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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2018 - Part 1


November 2018 - part 2 <--- December 2018 - part 1 ---> December 2018 - part 2


December 14, 2018


Ledaig, the new A.

Of course you see what I mean. But shh… Excuse me? No, not the new Auchentoshan.

Ledaig 15 yo 2002/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11755, 351 bottles)

Ledaig 15 yo 2002/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11755, 351 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: there’s something troubling, positively troubling here. You would really believe this was distilled east of Lagavulin. Damp hessian, tarry ropes, cough medicine, peat smoke, smoky sour bread, lime, drops of fish oil… Mouth: perfect balance between a citrusy freshness and these heavier, tarlike flavours. What a spirit! And oysters, clams, smoked salmon, vanilla-ed lemon liqueur, drops of brine, one olive… My, this kills! Finish: long, perfectly fresh and extremely coastal. Wonderful almondy grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: magnificent peated malt whisky, some of the best there is. Wondering who’s the gentleman who had that brainwave at Tobermory back in the very early 2000s… Hope he’ll soon have his statue in front of the Distillery. Like this one much better than last year’s 2001.
SGP:347 - 90 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2008/2018 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #18-1001)

Ledaig 10 yo 2008/2018 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #18-1001) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: an interesting variant, since this one’s still got these fermentary, doughy/bready notes that had already been filtered out from DL’s 15 yo. Smoked wholegrain bread, mud, baker’s yeast, fresh baguette, peat smoke, that old tweed jacket (remind me to buy a new one next time I’m around Walker Slater in Edinburgh), more smoky bread… Mouth: it’s more mature on your palate, with some perfect citrus already there, fresh almonds, a lot of smoke, kippers, sweet ale… Just the edges are still a tad rough. Finish: long, a wee tad jumbled, but that’s the young age. Comments: say two more years? But it’s extremely classy already, and recommended, of course. Now that you’re mentioning that, indeed I think I should have had this one before the DL.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

Sherry? Let’s see…

Ledaig 2007/2017 (53%, Claxton’s for Whisky Time China, cask #1716CL-700815) Three stars and a half
Are these cask #s for real? Sorry, no pictures for this Chinese Ledaig, but you may know Claxton’s flat square bottles. Colour: gold. Nose: the sherry adds some dirtiness and more unlikely earthy notes (old walnuts, humus, leather) but in this case and in conjunction with the distillate, it does also generate a funny mentholness. There, thin mints, cigars... With water: earth and new leather. New Bentley (pure speculation, ha). Mouth (neat): very PX-y. Cough syrup, chestnut and heather honeys, raisins, sweeter Georgian cognac – I mean, brandy, blood oranges… It is not that unbalanced, this one! With water: a little smokier. Probably a finishing, and one that rather worked, so no downgrade this time. Finish: medium, on walnut cake covered with honey, and a glass of PX. Naturally. Comments: really not my favourite style, but well made and rather coherent. Now will all this PX-ing that’s going on these days be affected by Brexit? And sherry-flavouring as a whole?
SGP:553 - 83 points.

Ledaig 12 yo 2005/2018 (58.4%, The Whisky Show 2018, 10th Anniversary, Future of Whisky, sherry butt, 637 bottles)

Ledaig 12 yo 2005/2018 (58.4%, The Whisky Show 2018, 10th Anniversary, Future of Whisky, sherry butt, 637 bottles) Four stars
I know I’m late but some friends had given me a hard time because I had supposedly published my notes for the Ben Nevis in the same series ‘too early’. So I have to be careful… Colour: Nose: if there’s a word I almost never use, it’s ‘rich’, but distillers and bottlers are using it ad libitum, aren’t they? Even Haig Clubman is rich! Well, this is rich too. Kirsch, orange liqueur, rotting citrus, old sherry, thyme honey, mead, brown ale, cough medicine, camphor… What a hotchpotch, some quietness may be needed. And water. With water: game, old cellar, books, marrow, bouillon. Mouth (neat): eating a cigar, plus ginseng liqueur, Cointreau, ginger, elderberry liqueur, moscatel… Who said this was rich? With water: water works, it gets a tad fresher, brighter, and smokier. Sweet pepper and ginger. Finish: long but thick again. Thai stuff. Comments: very good, but I like ex-refill or barrels even better. A tad heavy, perhaps?
SGP:654 - 85 points.

In my book, even the strongest spirit should remain fresh and refreshing. So let’s try to find a brighter one, even if it’s an older bottling…

Ledaig 2004/2014 (51.6%, Liquid Art, 176 bottles)

Ledaig 2004/2014 (51.6%, Liquid Art, 176 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this is very different, it’s not a ooh-ha-watch-my-ppms kind of malt whisky, we’re actually rather reminded of old Laphroaig, minus the tropical fruits. So we’d rather find fresh herbs and woods, fresh nuts, touches of camphor and eucalyptus, embrocations and bandages, linoleum, and hessian. Nobody could be against that. With water: wow! Wet deerhounds (we’re really sorry, deerhounds), fresh almonds and marzipan, tweed, ink… Mouth (neat): indeed, this is totally Laphroaig, which is very astonishing. Say, the older 15, if that rings a bell. Tangerines, citrons, smoked fish, grape seed oil, fresh almonds, seaweed, oysters, menthol… I’m sure this bottle is gone now, but it’s a great one for playing tricks on your friends who know everything about whisky. I know you would have caught me, and very easily at that. With water: impeccable and even obvious. Peat, lemon, salt, fat fish (any resemblance to existing persons etcetera…). Finish: long, fat, coastal, salty, almost perfect. Comments: very great bottle. No, really, Laphroaig isn’t very far.
SGP:457 - 90 points.

Perhaps a last one, let’s try to make it an OB (while trembling…)

Ledaig 13 yo (59.2%, OB, Amontillado Cask Finish, +/-2017)

Ledaig 13 yo (59.2%, OB, Amontillado Cask Finish, +/-2017) Three stars
I know, another poor finishing, that’s quite some handicap but you never know, especially given that the strength is good. Colour: gold. Nose: typical amontillado, with a lot of butterscotch and croquant (buttered and roasted hazelnuts), then walnut cake and walnut wine. Sadly, there’s also a little sulphur (brake pads after the Grampians (!), used matchsticks). With water: leather and marmalade, moscatel, porcinis (which is fantastic, really). Mouth (neat): gingered smoke and lemon marmalade, Thai basil, pink peppercorns, spiced raisins and honeys… In truth this is a little heavy. With water: works well, but balance is lost after just five seconds, although there would be some beautiful honeyed notes. Very meady. Finish: long, both honeyed and dry (tea). Comments: some wonderful ups and some unlikely downs, that’s the fate of many a (usually uncontrolled) winesky. Worth buying a bottle but you’ll never empty it.
SGP:465 - 82 points.

More Ledaig soon...

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


December 11, 2018


Bruichladdich with a blaze of glory

… In the end. Indeed we should have something very special today. And rare… But first, let’s go vertical if you don’t mind…

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Lynne McEwan’ (64.4%, OB, Valinch, Rivesaltes, cask #1308, 396 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Lynne McEwan’ (64.4%, OB, Valinch, Rivesaltes, cask #1308, 396 bottles) Three stars
We’ve seen some very crazy valinches! In this case it’s #32, which is not the age statement mind you. It’s ex-Rivesaltes wood, Rivesaltes being a very large area in the south of France where they make various kinds of fortified wines (muté), from white to red. Not too sure about the cask they’ve used this time, the colour of the whisky may tell. Colour: blimey, it is not exactly pink, rather amber, so not sure it was red Rivesaltes. Nose: totally grape-y, you’re almost nosing fresh muscat grapes or juice. But that rather works, it’s very sweet, muscaty, and not very malty. But at 64.4% vol., you know… With water: notes of walnuts, vin jaune, kirsch, peach leaves (works greatly in lieu of sulphur to protect barrels, by the way), and pine cones. Nice. Mouth (neat): explosive! Cherry stems, perhaps, leaves, grapes… And a lot of alcohol. With water: back to whisky. Pleasant cocktail, rather earthier than expected, with some cherries as well. Some pepper in the background, perhaps from European oak. It’s always funny to notice that spirits extract a lot of pepper from European oak, while wines rather do not. Finish: rather long and quite spicy. Gingerbread, cherry and cinnamon mints. Comments: would you recognise the distillery? I would not (yeah, except that we know that Bruichladdich are into crazy wine casks) but it’s pretty good.
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Good, same age and vintage, no wine this time, let’s see…

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.2%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, cask #657, 258 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.2%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, cask #657, 258 bottles) Four stars
Melons? Peaches? Sea breeze? Vanilla? Colour: straw. Nose: melons, peaches, sea breeze, vanilla (easy), plus touches of lemon curd plus flints and a little paraffin. With water: there, this is plainly Bruichladdich, very fresh, on yellow fruits and that walk throughout a western orchard. Peaches indeed, plums, etcetera. Also sunflower oil. Mouth (neat): rather greasier, more mineral, almost inorganic if you will, and very strong. More paraffin. With water: no, fruity! Melons and lemons (well done again, S.), a little gritty grass (stop it!) and a few soft green spices. Perhaps fresh coriander, somewhere. Finish: rather long, very fresh, grassier. Comments: exactly Bruichladdich, I would have said. No crazy wine or oak in the way but a good barrel that did its job properly. Reminds me of the first new 10 (or Ten), so it’s perfect.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Mercenary) Five stars
For bandana people only, perhaps? Colour: white wine. Nose: bang! Crystal-clean, totally pure Bruichladdichness. Amazing nose, with white peaches, yellow melons, fresh almonds and hazelnuts, and grapefruits. Hurray. With water: sublime earth, chalk, clay, barley… Mouth (neat): extraordinary, that’s all I’ll say. Not too sure a special refill barrel hasn’t been used (like ex-Ardbeg or stuff) but indeed this is brilliant, extremely fresh, and yet wonderfully sooty (which, I agree,  isn’t totally Bruichladdich). Lemon, wulong, chalk, ink… With water: exceptionally pure, and even a tad medicinal. That cask again? Grapeseed oil, oysters, lemon juice, the tiniest drop of tabasco… Finish: sadly, yes (as we used to write with the early Malt maniacs – boy weren’t we clever!) Comments: totally impressed. It would be cool if someone would start a collection of whiskies that are idiosyncratically representative of their respective distillates, wouldn’t it? This terrific wee Laddie would surely belong in there.
SGP:561 - 90 points (one extra-point for love).

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.5%, Archives, barrel, cask #1470, 139 bottles) Five stars
More fish! Colour: white wine. Nose: it is, as expected, extremely similar. Perhaps a notch grassier? And a tad more mentholy? With water: lovely. Mouth (neat): okay. A touch of gentian. With water: lovely, nothing to add. Perhaps a few mushroomy notes, perhaps not. Finish: long, fresh, earthy, etc. Comments: an epitome indeed. It’s the purity that just strikes you. D.i.s.t.i.l.l.a.t.e.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Older ones now…

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1993/2018 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 204 bottles)

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1993/2018 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 204 bottles) Four stars and a half
Crikey, I checked Cadenhead’s website just to see if they would have come up with different descriptors, and only found peaches and melons. Now the ‘Gingersnap biscuits’ in the finish are intriguing… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s different from the 2005/2007s, with more sunflower oil, peanut oil, apple peels, peanut butter (really), all-herbs tea, tree bark, and indeed melons and peaches. Mouth: no no no, another rather terrific one, what’s happening? Herbal teas, a little camphor, green oranges (rather the pastries some are making out of them), lemons, space cake (I know, I know, but I’m claiming the privilege of age!) and beeswax. Finish: medium, herbal. And gingersnap biscuits (gotta believe the bottlers anyway) – what’s gingersnap biscuits? These notes of caramelised gingerbread, perhaps? That’s good! Comments: seriously, another very excellent one, it’s just a tad less ‘pure’, which is normal given the older age. But there…
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Shall we go on? Sure!

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1992/2018 (52.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3838, 229 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1992/2018 (52.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3838, 229 bottles) Four stars and a half
This strange feeling, you know, when you know that the spirit cannot be bad, and when you know that you’ll just have to explain why you think it’s good. In a way, this is a kind of straightjacket and we might start to complain, I mean… Colour: white wine. Nose: why the hell have spirits that were just average twenty years ago become so good? While no one’s done any re-racking that anyone could notice? So fruit peelings, oils, and touches of medicinal mixtures. That’s enough. With water: clay and damp chalk. Whenever that happens, I’m almost in paradise. Mouth (neat): perhaps a little hot. That’s right, it is a little hot. There. With water: great malt, oranges, apples, melons, lemons… Almost forgot to mention peaches. A very wee prickly side, but we’re splitting hairs now. Finish: medium, tense, almost sparkling, like Champagne! Not those dosed-up commercial bubblies mind you, rather good terroirs Champagnes by great winemakers. Have a soft spot for Charles Dufour and Henri Giraud these days, although their styles are very different. Comments: no need.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.8%, OB for CSW China, French oak, cask # 15/287-22, 276 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.8%, OB for CSW China, French oak, cask # 15/287-22, 276 bottles) Three stars and a half
French oak? I suppose that means wine cask, let’s check the colour… Unless that’s cognac wood? Colour: apricot. Nose: apricot jam indeed, marzipan, e-cig liquid (yep a new descriptor on WF!), Danishes, raisins, mirabelles… We’re far from the pure ones, but I wouldn’t say they didn’t achieve balance and harmony. Mouth: sweet and rounded, very jammy, good, just a wee tad soapy. A very faintly wee tad. Then ripe plums, muscat, Rivesaltes (eh?) and hawthorn tea. We’re good. Finish: long, on raisins, leaves, stems, and green pepper. We’re good indeed, but it may be suffering a bit after the pretty perfect natural ones. Comments: it’s just that the original ones are killing any wined ones in my book. Wine in whisky has become unnecessary since the late XIXth century, you know that’s one of my mantras. But this one sure isn’t bad!
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Good, I believe we now need some kind of conclusion. If you’ve read blogs that have copied blogs that had copied blogs that had copied books, you may remember that Bruichladdich used to peat their whisky until the good year of 1960. Granted, the tall stills couldn’t have made any Ardbeg or Laphroaig, but the pre-1960 Bruichladdichs have hence become extremely legendary, even more so when you know that only two expressions of pure peated Bruichladdich have ever been bottled, namely two rare old Cadenhead’s that were distilled in the late 1950s and bottled in the 1980s. Why not try one of them?


Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy) Five stars
Indeed that young little bugger named Angus already tried this one one good month ago. I’m asking you, where’s the respect? Colour: pale white wine. Cool, we’ll get closer to the spirit! Nose: ah, and now for something different! Never nosed something like this. I’m thinking fresh rubber, leatherette, burning plastic (only wee bits, no worries), and then fresh nuts, seashells, green tea, then mango peels, then Colgate toothpaste, then green melons (melons, already!), then brine and coaly oils, engine oil, raw wool, brand new tweed jacket, old books, new electronics… In short this is very flabbergasting, and one cannot not wonder why they stopped making this kind back in 1960. Now I’m sure they had good reasons, but seen from almost sixty years later, that all sounds odd. Mouth: some glorious, blazing peat! Not transmuted peat, not ideas of peat, not tropical fruits that came from peat, rather raw, pure, fat peat. And please believe me, we’ve tried quite a few very old peaters from the south shore that had become much less peaty than this Bruichladdich over the years in glass. Yep, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin. No, Port Ellen wasn’t working. So, loads of smoked fish, especially smoked salmon, clams and whelks, brine, barnacles, some kinds of tarry lozenges, then more citrus, grapefruits, bamboo shoots, old chenin blanc, seawater, and all that. Oh would you please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade before we start to use pornographic descriptors? Finish: long. Passion fruits and mangos, plus precious cough syrups. Comments: holy featherless crow! What happened? This is a new whisky to me, while it spent 25 years in (gentle) wood plus 35 years in glass! It really is exceptional, and you cannot not wonder what would have happened, had someone not decided to go unpeated sometime in 1960. My year, by the way, but that’s not of the utmost importance, is it. No, really, what an insane discovery! It was in the books, it’s now in my tasting library – what some call a milestone, I suppose. This sort of thing is why I’m still doing Whiskyfun, by the way.
SGP:565 - 95 points.

(Muchas gracias Emmanuel and Tom)

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


December 9, 2018


Our traditional bag of rum

Since this is Sunday… Let’s see what we have…

Plantation Barbados 2002 (43.2%, Plantation, +/-2017)

Plantation Barbados 2002 (43.2%, Plantation, +/-2017) Two stars
This one’s been finished in cognac casks, I suppose that was necessary? Or was there an idea behind this? Colour: gold. Nose: rather gentle, a tad leafy, with some ethanol (tutti frutti eau-de-vie) and notes of molasses and burnt caramel. Touches of sawn wood. Mouth: some sugar, pineapple sweets, syrups, then some better earth, roots, and a little tobacco. Sweet carrots. Finish: medium, slightly sweet and sour. Sugar, raisins and pineapple liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: fair, but not my kind at all. Lacks distillery character in my humble opinion. Now I’ve heard Plantation have recently issued some ‘un-doctored’ rums, I can’t wait, I’m sure they’re very good.
SGP:640 - 72 points.

Bermudez 12 yo ‘1852 Aniversario’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)

Bermudez 12 yo ‘1852 Aniversario’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)
You never know, do you! Colour: gold. Nose: ah! Burnt oak, molasses, caramel, office coffee, violets. This baby reminds me of some Indian rum that we once tried around fifteen years ago. Mouth: humble, very humble. Caramel and molasses, drops of unlikely liqueurs (including Spanish coffee liqueur, the kind of stuff they sell for 5€ a bottle in Andorra), and that’s pretty all, good folks. Finish: short, rather on American motel jams. Comments: I wasn’t expecting much, and had even though this was coming from the Bermuda Islands. It was rather the Bermuda Triangle.
SGP:330 - 40 points.

Caroni 1998/2015 (40%, Bristol Classic Rum, Trinidad)

Caroni 1998/2015 (40%, Bristol Classic Rum, Trinidad) Three stars and a half
Angus already tried this one earlier this week, and rather liked it (85). Isn’t it a little strange that they would have reduced it to 40%? Colour: gold. Nose: lower strengths have got their good sides too, in this case more complexity and perhaps elegance, while many Caronis can be a little brutal. I’m rather finding notes of aniseed and fennel here, peonies, Cuban cigars, thuja wood, mushrooms, humus, and older hay. Absolutely not your regular Caroni, whether heavy or light. Mouth: there’s this old-style-ness that’s rather pleasant, these old woods and cigars, these tea leaves, this tar, apple peels, dry breads (Swedish style), orange cordials, Spanish brandy… It really is unusual, and yet very old-fashioned. Just kot extremely Caroni – as we know it. Finish: medium, on exactly the same notes. A little sour wood in the aftertaste. Comments: subtle and rather contemplative, I would say, but the oak rather took over after just 16 or 17 years. Which is the case with many Caronis by the way, in my humble opinion.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Port Mourant 2005/2017 (60%, L’Esprit, Guyana, cask #BB22

Port Mourant 2005/2017 (60%, L’Esprit, Guyana, cask #BB22) Four stars
Very good house, L’Esprit! Colour: white wine. Nose: probably lovely, just a little too punchy for this old nose (that I’ll still need for a little while). Fennel, dill, charcoal, cut grass, fresh asparagus, fresh strawberries… Seemingly… With water: rootier and even more on fresh asparagus, beans, celeriac, verbena, gentian… Mouth (neat): raw earthy eau-de-vie, gentian, celeriac, strawberries, samphires, crushed black olives (we call that black tapenade madame monsieur), pastis, mirabelle, kirschenwasser… With water: absolutely and excellently rooty. You would believe they have distilled roots, not sugarcane molasses. Gentian liqueur and stuff. Finish: long, extremely earthy and rooty. Ribbed celery, bitter herbs. Comments: a little austere, and surely an acquired taste. But it talks to you and never tries to trick you.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.2, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 309 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.2, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 309 bottles) Four stars and a half
Angus already tried #R11.1 and #R11.3. Let’s fill the gap. Colour: pale gold. Nose: simple, brine-y, tarry, slightly rubbery, with touches of coffee beans and an impression of ‘a Saturday morning at IKEA’s’. Indeed, that’s a lot of new plywood and strange cakes, but more seriously, this is rather perfect so far. With water: could you make some kind of marzipan out of olives? Would that be criminal? Mouth (neat): huge, more on lemons than other young WPs that we could recently try, rather vanilla-influenced (American oak), so creamy, and actually extremely good. Great feeling of fullness. Other than that, there are, indeed, olives. With water: totally excellent and indeed, almost ‘absolutely fabulous’. Perhaps just a notch simple, and that’s the youth. Finish: a touch of varnish – it was about time! Comments: we’re approaching the 90-mark here.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

(Thanks again, Lance)

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


December 8, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Nonsensical Triplets
You may recall the classic 1988 film ‘Twins’, which starred Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular ‘twins’. Today’s session puts me in mind of the proposed sequel ‘Triplets’ which was to star Eddie Murphy as the third brother. Apparently the project  has finally been shooting this year. Although, personally, I’m more excited by the Alsatian dialect, arthouse re-make of the original starring Serge and Olivier... sadly the project is currently ‘in development hell’.


I should probably note that this is three sessions ‘stitched’ together. They weren’t all tasted in this order... I’m not an animal!  


John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, L & E Egan Ltd, 1940s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, L & E Egan Ltd, 1940s)
Colour: gold. Nose: this curious and oh so typically old school Irish style that encompasses many types of polish, soots, metals and light mechanical oils, with raw cereals, barley water, caraway, eucalyptus resins, delicate ointments and some light crystalised fruits. It’s a very distinctive style these old Irish pure pot still whiskeys, not one I always enjoy I have to confess. Having said that, this is one of the most accessible and immediately pleasurable examples I’ve come across. Gets very bready, towards pumpernickel bread, wholemeal loafs and sourdough. A few bits of orange peel and graphite oil lurking in the depths as well. Mouth: surprisingly punchy and oily. All on engine oils, brake fluid, pencil lead, corn syrup, damp cereals, yeast, copper coins, metal polish, soot and rye spice. Rather fascinating but not entirely enjoyable. Finish: rather short with soft tea notes, white pepper and more industrial oils. Comments: Historically fascinating, if not technically thrilling. The nose was the most alluring part but the palate fell a tad flat for me. I suspect a low bottling strength and many years in bottle have not helped.
SGP: 340 - 76 points.


John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, T. W. Begge & Co Ltd, 1950s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, T. W. Begge & Co Ltd, 1950s)
Colour: light gold. Nose: surprisingly fruity and fresh compared to the Egan bottling. There’s even some rather obvious allusions to many of these contemporary Irish single malts from the late 80s and early 90s which have been rather ubiquitous these past few years. That is to say quite some dried tropical fruits, a leathery mango note, pineapple syrups, guava and papaya. Some green banana, linseed oil, sunflower seeds and scattered citrus peel notes. Extremely lovely! Mouth: doesn’t quite sustain the same level of fruitiness but the bite is good and the whole is textured, clean and full of spicy cereals, tiny touches of wax and metal polish. Finish: again it’s a tad short but this one is fruitier, cleaner and with fewer of these stale qualities which were problematic in the Egan bottling. Comments: I like this one really quite a lot. The fruitiness in the nose was a great surprise. Quaffable!
SGP: 540 - 83 points.


John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, A. Millar & Co Ltd, 1960s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, A. Millar & Co Ltd, 1960s)
Colour: gold. Nose: we’re back to the slightly leaner, cereal and mechanical driven style of the Egan bottling again. This one is more on rye spice, dusty malt, shoe polish, steel wool and a touch of fruity muesli as well. Again this is rather elegant and pleasant, although it is a more chiselled and slightly austere profile compared to the Begge. Once again a rather big bready quality arises over time. Mouth: oils, dusty cereals, bitter orange peel, musty fruits, hints of lemony yeast, rapeseed oil and a few dried mixed herbs. Clean and with good weight but a touch of cardboard creeping in. Finish: medium in length this time and pleasantly warming. Hints of grassy olive oil, a more buttery cereal profile and light furniture polish notes. Good! Comments: A curious mix of the previous two in some ways. I like it and I think it picked up an extra point or two in the finish.
SGP: 350 - 83 points.


What’s the logical opposite end of the spectrum from fragile old Irish whiskeys? Octomore you say?  


Octomore 5 yo 2012/2018 (59.1%, OB 09.1, American Oak, 42000 bottles) Octomore 5 yo 2012/2018 (59.1%, OB 09.1, American Oak, 42000 bottles)
From the latest batch of Octomores. Colour: white wine. Nose: a typically ‘Octomore’ intense and pure ashiness. Sea salt, brine, lemon juice, seawater, freshly shucked oysters and raw iodine drops. Hard to argue with this level of chiselled intensity and precision of character. Anything that contains this much salt probably needs water though... With water:   beach pebbles and flint smoke now. Wet seaweed, smoked mustard, miso broth, lemon scented medicine and freshly peated malt. Very raw and close to the base ingredients now - which is never something I’ll complain about. Mouth: despite the high strength this is surprisingly approachable when neat. A rather kippery, leathery smokiness. Bracken, peat, damp soil, crushed seashells, squid ink, razor clams, hot paprika and lime juice. There’s still a gristy glimmer of youthfulness but it’s well balanced by that ever-swooshing blade of peat. With water: a rather more grizzly and workmanlike peat profile now. All turf, diesel oil in brine, sheep wool, iodine, natural tar and bonfire smoke. There’s also some lemon balm notes, smoked oatmeal and German Rauchbier. Finish: long, brilliantly smoky and full of kippers, kedgeree, hot smoked salmon, lemon juice, sandalwood ash and salty/umami seasonings. Comments: These young, full term bourbon matured Octomores are undeniably impressive whiskies. I’m not sure I could manage more than a dram at a time given the brute-chiselled profiles they tend to possess. But they’re undeniably excellent.
SGP: 368 - 86 points.


Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (58.2%, OB 09.2, Bordeaux finish, 12000 bottles) Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (58.2%, OB 09.2, Bordeaux finish, 12000 bottles)
Re-racked in ex-Bordeaux French Oak casks, wish me luck... Colour: Salmon/gold?? Nose: despite the magnitude of the Octomore distillate, what strikes first is still the oak. There’s a kind of smoked pencil shaving thing going. Salt n’ vinegar crisps, wood ash, sharp peat smoke, cured meats, smoked dark beers, ham hock and a rather immense saltiness. With water: a big carpet of smoke, salted almonds, more smoked meats, mercurochrome and hot wood ashes. Mouth: the wood, the wine and whisky really clash here. This is tough. There’s a sharpness of antiseptic that fights with heavy marzipan, some acidic red fruits, smoked mead, more meatiness such as bacon, more sawdust and hot pencil shavings. Not my cup malt I’m afraid so far. With water: still not too cohesive. Peated aspirin, cranberries, young crusted port, mint leaf, camphor and hessian sack cloth. Some meat broth and mutton notes as well. Finish: long and immensely leathery, earthy, cough syrupy and with this kind of sticky/sweet/briny confusion. Comments: I really struggle with this kind of whisky. It’s profile is massive, but it remains out of whack and unbalanced in my view. I’d take the 09.1 over this any day of the year. I think Octomore’s great distillate is kind of deformed in this kind of re-racking.
SGP: 378 - 76 points.


Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (62.9%, OB 09.3, 18000 bottles) Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (62.9%, OB 09.3, 18000 bottles)
This one comes from 52 tonnes of barley grown in Irene’s field at Octomore Farm on Islay in 2011. That barley translated into 134 casks, the majority of which were apparently second fill. Not sure about the rest of the composition, but I’m always excited to try the more terroir driven releases from Bruichladdich. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re somewhere between the first two. There’s a more swollen style smokiness and peat; globally a slicker and oilier profile at first. Notes of boiler smoke, gentian, natural tar, herbal toothpaste and assorted smoked shellfish. There’s also stuff like graphite, carbon paper and mineral oil. A wink of earthiness as well. In time it becomes greasier and seems to fatten in the glass. We’re back on form so far... With water: mineral salts, peated bath bombs (gap in the market I’d say...) germoline, green olives, capers, anchovy paste and various raw medical tinctures. Mouth: to quote Serge Valentin... ‘POW!’. Huge delivery on arrival, beautifully medicinal, metal polish, frying bacon fat, glycerine, lemon jam, dried herbs, pure seawater, black olives, squid ink in brine, lighter fluid, wood char, iodine, kelp and more of these really lovely herbal toothpaste notes. This is bigger and more immense than either of the other two and the strength is obviously higher, but it is also more complex, more interesting and just more charismatic. With water: mustardy, salty, a very pure peat smoke, some linen cloth, lemon juice, turmeric, bay leaf, white smoked fish, oyster sauce. Many excellent things. Finish: long and full of antiseptic, embrocations, tar, lime juice, ash, crushed seashells, ink and beach pebbles. Comments: I often thought that the process of creating Octomore was one that obfuscated any characteristics of terroir from the barley. However, there’s no denying that this one has ‘something else’ about it over the other two. I’d also say that there were glimmers of wine casks in here as well but they felt subdued and well-integrated. All in all, this is yet another one of Bruichladdich’s Islay barley expressions that forces you to really think about the intersecting relationship between raw ingredients, locality, process, casks, time and the cumulative bearing on quality and character. Kudos!
SGP: 478 - 90 points.


Who ever needed an excuse to taste some Springbank?  


Springbank 5 yo (43%, OB for Italy, 1.5 litre, circa 1970) Springbank 5 yo (43%, OB for Italy, 1.5 litre, circa 1970)
A rather infamous bottling in magnum format. Totally cool that Springbank would release something so daft and fun way back when. Mind you, Campbeltown in the swinging 60s was probably quite something to behold... Colour: gold. Nose: Superbly fresh and coastal with an almost glycerol, syrupy quality. It screams pure ‘old Springbank’ with all these wee notes of ink, pebbles, many shades of fruit, a background wisp of peat smoke and soft herbal and resinous tones. I’d say that this goes to show that great distillate doesn’t need great age, however, this being Springbank, they may have made up the numbers with some 30 year old... Anyway, continues to flex with these notes of shoe polish, mineral oil, precious waxes and hints of beach sand and medical tinctures. Mouth: old shoe polish mixed with yellow Chartreuse. Wool, lime peel, plenty of hessian, metal polish, soot and waxy citronella. Finish: good length and getting increasingly waxy, sooty, oily and coastal with a kind of flinty mineral side. Comments: I wonder how much freshness was retained by bottling in large format? It’s long accepted that wine certainly matures better in magnums. Having said that, there are also a few wee glimmers of good OBE in this one as well. Anyway, well worth seeking out. Delicious and quaffable young old Springbank.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.


Springbank 1996/2017 (49.5%, OB Private Bottling for Barrie, Gates Poe, Stevenson & Welsh, cask 12/298, fresh sherry hogshead, 123 bottles) Springbank 1996/2017 (49.5%, OB Private Bottling for Barrie, Gates Poe, Stevenson & Welsh, cask 12/298, fresh sherry hogshead, 123 bottles)
There’s many, many bottlings of Springbank under this label series it seems. Not sure it would ever be possible to know exactly how many. Colour: light amber. Nose: a rather mineral and clean sherry character which works very well with the pretty chiselled, coastal Springbank distillate style. There’s also some sappy peat, pithy citrus peels, beach pebbles, old rope and various fresh shellfish. Perhaps some blood orange and a toffee crisp as well. Mouth: feels a tad disjointed between the sherry and distillate - which is something I often find with contemporary Springbank in sherry. Lots of spiced orange marmalade, some nutmeg, camphor, stewed fruits, marzipan and things like gauze and light antiseptic. It’s still pretty good though, it must be said. Finish: medium-long. Lots of spiced ginger cake, medical notes, umami broth, soy sauce, lemon cough drops and some slightly farmy notes in the distance. Comments: Good, solid contemporary Springbank. Although I really prefer this style from refill / bourbon. Not convinced by the sherry cask here.
SGP: 462 - 85 points.


Springbank 25 yo 1991 (53.8%, Kinko & Club Qing, 143 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1991 (53.8%, Kinko & Club Qing, 143 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: interesting, you definitely notice the ‘shift’ that occurred between the early and late 1990s in this one. This is more of a straight briny and farmy side. More direct, more pure and rather more crisp and lean. You can see why these batches were tough at around 10 years of age. Now this style really starts to feel fuller and more complex. Notes of wax, mirabelle eau de vie, carbon paper, beach wood, lanolin, sack cloth and things like canvas and salted barley broth. Even some mushroom and leaf mulch in there. Really excellent! With water: cornflour, citrus peels, tinned peaches, some garden fruits a bit more wax polish. Mouth: again this is rather sharp, direct and pure. More towards old riesling, petrol, flints, canvas, soot, damp malt, pine cones and some bready and toasty notes. Rather a lot of cereals, some yeasty sourdough, lemon cough medicine and subtle hints of things like TCP and dried parsley. Oily sheep wool, coal dust, salted flatbread and dry porridge oats. A few white flowers as well. With water: ah, again it’s a little sweeter and fruitier with water. Although it’s a curious fruitiness that takes in waxy lemon peel, fruit salad juices, mandarin cordial and gooseberry. Finish: good length and even displaying a little tropical fruit juice, raw barley, crisp cereals, earl grey tea and cherry cola cubes. Comments: A very unusual and rather fascinating Springbank that keeps on changing and evolving with time and water, while also demonstrating a rather short-lived and obscure ‘house’ style that’s perhaps worth a little revisionism these days. There’s lots of pleasure to be found here. I had it around 88/89 but with water and time I think it’s firmly deserving of...
SGP: 561 - 90 points.



Thanks to Martin and Billy.  



December 7, 2018


Some very unusual new Irish

Indeed, some will be simply sourced and doctored-up, some others rather ueber-terroiry. Or so they say, let’s see…

West Cork ‘Glengarrif Series’ (43%, OB, Irish, single malt, Peat Charred Cask Finish, +/-2018)

West Cork ‘Glengarrif Series’ (43%, OB, Irish, single malt, Peat Charred Cask Finish, +/-2018)
So some whisky finished in wood that was charred using peat, apparently, which I thought would be quite impossible to do, but I was probably wrong. Charring oak using peat, really? Colour: gold. Nose: we already tried a ‘bog oak’ version that’s been pretty difficult, but this is rather nicer at this point, with a rather delicate fruity peatiness that reminds me of… not too sure, this is a first. Pears, for sure, and a wee touch of hand cream, orange-scented liquid soap, cherry-flavoured beer, a pack of cinnamon mints… A first indeed. Sadly things won’t improve after that... Mouth: cloves and caraway, Fanta, pepper, fresh oak, and more pears. The oak’s becoming drying. Finish: medium, a little sour and bitter. Burnt aftertaste, burnt pears, wood smoke... Comments: I give up, this is not really my scene anyway. Do you feel the need to ‘innovate’? Rather do A.I. bottles that talk or listen or stuff like that!… But innovation in food will be so out of fashion in 2019 anyway (that’s what I’ve heard…)…
SGP:563 - 50 points.

Not exactly a good start…

Tipperary 8 yo (59.5%, OB, Irish, red wine cask finish, cask #RC00117, 2018)

Tipperary 8 yo (59.5%, OB, Irish, red wine cask finish, cask #RC00117, 2018) Three stars
Sourced whiskey finished in red wine, what could go wrong? I know, pretty much everything, but I remember I’ve really enjoyed a Tipperary ‘Watershed’ in July this year (WF 83), so who knows? Colour: damson juice (working on my descriptors, you see). Nose: rather okay so far. Very strong, with touches of peonies and cassis buds, plus some pepper and nutmeg… As they say, the jury’s still out and we need our nostrils tonight. With water: pretty nice. Grenadine, cherry juice, pomegranate, clafoutis… This is coherent. Mouth (neat): at least it was a fruity distillate in the first place, and not a fat/greasy one (Clynelish, Mortlach, Springbank, Benrinnes and such). So it’s pungent, but there aren’t any clashes of civilisations yet, rather red berries and some fruitcakes (yep the season is coming). With water: more oak spices, ginger, some earthiness, red apples, raspberry liqueur and chocolate, cherry sweets… Finish: long, a tad leafier, as almost always with these casks. Some ginger and tobacco in the aftertaste, perhaps a wee touch of stewed spinach. Comments: surprisingly coherent, and even good. Proof that the chef is as important as the recipe.
SGP:661 - 81 points.

And now, this one, the reason why I wanted to do some Irish today. Because this is a first on WF (well, not quite, I had tried some early new makes, but this is different)…

Waterford 261 days old 2018/2018 (68.34%, OB/cask sample, Irish single malt, cask #8224)

Waterford 261 days old 2018/2018 (68.34%, OB/cask sample, Irish single malt, cask #8224) Five stars
That’s right, Mark Reynier’s Waterford, bio-dynamic at that. The barley came from three farms, Trevor Harris’s, John McDonnell’s, and Alan Mooney’s. They could even give you the kind of soil (fine loamy drift) and the GPS coordinates (we’ll spare you that). In short, wine concepts in whisky, and… terroir. Soil, climate, orientation, and generally, ‘a sense of the place’. There are several definitions of terroir, and even dedicated terroirists don’t always agree, but to me, it’s there if you let it be there, and it isn’t if you don’t. But killing something will not allow you to claim that it did not exist… Anyway, let’s try this! Colour: gold. Nose: f**k! (hold your horses, S.!) I’d hate it when anyone would believe I’m biased here, because I know some people, or because I’m a wine guy too, or for whichever reasons, but really, f**k! With water: s***w ‘em! Mouth (neat): totally f**k! With water: putain de bordel de merde ! (I’m saying it in French so that it would sound gentler and more polite – does it not?) Finish: yada, yada, yada. Comments: good, let’s get serious if you please. One little flaw in my book, the oak’s already ‘bigly spicy’, and that may come from the fact that they’re filling at 70+%, but I may be wrong. Other than that, it’s glorious whi… I mean, spirit, with extraordinary breads, honeys (old Mersault), dried figs, mead, ‘rounded’ chalk, touches of mutton suet, marrow, a drop of orange blossom water, overripe pears, citrons, prickly pears, panettone… The closest whiskies I’ve tried were some Westlands, in case that helps. By the way, I know some folks believe that bio-dynamy is all about esoterism or only for people with their heads in the moon, but it is not, it’s all about science and rationality. Serious! Anyway, looks like Waterford are onto something, especially if, like me, you’re rather into distillate and raw material-driven spirits…
SGP:451 - (no score) points.


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


December 5, 2018


Two or three Glenlivet

Or four or five, let’s see what happens. Probably the most famous single malt in the world. Don’t you agree? Or is it Glenfiddich? We’ll start this with the oldest, since it’s also the lightest as far as %ABVs are concerned…

Glenlivet (Minmore) 20 yo 1996 (46.4%, Cadenhead, Warehouse Tasting, 2017)

Glenlivet (Minmore) 20 yo 1996 (46.4%, Cadenhead, Warehouse Tasting, 2017) Three stars and a half
Indeed the name ‘Minmore’ that Cadenhead are using refers to the farm where Captain George Smith used to live before the transfer of the Distillery to that location in 1858. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much greasier and grassier than your ‘average’ Glenlivet, more on paraffin, sunflower oil, linseed, fruit stems and peels, wet raw wool, etcetera. Whiffs of new bandages in the background, as well as, perhaps, a little olive soap. Really not your ‘average’ Genlivet. Mouth: this is rather incredible, things getting pretty different now, that is to say much fruitier, rather on all things apples. Compote, cakes, pies, cider, calvados… etcetera. Actually, a kind of grassy greenness remains. Finish: long, waxy and grassy. Grapeseed oil, a touch of grapefruit in the aftertaste. Comments: so a rather raw Glenlivet, quite the opposite of an easy, gentle Speysider.
SGP:361 - 84 points.

Glenlivet 15 yo 2002/2018 (58.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, First Fill Bourbon Barrel, cask #800772, 200 bottles)

Glenlivet 15 yo 2002/2018 (58.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, First Fill Bourbon Barrel, cask #800772, 200 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: not dissimilar, that is to say pretty grassy, but this time you’re also experiencing fresh butter and vanilla from the first fill barrel. There’s also some honey (nose various honeys, that’s always very pleasant), agave syrup, and some hay and chamomile. With water: a little chalk and earth are getting in on the act. Mouth (neat): very fruity this time, around fresh orchard fruits, icing sugar, pears, greengages, green apples, then candied angelica… With water: western summer fruits going bananas (so to speak). Various apples, including very sweet ones, as well as green and Provence melons. That’s always pretty perfect. Finish: medium, superbly fruity. Comments: I was about to use the word ‘natural’. So some excellent, rather pristine middle-aged Glenlivet au naturel.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Glenlivet 13 yo 1982/1995 (59%, Glenscoma, Port wood)

Glenlivet 13 yo 1982/1995 (59%, Glenscoma, Port wood) Four stars
Scoma are pioneers as far as malt whisky’s concerned in Germany. They sometimes used to add their own labels to indie bottlings, as the Italians used to do (Sestante et all). Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s rather leafier, while the Port remains extremely discreet, which fact won’t deplore here. Very nice touches of lovage, parsley, chives, tobacco, fresh walnuts… It’s almost as if that Port was actually fino sherry. With water: some wee hints of rubber that will need quite some time to go away. Mouth (neat): it’s good, rather on rosehip tea this time (Port indeed?) as well as pepper, including Szechuan. Otherwise, apples. With water: candy sugar, candied fruits, maple syrup, a touch of marzipan, barley water, Cointreau. Finish: rather long, a tad on mulled wine. Cinnamon, star anise and such. After all, Christmas is coming. Comments: yep. Now go find a bottle.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2018 (67%, Signatory Vintage, for Fisser, Italian Cars Series, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900201)

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2018 (67%, Signatory Vintage, for Fisser, Italian Cars Series, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900201) Four stars and a half
Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari on the label; let’s see if this is fast whisky, while remembering that Signatory always had some superb sherried ‘livets. Colour: amber. Nose: well, at 67% vol., I suppose earlier F1s could have used this as petrol, but the sherry might have clogged up the carburettors. A lot of speculoos and pumpernickel here, morello cherries and guignolet, cherry-flavoured pipe tobacco, and just raspberry jam. But it’s very strong… With water: tobacco, new leather, horse saddle, chery liqueur. Right, that’s guignolet indeed. Mouth (neat): huge, reminiscent of some Kavalans, if I may (Scotland, don’t shoot!) Gingerbread, chestnut honey, Cherry Heering, pink pepper again… But, cough, it’s strong, cough… With water: right. With more water: a big, fattish sweet cherry-like sherry. A rare case of rhyming alliterations being not purely superfluous (oh-my-God). Finish: long, rounded, sweet, syrupy. The fact is, I love my cherries. Comments: a bit bombastic and yet pretty elegant. Proper good PX, I’d suppose.
SGP:751 - 89 points.

And a very prestigious last minute entry…

Glenlivet 64 yo 1954/2018 (41%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry butt, 222 bottles)

Glenlivet 64 yo 1954/2018 (41%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry butt, 222 bottles) Five stars
Indeed this very rare old one is brand new and, just like the fantastic Caol Ila we had yesterday, comes in a rather wonderful decanter that’s really not as kitsch as other extravaganzas that may be encountered elsewhere in Scotland (never forget your sunglasses). I’d add that we have good hopes here, despite the low strength, as I fondly remember a 1954/2010 from the previous inception of G&M’s Private Collection (WF 91). Colour: only pale gold, which is quite astonishing. Nose: bingo, honeys and menthol-driven herbs and teas. A perfect combo when balance is right! Smaller elements here would gather pine resins, pollens and beeswax, sesame oil, dried figs, a wee touch of amaretto, and an old empty cigar box. Lovely, but at 41% vol., it’s the palate that’ll play the justice of the peace (so to speak). Of course, no water to be added here. Mouth: bingo again, no excessive old black tea (from an old teapot), no greenish tannins, and no bone-dry black chocolate, rather an arrival on marmalade and roasted coffee beans, then cassata, kougelhopf ice-cream, glazed chestnuts and good old rhum agricole. Some pecan pie too, and never a single weakness despite the low strength. Finish: the resins and the marmalade are back, with a little liquorice and black chocolate. A fresh, slightly mentholy aftertaste. Comments: let’s say it, with old whiskies when you find this much menthol and resins in any nose, that’s usually bad news w.r.t. the palate that’ll often have become too drying. Not the case at all here, this old baby still has the fire.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Thanks again Tom!)

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


December 4, 2018


Crazy Caol Ila

Long time no Caol Ila on WF, si? Bah… (that was some introduction S., congrats!) We’ll try to act swiftly today, but as usual, we may well fail…

Caol Ila 2008/2018 (53.4%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #4016843)

Caol Ila 2008/2018 (53.4%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #4016843) Three stars
Three months in an active octave (woo-hoo, S.!) that changes a man. I mean, a whisky. Colour: straw. Nose: philosophically, I’ve never been a fan of speedy oak-doping on whisky, but I have to say that rather often works, which seems to be pretty much the case here. A fresh CaolIlaness for a start, and then some fresher lemongrass-like aromas that should have come from the oak. Something of a lemony cough syrup. With water: Caol Ila plus vanilla, doesn’t fail. Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu, indeed, that worked. Sure there’s a little too much vanilla and a feeling of sawdust and ginger, but on the other hand, balance has been preserved and the well-chiselled distillate keeps shining through. With water: rather more on ginger, I would say, and sour white wine, Muscadet… Finish: medium, with touches of ginger again, sourdough, nutmeg… Comments: the very good people at Duncan Taylor have provided me with the original distillate, before it got octaved, which was cool. I liked it a little better for it was cleaner and fresher, but I can see why someone else would prefer the ‘prepared’ version.
SGP:456 - 80 points.

Wait, just checking something…

Caol Ila 15 yo 1992/2007 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2)

Caol Ila 15 yo 1992/2007 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: right, this one is/was epitomically fresh and maritime, with oysters, lemons, kelp, damp fabric, rainwater, ink, and beach sand on Islay after the rain. Right, any day. Mouth: goody good, creamy, uncomplicated, with some limoncello and oyster juice, brine, oysters again, and perhaps langoustines covered with custard (what mad soul…?) Finish: medium, brine-y, lemony. Comments: just wanted to check something.
SGP:456 - 85 points.

CI11 2008/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, oloroso sherry butts, 1206 bottles, 2018)

CI11 2008/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, oloroso sherry butts, 1206 bottles, 2018) Three stars and a half
In theory, this should go hassle free. Colour: gold. Nose: there is this kind of manzanilla-like sourness that can work so well with peaters. Mustard, charcoal, lit cigars, old riesling, camphor, whelks, garden peat. With water: wet dogs (we sure owe you, dogs) and soot. Mouth (neat): unusual and good, and indeed pretty sour. Lime juice, seawater, grape skins, that dandy old riesling, grapefruit juice, and touches of lemony oak, whatever that means.  There are, indeed, notes of ‘oak preparation’ akin (but less obvious) to those that were to be found in DT’s Octave. With water: careful, whiskies that have seen active oak within their lives don’t always swim well. So, only a few drops here, please. Some pineapples; bizarrely, pineapples often come with active American oak. Finish: long, appropriately sour and fruity. Comments: there may have been a little wizardry behind this bottling, but I like it, even if I tend to prefer the blade-ier Cis (I had CI10 at WF 90, for exemple).
SGP:556 - 84 points.

Hold on before we go on, looks like I’ve never formally tasted CI8… So, CI8…

CI8 2008/2017 (55.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels)

CI8 2008/2017 (55.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels) Four stars
From five barrels, so no sherry this time (yeah pushing at open doors again…) Colour: white wine. Nose: if I write katana-y, will you believe I’ve gone even madder? Right but indeed, this is extremely clean, vertical, narrow, and all on seashells and pure lemon juice. With water: w andering throughout a working kiln. Watch your clothes. Mouth (neat): perfect clean, narrow, yet slightly fattish (coz of the barrels) CI. Smoked limoncello blended with seawater. With water: millimetrically pure ex-bourbon Caol Ila. In other words, vanilla-coated peaty whisky. Finish: long, a tad fat, perhaps. Comments: marvellous, but perhaps just a tad too vanilla-ed for me. I know, splitting fairy hairs.
SGP:457 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 2007/2018 (50.3%, Les Grands Alambics, 136 bottles)

Caol Ila 2007/2018 (50.3%, Les Grands Alambics, 136 bottles) Four stars and a half
Here come some wee French bottlers acting with flair. I’d take this opportunity to show many international friends how one ought to properly write the word ‘alambic’. Colour: white wine. Nose: right, kiwi and lime juices, garden bonfire, angelica, small flat oysters (I would suggest Prat-Ar-Coum – never mind), and a wee chalkiness. Very elegant and pure, this young Caol Ila. With water: gets more medicinal. Mercurochrome and bandages, plus anchovie paste. Mouth (neat): exactly. A drop of agave syrup in lemon and oyster juices, plus kippers and green pepper corns. All that works in perfect sync, it’s almost the John Coltrane Quartet (yeah, or Abba, as you like, as long as you don’t mention the Osmonds). With water: exactly perfect. Lemon liqueur, a touch of salt, sardines, cigarette ashes, and a little crushed chalk. Finish: long, pristinely lemony and salty. Comments: as good as it gets at ten or eleven years of age. Well selected, The Tall Stills!
SGP:457 - 88 points.

Perhaps a last Caol Ila, let’s make it an old one…

Caol Ila 33 yo 1984/2017 (50.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11925, 250 bottles)

Caol Ila 33 yo 1984/2017 (50.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11925, 250 bottles) Five stars
I can’t see what could go wrong here, even if the honourable bottlers have added this to the label: “Ridiculously Rare”. Which, in itself, is perhaps a little r…….. as this is neither Stromness nor Malt Mill (more about the latter soon on WF, but shhh…) Colour: gold. Nose: get-out-of-here! An ode to proper aging, with stunning notes of old teas and tobaccos, embrocations, old polished pieces of furniture, overripe quinces (as quinces should be), and secret oils straight from Leonardo’s workshop. With water: what I’ve always liked in old Caol Ilas was the appearances of fish oils, fresh almonds, and old earthy Chinese teas. As if by chance, that’s exactly what’s happening here. Also wee mangos that they may have borrowed from Bowmore’s. Mouth (neat): extraordinarily firm and vibrant (professors would write ‘assertive’), with a rubbery/mentholy side that comes from the old wood, and a very complex blend of herbal teas and tarry ointments. Well, that, more or less. With water: careful, please never drown these oldsters. Actually, it doesn’t even stand a single drop of H2O on the palate or it would become dry and drying. No water is the way here. Finish: perfect when undiluted, with tropical fruits dancing right on your tongue. Comments: superb, just getting a tad difficult (weak and drying, with a touch of lousy coconut) as soon as you’re only intending to add the tiniest drops of water. Not that it would need any at 50.1% ABV, anyways. Big medicinal smoke at 33 years of age!
SGP:457 - 90 points.

All right, we’ve got an even older one. Some kind of extremely rare bonus, I you like… In fact it the oldest Caol Ila ever, and it is brand new!

Caol Ila 50 yo 1968/2018 (52.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 190 bottles)

Caol Ila 50 yo 1968/2018 (52.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 190 bottles) Five stars
This is hard to fathom, Gordon & MacPhail were still having a cask (and possibly more) of Caol Ila from the old distillery! In truth these whiskies have become legendary, not only because they are now all old and rare, also because they were stunning whiskies, rather bolder than the ‘new’ Caol Ilas and nearer to the malts from the island’s south shore. I’ll add that all the 1968s from G&M (especially the Italians, Intertrade, Meregali…) were absolutely stunning, often +/-95-material. Which explains why I just cannot wait… Colour: gold. Nose: camphor, garden bonfire, old embrocations, new linoleum (ask your parents, youngsters!), a pack of mint drops, Chartreuse (let’s not push things, not obligatorily Tarragona), vinyl acetate, rubber boots, angelica, menthol cigarettes, fresh mushrooms… Well you got it, there’s some kind of complexity in here, but let’s see if and how it swims. With water: but it would cross the Atlantic! Fantastic, wonderfully brine-y, very fresh, coastal, a tad tarry, smoky… This very profile is very hard to beat, and specifically ‘old Caol Ila’. Mouth (neat): it’s a blessing that the strength remained quite high, this is still fresh and, as we all say, vibrant. We’re finding bitter citrus, a touch of wine vinegar, oysters, crystallised apples, Seville oranges, this feeling of sucking hessian or your tissue, smoked meats and fish, various candied fruits, and the subtlest smoked marmalade ever (provided someone already tried to make smoked marmalade). With water: amazing, tense, salty, as sooty as old CI could be, ashy, with a few pine needles and a smidgen of top-of-range toothpaste. And lemon. Finish: rather long, just perfectly fresh, which really comes as a surprise. Comments: an ode to age, or the new Helen Mirren of Scotch whisky. Congratulations, G&M! When bottlers write that a particular whisky was bottled ‘at its peak’, we usually take that as marketing speech (hot air, if you prefer). Not the case at all here, that’s actually totally possible. But we know that Caol Ila ages gracefully (right, just like Helen Mirren).
SGP:564 - 93 points.

(Thank you Fuji and Lucero)

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


December 3, 2018


Little duos, today Mosstowie

You may remember that Mosstowie’s the name of the whisky that used to be distilled in Miltonduff’s Lomond stills between 1964 and 1981. Anecdotal whiskies? Perhaps. Let’s try two of them before we all forget about Mosstowie…

Mosstowie 1979/2013 (51.5%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, bourbon barrel, cask #1355, 185 bottles)

Mosstowie 1979/2013 (51.5%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, bourbon barrel, cask #1355, 185 bottles) Four stars
Purveyors Signatory Vintage already had some excellent 1979s, I especially remember a cask #1305 that was great (WF 88). Lomond stills used to impart a very specific kind of fruitiness – think Inverleven’s Lomond still. Colour: straw. Nose: macchiato and butterscotch for a start, then whiffs of sour wood (fallen trees in a dump forest) and a lot of green tea. Rubbed fern. With water: no, it’s some pure sawdust that comes out. No water in this! Mouth (neat): really very good indeed. It’s no bold whisky, but it’s got a kind of herbal structure that works very well. Linden, chamomile tea, certainly some eucalyptus leaves that you would chew on… It’s very different from any other kinds of malts (while I have to confess I’ve forgotten how Kinclaith used to taste), but it’s excellent. Mentholy apples? With water: water work rather better on the palate. Sour apples, even sweet potatoes… Finish: medium, a tad sawdusty, but there’s also this very engaging kind of herbalness, between verbena and lemongrass. Comments: a forgotten style. Try to catch one before they become totally undiscoverable. Not that they were very seminal, having said that…
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Mosstowie 45 yo 1973/2018 (51.6%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #7622, 410 bottles)

Mosstowie 45 yo 1973/2018 (51.6%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #7622, 410 bottles) Five stars
Imagine, a 45 years old Mosstowie! Isn’t it fab when great old bottlers (well, not THAT old in this very case) celebrate their anniversaries? Remember Cadenhead last year? Colour: gold. Nose: this is completely different, much more on muscovado sugar, Cuban rum, custard, chicory and Ovaltine, toasted brioche, Williams pears… We’re kind of midway between old malt and old grain here, I would say. With water: gets sourer, but that is pleasant. Swiss cheese, tobacco, fermenting plums (got some in the garage, will distil them soon!)… Mouth (neat): exactly. Pear pie, sweet ale, butterscotch, toffee, more Ovaltine, mocha… Once again you feel a lighter backbone, but it’s no spineless grain whisky, it’s just a different kind of malt. With water: same feelings. Notes of young calvados, caramel, vanilla, malt, walnuts… Finish: rather medium, a tad oakier but remember this baby’s 45! Comments: what a lovely experience! Probably the oldest Mosstowie ever, and indeed, much more than just an anecdotal whisky – but then again, it is neither Clynelish nor Springbank.
SGP:451 - 90 points.

Glad we’ve had these two, this was perhaps the last proper Mosstowie session on little WF.

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


December 2, 2018


And yet another bag of rums

After some kind of cane-y pause, let’s try some rum again, completely at random. Well, more or less.

Cubaney 5 yo ‘Anejo Reserva’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)

Cubaney 5 yo ‘Anejo Reserva’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)
Yeah well, we’re not expecting much from this likely multi-column sugar bomb. I have the 18 yo at 72, the 21 at 69, and the 25 at 70, now it’s not unseen that the youngsters would be fresher, hence better. Colour: gold, but moves like syrup. Nose: we do find echoes of cane juice, as well as overripe fruits (couldn’t tell you which ones) and molasses. A little cardboard too. It’s kind of okay so far. Mouth: ethanol, molasses, tinned pineapples, cardboard, corn syrup, sugar. Rather hard when neat, ice is probably mandatory here, but that’s not in our processes, I’m afraid. Finish: very short, a little bitter and sour beyond the sugar. Bitter grass. Comments: rather soulless but as we often say, we’ve tasted worse spirits. A shame that the name would lead many people to believe it’s Cuban.
SGP:640 – 60 points.

Right, specialist rums are already asked at the table… Like, Hampden vs. Worthy Park…

Hampden 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.5%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 270 bottles)

Hampden 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.5%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 270 bottles) Four stars
A recent one at 64.1% was rather fantastic (WF 90). Colour: white wine. Nose: kerosene, UHU glue, fermenting grass, ink, and picked capers. Assassins! With water: fermenting plums, and I mean, really that. Just fermented and distilled some damsons last week, and indeed the ‘wine’ used to smell exactly like this. Mouth (neat): huge. Concentrated lime juice, varnish, olive brine, and pipe tobacco (that’s right, chewed). Murderers! With water: extreme smoky and almost acetone-y olive brine. Finish: very long, very salty and, well, still rather acetone-y. Comments: an infernal bone-dry Hampden, on the far end of the spectrum. Crazy rum, not for your mother-in-law’s Christmas. Unless, of course…
SGP:173 - 87 points.

And so Worthy Park 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.9%, The Duchess, cask #4)

And so Worthy Park 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.9%, The Duchess, cask #4) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: gentler, less extreme than that Hampden, more complex as well, with some smoky earthiness, no acetone this time, rather a feeling of smoked banana cake, cigar ashes, a mild oliveness, and whiffs of camphor and eucalyptus wood. With water: the varnish comes out, together with more very lovely earthy tones and fermenting tropical fruits. A combo that always works very perfectly. Mouth (neat): very unusual this time, with notes of grappa and marc de Bourgogne at first (not égrappé/destemmed), and only then cane, olives, and lemon, then liquorice and a touch of tar. With water: really, marc. And then, indeed, olives and tarry liquorice. Some sides remind me of that crazy thing that Silver Seal did, called Grhum. Which is grappa finished in ex-rum wood. Finish: rather long, funnily grape-y, and then appropriately olive-y. Comments: totally up my alley – and indeed it’s fun. One to poor blind – not saying it’s a real eye-opener though (ooh that was utterly lame, S.!)
SGP:362 - 88 points.

More heavy hitters…

Diamond 2003/2018 'MDK' (61.5%, Old Brothers, 2018)

Diamond 2003/2018 'MDK' (61.5%, Old Brothers, 2018) Four stars
This one by these passionate wee French indie bottlers that are rather trans-spirits, and seem to prefer bazooka boozes (too late, I’ve just registered that brand name - not). Colour: pale straw (picture, a mock-up bottle). Nose: fresh sugarcane juice and genuine vanilla pods in perfect sync. That’s pretty all but that’s already a lot. Water may unleash the cavalry, let’s see… With water: indeed, the esters are showing now, with the expected olives, green tea from last week that’s starting to kind of ferment in the pot, notes of bicycle inner tubes (I’ve been told they don’t do bicycle inner tubes anymore; I’m asking you, what has the world come to?)… Mouth (neat): terrific, very punchy, on sugarcane juice, oranges, touches of hay, and banana skins. With water: once again, the esters are coming through, while they would all be of the grassier kind. Olives and lawn. Finish: long, sharp, grassy. Lime and weizenbier in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather brutal Diamond that really needs H2O – and a proper pipette.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Fiji 2009/2018 'FSPA' (63.3%, Old Brothers, 2018)

Fiji 2009/2018 'FSPA' (63.3%, Old Brothers, 2018) Five stars
More bazooka-y matters, I suppose… And stuff from South Pacific Distillers, most probably. Not sure there’s any other distillery in Fiji anyway, but they have great rugby players, have they not? Colour: white wine (picture of mock-up bottle). Nose: this really could be mistaken for some of the esteriest Long Ponds, really. Cucumbers, olives, glues and polish removers, seawater, new magazines and books, and fresh almonds. With water: more on lemons, which is always nice and good. Oyster juice. Mouth (neat): so good! These partially dirty Fijians could educate the Jamaicans (okay, pushing things a bit), as this is just perfectly sooty, lemony, tarry and briny. Perfect freshness. Perfect. With water: absolutely excellent, tense, lemony, salty, coastal, with just the right amount of tar and natural rubber. Finish: very long, on the same flavours. Perhaps a touch of lovage. Comments: defeats the Diamond in my book. A drop of this in your glass of Cubaney 5 yo and presto, proper rum! (indeed, I just tried that).
SGP:363 - 90 points.

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


December 1, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Back to the duos
Let’s have a few more humble head to head pairings today. Sticking mostly around Speyside if you please...


Aberlour 12 yo 1987/2000 (62.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 222 bottles) Aberlour 12 yo 1987/2000 (62.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 222 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: hot and chalky. Typical Cadenhead AC and as expected. A few gooseberries and cider apples. Let’s just go straight to water... With water: cooking oils, white asparagus, dried earth, dry cereals, aspirin. Good clean distillate but typically tough and brittle. Mouth: even at full strength there’s some nice notes of straw, yellow flowers, horseradish and hessian. Although, globally it’s still pretty hot and peppery. Again, let’s not be shy with the water... With water: honey and lemon, ginger ale, caraway, heather ale, a little star anise. It’s at its best on the palate with water I’d say. Although, it still remains a dram you’d probably struggle to have more than one of. Finish: Good length but a tad acrid, flinty and tough. Wee glimmers of white fruits. Comments: Nice enough, but a challenging whisky. No easy thrills here. A very ‘of its time’ bottling.
SGP: 351 - 78 points.


Aberlour 20 yo 1997/2018 (59.1%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’, cask #9057, sherry butt, 1056 bottles) Aberlour 20 yo 1997/2018 (59.1%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’, cask #9057, sherry butt, 1056 bottles)
From one of these distillery exclusive 50cl bottlings that Pernod do. Colour: light amber. Nose: Another world away from the Cadenhead. This is an abundance of lemony treacle, nougat, ripe plums, pears baked in Calvados, lime cordial, hessian, juicy fruits, hints of French mustard and wild strawberries. Really excellent and slightly unusual in good way. With water: more nougat notes, ginger, baking soda, crushed tea biscuits, dried leaves, rolling tobacco and a wee hint of sage. Mouth: white port, custard, soot, cloves, damp earth and linseed oil. Starts extremely well but gets perhaps a tad too extractive and almondy for my liking. Feels like it has been in one of these very modern ‘seasoned’ sherry casks. With water: water seems to enhance this bitter side. Becomes really quite extractive   and tough now. Green wood, pencil shavings and sawdust. Finish: rather long but also a bit hot and again extractive and bitter. Comments: To think that when I first nosed it I was thinking potentially 90 material. Just goes to show what can happen. Really feels like the distillate suffered from some hyper active oak treatment. Over the top and imbalanced I’d say. Although not without its merits - the neat nose was very lovely.
SGP: 541 - 79 points.


Poor Aberlour, usually a winner in my book. Sadly not today. Let’s see if Glen Elgin will come to the rescue...  


Glen Elgin 22 yo 1995/2018 (50.8%, Acorn ‘Natural Malt Selection’, cask #3218, Hogshead) Glen Elgin 22 yo 1995/2018 (50.8%, Acorn ‘Natural Malt Selection’, cask #3218, Hogshead)
Colour: light gold. Nose: simple, easy, rather lush fruitiness that touches on ripe green apples, pears, gooseberry, melon and star fruit. Soft grasses, cereals, green tea, white mushrooms and eldeflower cordial. Humble and very beautiful mid-aged Glen Elgin - I defy anyone not to enjoy this style. With water: gets a little drier and leafier. More towards soda bread, soft tobacco notes, citrus peels and freshly malted barley. Mouth: the same, fruits, honeys, trail mix, sultana, dried apple rings, green banana, custard made with marsala wine, lemon jelly, gin and tonic sorbet. Sweet, fruity, malty, light and lovey. With water: muesli, trail mix, crystallised garden fruits, golden syrup, shortbread and apple tart tatin. Finish: good length, rather lemony, lemon barley water, gooseberry compote, custard creams and vanilla tablet. Comments: It doesn’t have a huge amount to say, but it says it with such easy charm and elegance that it’s hard to find fault. Simple and extremely enjoyable malt whisky.
SGP: 631 - 87 points.


Glen Elgin 22 yo 1978/2000 (53.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4539, 298 bottles) Glen Elgin 22 yo 1978/2000 (53.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4539, 298 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: it’s surprising how close we are here to the Acorn. This same lush and simple green fruity profile. Only here it’s a little deeper, a little fatter, a little sweeter with this bigger, more lavish honeyed character and tad more waxy. More subtle as well with wee notes of lemon pie, sweetened cereals, camphor, olive oil and some kind of lightly sooty butterscotch. Excellent! With water: drier, more herbal, more waxy, notes of petrichor, mint and tobacco leaf and a little cod liver oil. Mouth: Ooft! Superb fatness with a remarkable medicinal edge. Really there are some beautiful notes of embrocations, ointments, herbal peat, lemon jelly, eucalyptus toothpaste, mint julep, demerara rum and cloves. Then lots of crystalised, resinous and glazed fruits underneath. Sultanas, apples, plums and fig. There’s a sense of good old bottle effect about this one as well, these drier and slightly oily edges that move towards metal polish and dry wax begin to emerge. Hessian sack cloth and dunnage. Just superb! With water: syrupy, gloopy, waxy perfection. Heather honey, hessian, lemon oils, tiger balm. Beautiful! Finish: long, full of soft waxes, metal polish, lime zest, crystalised fruits, pollen and blossoms. Comments: Just brilliant old Glen Elgin, a tad closed at first but it blossomed superbly and those notes of medicine on the palate were just wonderful. A total gem! It was also interesting to note a few aspects which verged on good old bottle effect, not unlike some old Cadenhead dumpies. The 2000? Really? I feel old, let’s hope it’s my imagination.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.


Glenrothes 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.0%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two hogsheads, 528 bottles) Glenrothes 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.0%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two hogsheads, 528 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: Porridge, parsley, muesli and aspirin, which is of course the title of the new Simon & Garfunkel album... I’m sorry. But really this is all cereals, chalk, dry citrus, oats, fresh chopped herbs and wee sooty touches. Really lovely distillate, extremely clean and very approachable. With water: lightly menthol now with white flowers, chestnuts, pistachio and toasted macadamias - rather nutty in general actually. Some shredded coconut into the bargain. Mouth: Along the same lines as the nose only with more greenery and honey. Notes like apples of the cider and toffee varieties. Some teenage Calvados, marmite, sourdough, lemon cheesecake, honeyed oatmeal, flapjack and dried apricots. Very bready, cerealy and soft with these light green fruit notes. Very nice. With water: leafiness, light icing sugar sweetness, herbal resins, lychee jam, nettles, pea soup and caraway. All very lovely. Finish: long, earthy and becoming waxier with these slightly dry cereal notes, distant heather honey and more dried white flowers. Comments: A rather compelling and very good Glenrothes. Worth seeking out.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.


Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2018 (48.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2018 (48.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)
I’ve always enjoyed the ducks on Whisky-Fassle’s bottlings. Colour: deep amber. Nose: wet earth, wild mushrooms, petrichor, coal dust, leaf mulch and bitter chocolate. Some rather luscious old school sherry at work here. Also rather a lot of wild strawberries, strawberry wine, strawberry jam. Strawberries basically. Maybe a freeze dried raspberry or three as well. Some old cognac, liquorice root, fennel, turmeric and beef stock. In fact it becomes increasingly meaty over time with notes of cured hams, game meats and mutton. Pretty excellent, compelling sherried Glenrothes. Mouth: big and jammy, lots of stewed sultanas, raisins, plum sauce, star anise, cranberry gravy and prune juice. A few red and dark fruits vying for attention. Plum wine, strawberry liqueur, old mead and plenty more liquorice, getting saltier this time. Finish: long, earthy and full of aniseed, fennel, liquorice, mint, raspberry jam and clove throat sweets. Comments: If you’re looking for a wintry sherry bomb that doesn’t strip your gums out, you could do a lot worse than this wee beauty. The strength is just perfect.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.


Glendronach 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.4%, OB, cask #3342, port pipe, 643 bottles) Glendronach 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.4%, OB, cask #3342, port pipe, 643 bottles)
No word on whether this is a full term maturation or a re-rack. But the colour is...frightening. Colour: deep rose wine. Nose: raisiny plum sauce, fruit loops, strawberry jam, candy floss, mirabelle, damson chutney and a big swig of children’s cough medicine. Not really my style to be honest. With water: a tad more savoury, some sugared pastries, clove drops, red fruit teas and a hint of Listerine mouthwash. Mouth: sweet and sharp. Like red tart red berries, unripe cider apples and fruits of the forest yoghurt. Some cherry throat sweets, limeade, Ribena, milk chocolate and juicy fruit chewing gum. The port feels rather OTT and little imbalanced. With water: jasmine, orchard fruits, chocolate, winter mulling spices, blood orange and fruit loaf. Nicer with water but still a bit too chalk and cheese for me. Finish: Medium and a bit prickly. Spiced dark fruits, ovaltine, chocolate spread, peanuts and more sugary drinks like Tizer and red cola. Comments: Never been a fan of port or red wine and whisky. This one hasn’t really altered that perspective. It’s just not balanced in my view.
SGP: 631 - 76 points.


Glendronach 26 yo 1992/2018 (56.7%, OB for Whisky Online, cask #220, sherry butt) Glendronach 26 yo 1992/2018 (56.7%, OB for Whisky Online, cask #220, sherry butt)
Interestingly enough Glendronach are now labelling these releases as ‘cask bottlings’, rather than single casks. A reference to the fact that a fair bit of re-racking no doubt goes on. Although, as I understand it, that isn’t the case with this one. Colour: deep amber. Nose: indeed this does smell like a classical and rather delicious old school sherry cask with these immediate notes of hessian dipped in dark chocolate.


An extremely charming mix of black cherries, damp wine cellars, sultanas, figs and various other dark fruit notes. Some Dundee cake topped with walnuts and a fair waft of rancio. In time it moves towards cigars, pipe tobacco and good espresso. Simply another very good mid-aged Glendronach. With water: more leathery, more hessian notes, more ‘unified’ so to speak and still bristling with plenty classical earthy and fruity old sherry notes. Mouth: peppery and slightly hot at first. Lots of sharp red fruits, some fruity red chilli and paprika notes alongside tree bark, burnt raisins, bitter chocolate, freshly toasted brown bread and a kind of composty earthiness. The sherry is rather big, boisterous and slightly salty - a kind of marmite note which I rather like. Continues with nutmeg, black tea with lemon slices and some miso broth with truffle. With water: more spicy, peppery and sharp tingly notes. A rather powerful and potent spiciness - almost becomes bigger with water. Still plenty of dark chocolate and dunnage earthiness along with mulled wine, treacle sponge cake, lime sweets and smoked tea. Finish: rather long, leathery, spicy and hefty. Still with this slightly chilli-edged sharpness that rides through to the aftertaste. Comments: I really like it, only these slightly sharper edges prevent me from going higher. Although, I suspect that people who adore these old Glendronach sherry beasts will lap this up like a carefully positioned grizzly bear over a salmon ladder...
SGP: 561 - 87 points.



Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2018

Serge's favourite recent bottling:
Unicorn 30 yo 1988/2018 (43%, CWS China, Myths and Legends, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt, cask #22, 630 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's favourite older bottling:
Scapa 1958/1985 (46%, Samaroli, 180 bottles)  - WF 94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ballechin 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014) - WF 89

Serge's favourite malternative:
Enmore 30 yo 1988/2018 (47.9%, Silver Seal, Demerara, 150cl)   - WF 92

November 2018 - part 2 <--- December 2018 - part 1 ---> December 2018 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.5%, Archives, barrel, cask #1470, 139 bottles)

Caol Ila 50 yo 1968/2018 (52.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 190 bottles)

Caol Ila 33 yo 1984/2017 (50.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11925, 250 bottles)

Glenlivet 64 yo 1954/2018 (41%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry butt, 222 bottles)

Ledaig 15 yo 2002/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11755, 351 bottles)

Ledaig 2004/2014 (51.6%, Liquid Art, 176 bottles)

Mosstowie 45 yo 1973/2018 (51.6%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #7622, 410 bottles)

Fiji 2009/2018 'FSPA' (63.3%, Old Brothers, 2018)