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Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2017 - Part 2


December 2017 - part 1 <--- December 2017 - part 2 ---> January 2018 - part 1


December 31, 2017


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Indeed, Angus flew in for an annual Whiskyfun meeting, so naturally, we’ve done quite some four-hand tastings….

Session 1, old and very old whiskies

We’ll first have a fairly old blend of interest, and then…

Real McTavish (43%, OB, Ainslie & Heilbronn, for Germany, +/-1970)

Real McTavish (43%, OB, Ainslie & Heilbronn, for Germany, +/-1970) Three stars Anything by Ainslie may have contained Old Clynelish, as they used to be the owners or at least the license holders. Colour: gold. Nose: immediately reminds me of Ainslie’s Royal Edinburgh, one of the wackiest blends there ever was. Typical old style full of old copper coins, fermenting honey, almost artichokes, old rusty tin box, roasted chestnuts, some kind of old chocolate liqueur, black olive brine, white asparagus, mashed potatoes… In short, this one would feed a whole regiment. Mouth: sweeter and rather rounder than expected, rather on digestive biscuits, Ovaltine, fudge, but also mole sauce, a touch of malt extract, barley sugar, and more and more salt. Finish: rather long, with some speculoos and gingerbread covered with a little salt and grated bitter chocolate. Toasts. Comments: truly old style, at times veering too much towards OBE. The sweetness of the palate salvaged it, says Angus. SGP:442 - 81 points (Angus 80).

Shouldn’t we go backwards in age?...

Ross Cameron’s 22 yo (86°proof US, OB, for T.F. Craft Corporation Los Angeles, Old Highland Malt Whisky, 1950s)

Ross Cameron’s 22 yo (86°proof US, OB, for T.F. Craft Corporation Los Angeles, Old Highland Malt Whisky, 1950s) Five stars Love this line on the back label ‘It has a dignity which can only be found in the finest Scotch Malt Whisky’. Colour: deep gold. Nose: whaaat? Anything from a beehive mixed with chalk, camphor, dried litchis, old gewürztraminer, the wackiest embrocations, genepy and absinth, motor oil, maybe just a touch of green pepper, and the tzar’s own old herbal liqueur. Aged mead, rosewater, quince paste, and just this magnificent earthiness that makes me think of the most precious mushrooms. Like, Caesar’s mushrooms. Also beef stock, says Angus. Mouth: whaaat? Hard to know what was there in the first place, and maybe does this come from a long closed distillery nobody alive has ever tasted, but it truly is singular and magnificent. More and more of these subtle organic… err, subtleties, many mushrooms, herbs, earths… Its even got something kind of volcanic. Crushed basalt, wet schist and scoria. Quite amazing, really… Finish: medium, a tad more sappy and rounded, with more quince jelly, leaves, the whole being almost composty. Anything would grow in this. Chestnut jam (and purée says Angus) in the aftertaste. Comments: reminiscent of some older style HP with this earthy peat style. And it is delicious and quite special. Never tasted something like this, as far as I can remember. We’re almost converging on a Brora-esque earthiness, adds Angus. SGP:462 – 93 points (Angus 93).

Smith & Hoey 21 yo (no ABV, OB, Liqueur Old Scotch Whisky, sold or bottled 1905)

Smith & Hoey 21 yo (no ABV, OB, Liqueur Old Scotch Whisky, sold or bottled 1905) Five stars Age statements are not a new thing, are they… So this is probably a malt whisky bottled by or for London wine merchants Smith & Hoey Ltd. Distilled in the 19th century, obviously, and sold in 1905. Colour: gold. Nose: some ancient quince-y and apricoty Sauternes into which some mad soul would have poured a spoonful of crème de menthe, while no one was watching. Plenty of raisins, a clay court after a rain (at Rolland-Garros), a drop of miso soup, a bit of soy sauce, wild leek sauce, borage, dried tarragon says Angus (who needs a Chartreuse at this point – a yellow one), some soft bandage notes, maybe caraway… Well you could go on for ages picking any small numbers of tiny aromas… A bewildering complexity, thinks Angus, who’s not wrong. Mouth: totally amazing, but it could just be some extremely pre-phylloxeric cognac as well. And yet it’s definitely malt whisky. Salty bouillons and roasted pistachios and pumpkin seeds, bitter almonds, beef stock, marrow, camphor, dried figs, there’s also something oily about it, like tea tree oil, maybe a little bergamot, or earl grey tea. Angus thinks it’s good juice and I won’t disagree. Finish: quite a good length, more saps and oils, more greenness, more medicine as well, some kind of dry herbal syrup… Eucalyptus in the aftertaste. Have you ever used herbal toothpaste? Something called Euthymol... (Angus’s favourite brand). Comments: what can you say abut a bottle like this? No wonder so many people were shocked when they introduced columny grain whisky. SGP:551 – 93 points (Angus 93).

McLaren’s 25 yo 1878 ‘V.V.O.’ (no ABV, John A. McLaren distiller, Perth, ‘Scotch Whisky’, +/-1902)

McLaren’s 25 yo 1878 ‘V.V.O.’ (no ABV, John A. McLaren distiller, Perth, ‘Scotch Whisky’, +/-1902) Five stars Hold on, this is actually ‘Scotch’ malt whisky distilled in Canada (in Perth, Ontario) by Scottish descendants. From an historical perspective this is particularly fascinating, because it represents an early example of whisky making in a Scottish tradition by people who emigrated from Scotland. You’ll find much more information there. Oh and it’s probably the earliest whisky we’ve ever tasted. Colour: gold. Nose: guess what, this is clearly ‘American’, but it does have these petroly aromas that allude to a much older style of whisky production. Slightly waxy, with some pinesap, a bit of coal dust, a moderate bouillonness (which is not a female billionaire, says Angus), and then an amazing amount of bergamot and chamomile. Some herbs (genepy again, wormwood). Actually, it shares many similarities with some of these very old Scottish whiskies. Dry medicine.

Mouth: extremely herbal, almost like herbal essences,     and one cannot not think of some salted Unicum, or Fernet-Branca. Some caraway, maybe a little tar liqueur as well, pine tar, dry liquorice… Tends to become drier, but it remains amazing that it did note lose the slightest iota of power. We also get almost like some hoppy IPA. Finish: surprisingly long, really, on bitter herbs, maybe some leather, more liquorice as well, some star anise, and a touch of burnt toast in the drier aftertaste. Comments: humbling to taste such an historic bottle. While the whisky is, on a technical level, a little too imbalanced to go past 90, the emotional score would be off the charts, it’s really amazing to be able to taste something this old! To think that 1878 was when both the Université de Montréal and the University of Western Ontario were incorporated! (not that that matters much to us mere whisky drinkers…) SGP:371 – 87 points (Angus 88).


(Heartfelt thanks to Johanna and Charles, and Roger, and Angus!)


Bonus (and bogus) session

Tasting seven French mustards for Billy A.

Something really stupid happened on the Malt Maniacs’ Facebook page (Angus says ‘no kidding’) when with a bunch of friends, we were discussing the controversial nature of wine finishes and then yours truly mentioned ‘I love coffee and I love mustard but not together’. Or something like that. Our Pal Billy A. was soon to react and to throw down the gauntlet, challenging me to officially taste various mustards on Whiskyfun if he first tried a blend of mustard and coffee and published his comments on his own (and very excellent) blog ‘Spirited Matters’. Which, sadly, he did. So it’s our turn, and I’m taking the opportunity of Angus’s visit to Alsace to simply do it. So, here we go…

This man is dengerous --->

Amora ‘Condiment’ (OB, soft mustard, France, +/-2017)

Amora ‘Condiment’ (OB, soft mustard, France, +/-2017) Two stars and a half This is actually not true mustard, it’s a sweeter and easier version that’s mainly sold in Alsace. We put this on Strasburg sausage and various charcuteries, and of course choucroute/sauerkraut. Colour: mustard yellow. Nose: we definitely get some mustard, dill pickle, touches of wine vinegar, maybe a little citrus rind or something… Mouth: rather easy, light and fluffy, rather vinegary. The popcorn of mustards, says Angus. Finish: medium, a tad grassy, easy… Comments: what’s good with this ‘condiment’ is that you can drizzle litres of it over ‘stuff’ while not burning your palate. It’s crying out for a hotdog. SGP:270 – 78 points (Angus 79).

Melfor ‘La Moutarde’ (OB, mustard, East of France, +/-2017)

Melfor ‘La Moutarde’ (OB, mustard, East of France, +/-2017) Two stars and a half We have a nice vinegar factory in East of France that mainly uses honey to produce some very light and rounded vinegar. And so they’re also making mustard using that soft vinegar… Colour: deep yellow. Nose: what’s good with mustard is that they come with readymade nosing glasses. A little sharper than the Condiment, with more pronounced pickled notes, and an elegant vinegary character (Angus). I rather agree, and also finding a little dill and perhaps oregano. Pickled cabbage. Mouth: a little sour, in a good way, with a vinegary side that really stands out, also a little fruity (green pears). Would suit a Scottish chip, says Angus. Remains rather soft, there are much stronger mustards, as we may find out soon. Finish: medium, with light lemony notes and touches of green riesling. Suggestions of that honey they’re using to make the vinegar. Comments: the bittersweet side makes it quite unusual. A lighter style. SGP:360 – 77 points (Angus 77).

Angus says they’ve got some peated mustard in Scotland, a shame that we haven’t got that one on the tasting table. But let’s move on…

Maille ‘Fins Gourmets’ (OB, grain mustard, France, +/-2017)

Maille ‘Fins Gourmets’ (OB, grain mustard, France, +/-2017) Three stars With mustard seeds inside! Colour: mustardy beige. Nose: creamy vinegar, with a floral mustard seed edge, some white pepper (Angus). I find it fresh and refreshing, I could see this used over carrots or celeriac. Rémoulade. I’m also finding hints of mayonnaise. The coleslaw chef’s dream, adds Angus. Slightly grassy as well. Mouth: this one has more power despite the creamy mayonnaise-y texture. There’s a good nose tingling waft of raw mustard seed. The grains don’t get stuck in your teeth, which is a bonus, but I still wouldn’t go dancing on Hotel California with a lady after having had a spoonful of this. Finish: rather long, with some lemon juice, wine vinegar, and hints of tarragon. Celery salt, says Angus. Comments: a solid effort by a very large French maker that belongs to Unilever. Angus says that he certainly prefers grain in his mustard than in his whisky. SGP:271 - 80 points (Angus 80).

Shall we ever find a mustard which is 90?...

Maille ‘à l’Ancienne’ (OB, grain mustard, France, +/-2017)

Maille ‘à l’Ancienne’ (OB, grain mustard, France, +/-2017) Three stars and a half This one with more, and bigger mustard seeds inside. Some deluxe supermarket mustard, if you will. Colour: yellow gravel (and perhaps 5am vo**t). Nose: impressive and robust vinegar notes, says Angus, who would add ‘with bold fruitiness’. He seems to like this one. A mustard to wake you in the morning, through ingestion only, we suppose… I’m finding a little gingerbread and stewed red cabbage. Maybe some malt aromas appearing, or something like that. Mouth: lots of seeds! A very grainy texture, a lot of vinegar, notes of rollmop herring, fresh herbs, tarragon and dill, and pickled onion Monster Munch (says Angus, not sure we’ve got that in France – luckily, I suppose). Angus threatens me to bring me some next time. Finish: medium, with lingering grains in your molars. Comments: a solid mustard to say the least, dependable as well. The Talisker 10 of mustards? SGP:371 - 84 points (Angus 85).

U ‘Bio’ (Magasins U, Dijon mustard, organic, France, +/-2017)

U ‘Bio’ (Magasins U, Dijon mustard, organic, France, +/-2017) Two stars A supermarket’s own brand, they most probably don’t make it themselves. No whole grains in this one, it’s all crushed up. Colour: mustard. Nose: a leaner and more direct vinegar note, subtle fruit, and even a hint of wax (not sure Angus is holding the distance here, he’s starting to organoleptically hallucinate). I’m rather finding a lot of strongly vinegary mayonnaise. Something like tamarind chutney, says Angus, who’s hallucinating more and more… (he’s not going to lose sleep over not being considered a mustard professional, he claims). Mouth: wow, powerful! Immediate nasal aggression, a lot of pepper, we’re starting to cough… Almost wasabi-esque. Mary and Joseph, save us! A whole spoonful would kill  a Clydesdale horse, says Angus. Finish: very long, sour, bitter, and very peppery. A lot of vinegar in the aftertaste. Comments: violently vinegary. Cough, cough… SGP:090 – 75 points (Angus 77).

Alélor ‘Moutarde au Raifort’ (OB, mustard with horseradish, Alsace, +/-2017)

Alélor ‘Moutarde au Raifort’ (OB, mustard with horseradish, Alsace, +/-2017) Two stars and a half A small Alsatian company well-known for their horseradish sauces that have already cured many diseases over the centuries. Colour: electric mustard yellow. Nose: horseradish is immediately apparent on the nose, with a simmering white wine vinegar underneath, and a few strong pickled onions (Angus commenting). I more or less agree, and find a little earthiness too. The rooty side of horseradish, I suppose (isn’t horseradish a root?) Mouth: there are bits of horseradish inside. Slightly vegetal, Angus says that the vegetal side of the horseradish comes through (oh wow, Angus!) I’m finding a curious minty side, while Angus’s getting a little saffron as well. Did you know that we produce a lot of saffron in Alsace? Finish: medium, rather fresh. Earthy and pickle-y, with some green cabbage. Watercress pepperiness. Comments: quite nice, but it’s not as powerful as the nose suggests. Doesn’t immediately kill you like the Dijon. SGP:271 - 78 points (Angus 77).

Bonus, since we just had some horseradish mustard…

Alélor ‘Raifort d’Alsace doux’ (OB, crushed horseradish, Alsace, +/-2017)

Alélor ‘Raifort d’Alsace doux’ (OB, crushed horseradish, Alsace, +/-2017) Two stars Some call this the Alsatian wasabi. I said ‘some’. Colour: raw milk. Nose: pickled earth (says Angus, who was not expecting to do all this while in Alsace for only three days, is now losing his senses), a little mustard seed despite not being any mustard inside, pickled cabbage… I for one I’m rather finding some kind of lemon-drizzled sauerkraut (but indeed that’s pickled cabbage too, my bad). Maybe a little brine as well, says Angus. Mouth: softer first, with a delayed power. Let’s remember that ‘doux’ means ‘soft’, some other horseradish preparations are much stronger. Rather lemony, peppery, a light natural sweetness, tiny red radish (the strongest), and more notes of… mustard. Finish: long, with notes of chilli and pepper. Starts to invade you… Quite warming, almost hot, but it all remains reasonable. Comments: a decent horseradish and a proper alternative to… mustard. A musternative? SGP:171 - 75 points (Angus 77).

We’re so glad I didn’t tell dear Billy A. ‘I love Nutella and I love fishpaste, but not together’ instead. But challenge met!


December 30, 2017


WF Fav


No-Awards 2017

Strictly no awards, it's just a personal list of the whiskies and malternatives I liked best each and every months this year, for the record. Please note that Angus's scores have not been taken into account.


Favourite recent bottling of the month
January 2017   92   Glenfarclas 1979/2016 (46.9%, OB, for Eiling Lim, cask #8818, 188 bottles)
Feb. 2017   91   Bunnahabhain 42 yo 1973/2016 (47.9%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #12145, 427 bottles)
March 2017   92   Port Ellen 32 yo 1983/2016 (54%, The Auld Alliance, Singapore, cask #001/508, 120 bottles)
April 2017   94   Port Ellen 33 yo 1983/2016 (55.9%, The First Editions, Author’s Series, sherry butt, 142 bottles)
May 2017   93   North British 55 yo 1961/2017 (55.1%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask # 13328, 144 bottles)
June 2017   94   Port Ellen 34 yo 1982/2017 (61.7%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, bourbon cask, 545 bottles)
July 2017   94   Ardbeg 23 yo 1993/2017 (52.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary Tasting Session, bourbon hogshead)
August 2017   92   Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1986/2017 (52.6%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead)
Sept. 2017   93   Springbank 21 yo (49.6%, OB, for the UK, single cask, oloroso sherry, 702 bottles, 2016)
October 2017   94   Springbank 23 yo 1994/2017 (50.6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)
Nov. 2017   92   Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt, cask #9)
Dec. 2017   93   Chichibu 2012/2017 (62.5%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, 2second fill bourbon barrel, peated, cask #2087)
Favourite older bottling of the month
January 2017   91 Ardbeg 1966/1992 (50.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.13)
Feb. 2017   92   Speyside Region 41 yo 1969/2010 (54.3%, The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 195 bottles)
March 2017   95   Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, 75cl)
April 2017   92   Port Ellen 11 yo (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, bottled by Cadenhead, +/-1992)
May 2017   96   Miltonhaugh 28 yo 1966 (63.5%, The Whisky Connoisseur, cask #3154, +/-1994)
June 2017   93   Port Ellen 21 yo 1976/1998 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection)
July 2017   92   Highland Park 12 yo (80° proof, W. Cadenhead, early 1960s)
August 2017   93   Caperdonich 38 yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #7437, 162 bottles)
Sept. 2017   94   Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Japan, 75cl, 1970s?)
October 2017   91   Highland Park 22 yo 1961/1984 (46%, Cadenhead, 75cl) 
Nov. 2017   93   Macallan-Glenlivet 29 yo 1965/1994 (49%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1058, 256 bottles)
Dec. 2017   93   Logan’s ‘Extra Age’ (OB, White Horse, blend, 1940s)
Favourite bang for your buck bottling of the month
January 2017   --   None
Feb. 2017   92   Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, 2016)
March 2017   86   Glen Garioch 12 yo (48%, OB, +/-2016)
April 2017   88   Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)
May 2017   87   Bruichladdich 10 yo ‘The Laddie Ten Second Edition’ (50%, OB, 18000 bottles, +/-2016)
June 2017   88   Aberlour 'A'bunadh' batch #57 (60.7%, OB, 2016)
July 2017   87   Vega 23 yo 1993/2017 (51.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 400 bottles)
August 2017   93   Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Archives, butt, cask #9, 120 bottles)
Sept. 2017   90   Highland Park 2007/2016 (58.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, refill bourbon barrels, casks # 15603510-15603515)
October 2017   90   Lagavulin 12 yo ‘Special Release 2017’ (56.5%, OB)
Nov. 2017   91   Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11343, 504 bottles)
Dec. 2017   92   Ledaig 12 yo 2004/2016 (58.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hoghsead, cask #1030, 327 bottles)
Favourite malternative of the month
January 2017   92   Hampden 16 yo 2000/2016 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #JHPF01, 631 bottles) 
Feb. 2017   93   Appleton Reserve 20 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, ceramic jug, +/-1975)
March 2017   91   Hampden Estate 17 yo 2000/2017 (47.4%, Sansibar)
April 2017   93   Grande Champagne ‘Lot 19 NO.24’ (43.1%, The Whisky Agency, 38 bottles, 2016)
May 2017   95   West Indies Dark Rum 1948/1991 (49%, Samaroli, 800 bottles)
June 2017   90   Port Mourant 10 yo 2005/2016 (55%, Cave Guildive, Guyana) 
July 2017   92   Distillerie Charpentier 30 yo (55.3%, Cadenhead, Cognac, Petite Champagne, 252 bottles, 2017)
August 2017   91   Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 (63.2%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Trinidad, 233 bottles)
Sept. 2017   91   Hampden 16 yo 2000/2017 (54.6%, Excellence Rhum, Jamaica)
October 2017   91   Velier Royal Navy (57.18%, Velier, blend, 2017)
Nov. 2017   90   Neisson 2005/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask #11169)
Dec. 2017   90   Borderies N°48 (46.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, lot 423, 2017)


And there, I'll dare post 2017's overall favorites...

Recent bottling:
Springbank 23 yo 1994/2017 (50.6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) -
WF 94

Older bottling:
Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, 75cl) - WF 95

Bang for your buck bottling:
Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) - WF 92

West Indies Dark Rum 1948/1991 (49%, Samaroli, 800 bottles) - WF 95



December 29, 2017


Glen Moray, doing more digging

Since we tried a very good official Glen Moray 12 the other day – wasn’t that just yesterday – let’s have  a few more, at random…

Glen Moray 21 yo 1994/2015 (49.9%, Gleann Mor, A Rare Find, 216 bottles)

Glen Moray 21 yo 1994/2015 (49.9%, Gleann Mor, A Rare Find, 216 bottles) Two stars Careful, these batches could be rather toxic. I mean, difficult… Colour: white wine. Nose: barley, mud, gravel, porridge, carbon paper, saltpetre, cut grass… You see… With water: less of all that and nothing more. Doesn’t swim too well… Mouth (neat): frankly, this baby could be five. Ginger tonic, sour dough, green spices, Campari, some green pears in the background… With water: a little bubblegum, more pears, and a lot of grass and grains. Finish: medium, a tad better. Ginger, grapefruits, nutmeg. Comments: probably a budget cask, and a pretty inactive one at that. But it goes down (your throat, not the drain)… SGP:341 - 76 points.

Glen Moray-Glenlivet 17 yo 1998/2015 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogsheads, 504 bottles)

Glen Moray-Glenlivet 17 yo 1998/2015 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogsheads, 504 bottles) Three stars and a half I’m a bit late again. Colour: straw. Nose: more or less the same whisky, but out of some fresher wood this time, which changes almost everything. Butter croissants, custard, pumpkin seeds, mirabelles, maple syrup, barley, sweet bread… All fine. And behind that, these nice gravely smells that are much nicer in this kind of context. With water: grassier, and more austere. More akin to the ‘Rare Find’ (yeah yeah). Mouth (neat): punchy and rather sharp at first, a tad fizzy, with some sparkling lemon juice and then more barley-y notes. Quite some porridge and a general feeling of… the Lowlands. With water: more roundness again. Limoncello with a little basil and lemongrass. Spread on sushi! Finish: rather long, green, grassy and rather spicier. Comments: really fine. Some could think it’s a Bladnoch. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Glen Moray-Glenlivet 19 yo 1998/2017 (50.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 156 bottles)

Glen Moray-Glenlivet 19 yo 1998/2017 (50.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 156 bottles) Four stars A sister cask, obviously… So did they keep the best or have they bottled it first? Colour: straw. Nose: similar, just a little fresher and zestier. Barley cake, lemon juice, a little mint, and then those croissants indeed. With water: lovely! Melons and peaches, a touch or papaya, pink bananas… Water did wonders to this little baby. Mouth (neat): very similar again, but indeed zestier, a little sharper, cleaner and sleek… Lemon pie covered with meringue. With water: and there, melons and peaches! This one too swims as a Mark Spitz. Finish: medium, clean, very fruity. A fruit salad with one or two tropical ones thrown in. Comments: it loved water and I loved it. Sounds like the title of a tele novella, no? SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glen Moray 25 yo 1991/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, 247 bottles)

Glen Moray 25 yo 1991/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, 247 bottles) Four stars and a half Not a very easy session I have to say, these Glen Morays aren’t exactly aroma bombs and the taster has to work pretty hard on them and keep going from one to the other, back and forth… Colour: pale gold. Nose: very close to Cadenhead’s latest, just a tad more herbal, perhaps. More chamomile and lime tea, and a little less custard/vanilla. Let’s say the cask had simply been 20% less active altogether, despite the extra-years of maturation. With water: lovely mentholy/lemony style, very clean. Green oranges and patchouli. Mouth (neat): Impressively zesty and clean. Pure blood oranges and pink grapefruits in this one, you would swear it’s Rosebank (granted, not for the price of Rosebank). With water: I insist! Rosebank! Finish: rather long, with a perfect citrusy fruitiness. Comments: one of the very better Glen Morays in my opinion, well done Douglas Laing! The rather delicate and sometimes shy distillate manages to shine through, without any roughness. Perfect. SGP:651 - 89 points.

Let’s try to find a slightly older one…

Glen Moray 28 yo 1988/2016 (45.1%, Antique Lions of Spirits, 216 bottles)

Glen Moray 28 yo 1988/2016 (45.1%, Antique Lions of Spirits, 216 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: and yet another fruit salad, this time rather with guavas and bananas upfront, then oranges and light honey, then touches of softer olive oil, Provence-style. I’m also finding notes of Rhône whites, especially roussane and marsanne (grape varieties), as well as quite some orange blossom. Mouth: a delicacy, really soft, showcasing the complexity that only proper aging can bring to whisky. In this very case, that would translate into various kinds of bananas, notes of mangos, and many herbal teas, from rosehip to honeysuckle. Perhaps hints of manuka honey as well, heather honey (callunetum honey – just found that on the web), and a teaspoon of pollen. Finish: medium, fruity, and rather banana-y. We’re not talking ‘ship bananas’ (bananas that only age while on the ships). Comments: perhaps a little less pure brightness than in the D. Laing, but it’s still one of the best recent Glen Morays in my book. SGP:551 – 86 points.

Perhaps last one for the road… let’s try to find a very young one…

Glen Moray 9 yo 2007/2017 (57.7%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead)

Glen Moray 9 yo 2007/2017 (57.7%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead) Four stars In my opinion, it’ll make or break, but I do trust this fairly new bottler… Colour: straw. Nose: well, this is proper young malt whisky, without any flaws, rather on white chocolate and sultanas, then cassata and spiced up raspberry liqueur. Take raspberry liqueur, add one star anise, a pinch of grated ginger, and a few little juniper berries. The cask had its say (you need that at 9), and it was a good cask. With water: more youthful bubblegum and jellybeans, with some welcome touches of green earth in the background. Garden humus. Mouth (neat): crikey, this is good. Modern, yet balanced, smart, with many spiced sweet and jellies and a sweet/fruity spice combo that works extremely well. Some kind of proper Linzertorte, in other words, but it would never go over the top. With water: excellently fruity, but always with a softish yet obvious spicy base. Was some proper wood technologist involved? Someone from former parent company Glenmo plc? Finish: medium, fruity, with good soft drinks. Some butterscotch in the aftertaste (active wood). Comments: we’ve got smart cars and smart phones, why not smart whiskies such as this one? SGP:641 - 86 points.

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



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December 28, 2017


A quartet of official 12s

This is the kind of tasting sessions we used to do in the very beginnings…

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Two stars It’s been four or five years since we last tasted Cardhu 12, an easy going, access-category malt whisky that the owners are really pushing hard in France towards ‘motivated beginners’. Colour: gold. Nose: more floral than ever, I think. We’re finding apple juice, chamomile, touches of light honey and maple syrup, and indeed dandelions and vanilla. Becomes a pleasant rather cake-y nose after thirty seconds. Mouth: this is where it tends to lose it a bit. Rather grainier, with a grassy background, some Ovaltine, leaf teas (blackcurrant, cherry), and a little green oak. One or two ice cubes would be welcome, I suppose. Finish: short, a little bitter and narrow. Black tea and a little burnt caramel, plus oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: I find it less rounded than earlier batches. Goes down pretty well, though, although older young Cardhus (circa 1975-1985) were in a whole different league. You may retrieve those at auctions. SGP:341 - 75 points.

Macallan 12 yo ‘Sherry Oak’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Macallan 12 yo ‘Sherry Oak’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars This one’s extremely expensive given its pedigree (north of 110€ at amacon at time of writing). Colour: gold. Nose: sure there’s more happening than in the modest Cardhu. Some nice metallic touches, a little polish, walnuts, chocolate cake, Mars bar, roasted peanuts, Ovaltine yet again… There’s also some wet earth in the background, humus, a wee mushroom hiding beneath some autumn leaves… Mouth: closer to the Cardhu, less coherent than on the nose, a tad gritty, with some tobacco and tea, then some cloves and caraway, some burnt cake… Sadly, all that does not last forever, and this baby tends to become a little too dry, bitter and narrow, although I do enjoy these notes of dried herbs, parsley, some would even say umami… Finish: short and very dry, mainly on bitter chocolate. A little burnt wood and bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: really good, but the low strength makes it cheap and, well, parsimonious. A little frustrating – and at that price… SGP:441 - 81 points.

Glen Moray 12 yo ‘Elgin Heritage’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Glen Moray 12 yo ‘Elgin Heritage’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars It’s been ages since I last tried Glen Moray 12. Thought it was rather unconvincing but that was in 2004! Colour: straw. Nose: oh rather nice! Golden Grahams and orange cake, sesame seeds, pecans, custard, warm croissants, grist… All this is rather perfect, I would say, very ‘natural’. Well done, so far… Mouth: yes it’s nice, very easy, pleasantly malty, with touches of oranges and a little peanut butter. Unless that would rather be sesame halva (or turron). Tends to lose steam after ten seconds, but that’s normal at this low strength. Finish: as usual, these entry-level malts are suffering at this stage, lacking body and, well, impression. A little too tea-ish and dry now, but I’m finding a little lemon in the evanescent aftertaste, which can’t be bad. Comments: really very fair, surprisingly fair. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Deanston 12 yo (46.3%, OB, +/-2017)

Deanston 12 yo (46.3%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars Another entry-level malt that I haven’t tried since ages. Now they just did a great job with their recent 15 yo ‘Organic’ (WF 87 a few months ago). Colour: pale gold. Nose: there’s more happening in this one, I’d add that it’s a little wilder, earthier, with even wee whiffs of coal smoke, then rather grapefruits and limestone, rather ala unsherried Highland Park. Leaves, tobacco, a touch of curry powder, unexpected oysters (one tiny flat oyster)… In short, this one has more substance and more asperities, as we say. But it was bottled at 46% vol., undeniably a smart move. Mouth: ho ho ho! Lemons covered with iron filings, shoe polish, barley water, and one drop of olive oil. Perfect body and feeling on the palate. Finish: rather long, with a little green pepper and funny notes of mezcal. Comments: the missing link between Springbank and Highland Park? Love it as much as I loved the 15, great job done on this youngster! Deanston’s becoming a name to watch closely… Oh and I love this mention on the label, ‘Un-chill filtered, exactly as it should be’. Apparently, they’re right. SGP:561 - 87 points.

We have a clear winner, haven’t we?



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December 27, 2017


Young Ord’s never ordinary

Yeah well, not particularly proud of that headline either. What’s sure is that Ord or Glen Ord or Glen Ordie etc. is a rather characterful spirit, sadly living in the shadows of bigger names…

Glen Ord 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Càrn Mòr, Strictly Limited, 740 bottles)

Glen Ord 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Càrn Mòr, Strictly Limited, 740 bottles) Two stars How a seven years old Glen Ord could be strictly limited, I don’t quite know… You could hardly find such toddlers ten years ago… Colour: pale gold. Nose: really rough and spirity, with notes of eau-de-vie and artisanal slivovitz-like spirit, then a saucerful of porridge, bread dough, yeast, leaven…. But not bread as such. Mouth: a little better, but still immature. Yoghurt, pepper, pastries, and eau-de-vie again. Straight from the still! Finish: rather long but still raw. Half-baked pastries, then green lemon zests in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this was bottled way too early. Now it’s nice that they haven’t tried to botox it up using newish oak. SGP:351 - 72 points.

Glen Ord 12 yo 2004/2017 (57.2%, Adelphi, cask #152, 242 bottles)

Glen Ord 12 yo 2004/2017 (57.2%, Adelphi, cask #152, 242 bottles) Three stars and a half This one should be a little more rock and roll… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got a porridge-y side too, but there’s also more fatness, it’s a deeper style, rather on Christstolle and other fine Middle-European pastries ridden with tasty doughs and dried fruits. A little leather too, raisins, tobacco… Was it refill sherry? With water: a tad earthy and even muddy. Raw malt. Mouth (neat): very good, punchy, fresher and fruitier this time. Mandarins, orange zests, the Dutch’s preferred fruits (that would be kumquats) and a good deal of gingery pepper. Or peppery ginger, as you prefer. With water: gets more ‘Ordy’, with rather strong tobacco notes beside some honey and pollen. Finish: rather long, malty and tobacco-y. Comments: goody good Ord. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Glen Ord 13 yo 2004/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #1260, 312 bottles)

Glen Ord 13 yo 2004/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #1260, 312 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s rather mature but pure and zesty, as we’re mainly having oranges, apple juice, croissants, and then quite a lot of hay. Touring the French countryside just after harvest time. Yes that would be barley… Mouth: rather excellent given the age and the very moderate oak impact. More oranges and apples, something zesty (lime) and a wee bit of Jaffa cake plus sweet malt. Touches of green pepper. Finish: rather long, a tad fizzy/Schweppesy, with a slightly gingery aftertaste. A little fudge keeps it balanced and ‘easy’. Comments: very fine young malt, very… malty, of course. SGP:551 - 84 points.

I was sure Cadenhead would have something to add to the debate…

Ord 13 yo 2004/2017 (60.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 364 bottles)

Ord 13 yo 2004/2017 (60.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 364 bottles) Four stars This other 2004 should have more sherry inside… Colour: not quite, as the colour is pale. White wine. Nose: no sherry, rather a lot of custard, marzipan, ripe greengages, and indeed porridge again. Wee whiffs of miso soup and leek, that’s most possibly the sherry. With water: some yeasty leather coming out, sour dough, even hints of Swiss cheese (proper Gruyère)… Mouth (neat): rather rounded, yet punchy of course, with good oomph and a cleaner brightness that wasn’t quite there in the others. Raisins macerated in limoncello, beeswax… With water: excellent, with a wee earthy smokiness that’s rather very Glen Ord (we’re talking ancient Glen Ord). Finish: long, rather cake-y and smoky. As often oranges are dancing in the aftertaste. So to speak. Comments: very very good. Bordering 87, I would add. SGP:551 - 86 points.

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



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December 26, 2017


More French rums
looking for more malternatives

Only three of them, straight from Martinique by the means of a good friend who's a doctor, which is always reassuring. No?

Clément ‘L’Elixir’ (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2017)

Clément ‘L’Elixir’ (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2017) Three stars and a half A six years old (minimum age) lavishly packaged in an Eden decanter. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather fine oak plus sandalwood at very first nosing, then rather fudge and pine resins and needles. Goes on with some honeys and dried figs and bananas, and goes then back to these pine-y notes, with also more liquorice. Lovely soft nose. Mouth: some oranges in the arrival, as well as some slightly harsh oak, although the whole would remain rather smooth. Stewed fruits, candy sugar, then even more oranges and marmalade. Marmalade’s actually ruling the show here. Finish: rather long, on some kind of honey and orange cake. There’s even more marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: a very nice cuvee, very approachable but never dull. As any agricole should be. SGP:561 - 84 points.

Rhum J.M 2003/2014 (44.8%, OB, Martinique, agricole)

Rhum J.M 2003/2014 (44.8%, OB, Martinique, agricole) Four stars An older bottling that’s still available at the Distillery, where this bottle comes from. I think I’ve seen 2003s at other strengths as well. Colour: amber. Nose: rather tense, first candied and fudge-y, then more and more mentholated and camphory. Also old burlap and a little tamarind jam. Rather perfect, like this nose a lot. Mouth: just as tense as on the nose, with good oak and impressions of cedar wood, as well as a little charcoal and even grilled beef.  Unexpected touches of raspberries, rather as jelly, and some mango jelly to boot. A little crushed banana as well, the whole being rather perfect and very agricole indeed. Finish: long, balsamic, with more cedar wood and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent J.M that simply holds to its rank. SGP:651 - 87 points.

La Favorite 1991/2017 ‘Cuvée de la Flibuste’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, 6000 bottles)

La Favorite 1991/2017 ‘Cuvée de la Flibuste’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, 6000 bottles) Two stars and a half The label doesn’t say it’s a proper agricole anymore, and indeed these cuvees ‘La Flibuste’ probably shelter some kind of bespoke ‘arrangement’, that is to say a mix of fruits and other substances that are not quite allowed under the Appellation’s rules. I have to say I usually enjoy La Favorite’s proper ‘dry’ agricole rums much, much better. Colour: dark amber. Nose: quite a lot of oak but that’s not unpleasant, while the whole rather showcases some kind of rounded Central-American style. Coffee liqueur and Cointreau, old plum eau-de-vie (vieille prune), mint tea, elderberries, liquorice allsorts… Mouth: really liqueury, you feel a lot of prunes and raisins, as well as a little glucose. But it remains rather cane-y altogether, and I wouldn’t call it unbalanced. Finish: medium, sweet, but indeed rather well balanced. It’s more complex that those several Central-Americans that start with Zs. Quite a lot of vanilla and kids mouthwash in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this 1991 is much better – well, more to my liking – than the earlier and older 1985 that I had found way too molassy and ‘doctored’ (WF 68). SGP:741 – 78 points.

((Thank you Jean-Claude)

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



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December 25, 2017


One bright old Scotch and one bright old Cognac for Christmas

We never mix whisky with other spirits within one session, but today is Christmas and what’s more, we might need to loosen things up from time to time on this wee “blog” (rather an online tasting diary, really)…

Glen Grant 1957/2011 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage) Five stars Haven’t we already tried many superb old Glen Grants from Elgin’s whisky magicians? One the very few whisky companies that seem to have always been thinking long-term, while so many others are trying hard to reduce their TTM these days. Yes, that would be time-to-market, and no, we won’t talk NAS today because remember, this is Christmas! Colour: pale gold, almost straw. Nose: oh, glorious! Little sherry if any, rather many kinds of soft fruit compotes covered with light honey (or say greengage jam with acacia honey), plus just wee whiffs of ointments (Vicks?), eucalyptus, pinesap… It’s all very subtle, complex, not unlike an old Meursault or something like that… One to sip while watching a Bergman. Mouth: what? I had feared it would be a little, say faded, but not at all, this is bright and lively, and deliciously fruity. I’m finding preserved pineapples, tangerines, apple compote, the very same greengage jam as on the nose, and this perfect honeyed development that’s often so great in the very old lightly or totally unsherried whiskies. Also love all these tiny herbs that only appear after a few decades, as well as the hints of glazed chestnuts. Tends to become beautifully almondy as well. The mouth feel’s impressive as well, all 40 percents are firing. Finish: granted, it’s not very long, but it’s flawless. We’ve known old dry sémillons that were a bit like this, on quinces and apricots. Comments: all elegance and, indeed, luxury. As I often say or write, luxury is not the opposite of cheapness, it’s the opposite of vulgarity (well, that’s what Coco Chanel used to say, I did not invent that one!) SGP:551 - 91 points.

And now an old Cognac…

Borderies N°48 (46.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, lot 423, 2017)

Borderies N°48 (46.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, lot 423, 2017) Five stars The little house Grosperrin are avid and skilful hunters of old Cognac casks and demijohns and have achieved a huge reputation among the true Cognac connoisseurs. Imagine they’ve just bottled a 1835 (on Whiskyfun soon!) As for the Borderies, it’s a very small Cru of the Cognac appellation, said to mature a little quicker than others, but I’m not sure anyone could really tell when trying any blind. As for the vintage, as Cognac bottlers usually use wee tricks to display the harvest years when they’re not actually allowed to, I guess it’s safe to say that this is a 1948 (probably not a 1848 ;-)) Oh and this Borderies stems from a small grower/distiller who’s stopped distilling in 1981 and sold its vineyard. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sweet Vishnu! It’s as bright and fresh as the Glen Grant, and it does go into a very similar direction! That’s to say that it’s got orchard fruits (more peaches and melons this time) and perhaps rather honeydew or fir honey than acacia, plus rather sage than eucalyptus. But the overall profiles are very similar, and just as brilliant. Actually, this nose is extraordinarily fresh. Mouth: emphatic, more floral, perfectly textured, with a slightly mentholy structure, then more and more golden raisins and growing notes of blood oranges, marmalade, orange blossom water… There is some pepper in the background, and more grass coming out after a wee minute, which makes this old Cognac a tad rougher than the whisky. The body’s perfect. Finish: long, with a little more green pepper, and even some chlorophyll and peppermint. Chewed up liquorice root sticks in the aftertaste. Ha! Comments: I think the whisky won, but by a very small margin. A matter of individual taste anyway, and this old Cognac sure is totally superb, and even Macallany at time. As for its price, it’s around ten to fifteen times cheaper than any Scottish counterpart. Or 50 (fifty) times cheaper than a Macallan 1948. Isn’t something a bit rotten in the world of spirits? SGP:651 - 90 points.



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December 24, 2017



Tasting two whiskies from Lapoutroie
for Christmas Eve

That’s right, no boring old Macallans of Bowmores today. But what is Lapoutroie, you may ask? It’s a very small town in a very small valley here in the Welche part of Alsace, a.k.a. the Pays Welche. This is Lapoutroie...

But what’s the Pays Welche? Well, while most of Alsace, whilst French, is of Germanic origins, hence the names of the villages such as Turckheim or Niedermorschwihr, a tiny fraction is rather ‘Vosgien’, so of French origin. The Welches were usually people who used to live high in the valleys and who had more contacts with the western Vosgian slopes than with the eastern Alsatian plains, hence their Roman/Celtic French, rather than Germanic, culture. Perhaps 5% of today’s Alsatians are of Welche descent, and guess what, I am part of them. I’d add that the Welches (literally, those from the West) have always distilled a lot of things, mainly wild fruits or fruits from their orchards, but some of them have recently started to produce whisky as well, as we’ll now see…

René De Miscault ‘Fine Selection’ (40%, Musée des Eaux-de-Vie de Lapoutroie, blended Scotch, +/-2017)

René De Miscault ‘Fine Selection’ (40%, Musée des Eaux-de-Vie de Lapoutroie, blended Scotch, +/-2017) Two starsThat’s right, this is not actually Welche, and neither is it Alsatian or French, it’s simply Scotch bottled in France by or for the tiny yet lovely museum of eaux-de-vie in Lapoutroie. But there, we needed a sparring partner… Colour: gold. Nose: rather young, but nice, reminding me of Glenkinchie at first nosing, but getting then more cake-y and bready, and then rather woody, with some sawdust, ginger and white pepper. Acceptable, shall we say… Mouth: it’s got a rather high malt content, but it’s a little raw, so obviously young, with a lot of malt and porridge, and then more sour pepper notes from the oak. Tends to become grassy and bitter (mustard). Finish: medium, rather unbalanced and pretty rough. Feels like some 4 or 5 yo Speyside blended with 40 or 50% grain whisky. Comments: I wouldn’t sip more than half a glass of this, but in a cocktail, why not? We’ve tasted much worse… SGP:361 - 70 points.

Welche’s Whisky 2012/2017 ‘Single Cask #1’ (50.3%, OB, G. Miclo, France/Alsace, single malt, Bourgogne cask, cask #9, 315 bottles)

Welche’s Whisky 2012/2017 ‘Single Cask #1’ (50.3%, OB, G. Miclo, France/Alsace, single malt, Bourgogne cask, cask #9, 315 bottles) Four stars Miclo in Lapoutroie are well known for their very good fruit eaux-de-vies, and while they also own a small Armagnac house, they’ve started to distil whisky a few years ago, some ‘natural’, some lightly peated, and some frankly peated. All are named ‘Welche’s Whisky’, and with the help of a bunch of friends (including this one), they’ve just selected their first single cask, which is the very one we’ll have right now. No need to add that all selecting procedures have been followed ‘blindly’. Colour: amber. Nose: this is why I believe Miclo are now making the best Alsatian whiskies. It’s a bready/malty one, rather punchy and very expressive, full of caraway, cassis buds and wholegrain bread at first sniffing, but it would rather go towards lilies, and then display a pretty medicinal development on camphor, menthol, juniper, coal smoke, burning pine cones, and just a wee touch of blackberry jelly and fresh European oak.

With water: some spicy Christmas cake, how fitting! Mouth (neat): a rather heavy beast, perhaps a tad unlikely at very fist sip (smoked strawberries dipped in mint sauce, really?) but everything is falling into place after five seconds, with a lovely feeling of camphor and red berries mixed with Xmas spices, aniseed, caraway, juniper berries, pickled ginger… There are more and more kind-of-salted or pickled elements, and a grassy smokiness that works very well. Now the crème de cassis is never too far away either.

Distillerie Miclo's still house

With water: gets sweeter, almost Haribo-ish, and rather less smoky. The blackberries are back. Finish: rather long, with a return of some bready spices. Aniseed and raspberries in the aftertaste. Comments: this crafty baby really reminded me of some of Westland’s whiskies. Not much surprise here, Miclo’s master distiller is Canadian! (Yeah I know Westland’s located in the good old US of A). SGP:653 - 85 points.


December 21, 2017


A few Glenfarclas, part two

Just going on…

Glenfarclas 'Legend of Speyside - Springs' (46%, OB, sherry casks, +/-2016)

Glenfarclas 'Legend of Speyside - Springs' (46%, OB, sherry casks, +/-2016) Four stars No comprendo much about this no-age-stated series, I’m afraid, but I thought the ‘Passion’ edition was very good back in 2015 (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a bit like a ‘105’ at a lower strength, if that rings a bell to you. Nice sharp yet rounded malty sherriness and touches of earth, tobacco, and leather. There. Mouth: yeah, very good, bright, full of zesty oranges and tangerines, with a layer of sweet white wine (Sauternes-like) and notes of tinned apricots and muscat grapes. Some sweeter sherry must have been involved. Finish: rather long, with added spices and pepper. It’s fresh and bright, which is obviously good (and leaves room for a second measure). Oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: hate to give good scores to NAS, but remember the NAS issues are about transparency, not quality. I know I’m not preaching in the desert, am I? SGP:651 - 85 points.

So someone mentioned the ‘105’…

Glenfarclas '105' (60%, OB, +/- 2017)

Glenfarclas '105' (60%, OB, +/- 2017) Four stars This one too wasn’t tasted on these very lousy pages since… 2010 (WF 85 again). Oh I’ll have to do 105 vs. A’bunadh again one of these days… Colour: pale amber. Nose: epitomically Speyside indeed. You cannot be against these notes of Mars bars, millionaire shortbread, malted coffee (blend), and pipe tobacco. No you cannot. With water: whiffs of wet earth, always a win in any malt whisky. Mouth (neat): creamy and assertive, not that simple, with marmalade, malt, genuine hazelnut paste (won’t mention that awful brand again, ever) and Cointreau-filled chocolate. A sin. With water: fruits! Oranges and those lovely little fruits they/you have in China, longans. Or dried arbutus berries. Finish: perfect, balanced, kind of smooth, malty and chocolaty. Comments: up one point within seven or eight years. Seriously, this is excellent, classic malt whisky. SGP:651 - 86 points.

Glenfarclas 2008/2016 ‘Cuvée du Fondateur’ (58%, OB, for Corman-Collins, cask #2982, 335 bottles)

Glenfarclas 2008/2016 ‘Cuvée du Fondateur’ (58%, OB, for Corman-Collins, cask #2982, 335 bottles) Four stars A bottling for Belgium, for the well-reputed Corman-Collins house. Not too sure about the bold QR code on the label, looks a bit too 2008, doesn’t it ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: oh! This has earth, camphor, mushrooms, old books, menthol, more earth, fresh concrete, fresh almonds, roots, broken branches… So it’s not very Glenfarclas to say the least, but that’s probably a matter of (the absence of) sherry. With water: same. It doesn’t happen often that water doesn’t change one iota. Mouth (neat): Glenfarclas have a marvellous distillate, and we have more proof here, even if this is pretty rough. A fighter of a whisky that makes your tongue roll and your teeth shake. Lime juice, sharp herbs and roots, fruit jellies, wulong tea… And a pair of boxing gloves. Bang! With water: pears! That’s the youth speaking… We should always listen to the youth… Finish: same pearish maltiness. Comments: some young whiskies are too young, whilst others have just reached a perfect stage, which doesn’t mean that they couldn’t climb much higher. So, Glenfarclas at camp base, I’d say. Really very good. SGP:651 - 87 points.

So, the indies…

Secret Distillery 9 yo (60.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company for La Maison du Whisky, 938 bottles)

Secret Distillery 9 yo (60.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company for La Maison du Whisky, 938 bottles) Three stars Of course we have no proof that this is Glenfarclas, but after a good few drams and quite some laughs and banter, people start to talk… What’s more, all this secrecy around some names starts to sound furiously outdated. If I may and dare… Colour: dark amber. Nose: the older, more sherried 105. Heavy chocolate, malt and coffee, plus earth, leather, and roasted chestnuts. Simple and obvious. With water: pine bark and more chestnuts, plus a wee metallic side. Some old engine? Mouth (neat): A’bunadh, that’s all I’ll say. Or Macallan Cask Strength, only better. Remember Macallan? With water: the oak starts to feel a bit. Caraway, ginger, cinnamon… As if this baby was finished in European-oak quarter casks. Just a wild guess, and I know I’m most certainly wrong here. Finish: long, spicier, with ginger and caraway. Comments: fine, I’m just not an utter fan of oak that comes out when that’s not necessary. Well that’s never necessary, I agree. SGP:561 - 81 points.

Is there more? Let’s see… Oh some older ones, because the youngsters can be a little tiring…

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1971 ‘Orange Syllabus’ (56.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.97, 247 bottles, +/-2001)

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1971 ‘Orange Syllabus’ (56.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.97, 247 bottles, +/-2001) Five stars I don’t know, data don’t seem quite right on this fairly modern SMWS label. Only 30 yo, really? Or truly 1971? But never mind the bottle… Colour: amber. Nose: it’s pine-y, it’s got ointments and embrocations, it’s wonderful, and one could believe this baby spent some time in an ex-Laphroaig cask, really. With water: yes indeed. Mercurochrome and creosote and waxed apples. Mouth (neat): oh wow! Pinesap, fir liqueur, lime, peat smoke, brine… Wait, #1 at the SMWS, that’s well Glenfarclas, am I not right? Laphroaig is #29, Lagavulin #111, Caol Ila #53,  Ardbeg #33, Bowmore #3… So this is obviously an ex-peater cask. Okay, the Scots move in mysterious way, don’t they… With water: some amazing 1978 or 1978 Caol Ila! No really, I’m lost… Finish: smoky toothpaste and grapefruits. How very un-Glenfarclas indeed. Comments: this was all bizarre… And yet I checked everything, there were no procedural errors… Oh well, some pretty brilliant whisky, for sure. SGP:454 - 90 points.

Some older young OB, perhaps…

Glenfarclas 1994/2003 (53.3%, OB for Potstill Vienna, cask #839, 312 bottles) Four stars No picture for this one. Why would that matter! Colour: dark amber. Nose: typical of those years, all on coffee, chocolate, prunes, Armagnac, coffee liqueur, and such. There. With water: some earth. Mouth (neat): marmalade and Italian chocolate liqueur. With water: creamy texture. Chestnut purée, pipe tobacco, prunes, raisins. Finish: quite long and even more Armagnacqy. Comments: heavy and good. How do you like this kind of shorter notes? SGP:661 - 86 points.

Back to the OBs, this is getting rather ‘free’…

Glenfarclas 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2005)

Glenfarclas 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2005) Five stars I know this note will be rather useless, but I used to like this packaging… Colour: gold. Nose: ooh, this is rather brilliant. Subtler than contemporary versions, perhaps not as impressive as earlier ones (those square/rectangular bottles…), full of menthol, spearmint, wulong tea, cough medicine… What I find remarkable here is that there aren’t any raisins. Mouth: really very good, mentholy and with dried fruits, papayas, perhaps even mangos… Really, wow! Finish: rather long, orange-y and mentholy, with a rather medicinal aftertaste. Comments: a good example of perfect bottle aging. In no way whatsoever was this bottle this perfect twelve years ago. Which will remind us of good old Professor Saintsbury, who used to cellar his whiskies as if they were wine. I’m about to believe that he may have had something… (come on S., as if we weren’t in the know already)… SGP:562 - 90 points.

Perhaps a last one before it’s too late…

Glenfarclas 1989/2014 (46%, OB, for Hanseatischen Weinhandelsgesellschaft Bremen – that’s right - first fill oloroso)

Glenfarclas 1989/2014 (46%, OB, for Hanseatischen Weinhandelsgesellschaft Bremen – that’s right - first fill oloroso) Three stars and a half Comes complete with a photograph of John Grant at the ripe old age of 30 on the back label of this German bottling. Germany's always been a very large market for Glenfarclas. Colour: amber. Nose: prunes, Armagnac, chocolate, coffee beans, old walnuts, and three used matchsticks. Mouth: as good as it gets, just a little simple. Like prunes, Armagnac, chocolate, coffee beans, old walnuts, and three used matchsticks. Finish: medium, on, guess what, prunes, Armagnac, chocolate, coffee beans, old walnuts, and three used matchsticks. How surprising. Comments: good prune juice with coffee and Armagnac. Nice drier aftertaste, perhaps a tad too oloroso-ish? SGP:461 - 84 points.

We’re done, I think.

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



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December 20, 2017


A few Glenfarclas (Glenfarcli?)

Cadenhead have had a few new independent ones in recent months, and I thought that was a good opportunity to revisit a part of the distillery’s core range. And perhaps others…

Glenfarclas 8 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Glenfarclas 8 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars The older 8 from the 1960s was totally stunning, but this is a newer beast… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather hot, a little spirity, with some dough, baker’s yeast, grass, hay, and crushed almonds. I find it dry and perhaps a little too rough… Crushed leaves. Mouth: a little rounder, with good oranges and touches of raisins in the arrival, but it tends to become rather too grassy and harsh for me after just three seconds, although it would improve again after, say ten minutes. Biscuits, marmalade, Jaffa cake. Finish: medium, with nice notes of black mint tea. Marmalade again in the aftertaste. Comments: needs a little time to lose its harshness from the youth, but gets then really ‘nice’, as they say in whisky forums. SGP:451 – 80 points.

Glenfarclas 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Glenfarclas 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half I haven’t formally tried the 10 since… 2010. WF 81 was the score. Colour: gold. Nose: starts very malty, gets then fruitier. Overripe apples in abundance, some orange cake, a touch of charcoal, raisins, and a nice warm brioche straight from the baker’s. More roundness that in the 8, which sounds pretty normal, doesn’t it. Mouth: UMC, I would say. Better than many counterparts from other makers, with many cakes, café latte, malty drink (Ovaltine), and once again, oranges and marmalade. This is perfect in its own category, and frankly, I had forgotten, how good this easily available malt was. Finish: medium, clean, raisiny, with figs and malt. Chicory. Comments: I’m fairly impressed. Solid malt whisky for a very fair price (last time I checked). SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenfarclas 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017)

Glenfarclas 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half Some classic sherried Speysider that everyone should have tried. WF 84 last time I had, but that was in… 2006 (feeling shame here at WF Towers). Colour: gold. Nose: not that different from the 10, just cake-ier, more sherried, and rather more complex, with small herbs, a mossy side, and a large chocolate cake. Touches of yeasty porridge in the background. Fresh pumpernickel bread. Mouth: really very cake-y, malty, with raisins and some very lovely touches of spearmint. I’m also finding a delicate wood smoke, as well as the usual walnuts when we’re having a sherried malt such as this one. Goody good. Finish: rather long, and shall I dare mention Christmas cakes? And yet it’s not heavy. Comments: I just couldn’t tell you which one I like best, between the 10 and the 15. Both are top class in their categories. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Good, we know have a solid foundation, we may try some indies…

The Hielanman 45 yo 1971/2015 (38.3%, Cadenhead, Spirit drink, 75 bottles)

The Hielanman 45 yo 1971/2015 (38.3%, Cadenhead, Spirit drink, 75 bottles) Five stars Not whisky since it had dropped below 40% vol. As for the distillery, I don’t think that’s totally a secret. Colour: gold. Nose: get-out-of-here! It’s akin to those marvellous early 1970s ‘undisclosed Speysides’ (even more of those soon on WF), with the most subtle and enthralling combination of honeys, figs, waxes, and metal parts. Polishes, oils, bits of copper, bits of iron… Then we find a winning trio, menthol plus eucalyptus plus camphor. That always works!  Mouth: well, it isn’t weak, its just a tad oaky at first sips (cedar wood), but the magnificent waxy fruitiness is soon to come to the rescue. Honeydew, pollens, very old chardonnay, a touch of sour apple, a pinhead of balsamico, a drop of Yquem (this is Christmas time, you know)… Now do the missing 40-38.3=1.7% vol. feel? Absolutely not. Finish: medium, lovely, honeyed, date-y. A drop of old moscatel, perhaps. Comments: at 38.3%, we’ve got a good excuse to do nothing but drink more of this baby, and that’s not its only advantage. SGP651 - 90 points.

Now some Glenfarclas that says it’s Glenfarclas…

Glenfarclas 27 yo 1990/2017 (51.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 210 bottles)

Glenfarclas 27 yo 1990/2017 (51.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half Cadenhead’s Glenfarclasses often went into all directions, but isn’t that what we’re expecting from an independent bottler? Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, this is something else. Think some kind of apple compote with bits of mint leaves and a dollop of heather honey, plus some wood smoke and a wee meatiness, with even drops of proper English gravy. With water: not many changes. Perhaps more malt and yeast. That’s right, bread. Mouth (neat): rather tense, close to the distillate, and yet a tad caramelly, with superb oranges and tangerines. Extremely to my liking, but it’s true that we’ve had other excellent 1990s from this distillery. Do you believe in vintages in whisky? With water: excellent, that’s all I’ll say. Finish: long, a little earthy, but quick to go back towards malt and oranges. Touches of lemon in the aftertaste, always welcome. Comments: actually, it was a Glenfarclas that wasn’t that far from most officials. SGP:561 - 88 points.

Glenfarclas 28 yo 1988/2017 (53%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)

Glenfarclas 28 yo 1988/2017 (53%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half This ought to be similar, even if the vintage is different… Colour: gold. Nose: no, this one’s tenser, grassier, with more earth and herbs, and rather less classic Glenfarclasness. Some leather, cigars, teas, fresh cardamom … I wouldn’t say there’s a lot standing out so far, but water may help… With water: hay… Classic development… Mouth (neat): ah no, this is superb! Full of oomph and zing, perhaps a tad angular but I like that, with malty oranges and a superb breadiness, zests, marmalade, tobacco… With water: perfect malty distillate, from a cask that smartly kept quiet. I’m often quoting panettone, well this is liquid panettone. Auguri! Finish: medium, rounder, malty, with cakes and scones and marmalade in the aftertaste. Breakfast: done. Comments: as good as it gets. Classic malty malt whisky of proper age. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Good, I think we shall do a second session, because we had more of those than expected in the (not so) small boxes…

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



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December 19, 2017


More newish Scottish grains

Yes, we keep on going as long as we have to! Indeed, many grains are coming out these days, especially single grains. Remember, ‘single’ is a magic word as far as whisky’s concerned… Let’s try these as they come…

Cambus 24 yo 1993/2017 (52.7%, North Star Spirits, refill PX sherry butt)Cambus 24 yo 1993/2017 (52.7%, North Star Spirits, refill PX sherry butt)

Cambus 24 yo 1993/2017 (52.7%, North Star Spirits, refill PX sherry butt) Three stars and a half Some young or middle-aged Cambus that I’ve tried recently have been rather varnishy and bonbony. Perhaps is it to be noted that 1993 was the distillery very last year of working. Colour: gold. Nose: some whiffs of fresh glue and varnish at first nosing, as expected, then some rather subtle notes of vanilla cake, kougelhopf, and simply sawdust. I wouldn’t say that the PX had much to say in this context, but remember, it’s a refill cask. With water: surprise surprise, we’re in front on some kind of pastry dough, with some gingerbread and some raisins. That is nice. Mouth (neat): rather unusual, with a big oak presence that translates into juniper, curry, caraway, and ginger. A wee feeling of malt whisky, which can’t be bad, and then more black pepper. With water: big cask impact, I’m even wondering if that PX cask wasn’t made out of European oak. Nice gingery and peppery oak. Speculoos. Finish: rather long, spicy, and somewhat ‘Indian’. Caraway, aniseed, masala… Comments: frankly, many grains are boring, but not this one, thanks to the cask. Excellent surprise. SGP:471 - 83 points (which is super-high in this context, really!)

Cambus 25 yo 1991/2017 (52.7%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt)

Cambus 25 yo 1991/2017 (52.7%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt) Three stars and a half There must be something with Cambus these days… Colour: amber. Nose: yeah right, a very good cask. Rum and raisins, maple syrup, millionaire shortbread, sugarcane juice, and only in the distance, a little wood varnish (cellulosic). With water: some light orange notes, a funny wee brine-y touch (or sardines?) Mouth (neat): yes indeed, the cask. More rum, coffee liqueur, panettone, butterscotch, Nutella (apologies)… This would beat many a ‘commercial’ rum. You could even say that it’s akin to a Central-American rum, minus all the sweet sauces and shady concoctions they add to most of those. With water: works very well. One can feel that the spirit behind isn’t very deep, but the whole works well, really well. Finish: medium, on butterscotch and, yes, rum. Comments: surprisingly to my liking, this rum. I mean, this grain whisky. SGP:551 - 83 points.

Girvan 26 yo 1989/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11061, 224 bottles)

Girvan 26 yo 1989/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11061, 224 bottles) Two stars and a halfGirvan at a youngish age can be difficult… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s hard after the two doped-up Cambusses. Ideas of pina colada, perhaps? A little custard, vanilla cream, Starbuck’s café latte… It’s all very soft, almost evanescent. With water: butterscotch and vanilla fudge in a tourist shop in Scotland. Mouth (neat): easy, sweet. Vanilla, coconut, blood oranges, a touch of acacia honey, and indeed a nice balance. With water: careful! Water could flatten it. Finish: a little short, on sweet sawdust and more coconut. Comments: pretty good, flawless and innocuous grain whisky. We’ve known some young bourbons… SGP:530 - 78 points.

Strathclyde 27 yo 1989/2017 (52.8%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, 156 bottles)

Strathclyde 27 yo 1989/2017 (52.8%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, 156 bottles) Four stars Always funny to see that the stars in Campbeltown keep ranking their Scottish grains among the ‘world whiskies’, as if they were thinking those aren’t really Scotiish… Colour: white wine. Nose: there, warm sawdust, grated coconut, vanilla pods, croissants, and those sparkling, acidic sweets we were having when we were kids. With water: fruits up, pastries down. We shan’t complain. Mouth (neat): undeniably good. More orange sweets, kiwis, rhubarb, grapefruit… And rather less vanilla/coconut (the infernal duo). With water: good, really good. Some depth, a nice freshness, some fruits in syrup (preserved)… All is well. Finish: medium, clean, fruit. Comments: not the first we’re finding some very good Strathclyde. What’s their secret? A matter of column height? Cereals? Reduction? SGP:641 - 85 points.

Dumbarton 30 yo 1987/2017 (55.3%, Hunter Laing The Sovereign for The Whisky Barrel, refill barrel, cask #14247, 160 bottles)

Dumbarton 30 yo 1987/2017 (55.3%, Hunter Laing The Sovereign for The Whisky Barrel, refill barrel, cask #14247, 160 bottles) Four stars Another one from Ballantine’s former giant distillery. Not the deepest distillate, in general… Colour: gold. Nose: may I see the empty cask? This has some smoke and an obvious medicinal side, which suggests it was an ex-peater cask. Under those conditions, the very light distillate hasn’t much to say (the Bill Wyman of whisky?) while this rather elusive coastal/medicinal smokiness rather works. A very light Islay, if you will. With water: more of all that, even some ashes… Far in the distance, the usual coconut. Mouth (neat): once again it’s the peat that’s doing all the talking. White peaches and peat smoke, we cannot not think of Ardmore. With water: peat up! This is really funny… (and good). Finish: long, smoky, crisp, with notes of lemon. Comments: good fun! But isn’t this a blend? SGP:354 - 85 points.

Who could be against some fun? Let’s try another Sovereign then, you never know…

Carsebridge 44 yo 1973/2017 (50.9%, Hunter Laing The Sovereign for The Whisky Barrel, refill hogshead, cask #14189, 150 bottles)

Carsebridge 44 yo 1973/2017 (50.9%, Hunter Laing The Sovereign for The Whisky Barrel, refill hogshead, cask #14189, 150 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: no peat this time, rather a quite subtle combination involving the usual vanilla and coconut, plus cut grass and some stewed apples. Not very big so far, but I wouldn’t say the age shows much. Perhaps a little shy? With water: more coconut, as (almost) always… Mouth (neat): ah. More proof that grain whisky needs a good cask and a lot of time. Both have been in use here, and you just cannot not fall for this subtle, almost caressing tropicalness. Avocado juice, crushed bananas, a touch of mango and papaya… Extremely good! All you need is a swimming pool, a deckchair, and 35°C in the shade. With water: even more tropical fruits. Shall we call it maracuja-y? I know, I know… Finish: medium, with a sweet sourness that works very well. Comments: one of the much better grains, for sure. But a word of caution, it drinks very well and may bring guilt. SGP:630 - 87 points.

… quit while we're on a roll? Never!...

Dumbarton 30 yo 1987/2017 (56.5%, Hunter Laing The Sovereign for The Whisky Barrel, refill barrel, cask #13436, 197 bottles)

Dumbarton 30 yo 1987/2017 (56.5%, Hunter Laing The Sovereign for The Whisky Barrel, refill barrel, cask #13436, 197 bottles) Three stars I agree we should have tried this one just after the other Dumbarton 30 by the very same team. Colour: straw. Nose: no smoke and no peat this time, rather a little sweet and rounded varnish, a touch of earth, and quite a lot of custard. Well… With water: ah? Mercurochrome and mud… That’s a bit rugby, isn’t it. BTW, have you seen the French team? They’re terrible these days! Mouth (neat): no, wait, indeed I’m finding a soft smokiness, perhaps a tad Caol-Ila-ish, and a feeling of smoked lemons and apples. Green peppercorn. With water: indeed, it seems that they’ve used some ex-peater cask for this one too, even if that’s much less obvious than with cask #14247 – which I liked better. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad undetermined. So, is it a peater or is it a ‘regular’ grain whisky? Comments: good and, as they say, intriguing. SGP:442 - 82 points.

North British 21 yo 1995/2017 (52.9%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 146 bottles)

North British 21 yo 1995/2017 (52.9%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 146 bottles) Three stars North British in those old days was made out of maize. I know because I know a guy who used to sell it to them… (that’s first hand information, isn’t it!) Colour: straw. Nose: when you hear maize you think popcorn, but that would be a mistake, as there’s rather some earth, concrete, humus, fermented coconut wine, and just ideas of old chardonnay. In short, it’s complex. With water: well, water makes it simpler. Vanilla, sawdust, coconut, all in sync. Mouth (neat): a tad more varnishy and even bourbony, with some bubblegum and many fruit sweets, pears, pineapples… And yes my friend, some maize! With water: this is funny, it gets more complex again. Sour fruits (fresh pineapples) and some tinned mango juice, with this wee metallic side… Finish: medium, rather tropical. You could mix this with rum and create some kind of easy meta-spirit (S.! Is that supposed to mean anything?) Comments: some good grain. And you do need a bottle of North British, don’t you! SGP:640 - 82 points.

Back to Cambus?

Cambus 27 yo ‘Silent Character’ (52%, The Tweeddale, 564 bottles, 2017)

Cambus 27 yo ‘Silent Character’ (52%, The Tweeddale, 564 bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half This is a vatting of two casks. Love it that they would use the word ‘silent’, as I remember I had shocked some friends abroad while using the words ‘silent whisky’ when speaking about some grain whisky they had selected. No, no, grain’s often been called a ‘silent spirit’, that’s purely historical! Colour: straw. Nose: vanilla, sawdust, croissants. I repeat, vanilla, sawdust, croissants. I repeat again… With water: same, more or less. Vanilla, sawdust, croissants. Mouth (neat): ah, this is very good. Perhaps a tad simple, but this creamy fruitiness works extremely well. Apricots in syrup, vanilla, maple syrup… With water: good! Some marzipan, hints of kirsch… We could even call it a tad ‘Slivovitzy’. Finish: medium, with sweet almonds. That’s right, marzipan. Comments: as good as some middle-aged grain whisky can get. But we're running it down now… SGP:541 - 83 points.

That’s it. Good, I don’t think we’ve found any proper duds today. Perhaps did all these distinguished bottlers find out that most grain whiskies were better off in blends? And keep only the very best to bottle as ‘singles’? Or was it pure luck? But we’ve got many more grains, so… stay tuned, as they used to say at Abbey Road Studios, St John’s Wood…

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



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December 18, 2017


Glenury versus Glenugie

That G&M could still bottle an old Glenury Royal only a few years back was quite a miracle. Sadly, Glenury’s getting very scarce and there isn’t any left in WF’s Y.U.S.L (yet untested sample library), so I think we’ll go just a few miles north and make good use of an old Glenugie of very similar strength as its sparing partner…

Glenury Royal 1984/2012 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, cask # R0/12/05)

Glenury Royal 1984/2012 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, cask # R0/12/05) Five stars Ooh the 23 yo 1971 Rare Malt!  That was some Glenury! Colour: gold. Nose: should I write ‘typical’? I haven’t tasted hundreds of Glenuries, most sadly, but I do seem to recognise these whiffs of old toolboxes and copper coins, these notes of old leather jacket (old greasy biker jacket), this unusual blend of patchouli and mint tea, and above everything, this feeling of having just opened a 25-box of fine Cuban cigars. And then we have a little ham and perhaps even mutton suet. So unconventional by today’s standards! Mouth: aw, this is perfect. Rather more on anything from a beehive for a start, getting then rather orangey and orange-blossomy, and then more herbal, in a very complex way. Leek and chives, lovage, perhaps even a very wee touch of garlic. And then the sweeter, rounder notes do come back, with orange blossom honey and a wee bit of fig. Impeccable. Finish: medium long, complex, rather cigary again, but there’s quite a lot of earl grey tea in the aftertaste. Touches of juniper and cumin too. Comments: excellent. I think you could still find this one… And Christmas is near, and you do need a Glenury Royal. Not only because it’s, ach, royal! SGP:561 - 90 points.

Glenugie 28 yo 1977/2006 (45.5%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #5504, 228 bottles)

Glenugie 28 yo 1977/2006 (45.5%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #5504, 228 bottles) Four stars and a half So this is the sparring partner. Wonderful distillery, wonderful malt, sadly gone for good. Check pictures of the distillery on ze (still kind of free) Internet, it was quite amazing. Colour: gold. Nose: not quite a typical Glenugie, that is to say not a boldly fruity one at first nosing, rather a buttery one, with pastries, leaven, then bone marrow, custard, some kind of potato soup, mashed carrots… Perhaps touches of wet concrete and cardboard too… As they say, the jury’s still out… Mouth: ah yes, sparkles of Glenugieness! Which means tangerines, citrons, blood oranges, and the wackiest guavas. In truth this palate has nothing to do with the nose, it’s even quite extraordinary. No other malt whisky has or had Glenugie’s very typical fruitiness. I can even find some fruity hops… Right, good IPA. Finish: medium, all on those fruits. Fruits that are just about to start to rot… Comments: it’s hard to score a whisky that’s got a nose and a palate that are so deviant from each other. What’s sure is that I adored the palate. SGP:651 - 88 points.



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December 17, 2017


Five More Malternative Cognacs

… Starting with a little apéritif. After all, we’re in France, aren’t we?

A.E. DOR ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Fine Champagne, +/-2017)

A.E. DOR ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Fine Champagne, +/-2017) Four stars This from a famous house in Jarnac, well-known for their old ‘Vieilles Réserves’. A Fine Champagne is usually a blend of Grande and Petite Champagne. This baby’s approx 8 years of age. Colour: full gold. Nose: rather delicate, starting with a little maple syrup and peach jam, becoming then a little more cake-y, with also a little cigarette tobacco and whiffs of gorse and honeydew. I really enjoy this delicate and rather complex style. Mouth: it’s rather fruity, with good stewed peaches and apricots, not too many raisins, and a wee feeling of lavender and violet sweets. Not too weak despite the lower strength, this is a very well composed cognac. Finish: medium, a little more on cake again, panettone, and probably these violets again. A little liquorice and honey in the aftertaste. Comments: very attractive, quite easy, yet not ‘commercial’ at all. This session starts very well (and I love violets). SGP:551 - 85 points.

François Voyer ‘Cask 88’ (42.7%, La Maison du Whisky, Through The Grapevine, Grande Champagne, 214 bottles, 2017)

François Voyer ‘Cask 88’ (42.7%, La Maison du Whisky, Through The Grapevine, Grande Champagne, 214 bottles, 2017) Five stars Remember, many Cognac houses are using ‘funny numbers’ to tell you about the vintages of their Cognacs. In this case, that ‘cask 88’ may well suggest that this is a 1988. I’ve already tried this baby several times and informally, always loved it. Colour: amber. Nose: terrific indeed. Ripe bananas, peach liqueur, buttercups, honeysuckle, mangos, papayas, a touch of green wulong tea, Provence melons… If this would be whisky, it would be a beautifully made 20 yo ex-bourbon Bruichladdich. Untouched! Mouth: splendid, starting with a herbal grittiness that works very well (leaves, Calvados), and going on with many fruits, from our orchards to a tropical plantation. Mangos, pears, melons… Not one single raisin in sight, that’s class. Finish: rather long, with some pineapple this time, as well as that violet liquorice that we had already found in the A.E. DOR. Comments: really splendid and totally malternative. Wonderful style, both firm and easy. SGP:751 - 90 points.

Perhaps another 1988?...

Grande Champagne 1988/2017 (48.8%, Jean Grosperrin)

Grande Champagne 1988/2017 (48.8%, Jean Grosperrin) Four stars and a half The house Grosperrin are éleveurs and sélectionneurs, and have a very high reputation among the connoisseurs. They sometimes manage to unearth very old Cognacs, some pre-phylloxeric! We may try a few of those for Christmas this year, but in the meantime, let’s taste this new 1988… Colour: gold. Nose: in a similar style as that of the Voyer, just a tad lighter and less emphatic. It’s actually quite delicate and complex, with flowers aplenty rather than wham-bam fruits. Honeysuckle, dandelions, wallflowers… Love wallflowers! It tends to become more resinous and pine-y after five minutes, in a wonderful manner. Do not expect a jerry can of gasoline! Mouth: very classy, as expected, and rather more fruity and sweet, with Turkish delights, stewed peaches, greengages, figs, and hints of pineapple flambéed. Yellow melons. A wee grittiness in the background (grape pips, almond skins). Perfect body, perfect strength. Finish: pretty long, with a wee touch of caramel-covered raisins and oranges. The pineapples are back in the aftertaste. Comments: just a tad less ‘immediate’ than the Voyer, but brilliant and highly recommended. I believe the prices are rather fair. SGP:651 - 89 points.

Delamain ‘Vesper XO’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017)

Delamain ‘Vesper XO’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017) Four stars An old Cognac (approx 35 years of age, apparently) from another very well reputed house located in Jarnac. A shame that they bottled this old beauty at 40%, though, hope it won’t feel too weak or even only shy. Colour: amber. Nose: indeed it is a little shy, discreet, almost evanescent at first nosing. It’s only after one good minute that some subtle notes of dried figs and raisins start to rise to your nostrils, together with a little milk chocolate and the lightest pipe tobacco. Also pine needles, but that’s after two minutes. Mouth: extremely good, no doubt about that, even at 40% vol. Sure you need more, which is a little frustrating, but these bright oranges and juicy ripe peaches just work. This, at 45% vol., would make for one of the greatest Cognacs. Finish: a little short and fragile, rather sadly. The core is superb, though, I especially enjoy these notes of cherry jam. Comments: a great Cognac, but also a missed opportunity, in my opinion. Even if I very well know that many regular Cognac drinkers don’t really dig higher strengths, which may pose a dilemma. SGP:641 - 85 points.

Good, a last one… Oh let’s make it a very old one!

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 40 Hommage à Paul Vallein’ (49.7%, OB, 2017)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 40 Hommage à Paul Vallein’ (49.7%, OB, 2017) Five starsA new old Vallein-Tercinier, that deserves the attention of the house, doesn’t it? Indeed, ‘Lot 40’ suggests this is wartime Cognac… Colour: deep gold. Nose: sweet Vishnu, this is as bright and fresh as a… ach, a button. Fantastic fruity and slightly mentholy development on the nose, with crushed bananas mingled with fresh mint leaves, plus a little heather honey and many smaller herbs and spices. An astounding complexity, and yet one feels that it’s a ‘coherent whole’. Whiffs of church incense, and perhaps touches of williams pears. Amazing and quite miraculous, without any obvious oakiness. Mouth: do they have a secret machine that takes out the tannins? Well, there are a few green tannins remaining (tea leaves, apple peel), but all the rest is pretty perfect. Apples, peaches, a little mint again, eucalyptus drops, a hint of cedar wood, a drop of pine resin… Sure it’s a little less bright and dazzling than the superb 1988s, but at almost 80 years of age, it holds its rank with much panache. Finish: Comments: that’s right, it’s almost eighty years old (unless it was kept in demijohns in some paradise for a while, not too sure)… SGP:651 - 90 points.

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



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December 16, 2017



I have to say last time I’ve been this jealous of someone else was when my friend Alain had bought a brand new metallic blue Gitane Testi Champion Super 50cc, back in 1974… -S.




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus’s Asia Tasting Diary. Part 2: Japan
As you read this I’m still in Japan, on a tour of bars, cities and restaurants which to describe as revelatory would be an understatement. The politeness, respect and kindness of the Japanese people; the cleanliness and efficiency of their transport and cities; and the beauty of their food and many remarkable bars has all been breathtaking.


I had intended to take notes for a selection of the whiskies we tasted and publish all of them here on Whiskyfun. However, at the time of writing I’ve written notes for no less than 52 different whiskies. So, I think for this occasion, we’ll just stick to selected highlights. However, as with last week, I apologise in advance for any excess maltoporn which may or may not occur...  


Glenfiddich 30 yo (43%, OB, Stags Head decanter, 1980s)

Glenfiddich 30 yo (43%, OB, Stags Head decanter, 1980s) A bottling produced for several markets which is now pretty rare and at the time of release was particularly expensive - even by today’s standards. Colour: Deep Gold. Nose: Beautifully lush, deep and polished. Many ripe figs, hardwoods, spices, quince, damson puree, mint julep, orange oils and rosehip tea. Some jasmine, assorted dried herbs and lanolin. Harmonious and very beautiful. Mouth: very light but with a nicely spicy backbone, a gamey side as well with meat stock, a gravelly minerality, soft waxiness, lemon rind and eucalyptus resin. Becomes increasingly complex with a little time in the glass. Finish: Surprising length. Almondy with olive oil, pear liqueur, bay leaf and turmeric. Comments: A fragile but beautiful and rather great old Glenfiddich. It’s easy to imagine some rather plush business types chomping on cigars and downing this by the tumbler full in the 1980s. SGP: 441 - 90 points.



Glenfarclas 1955 (43%, OB, decanter, 1980s)

Glenfarclas 1955 (43%, OB, decanter, 1980s) Another super rare old official decanter style bottling. This one carries a pretty serious reputation... Colour: chestnut. Nose: Holy moly! The most astonishing concentration of dark fruits, wet earth, waxes, precious hardwoods, aged teas, espresso, walnut liqueur, aged pinot noir, game, rancio, aged cognac and trail mix. Astonishing - pure maltoporn! Mouth: The nose writ even larger! Except you can add a good slug of ancient balsamico, cloves, toasted spices, olive oil, green fruits and malt loaf. Even a lick of aged peat and some orange oils. Best stop now as this could go on indefinitely if we’re not careful... Finish: Thrilling! Gently tannic, perfectly spicy and lusciously fruity. A long, rollercoaster heading for the sunset... Comments: A genuine showstopper of a dram. The epitome of what perfect sherry + perfect wood + perfect distillate + time can produce. A Glenfarclas for the ages. SGP: 663 - 94 points.



Highland Park 1951 (43%, OB, St Magnus Label, late 1970s)

Highland Park 1951 (43%, OB, St Magnus Label, late 1970s) Another extremely rare bottle that I have long coveted, however bars in Japan seem to have these things just lying around in cupboards. I should also add this one was freshly opened for us as well (sorry Olivier). Colour: Amber. Nose: A rich mix of earth, dry sherry, crushed nuts, assorted fruits and peat. It’s this typically Orcadian peat: full of soft, dry herbal and earthy qualities - almost organic in character. Light citrus notes, a few smoked grains, olive oil then becoming increasingly coastal with seashore, hessian and preserved lemons. A little metal polish and soot as well, getting saltier with time. Mouth: Glistening peat, waxes, preserved dark fruits, some candied peel, various shades of pepper, a little milk chocolate and increasingly earthy and farmy with a big resinous character. Finish: Long, oily and resinous. A little more waxy, citrus peel resurfacing towards the end. Comments: There is a slight frustration here with the bottle being freshly opened, I suspect that had we tasted it even a day or two later it would have opened up and been even more spectacular. However, it doesn’t disappoint. Surprisingly gentle in many ways but globally it’s beautifully complex. One of these old school HPs that’s a world away from anything distilled anywhere today. SGP: 455 - 93 points.



While we’re on Orkney...  


Highland Park 1956 (54.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK, 1980s)

Highland Park 1956 (54.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK, 1980s) We suspect this may well have been an exclusive bottling for Japan. Although it was also common for the Japanese to buy almost entire bottlings and export them to Japan anyway so who knows... Colour: Gold. Nose: Not dissimilar to the 1955s in the same series. Immense depth with these beautiful and immense herbal and liqueurish notes. But here there are also wonderfully polished and fresh green fruits as well. Beeswax, runny honey, pollens, clover, olive oil, very subtle peat and an increasing sea salt aspect. Motor oil, ripe greengages, yellow wild flowers and a hint of petroleum - almost a very old dry Gewurztraminer. With water: obscenely fruity, waxy, coastal and complex. Mouth: Proof that it is possible to peat candle wax I’d say. Clove rock, soot, ripe peaches, plum sauce, strawberry wine, more sooty coal notes, all manner of fruits, spices and a wonderfully crisp coastal zing. With water: yet again it becomes utterly spellbinding. Finish: Endless, resinous, waxy and herbal. Comments: To be expected I suppose, given the pedigree of this series and what was a golden era for Highland Park. The equal of the 1955s in my opinion. SGP: 565 - 94 points.



Something else we were fortunate enough to do on this trip was taste upwards of 30 different old SMWS bottlings. In this day and age finding old bottles that very few people know or have tasted is increasingly difficult, one of the places where you can still find totally unknown wee masterpieces in the SMWS back catalogue - which remains thrillingly obscure, impenetrable and surprising. Let’s follow the HP pair with a due of old SMWS Springbank, SMWS had many, many astonishing Springbanks over the years...  


Springbank 1964/1996 (51.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.39)

Springbank 1964/1996 (51.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.39) Colour: Mahogany. Nose: Pure dark fruit compotes, walnut wine and camphor mixed with very delicate medicine, cherry cough syrup and rancio. Stellar, stellar combination of distillate and cask - quite astonishing. More cherries, dried cranberries, dried banana flakes, some lamp oil and paraffin. With water: a softer and wider fruitiness with an increasing complexity. Mouth: Again this is just astonishing. A broad and complex mix of fruits with fresh brown bread, dark chocolate, espresso, dunnage, wet earth, coal hearth, balsamic, mushroom powder and vegetable stock. A crushed been stock cube as well - perhaps Bovril. Cherry cola cubes dissolved in a strong mint julep. With water: A fat, undulating molasses of black tea, dark mint chocolate and smoked meats. Hauntingly beautiful. Finish: Endless, winding and concentrated. Full of liquorice, spices and dark fruits. Amazing complexity. Comments: Yet another astonishing 1960s Springbank. Are there any of these old SMWS sherry casks which aren’t amazing? SGP: 663 - 94 points.



Springbank 1965/1993 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.25)

Springbank 1965/1993 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.25) Colour: Mahogany. Nose: This one is more subtle - probably a cloaking due to the higher ABV - it leans towards freshly brewed coffee and dark chocolate with assorted nuts and spices. The sherry is more immediately earthy and savoury with a little bergamot and lemon rind which maintains freshness. Some green fruits emerge with time and savoury pastry notes. A few nervous minerals as well. With water: More fruits come now, dark fruits such as sultanas soaked in old cognac. There’s also more rancio, green apples and brown sugar. Mouth: Immense concentration of candied fruits, throat lozenges, cough medicine, black pepper, Darjeeling tea and wet earth. With water: bready, oily, toasted seeds, tar liqueur, Cherry Heering and wood spices. Finish: Long, earthy, resinous and darkly fruity. Also increasingly waxy with some notes of walnut oil. Comments: Not quite as astonishing as the 27.39 but we’re not far away. Still world class old Springbank. SGP: 552 - 93 points.



Actually, I think we’ll continue with a few more SMWS. Here’s one for you Serge...  


Clynelish 31 yo 1972/2004 ‘Fresh figs and Brazil nuts’ (58.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.34)

Clynelish 31 yo 1972/2004 ‘Fresh figs and Brazil nuts’ (58.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.34) Colour: Gold. Nose: Pure, powerful and classical old/new Clynelish. Massively waxy, a whole beehive of pollen, honeycomb and wax. Also a wonderfully nervous coastal character with a few cereals, a hay loft or two, white flowers, beach pebbles, a little natural vanilla, some camphor, lamp oil and damp sack cloth. With water: softer wax and many green and yellow fruits. A beautifully fragrant coastal aspect. Mouth: Powerfully thick and beautifully waxy. Many green fruits, flowers, a lovely nervous saltiness, then some frying bacon and a little malt loaf. With water: becomes more tropical now. Kumquats (no, really), greengage, motor oil, kiwi, hessian and a little clove oil. Finish: Long, spicy, waxy, a little tar, coal smoke and some quince. Comments: I don’t get try these old vintages of Clynelish  too often these days sadly. This is a timely reminder of just how idiosyncratic and utterly brilliant that distillate was in those early years of the 1970s. SGP: 573 - 93 points.



Let’s move to Islay for a couple now...  


Laphroaig 1973/1995 (50.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.6)

Laphroaig 1973/1995 (50.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.6) Colour: Gold. Nose: BAM! A beguiling mix of tropical fruits, seashore, medical complexities, soft peat and background farmyard qualities. Goes on with ointment, iodine, orange peel, TCP, smoked sea salt green and citrus fruits. Amazing in other words. With water: Medicine, crushed nettles, iodine, citrus rind and assorted tropical fruits. Obscene! Mouth: Spectacular arrival. Miraculous precision and a breathtakingly pure saltiness. Brine, seawater, black and green olives, mercurochrome, a little white stone fruit, grist and lapsang souchong. Dazzlingly powerful and precise. With water: the volume on the tropical side goes up now while the rest remains amazingly salty and structured. Pure beauty and power. A little fragrant wood smoke as well with time. Finish: Endless, ashy, mineral, medicinal and full of lingering tropical and citrus fruits. Comments: It’s pure joy to find an amazing old Laphroaig like this. I don’t remember trying such a thrillingly salty and pure example before. SGP: 667 - 94 points.



Caol Ila 1980/1995 (63.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53.10)

Caol Ila 1980/1995 (63.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53.10) Dark sherry, I’m rather excited... Colour: Deep amber. Nose: A deep, bass-like and earthy peat. Huge oiliness, tarry, fishing nets, then veers towards menthol and minty notes. Some eucalyptus resin, boiler smoke, beach bonfires, BBQ sauce, cherry cola cubes and a resinous earthiness. There is fruit in here as well but it’s very much dark fruits with a bit of citrus rind. With time it starts to become increasingly meaty and hugely medicinal. With water: A gravelly, meaty and mineral side emerges. With smoked grains, ash, lemons, olive oil and even a rather distinct waxiness. Mouth: A massive mix of sherry and peat with perfect integration. Mercurochrome, kippers, peppered mackerel and some stewed dark fruits. Goes on with wet earth, mushrooms, oils, tar liqueur, smoked beer and TCP. Massive, emphatic and utterly superb. With water: fruit oils and children’s medicine such as Calpol. Also earthy, smouldering peats, herbs, smoked meats and salted fish. Finish: The kind of whisky you could probably still taste hours after. Glistening earth, fruits, medicine and an aftershock of peat. Comments: A brilliant and beautiful wee beast. What a find! SGP: 678 - 94 points.



Seeing as we’re in Japan it would be ludicrous not to have a local whisky...  


Yoichi 1985/2007 (50.7%, Whisky Live Tokyo, cask #250192, 242 bottles)

Yoichi 1985/2007 (50.7%, Whisky Live Tokyo, cask #250192, 242 bottles) Yoichi is probably my favourite Japanese distillery, so it’s pretty thrilling to be able to try one from my vintage. Colour: Light gold. Nose: Stunningly oily and full of cloves, coconut water, jasmine, green tea, a few lemon drops, a little smoked earth, some berry fruit and a cup of spiced milk tea. With water: smoked teas now with cured meats, paprika and toasted sesame seeds. Mouth: Wow! The peat really leaps out at first. Quite unique flavours of medicine, smoked oysters, fish sauce, tar, camphor, olive oil and stony mineral qualities. Maybe some smoked tofu as well. With water: beautifully harmonious now. Herbal smoke, spices, minerals. Mouth enveloping and rather dazzling. Finish: Long, spicy, lemony, peaty and complex. Comments: I’m not sure you could call it a surprise as these old Yoichis carry a serious reputation, but it was totally thrilling whisky. Terrific and irrefutably ‘Yoichi’ in form and character. SGP: 465 - 92 points.



A couple of rather special drams to draw this deeply silly session to a close...  


Macallan-Glenlivet 50 yo 1949/1999 (40.25%, private, Baccarat crystal decanter for Japan, cask #852, 160 bottles, 75cl)

Macallan-Glenlivet 50 yo 1949/1999 (40.25%, private, Baccarat crystal decanter for Japan, cask #852, 160 bottles, 75cl) The casks for this bottling originally came from one small parcel of stock owned by Jack Milroy who also had his own bottling done. The third bottling was the famous and elusive 1949 Macallan by Signatory in 1990. Colour: Deep amber. Nose: leathery with many spices and quince paste, fruit jams, a little soot, crystallised fruits and soft waxes. Some wonderful tertiary notes of honeycomb and boot polish. Mouth: Resinous, waxy, full of dark fruits, crystallised citrus rind, motor oil, herbal peat, coal and tar liqueur. It’s surprisingly fat, emphatic and rich on the palate given the ABV. A velvety, verging on oily, mouthfeel. Becomes increasingly meaty with notes of beef stock, heather, olive oil and black pepper. Some tropical fruits lurking in the depths as well. Finish: A good length with notes of strong tea, lemon balm, chamomile, earl grey, pipe tobacco, cough medicine and some soft, dark fruits. Comments: A great privilege to try a rather historic and fascinating bottling. I suppose you could say it’s a tad disappointing given the age and provenance but it is an old and somewhat fragile whisky after all. Still, let’s not split hairs, it’s still a beautiful and hugely elegant old dram. SGP: 542 - 90 points.



Balvenie 50 yo 1937 (42%, OB for Milroy’s, 500 bottles, +/-1987) Balvenie 50 yo 1937 (42%, OB for Milroy’s, 500 bottles, +/-1987) I’ve often dreamed about tasting this one. Quite amazing that you can still find it in some bars in Japan. Deep breath... Colour: Ruby. Nose: But this is a very old Cognac! Seriously, a beautiful and very subtle array of walnuts, sultanas, Guinness cake, rancio, toffee apples, leaf mulch, aged Calvados, maraschino and a little freshly brewed black coffee. Different to the many G&M bottlings from similar vintages also released in the 1980s - it lacks the obvious coconut aromas, maybe suggesting this was not from American oak - but also similar in other ways with this undercurrent of delicate, old style, earthy peat. Fragrant herbal qualities in the background and the tiniest hint of cigar smoke. A poetic and emotional nose - the kind to get lost in. Mouth: Dense, chocolatey, deeply earthy and resinous on arrival. Almost salty! You have these wonderfully farmyard and mineral notes with lychee syrup, quince paste, umami, oyster sauce, rancio, VORS palo cortado and more dense coffee flavours like fresh espresso. Continues with dried herbs, caraway, a hint of soot and some subtle and rather beautiful waxiness. Finish. Long, sappy, earthy, resinous and herbal. Some final flickers of peat, wood embers, engine oil, old medicine and an eventual wink of green and citrus fruits. Comments: I was never really sure what to expect from this whisky. I always suspected it was the kind of dram that - at such an age and strength - could go either way. However, I have to say I am impressed and more than a little humbled to have been able to try this one finally. Emotionally weighty whisky. SGP: 553 - 93 points.  


That’ll do for now. I’ve collected many, many more notes for some remarkable whiskies but they can wait for future posts. I should also say a massive, eternal and heartfelt thank you to my compadres on this trip, Emmanuel and Hitomi. It’s been real!  



December 15, 2017


Convalmore and a proper sparring partner

Those crazy (yet very engaging) people at G&M’s have just (re)issued a new Convalmore! But oh terrible inferno, I haven’t got any other yet-untested Convalmore in WF’s tasting library. A crying shame, I agree, but we’ll find something else. Such as, perhaps, a Coleburn…

Convalmore 1975/2015 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, lot #RO/15/06)

Convalmore 1975/2015 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, lot #RO/15/06) I realise that younger whisky lovers may not quite know what Convalmore exactly was. In that case, have a look there before reading this note… Colour: gold. Nose: what’s noticeable in these gone malts is the fatness and the depth, something that’s not always to be found in current distillates. In this case, we’re finding beeswax, graphite oil, then rhubarb and hay, then rather some kinds of earthy oranges and a few mushrooms. Shitake, perhaps? Antique shop, furniture polish… There’s even something coastal, perhaps seashells, clams, something like that… Mouth: truly lovely. After forty years the oak remained discreet (say a little tea-ish), while oranges and ripe pears and apples are running the show. It’s all rather delicate, softer than expected, and even a little cidery. We’re talking proper cider, not those atrocious things such as Strongbow. Finish: medium, perhaps a little too dry now, tea-ish… More and more cider, especially in the aftertaste. Even pear cider – not Perry pear cider, mind you! Something slightly prickly in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, with many things to say. As often, it’s in the finish that things go a little less well. That’s normal… SGP:441 - 88 points.

So, we said a Coleburn… Let’s try to find one that was bottled more or less at the same strength, so that it wouldn’t crush the slightly fragile Convalmore… Oh, this, perhaps?

Coleburn 35 yo 1964/1999 (46.9%, The Bottlers, cask #2210)

Coleburn 35 yo 1964/1999 (46.9%, The Bottlers, cask #2210) How rare is that? You may check this page on Malt Madness to know more about Coleburn. Now I remember The Bottlers used to be #1 independent bottlers in the Malt Maniacs’s list. So sad that they became inactive quite some years ago… Colour: gold. Nose: astounding. No currently active Scottish distillery is making something like this. Such depth, such body, such complexity… We’re talking soot, coal, burnt cakes, parsley, earth, Pu-erh tea, new tyres, lamp oil, basalt, cigars, old leather, re-waxed Barbour jacket, old ink bottle, porcinis, Woolite, smoked ham, shoe polish… and hundreds of other tiny aromas. Fir cones, for example. Wow! Mouth: wow indeed. Old fir liqueurs that went dry, 1960s riesling, grapefruits, green bananas, turmeric, ginseng, rhubarb, the best green teas, oysters sprinkled with lemon juice, cider… It’s huge whisky, with a complexity that’s not often to be found in modern wood-technology-dominated whiskies. They say wood technology ought to rule the show, I say that’s like choosing Coldplay over John Coltrane. Bad and boring, but the masses like them. And yet, elitism sucks, I rather agree… So we’ll all die dumb and happy! (Serge, we have to talk, this is going too far – Ed.) Finish: long, a little drying. But this is a 1964 Coleburn… Comments: didn’t we just taste a brilliant 1964 Coleburn? SGP:462 - 91 points.



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Oliver Nelson. Track: Hoe Down. Please buy his music...

December 2017 - part 1 <--- December 2017 - part 2 ---> January 2018 - part 1



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Coleburn 35 yo 1964/1999 (46.9%, The Bottlers, cask #2210)

Glen Grant 1957/2011 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage)

Glenfarclas 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2005)

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1971 ‘Orange Syllabus’ (56.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.97, 247 bottles, +/-2001)

Glenury Royal 1984/2012 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, cask # R0/12/05)

The Hielanman 45 yo 1971/2015 (38.3%, Cadenhead, Spirit drink, 75 bottles)

Ross Cameron’s 22 yo (86°proof US, OB, for T.F. Craft Corporation Los Angeles, Old Highland Malt Whisky, 1950s)

Smith & Hoey 21 yo (no ABV, OB, Liqueur Old Scotch Whisky, sold or bottled 1905)

Borderies N°48 (46.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, lot 423, 2017)

François Voyer ‘Cask 88’ (42.7%, La Maison du Whisky, Through The Grapevine, Grande Champagne, 214 bottles, 2017)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 40 Hommage à Paul Vallein’ (49.7%, OB, 2017)