (46%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015) - WF 93

December 2, 2016



Bad nose day

Tasting sessions will resume shortly

November 2016 - part 2 <--- December 2016 - part 1 ---> December 2016 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only