(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo

Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2019 - Part 2


December 2019 - part 1 <--- December 2019 - part 2 ---> January 2020 - part 1


December 31, 2019




No-Awards 2019

This is just a personal list of the whiskies and malternatives I liked best each and every months this year, for the record. Please note that this year again, Angus's scores have not been taken into account (which is totally iniquitous, I agree), but you may scroll down a bit to check his overall favourites of 2019, as well as mine. Cheers!


Favourite recent bottling of the month
January 2019   92   Glenallachie 43 yo (50.4%, Elixir Distillers ‘Director’s Special’, sherry butt, 313 bottles)
Feb. 2019   92   Clynelish 35 yo 1983/2018 (52.2%, OB, Casks of Distinction, for Aaron Chan, hogshead, cask #2566, 144 bottles)
March 2019   93   Springbank 22 yo 1996/2018 (55%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead, cask #1850-54, 249 bottles)
April 2019   93   Port Ellen 35 yo 1982/2018 (55.1%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #2040, 567 bottles) 
May 2019   94   Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles)
June 2019   92   Port Ellen 39 yo 1978/2018 (50.9%, OB, Untold Stories series, 1500 bottles)
July 2019   93   Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, The Black Series, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles)
August 2019   91   Clynelish 23 yo 1995/2019 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage for the Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #11252, 550 bottles)
Sept. 2019   92   Craigellachie 25 yo 1994/2019 (56.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #1063, 195 bottles)
October 2019   93   Glen Grant 62 yo 1956/2019 (51.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Mr George Centenary Edition, first fill sherry butt, cask #4455, 235 bottles)
Nov. 2019   91   Jura 1989/2019 (53.5%, OB, Rare Vintage, bourbon, 1,500 bottles) 
Dec. 2019   93   Brora 40 yo 1978/2019 (49.2%, OB, 200th anniversary, Exclusive Release, 1819 bottles)
Favourite older bottling of the month
January 2019   94   Laphroaig 13 yo 1967/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, sherry wood, dumpy)
Feb. 2019   94   Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1947/1975 (75°proof, Matthew Gloag & Son)
March 2019   92   Macallan 10 yo ‘100° proof’ (100° proof, OB, +/-1978)
April 2019   93   Highland Park 8 yo (100° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 FL.OZS, mid 1970s)
May 2019   93   Macallan 25 yo 1975 (54%, Casa De Vinos, Australia, sherry butt, cask #17113, +/-2000)y
June 2019   91   Port Ellen 25 yo 1982/2007 (52%, Old Bothwell for Jens Steinert)
July 2019   96   Springbank 12 yo (Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965)
August 2019   94   Bowmore 21 yo (43%, OB, Golf decanter, +/-1985, 75cl)
Sept. 2019   93   Bruichladdich 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.2%, Turatello)
October 2019   93   Aberlour-Glenlivet 8 yo (50%, OB, Rinaldi, Italy, 1960s)
Nov. 2019   93   Bladnoch 32 yo 1958/1990 (44.5%, Duthies)
Dec. 2019   94   Brora 1977/1996 (59.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #61.5, ‘An Islay by another name’, 216 bottles)
Favourite bang for your buck bottling of the month
January 2019   90   Hazelburn 13 yo 2005/2018 (54.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 192 bottles)
Feb. 2019   91   Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1994/2018 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 195 bottles)
March 2019   --   None in March
April 2019   90   Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’(40%, OB, +/-2018)
May 2019   88   Clynelish 17 yo 1998/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogsheads, casks #7778+7779)
June 2019   89   Port Askaig 10 yo (55.85%, Elixir Distillers, 10th Anniversary, 10,000 bottles, 2019)
July 2019   89   As we get it (66.1%, Ian McLeod, Highland, +/-2018)
August 2019   90   Orkney 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.5%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 370 bottles)
Sept. 2019   91   Creations Blend 22 yo 1996/2019 (45%, Cadenhead, blended malt, bourbon hogshead)
October 2019   90   Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2019)
Nov. 2019   89   Balblair 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 648 bottles) 
Dec. 2019   90   Black Friday 21 yo ‘2019 Edition’ (53.1%, The Whisky Exchange, 1800 bottles)
Favourite malternative of the month
January 2019   90   Grosperrin 32 yo (52.8%, Cadenhead, Grande Champagne, 384 bottles, 2018)
Feb. 2019   91   Jean-Luc Pasquet ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ (44.2%, OB, Grande Champagne, 336 bottles, +/-2017)
March 2019   89   Foursquare 14 yo 2003/2017 ‘Destino’ (61%, OB, Barbados, 2610 bottles)
April 2019   93   Hampden Estate 17 yo 2001/2018 ‘Secret Cask’ (61.3%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 380 bottles)
May 2019   94   Grange Hill Estate ‘Old Jamaica Rum – Crown Brand’ (no ABV, OB, +/-1940?)
June 2019   91   Bellevue 20 yo 1998/2019 (58.8%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Guadeloupe, 245 bottles)
July 2019   92   Grande Champagne Lot N°25 (42.1%, Jean Grosperrin, 204 litres, 2019)
August 2019   92   Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles)
Sept. 2019   90   La Favorite 2016 ‘Rivière Bel’Air’ (53%, OB, Martinique, agricole)
October 2019   91   Neisson 2003/2018 (46.1%, OB, Martinique, agricole, #4 hippocampe, 95 bottles)
Nov. 2019   91   Worthy Park 2017/2019 (67%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, single cask)
Dec.2019   91   Angostura 16 yo 2003/2019 (55.4%, Single Cask Nation, Trinidad, sherry hogshead, cask #3, 309 bottles)
Lemon Prize of the month
January 2019   39   Glenfiddich 44 yo 1964 (55%, Kingsbury, Japan, hogshead, +/-2008)
Feb. 2019   72   Girvan 12 yo 2006/2018 (60.3%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles)
March 2019   45   Zacapa ‘Edicion Negra Solera Gran Reserva’ (43%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2018)
April 2019   49   Plantation Trinidad ‘Original Dark’ (40%, Plantation, Trinidad, +/-2018)
May 2019   20   Kirin ‘Fuji-Sanroku’ (50%, OB, Japan, +/-2018) 
June 2019   49   Glen Breton 14 yo 'Rare' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2018)
July 2019   65   Dzama 6 yo (45%, OB, Madagascar, +/-2017)
August 2019   50   Ron Cortez ‘Oro’ (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2018)
Sept. 2019   70   Jura ‘The Sound’ (42.5%, OB, +/-2018)
October 2019   69   Fuji Gotemba ‘Kunpu 2016’ (40%, OB, blend, 4800 bottles)
Nov. 2019   18   Suntory Brandy ‘V.O.’ (37%, OB, Japanese brandy, +/-2019?)
Dec.2019   74   Laphroaig 'Select' (40%, OB, +/-2018)



Serge's overall favourites of 2019...


Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles)

< Recent bottling
Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 
(50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo (Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965)

Older bottling >
Springbank 12 yo 
(Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965)

Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2019)

< Bang f. y. buck
Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’
(40%, OB, +/-2019)

Hampden Estate 17 yo 2001/2018 ‘Secret Cask’ (61.3%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 380 bottles)

Malternative >
Hampden Estate 17 yo 2001/2018 ‘Secret Cask’ (61.3%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 380 bottles)

Lemon Prize
Kirin ‘Fuji-Sanroku’ (50%, OB, Japan, +/-2018)


Angus's overall favourites of 2019...


Clynelish 25 yo 1993/2019 (54.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, refill hogshead, 220 bottles) 

< Recent bottling
Clynelish 25 yo 1993/2019
(54.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, refill hogshead, 220 bottles) 

Springbank 12 yo (Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965)

Older bottling >
Springbank 12 yo
 (Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965)

Bruichladdich 8 yo 2010/2019 ‘Bere Barley’ (50%, OB, ex-bourbon American oak)

< Bang f. y. buck
Bruichladdich 8 yo 2010/2019 ‘Bere Barley’
(50%, OB, ex-bourbon American oak)

Domaine Aux Ducs 1933/1985 (45%, Darroze, Bas-Armagnac)
Malternative >
Domaine Aux Ducs 1933/1985
(45%, Darroze, Bas-Armagnac)

Lemon Prize
Benrinnes 15 yo 2004/2019 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Chilean red wine cask, 252 bottles)


December 30, 2019


More foolish Ben Nevish

I certainly hope that that one will win the Worst Headline of 2019 Award! Now I’ll say it again, after having made quite a few brilliant 'Japanese whiskies' of the past, Ben Nevis is rising fast to the very top of my personal rankings. Let’s have a few more, just to make totally sure about that (gee-ee-eez)… First, perhaps an older OB just to set the tone…

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1974/2000 (56.4%, OB, hogshead, cask #2895, 190 bottles)

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1974/2000 (56.4%, OB, hogshead, cask #2895, 190 bottles) Five stars
Many official single casks were rather heavily sherried, so this is a nice opportunity to try one au naturel. Colour: gold. Nose: typical, with a lot of concrete dust, soot, sourdough, beans, coriander, wet sand, leaves, bitter ale, mead, rum, banana skin and apple peelings. This is complex and very austere, beautifully so. With water: superbly dirty-ish, leathery, with similar chalky tones and burnt fruits, coated with some kind of honeyed custard. Great mead! Mouth (neat): both wide and vertical, all on bitter oranges at first, then tobacco, leather and leaves, with that usual salty touch. With water: earth and even more chalk, plaster and concrete, plus small bitter kumquats (always loved in Dutchieland) and something else that’s rather typical, that is to say a kind of beerish sourness. Ale. Finish: rather long, always on some kind of chalky beer. Comments: absolutely characterful and probably a little segmenting, as they say in marketing. We’re in the right segment.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

To the newer stuff…

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.6%, Chorlton Whisky, butt and hogshead, 439 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.6%, Chorlton Whisky, butt and hogshead, 439 bottles) Five stars
Always with these wonderful Chagallian labels... Colour: gold. Nose: this is a buttery one at first, full of mashed carrots, leaves, fern, soot, peonies, honeysuckle, then lager and leather, walnuts, with notes of amontillado, cigars and walnut cream. Do you know walnut cream? With water: fresh wholegrain bread! Always a hit at WF Towers. Mouth (neat): very very good if a little extractive and bitter(ish), with a lot of cracked pepper, bitter oranges, leather, tobacco, and bitter chocolate, then cloves and nutmeg. Forgot to mention cinnamon bread and bread dough. With water: gets a little fruitier, mainly on oranges, which is usual too. Wonderful fat texture. Finish: rather long, a little rounder and fruitier. Caramelised tangerines and bergamots, with some honey, sultanas and tobacco in the aftertaste. Comments: loved the acridness, but this one’s actually rather rounder than the old OB. Quality remains extremely high, in my opinion.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (51.8%, OB, Private Cask, cask #1424)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (51.8%, OB, Private Cask, cask #1424) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: oh! This is right up my alley, with an amazing purity, and yet BN’s traditional fatness and oiliness (rapeseed, grape pips). Fantastic paraffin, chalk, Sancerre, flints, fresh croissants and baguette (err…), a wee touch of vanilla fudge, also camphor and eucalyptus, dunnage, angelica, verbena, liquorice wood, iodine, brake fluid, hay… well, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s going into all directions while reading my humble scribblings, but it’s not, it’s very focussed, and very, yeah, pure. With water: a sublime purity indeed. My pencil case, circa 1970 (apologies if that’s too personal – yep, plastic had been invented). Mouth (neat): sweet Jiminy Cricket! Rum reduction, soot, chalk and plaster, mint, liquorice, earth, herbs, porridge, plasticine, artichokes, bitter leaves, Wulong tea… It’s just a master distillate from a cool, elegant and respectful little cask. With water: perfection made whisky. What’s not perfect here? Perhaps the fact that I’ve only got around 8cl left. Finish: oh my, what a glorious, pure, fat, fruitier, mineral unfolding! A lot of wax in the aftertaste, a bit ala best-year-Clynelish. Comments: immaculate, to try again around 2050. I’m sure this will have become a new Clynelish Giaccone. Indeed, I’m having faith in the future, let’s just hope no one will ‘push that button’, as Sun Ra used to sing.
SGP:562 - 93 points.
PS: who’s cask was this?

Let’s check a very young one for a change…

Ben Nevis 2013/2018 (57.2%, The Maltman, Joecy’s Choice, cask #300, 262 bottles)

Ben Nevis 2013/2018 (57.2%, The Maltman, Joecy’s Choice, cask #300, 262 bottles) Four stars
Indeed this is extremely young… Intriguing… Colour: deep gold. Nose: STR, I suppose. Well, in fact this rather reeks of young Ledaig, or ‘something’. A lot of leather, dough, allspice, curry powder, stuff at IKEA’s, raw peated barley, mustard, manzanilla, walnuts… Is this really Ben Nevis? Did some mad sorcerer kind of blend this? What’s the trick? With water: new Tesla, burnt plastics, electronics, sour mash, porridge… Mouth (neat): Laphroaig? What happened? Who was responsible with stencilling the cask? May we do an interview? With water: absolutely, someone’s seemingly pre-blended Ben Nevis, Ledaig, and Laphroaig. Jail or let walk around freely? What do you say? Finish: long, young, spicy, salty, leathery, smoky. Sweet curry and mustard in the aftertaste. Comments: tastes of pre-blended malt. A category that does not officially exist, but that’s kind of invading Scotchland theses days… More about them later. Or, alternatively, have Ben Nevis started doing their own Longrow (or indeed, Ledaig) while we weren’t watching? Sure it’s good.
SGP:466 - 85 points.

Back to normality, I hope…

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (52.2%, Thompson Bros. for The Amber Light, Royal Mile Whiskies, refill sherry, 497 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (52.2%, Thompson Bros. for The Amber Light, Royal Mile Whiskies, refill sherry, 497 bottles)
This has been selected by my old friend Dave Broom.
So, SGP:666 - 95 points. Next…
Okay, right, ca
ncel that, let’s restart afresh…
Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (52.2%, Thompson Bros. for The Amber Light, Royal Mile Whiskies, refill sherry, 497 bottles) Five stars
The Amber Light is a new documentary about whisky and Scotland. Please make sure you watch it, I certainly will. So, this was selected by Dave B…. Colour: gold. Nose: looks like it’s one of those lightly sherried Ben Nevisses that have got this sulphury touch that we enjoy so much (when it’s like this). Leather, oranges, limestone, tobacco, old magazines, parsley and even a wee slice of turnip, metal polish, a drop of flower water, Barbour grease and teak oil… This is almost Sun Ra with John Gilmore in the band, no wonder Dave selected it. With water: cigars, engine oil and leather. An old smoker’s Daimler. Mouth (neat): it’s rounder, very rich, and pretty amazing indeed. Fantastic honeys, propolis, cigar tobacco, argan oil, candlewax, bitter oranges… Long story short, it’s just as fab as expected. And actually pretty close to the OBs’ style, as far as their interpretation of sherryness is concerned. Pretty Sun-Ra-y indeed. With water: meats chiming in. Walnut wine too. Now, don’t drown it, it’s slightly allergic to H2O (gets a little cardboardy and too tea-ish if you’re not careful enough). Finish: very long, rather on honey cake. Sublime lemons in the aftertaste, always the best aftertastes when lemon seize control. Comments: exceptional whisky once again. Now, Coltrane or Sun Ra, Dave?
SGP:462 - 92 points.

Do we have room for one more? Of course we do…

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (46.5%, House of McCallum, cask #01041, 347 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (46.5%, House of McCallum, cask #01041, 347 bottles) Three stars and a half
This is an ‘organic French syrah wine finish’, so careful now, this could really be the Peaky Blinders against the Changrettas! Colour: gold. Nose: hurray, because so far, the syrah is not in the picture, but indeed it is a rather softer Ben Nevis, with some bread and some honey, jams, a little fudge, and perhaps a few raisins. Pleasant and rounded, so not quite a competition piece, shall we say. Mouth: it’s a very good whisky, and not a winesky. I had already noticed that Mr. McCallum was doing his finishings right, knowing that in my book, a finishing is best when it’s not noticeable at all. So this is good, it’s even got a wee feeling of tequila, I suppose that comes from that spicy varietal that’s called syrah. But it’s no Côte-rôtie… Finish: medium to long, a tad sweeter, perhaps with raspberries, otherwise fine and pretty cake-y. Mulled wine. The spirit’s leather is back in the aftertaste, together with black pepper. Comments: not at all the disaster I was expecting. You say that was syrah?
SGP:561 - 84 points.

There will be more BN very soon…

(thank you Isabel and Jason)


Angus is chiming in...




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Ben Nevis
I was sad to hear that Colin Ross has departed Ben Nevis. Anyone wondering why these many 1996s (amongst plenty others) are so superb need look no further than the fact he was left in charge to make whisky as he saw fit. Sadly there are worrying rumours that the Japanese owners will soon begin to tamper with it; just about the worst thing you could do with Ben Nevis if you ask me.


It seems the mainstream whisky world is just utterly incapable of learning the lesson that capitalising on success and reputation with ‘improvements’, expansions and ‘premiumisations’ only ever serves to destroy that which made the product special in the first place. Perhaps if Nikka stopped using Ben Nevis to shore up their own ‘Japanese’ brands and simply allowed the malt to stand on its own two feet, under its own name, just as it is then there might be cause for celebration. But I’ll not be holding my breath.



Ben Nevis 1993/2009 (43%, Signatory Vintage ‘Decanter Collection’, cask #2689, 779 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1993/2009 (43%, Signatory Vintage ‘Decanter Collection’, cask #2689, 779 bottles)
I really dislike these silly, evaporation prone decanters I’m afraid to say. The number of bottles at 43% would suggest some kind of butt I suppose, let’s see. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re not too far from these 1996s with this rather elegant nose of lemon peel, soft waxes, mineral oils, bailed straw, olive oil and lighter medical notes of crushed aspirin. Some hessian sack cloth too. Beautiful, charismatic distillate. Even if the 43% does feel a tad lacking at times. In time there’s some lovely notes of fresh grapefruit and lemon. Mouth: soft delivery all on clean and crisp cereals, a soft buttery texture, fragrant notes of heather, moss, freshly chopped herbs, more olive oil and quite a few freshly baked breads. A tad on the gentle side but it’s pretty impeccable distillate. Finish: good length and getting increasingly grassy, nicely bitter, some peppery bite, chalky minerals and more cereal. Comments: It’s odd how it took the whisky world so long to wake up to Ben Nevis. I’m sure this funny wee bottling would have gone pretty far under the radar at the time of release. At cask strength I’m sure we would have been comfortably approaching 90 points.
SGP: 551 - 87 points.



Ben Nevis 21 yo ‘Batch 8’ (48.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2018, sherry, 931 bottles)

Ben Nevis 21 yo ‘Batch 8’ (48.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2018, sherry, 931 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a beautifully lean, mineral and gentle sherry. Gingery, some golden syrup, tobacco leaf, mint tea, game meats and sultanas. Getting beautifully camphory and leathery with time. Notes of old books, brown bread, horseradish, asparagus soup, Scotch broth - generally very earthy, vegetal and ‘stocky’. Excellent and beautifully rounded. Mouth: has this wonderful gloopy quality you often find in these Ben Nevis. Waxy, oily, old tool boxes, mechanical oils, rags, sack cloth, canvass and putty. Notes of dried mushroom, more damp pipe tobacco, mineral oil and dried herbs like bay leaf and tarragon. Dangerously pleasurable whisky. Finish: long, warming, notes of orange peel, ginger in syrup, dried flowers, mint, treacle and light waxiness. Comments: I’m starting to feel they’re a style all to themselves these batches of Ben Nevis. Superb and generous whisky that offers many pleasures.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.



Ben Nevis 23 yo ‘Batch 10’ (48%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2019, 558 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo ‘Batch 10’ (48%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2019, 558 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a tad more brittle in terms of minerals but also more expressive in terms of fruitiness. Ripe orchard fruits, dried exotic fruits, pineapple cubes, dried banana chips, grapefruit peel, gooseberry and lighter notes of sunflower oil and toasted seeds. Also a rather silky waxiness. Again this feeling of generosity which I would characterise as an easy going and rather abundant profile which you just never tire of nosing or exploring. The fruitiness continues with these notes of dried apricots and tinned peaches in syrup. Some drier hints of marc de gewurtz, chamomile and various fruit teas. Also something that alludes to Moroccan spices. Great complexity. Mouth: Pow! Fantastic delivery, all on spices, fruit cordials, syrups, herbal extracts, lighter medical notes, waxes, mineral oils, toasted bread, camphor and a light chalkiness. Some sheep wool, turmeric, ointments and herbal cough medicines. Finish: good length and rather drying, bready, earthy, chalky and with bitter notes of citrus pith and dry cereals. Comments: Something of a rollercoaster dram with these rather changeable states between nose and palate. But it remains terrific at each stage and walks that rare tightrope of being entertaining and technically brilliant.
SGP: 751 - 90 points.



Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (51.6%, The Whisky Show 2019, refill sherry butt, 519 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (51.6%, The Whisky Show 2019, refill sherry butt, 519 bottles)
Sadly I missed the Whisky Show this year, so I’m inevitably late with these notes… Colour:  deep gold. Nose: we’re back to a leaner and more directly sherried profile. Lots of damp earth, tobaccos, game meats and some rather syrupy fruit notes. Tangerines, kumquat, papaya and dried mango. Exotic, bready, fatty, waxy and extremely ‘textural’ in style. More of these rather Moroccan spice style notes - whisky tagine perhaps. With water: develops more towards exotic fruits, oranges, mango juice, papaya, glazed pastries, hessian and red kola. Mouth: sweeter at first but overall it’s another that really delivers a terrific arrival. All on toasted Brazil nuts, milk chocolate, marmalade, waxes, soft earthiness, mint tea and more concentrated exotic fruits. Some bitter herbs, light medical notes and more pithy citrus qualities that keeps everything rather taut and fresh. With water: grapefruit juice, dried thyme, a rather drying waxiness, chalky minerals and maintaining this nicely fat earthiness. Finish: long, elegantly drying, bitter herbal notes, cough medicines, dried mint, old style shilling ales and some exotic fruit teas. Comments: quite simply, yet another great 1996 Ben Nevis. Balance, complexity, beauty, tension and power.
SGP: 661 - 90 points.




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


December 29, 2019


A little bag of young Bas-Armagnacs for the festive season

Because mind you, in my family, nobody would have dared having whisky under such festive circumstances. Indeed, to the older generations here, whisky was just a cheaper, more rustic alternative to Cognac and Armagnac, so some kind of under-brandy if you will. The usually better-advised late French humourist Pierre Desproges even used to say that whisky was the imbecile’s Cognac. How times have changed, says this utter imbecile ;-)!
Let’s see what we can find in ‘the boxes’…

Fontan ‘VSOP’ (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Fontan ‘VSOP’ (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Two stars
Not a house that’s got a very huge reputation, as you can find them everywhere online, even at amazon, but you never know. Having said that, it’s own-estate Armagnac. This is young Armagnac (remember old means young in spirits talk). Colour: dark amber. Nose: a feeling of caramel, even boisé perhaps, fudge, baked raisins, cake, then pepper from the oak. Not much fruitiness this far. Mouth: rather jumbled, unprecise, on caramel, oak extracts, pepper indeed, vanilla, cloves, and burnt cakes. Finish: medium, boisé-y and bitterish. Black pepper and bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: too ‘burnt’ for me, but still quite loyal, of fair marketable quality. After all, the price is low.
SGP:361 - 70 points.

Fontan 1995 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Fontan 1995 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Redemption for Fontan? This is a blend of baco and ugni blanc varietals. Colour: amber. Nose: there, fruit! Stewed peaches and pears, melons, sultanas, plums, then heavy ripe mirabelles (which I enjoy a lot), fig compote, a touch of liquorice and one of almond paste, old school glue, a touch of earl grey… Long story short, the day after the night. Mouth: the oak’s a tad loud again, but there’s enough fruit to stand the pepper, cloves and coffee dregs that come with it. Notes of pomegranates, pears and peaches again, juicy golden raisins, pears poached in sweet wine, notes of pancake syrup, chocolate… This is clearly better than fair, even if not totally up there the best, in my humble opinion. Finish: medium, sadly too peppery and drying, once again. Loses points here. Comments: too bd it felt a little too ‘infused’, too oaky towards the finish. It all started pretty well.
SGP:561 - 78 points.

We’ll have another go at Fontan, but in the meantime, let’s move on…

Loubère ‘Cuvée Napoléon’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Loubère ‘Cuvée Napoléon’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars
The Paul Loubère estate is located in La Bastide d’Armagnac, in the Landes (West of the Armagnac appellation). Napoléon, like XO, means the spirit is at least 6, but they’re usually much older although things may change once the Armagnac lac (loch) gets empty. Colour: deep gold. Nose: another world! This is much brighter, both fruitier and more floral, much more complex, much more aromatic. Big whiffs of wisteria and honeysuckle at first, then mangos and peaches, acacia honey, rubbed spearmint, raisins and plums, and finally, fresh almonds! Impeccable. Mouth: really good, firmer than just ‘40’, with very good fruits starting with pink bananas, then peaches and melons, mint, liquorice, raisins, some resinous honeydew, and touches of apricot stewed in Sauternes. Right, should anyone ever do that, but Sauternes is getting cheaper, so maybe is it time to try that. Finish: long, very honeyed, perhaps a tad too sweet, as if it had been sugared a little bit. I’m not saying they did that. Preserved pineapple. Comments: very good nonetheless, some very aromatic Armagnac and most certainly a proper malternative.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Delord 10 yo (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Delord 10 yo (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
This one by one of the most famous houses. It’s a blend of four varietals this time, namely bacco, ugni blanc, colombard and folle blanche. It comes in one of those traditional flat ‘basquaise’ bottles (a.k.a. tennis rackets). Colour: amber. Nose: we’re a bit between both worlds, the fruity freshness on the one side, more toffee and caramel on the other side. This gives a feeling of fresh panettone and kougelhopf topped with honey and maple sauces, while a delicate floral side would need a few more seconds to emerge, with the usual honeysuckle and orange blossom. Some lovely mentholated liquorice would add yet another dimension. Mouth: very good, fruity, almost extravagantly so. All-fruit salad and honey, maple syrup, mead, mirabelle tarte, then a little lemongrass and lemon mint. This one does not feel sauced-up at all. Finish: rather long despite the lower strength, with a little pepper and cinnamon (but much less than in the Fontans). Dried pears and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: serious Bas-Armagnac, as always at Delord’s.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Château de Laubade ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Château de Laubade ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars
A brand that’s widely available in France. The Laubade estate, located in Sorbets, is the largest in Armagnac. Colour: straw. Nose: this is much fresher than all the others, much more on grasses and herbs, leaves, fresh orchard fruits (gooseberries) and white peaches. It’s also got the traditional mentholy side in the background, as well as these whiffs of fresh almond that are always welcome. Armagnac totally au naturel this time. Mouth: you could almost believe this is a young Speysider, it’s even a tad malty at times. Good grass again (so to speak), green pears, plantains, fresh figs, green tea, a touch of curry… Finish: rather long, with some white pepper, green apples and pears, and plums. Green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good and intriguing young Armagnac without any toffee, caramel, raisins, or even honey. Shall we call it ‘honest’?
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Comte de Lauvia ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, +/-2018)

Comte de Lauvia ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Comte de Lauvia, in Eauze, are ‘éleveurs’, they do not make their Armagnacs. A bit like, say Gordon & MacPhail. This should be pretty older, perhaps around 20. I have to say Lauvia’s younger ‘Réserve’ had left me coldish. Colour: dark gold. Nose: it’s a pretty delicate one, rather floral this time again, with orange blossom and perhaps elderflowers, going on with a few acidic fruits (kiwis, apples) and some lighter acacia honey, as well as fresh almonds and green walnuts. That’s a rather refreshing combo on the nose. Perhaps a touch of beer and ham. Mouth: good, just a tad ‘mixed’, in the sense that no obvious flavours do emerge. Stewed fruits, nuts, herbs, then more spices from the wood, around cinnamon. Certainly good, but perhaps a little shy in the the eyes of a seasoned malt drinker. Finish: medium, with some liquorice and honey-sprinkled cinnamon cake. Comments: I believe that with this quieter kind of profile, a few extra-% would be welcome.
SGP:451 - 79 points.

Good, looks like we’re going in circles here. So as we’re only having room for one more, and since we’re in the midst of the festive season, why not select something a little more spectacular?...

Domaine de Baraillon 1900/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1900/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
That’s right, this is much older than any Chinese Billionaire’s oldest genuine Macallan. Emphasis on ‘genuine’. Now I’m not sure whether this jewel was still lying in wood or if it had been transferred into demi-johns, but what’s sure is that it’s extremely old. It was only bottled in February this year, without any sorts of crystal involved, any kind of bling or fanfare, or any deafening PR. And, apparently, at a very fair price. Colour: dark redder amber. Nose: do we believe in miracles? Look, if this was not coming from some impeccably trustworthy source, we could believe it’s from a fake bottle, refilled with much younger – albeit brilliant – Armagnac.

It’s not even very ranciotty, rather full of preserved fruits, chiefly peaches and melons, as usual, then apricots, mirabelles and pears. A second layer would rather involve several honeys and meads, and various jams and jellies (and milk jam), while a third one would display many herbs and flowers, dandelions, wisteria, jasmine, buddleia… Also several kinds of small fresh and dried figs. What’s really striking is that while its very complex spirit, it’s never fragile, never tired, and never disjointed. 1900, imagine! After ten minutes, becomes a tad reminiscent of old red Burgundy, with a mushroomy/game-y side.

Advert for Armagnac, circa 1900. 'Damn! No dough! Don't get mad, Fine Armagnac is a true treasure.'

Mouth: seriously! What’s rather reassuring is that you do feel it went over the top quite some time ago already, so that’s it’s definitely very old. Notes of strong black tea, raw cocoa and Gauloise-type brown tobacco give it away, but it would never hunker down on your palate, while some awesome small berries start to occupy the center of the stage. Blackberries, blueberries… I’m also finding some old rancio this time, toffee, chestnut honey, walnut wine, and more tobacco. Tends to become rather drying, but the contrary would have been suspicious, if you ask me. Finish: rather long, incredibly fresh and floral. Some very old sherries (not brandies de Jerez) can be a bit like this. I especially remember some ultra-old Palo Cortados by Barbadillo. A lot of coffee and chocolate in the aftertaste, not to mention pinesap, which is not uncommon in very old brandies. Comments: I find it a little vulgar to dare scoring this piece of art. I am a little embarrassed about this, please do not hold it against me (oh, let’s cut the act, S.)...
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Good, we’ll try to do some fine old Cognacs on January 1st.

(Mucho gracias, Jürgen!)

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


December 28, 2019


Laphroaig at a hard gallop

Long time no Laphroaig in these little pages, so we’ve accumulated quite a few of them. We won’t manage to try them all, I suppose, but we’ll try to go far…

Laphroaig 'Select' (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Laphroaig 'Select' (40%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars
Aye, not our favourite Laphroaig ever, but you need to start somewhere and I can’t see how this baby would survive after a great, say 15 yo at cask strength. The first batches, back in around 2014, had been very moderately exciting (WF 70). Some say it’s 4yo some say 5yo, some say 6… What’s sure is that it’s rather an infant. Colour: light gold. Nose: very very soft, on almonds and beech smoke, plus a little brine and whiffs of warm sponge cake. Sticking plaster. Very simple yet less uninteresting than I had thought, rather straightforward. It’s okay, really. So far…  Mouth: some oak feels. A feeling of drinking sawdust tea, plus vanilla, pineapple and coconut. Typical fresh(ish)à American oak treatment. The spirit itself is a little flat, if not weak. Finish: short. Comments: feels flavoured instead of aged, that’s the main problem here. Some corners seem to have been cut. Having said that, they may have improved it a wee bit, this is rather ‘better’ than just WF 70 in my book. The smoke’s a little bigger too.
SGP:546 - 74 points.

In theory, we should now have the 10. Oh well, since we’re here…

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars
It’s been six years!... Colour: gold. Nose: it is a little wilder, more coastal for sure, and more medicinal to boot. Sure we’re nowhere near the fantastic 10s that they’ve been churning out until around the year 2000, but at least this is coherent. Beach bonfire, bandages, smoked fish, a little tar and rubber, old ropes and hessian, some sour porridge… The ones at 43% vol. always had a much better reputation, but on the nose, the 40% vol. work pretty well. I mean, just like the Select, this baby won’t burn your nostrils. Mouth: nice oily juice, slightly metallic at first, then very brine-y, with clams and oysters, kippers, iodine, seaweed, and the expected lapsang souchong at the smokes department. Some lemons too. Sadly, it tends to run out of steam and to become kind of tannic. Finish: rather short, rather dry and drying. Lapsang souchong in the first, and only row. Comments: excellent juice, very peaty and pretty complex, but his low strength does it a disservice. This juice deserves more.
SGP:348 - 82 points.

Look we haven’t got the new 10 C/S, but we could try to find something probably similar…

Laphroaig ‘Cairdeas’ (57.2%, OB, Feis Ile 2017, quarter cask Finish)

Laphroaig ‘Cairdeas’ (57.2%, OB, Feis Ile 2017, quarter cask Finish) Two stars and a half
NAS, sadly, and said to be very young, around 6 or 7. Which explains why it’s NAS, Watson. No ten, no monies. Let’s only hope we won’t stumble upon loads of vanilla and coconut. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a bit the Select at cask strength, really. Perhaps a little more medicinal and mineral? More mercurochrome? It’s not quite a nosing whisky, having said that, so quick… With water: not the Select. More antiseptic, mercurochrome, kelp, old woollen jackets, kiln aromas… That’s all nice, I have to say, simple and pure. Were the quarter casks (which are half the size by the way, not quarters) refill? Mouth (neat): yes, the Select at cask strength, only with more lemons and grapefruits, and more white pepper, perhaps. With water: this time, we’ve almost recreated the Select. Simple, with some sweetness, lapsang souchong, and a lot of white pepper from the oak. Finish: rather long, but drying, with a feeling of sawdust and more lapsang. Some sugar syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: not bad at all, but I really liked the 10 much better. There’s too much fresh oak for me and these whiskies are rather too planky in my book.
SGP:547 - 78 points.

Let’s have some other very young Laphroaigs that are not meant to have been IKEA-ised…

Laphroaig 7 yo 2011/2018 ‘Hand in Hand’ (53.7%, Sansibar for Liquor Library, Helvetica Bar, Whisky and Alement and The Oak Barrel)

Laphroaig 7 yo 2011/2018 ‘Hand in Hand’ (53.7%, Sansibar for Liquor Library, Helvetica Bar, Whisky and Alement and The Oak Barrel) Four stars and a half
This wee one that does not try to hide its age was bottled for four special Australian whisky ‘entities’. Some kind of national bottling, if you like. Colour: white wine. Nose: seriously, I believe some distillers should check what the indies bottle, that would give them good ideas. In short, we’re just visiting the Distillery while the kiln’s working, with an abundance of smoke, seawater, bandages and tincture of iodine, and then grapefruits. No oak shavings in the way, hurray. With water: same, but with more citrus and even hints of passion fruits and kiwis (I know, wrong country). Mouth (neat): but b****y yeah! Pure Laphroaigness, hot, smoky, lemony, salty, medicinal, and tarry. A working kiln in an hospital, as the other guy used to say. With water: perhaps not exactly of 10 C/S level, but we’re close. Excellent, and takes water well – which brings out some adorable tiny herbal notes. Lovely. Finish: long, blade-y, almost crystalline. Comments: leave your young whiskies alone, no need to flash-flavour them with hyperactive oak and/or PX, as is nowadays the fashion.
SGP:557 - 88 points.

It's really ironic that around twenty years ago, some major distillers used to be totally against the independent bottlers because those were supposed to wreck their brand image with their deviant and not sufficiently controlled bottlings. No, really! But let’s find another young indie…

Laphroaig 5 yo 2011/2017 (57.4%, Creative Whisky Co. for Delain, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)

Laphroaig 5 yo 2011/2017 (57.4%, Creative Whisky Co. for Delain, refill hogshead, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half
Delain is neither a whisky bar nor a retailer, they’re a highly successful progressive metal band from the Netherlands. And they’re whisky lovers too, which goes to prove that whisky and music definitely gang tegither. Check them out! Colour: white wine. Nose: this young beast has a little more roundness than the one from Downunda, perhaps thanks to some marginally more active oak, but all the rest is sharp as a blade (or as a Flying V). It’s actually very medicinal, with a lot of iodine and just sea air, as well as a little gherkin brine and fennel. With water: as perfect as The Great Gig in the Sky! What a fantastic young cask this was… Mouth (neat): holy Richie Blackmore, this is perfect indeed! Perfect smoky brine and grapefruit juice, with just a little honey around them. Absolutely flawless, pure, and yet fully satisfying. With water: feels like a twelve, really. It’s perfect. More pepper now. Finish: very long, with many coda-lies. I mean caudalies, you know, that thing that measures the length of a finish, one caudalie being one second… Oh forget, another silly joke of mine that will have fallen flat. Coda, music, get it? There’s some coffee in the aftertaste, which may suggest STR wood. No problems, that works. Comments: brilliant, very high age/quality ratio. I’m more a jazz guy myself, but don’t forget to check Delain’s wonderful music, I think they’re at the top of their genre. Cheers Otto!
SGP:657 - 89 points.

Remember, the issue with NAS is not about young ages, it’s about hiding those young ages while raising the prices. Let’s move on…

Lp10 1998/2019 (53.9%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 442 bottles)

Lp10 1998/2019 (53.9%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 442 bottles) Five stars
Phew, this is fully bourbon, and a vatting of two casks. Which, in my book, almost always works better than single casks, unless one of the casks was very average, and so the other one a much needed crutch. Certainly not the case here…  Colour: gold. Nose: this will be fast, many of these ex-bourbon 1998s have been rather fantastic – and this one’s in keeping with them. Menthol, ointments, grass smoke, oysters, grapefruits, tarry ropes, that famous old fisherman’s boat, and a wheelbarrow of vegetal earth. With water: mercurochrome and tetrabromofluorescein. No, I swear to Bessie! Mouth (neat): some tropical fruits rapidly emerging (not quite in the 1960’s style, but we aren’t that far - emphasis on ‘that’). A little orange juice, then grapefruits, honeydew, and then the Laphroaigness unfolding, with bandages, sea water, peat, lemons, peppermint, earth, antiseptic… The casks, or at least one of them, was rather active, so this big beast is never acerbic. With water: excellent, and rather mango-y this time. Let’s move on… Finish: classic, perfect smoke, balance, fruits, sea notes… Comments: the Lp just killed the Lg in 2019, if you ask me, M.
SGP:657 - 90 points.

Some fun, perhaps…

Le Frog 7 yo 2011/2019 (46.5%, House of McCallum, bourbon hogsheads, casks #0133-36, 1458 bottles)

Le Frog 7 yo 2011/2019 (46.5%, House of McCallum, bourbon hogsheads, casks #0133-36, 1458 bottles) Four stars
All right, this is some blended malt, so a Williamson I suppose, as the name says it all. Now the owner Antony is half-French, so maybe was he just playing with his own identlty here, and maybe is this a blend of Strathmill and Speyburn. Let’s check that out… Colour: white wine. Nose: you feel it’s a blend f several casks, because it’s rounder, fuller, perhaps a little sexier than the others, more of smoked cakes and vanilla, acacia honey, white chocolate, tinned sardines, cough syrup, waffles, masala, camphor… So it’s less of a blade, and more of a smoky syrup. No problems. Mouth: a tad modern (café latte, butterscotch, vanillin) and yet pretty perfect, with lemons, smoke and brine, each in its place. Finish: rather long, peaty, sweeter, fruity, easy, not dull at all, with a wee feeling of sawdust in the aftertaste, but that’s fine. Also eucalyptus, very vividly. Comments: this sweet little Frog was excellent, and so was MMcD’s Leapfrog, remember it?
SGP:646 - 87 points.

Perhaps a last one, but we’ll be back with many more Laphroaigs. Very soon!...

Kilbride 28 yo 1989/2017 (51%, The Mash Tun Tokyo, 300 bottles)

Kilbride 28 yo 1989/2017 (51%, The Mash Tun Tokyo, 300 bottles) Four stars
Why they had to call this Kilbride, I don’t know. It is well a single malt, not a blended (a.k.a. Williamson). Kilbride is a standing stone that you’ll find right after Port Ellen, you just have to turn left (so north) and drive for around two miles. Nearest distillery is the closest to Port Ellen, so Laphroaig (for now). Right? Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s pretty buttery at first, and from a time when, in my experience, the distillery was not at its best. In fact, not many distilleries were, if you ask me. I’m finding herbal teas, old kelp on an beach, some leather, some old books, and some kind of smoked dairies, not too sure. The jury’s still out, I would say… With water: menthol fudge (should that exist), thin mints, peppermint crisp tart, a drop of miso… and some olive brine. This is fun! Mouth (neat): it’s good, very good, just a little uncertain as far as flavours are concerned. Could anyone smoke coffee and Grand-Marnier? Or Cointreau? Or curaçao? There’s some coriander, lovage leaves, some toffee, a little tobacco, some slightly overripe bananas… It sure isn’t a blade this time, rather a kind of blunderbuss. Which is fun. With water: a little cleaner, but still a little scattered shall we say, sour and buttery… Some kind of lapsang souchong with milk, I suppose that’ll be all the rage, post-Brexit. These pickles as well. Finish: medium, sweet and sour, with some mead, ale, and I’m not sure what else. Comments: this warmly deviant Laphroaig almost made me laugh. It’s also true that it isn’t easy to come after quite a few very vertical young ones.
SGP:655 - 85 points.

(Merci Lucero, Otto)

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


December 26, 2019


Another avalanche of Glenfarclas

Literally, and probably laterally as a consequence. Ha. And for more fun, we’ll take them more or less randomly, one leading to the next one, taking our time to avoid any death seat effect. BTW, this was done before Angus's own GF session that we published on Saturday.

Glenfarclas 25 yo ‘London Edition’ (50.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, oloroso, 2019)

Glenfarclas 25 yo ‘London Edition’ (50.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, oloroso, 2019) Five stars
Ah, oloroso, what a relief after the hordes of PX casks that have assaulted so many distilleries lately! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s really very clean, pretty floral at first (peonies and lilies, shall we say) then rather on dried dates and figs, then more on chocolate and biscuits dipped in chocolate sauce. Some muscovado sugar too, café latte, proper old rum, and a touch of dust or concrete powder. With water: as usual, more earth and moss. A we truffle too. Mouth (neat): classic oloroso-ed Glenfarclas, on bitter chocolate, espresso, prunes, old Armagnac instead of rum, the obligatory Christmas cake, and perhaps Corinth currants. With water: oranges come out, as expected. Lovely and classic, it’s cool to have these now that one certain well-known distillery has virtually abandoned this very style. Finish: rather long really on a fruitcake and on pipe tobacco. Comments: good brandy is never too far here, says this Frenchman. Reminds me of those early adverts for Scotch, in the 1900s… Great classic whisky that does its job to perfection, in my opinion.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Perhaps another newish 25…

Glenfarclas 25 yo 1993/2019 (55.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.212, Beeswax on Barrels, 1st Fill Ex-Pedro Ximenez Hogshead Finish, 194 bottles)

Glenfarclas 25 yo 1993/2019 (55.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.212, Beeswax on Barrels, 1st Fill Ex-Pedro Ximenez Hogshead Finish, 194 bottles) Four stars and a half
Yeah, a PX finish. No taster can escape them, apparently. So there are three things you can’t escape now, taxes, death, and PX. Colour: deep gold. Nose: no excessive raisins, that’s sorted. It’s actually pretty close to the OB, only a little more on yeast extracts and Guinness. Also some menthol, orange liqueur, and drops of old tar liqueur (goudron hygiénique), then really loads of chocolate. That’s cool. With water: lovely. A kougelhopf straight from an Alsatian grandma’s old oven. Mouth (neat): excellent, not too PX-y, or rather on proper old PX, seemingly. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy good old PX, but those are rarely used to season whisky casks, let’s not dream. Very good notes of blood oranges and sweeter garam masala. Satay (peanuts). With water: lovely aniseed and fennel. It’s getting almost pastissy, if you could say that, but other than that, chocolate, oranges and raisins are running the show here. Finish: rather long, rounded, chocolaty, with some honey, cloves, and pepper. A feeling of mulled wine ‘at cask strength’. Comments: am I about to give a very high score to a PX finish? How’s that possible? Am I losing my mind (please do not answer).
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Perhaps another indie, without sherry this time…

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1988/2018  (50.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles)

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1988/2018  (50.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles) Five stars
I’m just noticing that they’ve stopped calling these ‘Glenfarclas-Glenlivet’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: more proof that Glenfarclas is a rather big, almost fat distillate even on the nose, which should come from direct-firing. Sunflower and grapeseed oils, hay, plasticine, then greengages and apples, barley wine, leaven bread, flowers (lily, wisteria)… All that is rather immaculate, thanks to some very lazy wood. It’s matured by time, not by wood, would we say. With water: splendid all-natural malt whisky, pretty bready. Mouth (neat): wonderful straw wine, unexpected mangos, more plums of all kinds, guavas, grass, fruit peelings, peanut oil, limoncello… It’s really sharp, in all senses and on all accounts. With water: more fantastic little berries, sorb perhaps, elderberries, holy, rosehip… And their eaux-de-vies, of course. Finish: medium, more on marzipan and plasticine again. A salty touch in the aftertaste. Marrow bouillon. Comments: I should have become an artilleryman, so far, all three within a tiny tile.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Let’s try to climb up the ladder and yet go back in time. That’s a little Kierkegaardian, is it not, he who said “life can only be understood backwards. Unfortunately, it must be lived forward.” Oh drop that.

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 21 yo (43%, OB, Pinerolo for Edward Giaccone, +/-1975)

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 21 yo (43%, OB, Pinerolo for Edward Giaccone, +/-1975) Four stars
This one’s an ‘all malt unblended’. Indeed it was about time they brought some order into the profession as far as appellations were concerned. What we know is that Giaccone only selected the very best, whether from Cynelish or from Glenfarclas. And from others… Colour: gold. Nose: perfect OBE, on soups and bouillons, greases, nuts and stones, and dried fruits. Dried figs are reigning supreme here. Also a little propolis, argan oil, and just various saps. It got dry over the years, but in a beautiful manner. Mouth: no, we’ve gone beyond the limits of OBE. It got tea-ish, rather too ‘bouillony’, and simply cardboardy, although some stewed apples and plums would still sing little songs in the background. Some herbs, parsley soup, sorrel, cress… all those as soups. Finish: medium, dry, okay. Some nicer honeyed notes on the aftertaste. Comments: it’s still rather beautiful, but clearly past its prime. Never, ever believe those philistines who keep claiming that whisky will never, ever change once bottled. Having said that, another bottle of this very same whisky may have stayed perfect, you just never know.
SGP:351 - 85 points.

Back to more recent GFs, perhaps a bit faster…

Glenfarclas 25 yo 1989/2015 (55.1%, OB, for Asia Palate Association Hong Kong, batch 2, sherry, cask #13029, 647 bottles)

Glenfarclas 25 yo 1989/2015 (55.1%, OB, for Asia Palate Association Taiwan, batch 2, sherry, cask #13029, 647 bottles) Four stars
Colour: dark amber. Nose: Guinness and polished oak, then black chocolate and the blackest black tea, Russian-style. Some scoria dust, some ground walnuts. I’m sure we’ll find soy sauce once water’s been added. With water: bingo. Black tea, black cigars Toscani-style, and Maggi. Mouth (neat): typical rich heavily sherried Glenfarclas, pretty extreme and totally oloroso-ed, that is to say almost bone-dry. Walnut wine, cocoa, black tea, and just a drop of wild raspberry eau-de-vie. With water: saltier bouillony, on miso and Marmite More or less… Finish: very long, on extreme black chocolate, like, well 99%. Comments: everything was black here, serious. I liked it a lot, but I wouldn’t down more than half a glass per week.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Glenfarclas 1990/2016 (57.7%, OB, for Asia Palate Association Hong Kong, sherry, cask #9467, 546 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1990/2016 (57.7%, OB, for Asia Palate Association Taiwan, sherry, cask #9467, 546 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby looks very black too. Colour: dark amber/mahogany. Nose: this is almost liquid chocolate blended with a double-espresso and a drop of Kikkoman’s best cuvée. More or less. With water:  bouillon and soup! Bovril! Umami! Partagas! And pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): rich, deep, thick and powerful, and extremely chocolaty. Drinking mole sauce from the kettle. With water: there, lamb meat, pepper, Worcester sauce, old ham, glutamate, what we used to call Viandox in old France, walnut skins, old sémillon… And indeed even more of the blackest chocolate. Finish: ultra-long and mega-chocolaty. Stuff for mad Mexican friends who’ve had enough mezcal. Comments: ueber-extreme, would make Macallan 10 C/S taste like Glenkinchie in comparison.
SGP:372 - 88 points.

Glenfarclas 25 yo 1990/2016 (56.8%, OB, sherry, cask #9470, 598 bottles)

Glenfarclas 25 yo 1990/2016 (56.8%, OB, sherry, cask #9470, 598 bottles) Four stars and a half
Given the style of the label, this was obviously for Asia too. We’re expecting a similar style… Colour: mahogany. Nose: it is rather gentler, better civilised shall we say, on indeed a lot of chocolate, but without the miso-y notes this time. Were rather finding quite some cedar wood… With water: forget about that, it’s full of miso, soy sauce, Maggi, and Bovril. I would say one should sprinkle a hamburger with this, we would call that a MacScotch. Hold on…  Mouth (neat): it’s another very good one. Our friends in Asia like this style a lot, and guess what? I think they are right. Wonderful chocolate yet again, our usual walnut cake, the blackest toffee, some Madeira I would add, a drop of chicken soup… With water: class and classic, if not utterly complex. Chestnut purée and dark honeys, chocolate, more walnut cake, and rather less miso-y notes this time. Finish: long, chocolaty, salty again. Onion soup? Comments: looks like all the sherry monsters are out.
SGP:451 – 88 points.

Glenfarclas 1994/2016 (58.4%, OB, sherry, Taiwan, cask #3981, 276 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1994/2016 (58.4%, OB, sherry, Taiwan, cask #3981, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half
More tigers, more Asia… As long as they don’t put silly pandas, I’m fine. Colour: mahogany. Nose: are all these whiskies the same, given that they’re all totally cask-driven? Good question, they are indeed pretty similar and it’s all about tiny nuances indeed, and yes the scores are similar if not just the same, but such a flight is excellent if you want to train your nostrils. In this very case, we’re finding more acidic coffee than elsewhere, around mocha and maragogype.  I know google isn’t quite our friend anymore, but it remains rather convenient. With water: very lovely. Great chocolate and great coffee. Mouth (neat): totally Armagnac, with prunes and the whole shebang. With water: and marmalade, and gingered apple compote, and some kind of spicy chutney. Finish: long and, as usual, saltier and more bouillony. A good soup for sure. Comments: let’s face it, sherry’s always been a mean to make brandy out of grains. Mind you, that’s been working for more than 150 years.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

Bored? No, I’m not! Back to 1989…

Glenfarclas 27 yo 1989/2016 (53.1%, OB, The Flaming Tiger, Taiwan, cask #13051, 636 bottles)

Glenfarclas 27 yo 1989/2016 (53.1%, OB, The Flaming Tiger, Taiwan, cask #13051, 636 bottles) Four stars and a half
We used to have stags, deer and wildcats, now we have tigers, pandas and fighting fish. The times are changing, my friend (which, in truth, I love). Colour: mahogany. Nose: more soups in this one, bouillon, chicken, even lamb chorba, soy sauce… I have to say I love this, there isn’t the tiniest iota of fruitiness in there. It’s drier than the French administration (when they aren’t on strike, or dead drunk – or both at the same time, which happens more often than never)! With water: old walnuts galore. Mouth (neat): and there, yet another variation on walnuts, soups, coffee, soy sauce, and raw chocolate. With water: it takes a lot of water – like the French administration; that’s for the pastis, you know. Wonderful, with glazed chestnuts, a little marmalade, walnut cake, leek soup, and just umami. Finish: long, drier, almost leafy. Some menthol and thyme. Comments: roars like a tiger, but takes water better (what?) This baby was having notes of chocolaty old nebbiolo at times. Lov’ dat.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

I’m just wondering, aren’t Glenfarclas shipping all their casks to Asia while we aren’t watching? It’s true that with Trump’s new tariffs, I suppose it would be stupid to ship them to Amerikka. Okay, a younger one and we’re done with Glenfarclas and sherry. This time…

Glenfarclas 15 yo 2001/2016 (59.3%, OB, Taiwan, cask #3933, 579 bottles)

Glenfarclas 15 yo 2001/2016 (59.3%, OB, Taiwan, cask #3933, 579 bottles) Four stars
More tigers, you see. Colour: mahogany. Nose: yeah well, more soy sauce, more chestnut purée, more walnut cake, more chocolate, more coffee, and also rather more vanilla, as if someone had seasoned some first fill bourbon with amontillado. But given the outturn, that’s highly unlikely. Whiffs of gunpowder. With water: there, bouillons and tobacco. Perhaps a little paraffin, and even shoe polish. This one’s a little different. Mouth (neat): creamy, very good, with some marmalade, tamarind jam, and once again, some fresh American oak. Eh? With water: a tad less complex than its older siblings, which is anything but abnormal given that it’s younger. A little more sour fruits, cherries, red currants… Finish: long, spicier. Christstolle, nutmeg, cinnamon rolls… Comments: super good, but the others were a little more ‘coherent’ an well-married. Long story short, such whiskies need at least 20 years, and no corners may be cut.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

A very last one (cross my heart) just to double-check such a theory, for our common cause…

Glenfarclas 12 yo 2005/2016 (60.8%, OB, sherry butt, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #2427, 640 bottles)

Glenfarclas 12 yo 2005/2016 (60.8%, OB, sherry butt, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #2427, 640 bottles) Three stars and a half
Is that really the distillery on the label? Or a hippy resort not far from Big Sur? Colour: dark amber – mahogany. Nose: yes, indeed, we were right. This is very nice, for sure, but it’s still rough, rather on jams (marmalade) and fig compote. Narrow, shall we say. With water: coffee and sawdust. Very nice, but really a little simple. Mouth (neat): this is what we had learned with some old young sherried wonders (Glenfarclas, Macallan, Glendronach), they need either more time in maturing (not flavouring) wood, or a good twenty years of bottle aging. Otherwise, they remain too harsh and, well, a little vulgar. Or Brexity, that’s a very useful new adjective. With water: very good, for sure, but these will become truly palatable and interesting around the year 2040. Like those young malts by Samaroli that only became fantastic twenty years after bottling. At least. Finish: long, spicy, chocolaty, simple. Comments: it is not an infanticide, it is just that these need to rest in cellars. Young whiskies need to grow, anyone telling you otherwise is just spitting out corporate codswallop. There.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

We may have had enough. See ya.

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


December 24, 2019





Clynelish plentifully

You know that old saying from up there in Sutherland, there are three kinds of people, the dead, the living, and the ones that drink Clynelish. Grouped fire today, probably, as in my opinion, Clynelish’s distillate remains permanently top-notch, unless you come across some of the lighter batches (more fruit and no wax), or some sherry cask that’s been used without much care. Because in my book, fat Clynelish and sherry may sometimes clash. I know, not the first time I’m telling this, but in general, wine – including sherry - works better with lighter spirits that are easy to dominate, or with a few big malts that do perfectly fit, such as Mortlach. Let’s see what we have…

Clynelish 9 yo 2010/2019 (58%, Thompson Bros., bourbon, 240 bottles)

Clynelish 9 yo 2010/2019 (58%, Thompson Bros., bourbon, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: a little harsh at first, rather on raw artisanal kirsch and even acetone, but that won’t last for more than one minute, although you feel that it is almost obligatory here. Notes of raw white calvados, distilled cider... So, with water: there, chalk and clay, grapefruit skins, sourdough, paraffin… It’s really water that brings out distillery character here. Mouth (neat): very young, but great white mezcals are young too. I mean, the distillate speaks out with not oak in the way, fat, waxy indeed, with notes of cherries and citrons, and just this rugosity that comes from young age. Cherry-flavoured bubblegum. With water: melons and lime, on a bed of flint and bits of church candle. Amen. Finish: more of that, plus a little grass and a touch of petrol. Or petroly stuff. Good riesling from a good terroir (muschelkalk, or coquina). Comments: very typical and as good as it gets at this very young age. Great citrus, it’s almost some readymade whisky sour.
SGP:652 - 88 points.

Clynelish 8 yo 2010/2019 (57.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.129 , 1st fill bourbon barrel, ‘pineapple ramen’, 231 bottles)

Clynelish 8 yo 2010/2019 (57.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.129 , 1st fill bourbon barrel, ‘pineapple ramen’, 231 bottles) Four stars and a half
I’ve heard this straight from the horse, Christopher Walken has been hired to write the names for each bottling. Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar, obviously, just a little grassier and even more austere when un-reduced. Same acetone and mercurochrome at very first nosing – this one would cure anything. The fruits start to appear even before water’s been added this time… With water: chalk, orange squash, candle wax. Mouth (neat): immediately extremely fruity, which does not mean that it isn’t waxy as well. Peaches, oranges, tangerines, and perhaps less lemons than usual. Really very fruity, almost sweet. With water: few changes this time, perhaps a little more lemon? A little leather too, but first and foremost, it’s rather a fruit bomb. I’m expecting pineapples in the finish, even if that would be… a first, Mr. Walken. Finish: pineapples? Rather tangerines, juicy fruits, beeswax, barley syrup, a wee bit of biscuit… Comments: irresistible, even if I liked the Thompsons’ a little better yet. But not enough to warrant a different score – I should start to do halves and quarters. Of course not.
SGP:751 - 88 points.

Clynelish 14 yo 2005/2019 (51.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, cask #19/090, refill sherry hogshead, 224 bottles)

Clynelish 14 yo 2005/2019 (51.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, cask #19/090, refill sherry hogshead, 224 bottles) Five stars
Just like Cadenhead, G&M tend to have more sherry-casked Clynelish, but this is refill, so we should be safer. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah well, burnt matches, autumn leaves, tobacco, a wee grey truffle, roasted chestnuts, pine cone smoke, soy sauce, a drop of sour cream, old toolbox… Balance seems to have been found, but you never know… With water: nocino, walnut wine, proper old oloroso, maduro cigars. Lovely! Mouth (neat): clearly a feeling of peat, then old walnuts, pemmican, and chewing on your cigar. The distillate’s citrus shines through, for the better. With water: no ore peat, that may have been the sherry, rather bitter oranges, more walnut wine, some kind of salty toffee (do not throw up!), more cigars, chocolate, Grisons meat (or good bresaola), and indeed, oloroso. I remember having tried some oloroso dulce, which, I wager, does not exist anymore. It was a bit like this. Finish: long, on caramel toffee. We have a thing here called ‘Carambar’. This is very Carambar. Comments: I was a bit afraid but I was wrong. One of the cases when Clynelish and sherry do tango.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Clynelish 1997/2018 (47.1%, Malts of Scotland, for MoS Warehouse Shop, cask #MoS18026, sherry hogshead, 127 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2018 (47.1%, Malts of Scotland, for MoS Warehouse Shop, cask #MoS18026, sherry hogshead, 127 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: crikey, another one that seems to work! And yet another display of Carambarness. So a lot of caramel and toffee, perhaps even molasses, rich old rum, some menthol this time, ointments,  earth, dried porcinis, and yet again our beloved walnut wine. Which, by the way, they make with green walnuts. Holy crow, this works.  Mouth: argh, proved wrong once again, it’s very sherried and it’s pretty wonderful, even if it’s ten times leafier and bitterer than the G&M. Almost acrid, drying, and pretty extreme. But yeah, that works. Main flavour, guess what? Walnut wine! Finish: very long, very oloroso-y. Only the aftertaste is a tad too bitter, but we’re Comments: your mission if you accept it, prepare an olocino. That’s a blend of oloroso and nocino. Alternatively, you may buy this very lovely, albeit a little extreme whisky, if you can find it.
SGP:372 - 88 points.

Clynelish 23 yo 1995/2019 (54.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Clynelish 23 yo 1995/2019 (54.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Five stars
Sourced from Signatory Vintage’s so coming with a good pedigree. But Signatory too have had quite some sherried Clynelish, so careful… Colour: deep gold. Nose: am I mollifying? This is the third rather very sherried Clynelish that I enjoy on the nose. Maybe that’s because I’m about to fly to Jerez again, where I’ll try to just plunder the best houses? (again). In this case, I’m finding the obligatory walnuts and cigar box, rather more pinesap and camphor, and rather more earth, mosses, dead leaves, and just mushrooms. I’m a fan of mushrooms, I was even about to launch mushroomfun.com, but I’m afraid some tactless Chinese friends would have stolen that name too. Or Mexicans ;-). With water: umami in full swing. I suppose you could pour this over sushi – or Belgian shrimp croquettes. Mouth (neat): that’s it, I quit, I give up, proven wrong for the third time within just a few minutes! Now this one’s leafier, a little harsher, much less toffeelike, and rather more on sour teas, rosehip or hawthorn… And leather and soy sauce. With water: copper, pipe tobacco, fino, walnuts, crème de menthe, roasted chestnuts, walnut wine, lemon juice… There’s just nothing not to like about this palate. Finish: rather long, on the same flavours, with a mentholy signature that reminds me of good thin mints (not the industrial ones that are ridden with sugar). Comments: last time a friend asked me whether you couldn’t only find flavours such as umami on the palate, and never on the nose. Nope, both work in tandem.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Clynelish 20 yo 1995/2019 (58%, 20 rue d’Anjou, Signatory Vintage for la Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #2158, 574 bottles)

Clynelish 20 yo 1995/2019 (58%, 20 rue d’Anjou, Signatory Vintage for la Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #2158, 574 bottles) Five stars
This bottle’s named ‘No. 20-1bis’. I suppose that’s an address, Watson. As for the rest, we’re expecting some similarities with the Nectar’s. And yes, they like to pull our legs with their unlikely – yet perfectly legal - age statements. Will they ever dare releasing a 37 yo and call it a 5 yo? Double dare you! After all it’s all just numbers, is it not. Colour: straw. Nose: cancel what I just said, this is very different, starting more on porridge and mashed vegetables (potatoes and turnips), and going on with a little hand cream, sharpish oils (rapeseed?), flints, floor polish, linoleum… With water: Clynelish au naturel. Paraffin, other waxes, citrons, and just a little sour bread as well as a drop of beer. Mouth (neat): very little sherry, and we just shan’t complain. Rather various oils, waxes and greases, a little butter, then the trademark waxy citrus. As fat as some good limoncello, but with half the sugar. With water: Clynelish hundred percent. Finish: rather long, perhaps just a tiny wee tad dirty-ish towards the aftertaste, not even worth mentioning (and so, S.?) Lemon, pepper, sour cream, grass… Comments: very good, and with echoes of the 1970s.
SGP:452 - 90 points.

Clynelish 23 yo 1995/2019 (56.2%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #10201, 231 bottles)

Clynelish 23 yo 1995/2019 (56.2%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #10201, 231 bottles) Four stars
Yeah, a proper hogshead! Colour: white wine. Nose: the coastal side shines through this time, with some seaweed, whiffs of a distant beach bonfire, cut grass, limestone, and just touches of vanilla and coconut from the oak. Perhaps not the most talkative Clynelish ever, but water should unlock the bouquet. With water: a very wee smokiness, otherwise more seaweed and gun oil. Let’s face it, it’s a little narrow and simple, but as this profile is one of the nicest they have over there in Scotchland, we just wouldn’t complain. Mouth (neat): pristine well-matured ultra-clean Clynelish, millimetric and blade-y. Lemon, chalk, paraffin, a little green pepper. That’s it and that’s much since balance is perfect. With water: it’s a bit as if the cask had previously contained something rather expressive and pretty different. What was it? Lagavulin? Talisker? Certainly not grain whisky. Finish: rather long, smoky, grassy, and even sooty. A few grams of coconut and peanut butter in the aftertaste. Comments: an adorable whisky, but it kind of lost me along the path it took. The coconut was marginally troubling too, but there are more important matters in this world. Seriously!
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Clynelish 21 yo 1997/2018 (54.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, hogshead, cask #12781, 309 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1997/2018 (54.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, hogshead, cask #12781, 309 bottles) Four stars
What’s really Extra-Old here, I don’t know, but it’s true that this slightly pumped-up series by DL already sheltered quite a few glories; whether really old or not. As long as they don’t go NAS with such a name, we’re fine. Colour: straw. Nose: another one that starts sharp and millimetric, and rather all on grasses, roots, lemon, and chalk. Goes more towards sourdough after one minute or two, with some rhubarb too. Gentian. With water: raw wool, mud, and lemons and waxes. Which is all extremely Clynelish, without any make-up. That there would be hundreds of thousands of such casks sleeping in Scotland remains irrelevant to me – or rather good news. In other words, better good than rare (take that, big brands!) Mouth (neat): excellent. Melons, lemons, chalk, paraffin, grass, lime. Feels young – so much for ‘Xtra Old’ – but the distillate’s pristine. With water: roots and broken branches, always a hit. Also a little camphor and other medicinal notes. Finish: the marginally weaker part, with less precision and hints of old dough and beer. Lemons are back in the aftertaste, which is better. Comments: lost one or two points when the notes of old beer came out in the aftertaste. Just that you know.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Looks like we already tried eight of them, so perhaps a last one before we call this a proper tasting session. Let’s find a good one and proceed…

Clynelish 21 yo 1996/2017 (57.9%, S Spirit Shop Selection, bourbon hogshead, cask #11421, 278 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1996/2017 (57.9%, S Spirit Shop Selection, bourbon hogshead, cask #11421, 278 bottles) Four stars and a half
I’ve always found these Scotch whiskies with Japanese or Chinese patterns a little groundless. I mean, I wouldn’t put a panda on the label for an Alsatian sauerkraut, would you? Or a jade dragon on a bottle of aceto balsamico di Modena? Or Mount Fuji on a pack of Scottish shortbread? Strange customs indeed… Colour: straw. Nose: another pristine one, with more menthol this time, on top of the usual chalk, lemons, and paraffin. Just lovely. With water: chalk is up, and so is raw wool, while the menthol has disappeared. Mouth (neat): pure Clynelish, just a tad sweeter (Haribo’s best). Melon jelly, then lemon, earth, chalk, citrons, lime… Extremely good. With water: textbook Clynelish. Finish: rather long, pure Clynelish, excellent. Lemony aftertaste, which always works. Comments: now I get it, with these kinds of labels, some of your absent-minded guests will just believe it’s cheap baiju or mei kuei lu chiew, and subsequently, won’t touch your bottles. Pure Sun-Tzu strategy, very very s.m.a.r.t.! By the way, the Clynelish was absolutely great.
SGP:551 - 89 points.




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


Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles)

Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles)
Serge published notes for this one earlier this year and caused some subsequent ‘financial irregularities’ on the secondary market where this bottle has since become rather sought after. Now, having said that, I recall being very impressed when I tasted it at Limburg. Time to do some proper notes of my own now. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the purity and freshness which strikes first. Wet rocks, chalk, plasticine, all manner of fresh fabrics and linens and lots of crushed sea shells. There’s a rather inky and medical side as well with note of gorse, citronella candles, bandages and things like myrtle and wintergreen. You also get this rather punchy and almost visceral impression of the base maltiness of the spirit; dusty malt bins and raw cereals galore. Powerful but irrefutably excellent and impressive. With water: still very medical with some new notes of cloves, hessian and mineral salts. In fact it does get rather more coastal and crisp. Mouth: wonderfully fat, gloopy, syrupy and waxy. A kind of medical waxiness, like lanolin, canvass, plasters and medical tinctures. It’s also rounder, sweeter and more generous than the nose suggests. Where before there was kind of brute austerity at play, here there’s more malt extract, citrus oils, heather ale and classical Clynelish waxiness giving superb texture. With water: big, generous and full of broad waxy, medical, cereal and mineral brush strokes. The texture becomes oilier, fuller - more towards mineral oil and herbal cough syrups. There’s no way around it: this is superb Clynelish! Finish: über long and very cereal, waxy, flinty, lightly peppery, saline, chalky and surprisingly floral and elegant. Comments: I can see why Serge fell in love such a bottling, there are touches of old Clynelish in the mix here. I love how it keeps developing and surprisingly you at every turn. And the palate is just dazzling!
SGP: 462 - 92 points. 



Let’s see if we can give the superb Hidden Spirits a run for its money… 



Clynelish 29 yo 1984/2014 (58.0%, SMWS 26.106 ‘Say it with flowers’, refill ex-sherry butt, 586 bottles)

Clynelish 29 yo 1984/2014 (58.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.106 ‘Say it with flowers’, refill ex-sherry butt, 586 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: what’s funny is the striking similarities with the 1992 at first nosing. All on metal polish, sheep wool, chalks, rocks, oily rags, lanolin and with this similarly fusion of dryness, medicines, minerals and a more brittle waxiness. This very lovely citronella wax note is back as well. Only here you also have some dried flowers, baking soda, heather and sandalwood. A taut and thrillingly complex nose… With water: gets earthier and dustier with notes of hay loft, malt bins, wort and then eucalyptus vapour rubs. Mouth: pow! Just totally spellbinding! Riddled with minerals, chalk, bath salts, dried herbs, medical embrocations, sandalwood, gorse flowers and mint tea. The waxiness runs through it all like a structural lattice keeping everything in its place. The mouthfeel is also just glorious, like some kind of concentrated salted mead mixed with smoked olive oil. So much going on here, the complexity is just spellbinding! (Do the Anti-Maltoporn brigade charge for Christmas call-outs? If so please send the bill to a Mr S Valentin, Turckheim… ) With water: really perfect now, everything in its place. Minerals, wax, soot, cereal, medicine, coastal bite, seashells and a rather umami edge. Many broths, seasoning sauces and hints of cured meats. A kind of hypnotic old Clynelish that remains stunningly fresh, crisp and complex. Finish: long, bright, coastal and bursting with citric acidity, crisp cereals, pebbles, medical tinctures and an almost chewable lingering waxiness. Comments: We’re firmly in this kind of cask strength riesling territory that only older style malt whiskies seem to inhabit. This is why I just adore Clynelish. This kind of compelling alignment of balance, power, complexity, freshness, maturity and charisma is genuinely scarce and just puts so many other spirits to shame. 
SGP: 563 - 93 points. 



Have restful and peaceful Christmas. Slante from Scotland!




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


December 23, 2019


This month’s Springbank session

Because we said we’d do at least one Springbank session a month. We’ll first have a pretty new one, then an older one from the good old days of Duncan Taylor.

Springbank 18 yo 2000/2019 (47.9%, Sansibar, The Clans, sherry, 310 bottles)

Springbank 18 yo 2000/2019 (47.9%, Sansibar, The Clans, sherry, 310 bottles) Five stars
This baby came with the picture of a circa 2010 hipster on the label, isn’t that lovely? Colour: gold. Nose: sulphury, no doubt, but it’s the kind of sulphur that just goes wonderfully with Springbank. It’s ‘mineral’ sulphur, nothing cabbage-y or eggy. Also bitter oranges, old books, engine oil, shoe polish, chalk, lemons, fermented soy (not quite natto, no worries), peat smoke, mercurochrome and beach sand. No dull raisins. Perfect. Mouth: it is one of those pretty smoky Springbanks, which could suggest this could actually be Longrow if you ask me. But shh, only the papers are right. A wonderful walnut cake, a few raisins indeed this time, pipe tobacco, very old malmsey, soy sauce, oysters, mint, lemon, bitter oranges, salty manzanilla, smoked haddock, flints and chalk, paraffin… Indeed, everything from Springbank Distillery. It tends to get drier over time, all for the better. Finish: rather long, a little more vegetal. Leather and tobacco, with this sulphury touch in the background. Comments: echt Klasse, even if I tend to like the bourbon or refill casks even better. Perfect full-bodied whisky like no other.
SGP:363 - 90 points.

Springbank 35 yo 1967/2002 (40.5%, Duncan Taylor, Peerless, cask #1943, 214 bottles)

Springbank 35 yo 1967/2002 (40.5%, Duncan Taylor, Peerless, cask #1943, 214 bottles) Four stars and a half
This old glory pre-dates the Rare Auld series. These whiskies took whiskydom by storm when they came out, they were all coming from the Abe Rosenberg collection of casks. There were also wonderful Glen Grants, Glenlivets, Caperdonichs, Bowmores and many others. Sadly, there’s no more, or only a few that end-up in decanters. Ha, decanters. Colour: pale gold. Nose: sweet Vishnu, save us! Almond paste, honeydew, beeswax, pistachio halva, petroly riesling, peach and quince jellies, spearmint, old-style medicinal potions, gentian cordial (Suze), a touch of cinchona… This is just stunning, ad not far from some the early official ‘West Highland Malts’. I just hope it’ll have survived on the palate as well… Mouth: it may well have lost a bit of lustre, but it’s still kicking a bit if not screaming. Overripe apples, proper cider, paraffin and pollen, marzipan, something reminiscent of putty and even paint… It tends to fade away but I wouldn’t say it nosedives. What’s sure is that it reminds us that +/-40% vol. are not always enough to warrant the durability of a malt whisky. Finish: short and rather dry, but clean. It’s not exactly oaky, just a little cardboardy. Nice notes of pear and plum liqueurs, plus honeydew. Comments: an old one that now whispers rather than shouts, but the nose was absolutely magnificent. An old lady.
SGP:451 - 89 points.

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


December 22, 2019


Big gun rums to drown
our sorrows positively

According to the latest news, it seems that rum’s about to go the cognac way as far as legal definitions go in the EU, rather than the Scotch whisky way, with 20g/litres obscuration allowed. Which includes sugar. That’s too bad in my opinion, and rather a missed opportunity.


More than ever, it’s going to become crucial to check trustworthy online resources to make sure that what anyone’s buying is authentic rum, and not any artificially-flavoured crookery. On the other hand, some heavily sugared rum-like drinks will now have to comply with those 20gr/l, by lowering their sugar content, or just accept to lose the ‘rum’ denomination. It’s going to be interesting to check which option this or that brand will choose. But does the average consumer really care? Do we still believe in education? How can anyone educate the public when millions of dollars are spent in lying – sadly not only by omission - to that very consumer? I’m afraid the single-origin rum category will never become ‘malternative’ as a whole, after all, and that our dreams have been shattered (erm, hold your horse, S.) Phew, I think we need a few drinks…

Saint Lucia 8 yo ‘Chairman’s Reserve’ (46%, OB for Salon du Rhum Belgium, bourbon, 317 bottles, 2019)

Saint Lucia 8 yo ‘Chairman’s Reserve’ (46%, OB for Salon du Rhum Belgium, bourbon, 317 bottles, 2019) Four stars and a half
An interesting blend of column and pot still rums from St Lucia Distillers, done for our friends in Belgium. Did you know that the Belgians knew their rum very well? Colour: pale gold. Nose: I don’t think the ex-column part has much to say here, as I’m finding this baby very ‘pot still’, and pretty much in the style of some medium Jamaicans, with quite a lot of brine and tar, plus the usual rotting bananas. That’s really lovely and beautifully fresh. There’s an agricole part too, with echoes of the best Guadeloupians. Bielle? It seems that this has been ‘single-blended’ with much skill. Mouth: there’s rather more oak than expected in the arrival, but I have the same feeling of 50% Bielle and 50% WP. Or something like that. What I particularly enjoy here is the absence of any dull vanillaness. Tends to go towards liquorice, with a faint petroly side and notes of cinnamon mints from the oak. Finish: long, on tar, oak, and with a salty tang in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect rum for someone who enjoys their agricoles, and who would like to start to explore higher esters from other islands.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

I had thought that St Lucian would have been lighter, so now have to change my plans… Unless, no, wait, this new one is way too intriguing, I cannot wait…

Dictador 39 yo 1980/2019 (59.9%, Cadenhead, Colombia, 282 bottles)

Dictador 39 yo 1980/2019 (59.9%, Cadenhead, Colombia, 282 bottles) Four stars
This one too is (supposed to be) a blend of ex-pot and column stills, from Destileria Colombiana. Imagine, 39 years old! As always, I find it extremely worth noticing that they wouldn’t have waited until this baby was 40. And that they kept that pretty mundane bottle, without any hoopla - or crystal. Now I suppose this came from the same batch as that of the recent – and controversial as far as its age was concerned - official 38yo. Are these years real years? Or just ‘ron years’? Colour: coffee. Nose: coffee liqueur, Cherry Heering, liquid liquorice, tar liqueur, heavy soy sauce, and Macallan Gran Reserva. Really, this is no joke. With water: a thick and heavy beef bouillon left on a stove for hours, blended with espresso and hot chocolate. I’m not totally against this kind of concoction. Mouth (neat): amusingly coffee-ish indeed, but also earthy, tobacco-y, and with a blend of ginger and tar liqueurs. Not to mention Kahlua and Tia Maria – and liquid chicory. Not too sure this has been sugared-up (at birth or somewhere along the path), but the addition of water should tell. With water: probably, and probably at birth, like quite a few South American distillers do. But it is not too cloying, and the coffee really saves it. Kind of balanced. Finish: very long, on coffee beans and, once again, liquid chicory. Some bitter oak in the aftertaste, molasses, Demerara sugar… Comments: most certainly the best Dictador I’ve ever tasted, and possibly one of the very best South and Central Americans, as long as you don’t consider Guyana as one of them. Very smart, Cadenhead!
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Angostura 16 yo 2003/2019 (55.4%, Single Cask Nation, Trinidad, sherry hogshead, cask #3, 309 bottles)

Angostura 16 yo 2003/2019 (55.4%, Single Cask Nation, Trinidad, sherry hogshead, cask #3, 309 bottles) Five stars
I’ve always found Angostura’s rums too light and unnoticeable, but it’s not impossible that once again, some smart indie bottlers would manage to bend my feelings, so to speak. Let’s see, those guys from SCN over there in America tend to know what they are doing… Colour: gold. Nose: oh wait, but this is superb! I think I’ve never come across any rum that was this floral. Dandelions and buttercups, woodruff, honeysuckle, ylang-ylang, vetiver… This is truly spectacular and going towards peaches after just thirty seconds. Once you’ve found peaches and flowers in this world, all you still need is peace. With water: please call the Anti-Rumoporn Brigade! Gosh this is superb… Mouth (neat): what a coup! How did they do that? Chamomile, verbena, genepy, bergamots, dill, a little liquorice wood, a drop of artisanal pastis… I mean, wow! This is extremely elegant, and impressive. With water: and there, peach skin. Finish: medium, perhaps just a wee tad weaker now – after all, this is not Hampden. But the freshness was preserved. Lemons and aniseed in the aftertaste. Comments: I was ready to go up to 92 before the finish, but it lost one point. Some Angostura of Best-Caroni quality, that’s really cool. Hope there will be more coming our way. Angostura, really? Excuse me? No that wasn’t just the sherry.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Long Pond 14 yo 2005/2019 ‘TECA’ (62%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica)

Long Pond 14 yo 2005/2019 ‘TECA’ (62%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica) Four stars
Okay, please fasten your seatbelt, as this concoction contains 1,285.4 gr esters per hlpa (hectolitres pure alcohol). That’s very-high-esters, so probably not for folks who listen to Despacito (S., oh come on). Colour: dark amber. That’s tropical aging, there’s a lot of oak pigments. Nose: right, diesel oil, caper juice, crude chocolate, and a certain feeling of burnt chocolate cake. Not easy – and probably not meant to be easy either. With water: not any easier, but the brine is lovey, the black olives very black, and the molasses a bit… rotten. Pre-Brexit Marmite is not very far. Mouth (neat): extreme esters, we’re crunching limes and sucking pipe tobacco. Sour brine. With water: lime juice, olive oil, sour cherries aplenty, and a feeling of smoked water and oak juice. Finish: long, extremely green, acidic, and brine-y. Comments: this juice would make the most extreme olive juice greener with envy. Perhaps a tad ‘too much’.
SGP:372 - 85 points.

Perhaps a benchmark…

Hampden 8 yo 2011/2019 ‘LFCH’ (61.7%, Velier, Whisky Live Singapore, cask #295, 250 bottles)

Hampden 8 yo 2011/2019 ‘LFCH’ (61.7%, Velier, Whisky Live Singapore, cask #295, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half
As it says on the label, this baby is sugar free. That’s an all-important mention, I believe all distillers and bottlers should use it, even if this is not… chewing gum. This is lighter Hampden, with around five times less esters than in that Long Pond. Anyway, cheers Singapore! Colour: gold. Nose: welcome back to civilisation. There’s some cane juice, slightly overripe bananas, whiffs of liquorice, only drops of petrol, perhaps a little wormwood, and some mint tea as they pour it in North Africa. Not with pine nuts! I find this splendid – don’t pot stills rule everywhere? With water: you would believe this is cane juice and not molasses. Who’s doing cane juice in pot stills, by the way? Lovely notes of herbs, honeysuckle, hay, a little praline, orange blossom water, touches of spearmint, a little cedarwood… It’s a wonderful softer nose. Mouth (neat): a tad stronger and more briny, salty, liquoricy… There’s some sugar too, but that cannot be, that’s probably the high ethanol. With water: not many rums are honeyed, but this one is. Honeydew, cane juice, perhaps one tiny olive, a little sour wood… But careful with water, don’t drown this baby. A little caramel too, which complements the honey rather beautifully. Finish: medium, on soft spices, honey sauce, cane juice and a little salty brine. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: one of the softer no-tar Hampdens, one that shows that Hampden’s not only about high ester content. Extremely well selected.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Have a safe and happy holiday season, rum world!

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


December 21, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
A Multitude of Glenfarclas
I seem to accumulate Glenfarclas, largely thanks to my German friend who seems to have a teleportation connection into the warehouses. But how much Glenfarclas is too much? Let’s have a few more Family Casks today, but first a wee aperitif.


Glenfarclas 25 yo ‘London Edition’ (50.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, oloroso sherry casks)

Glenfarclas 25 yo ‘London Edition’ (50.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, oloroso sherry casks)
This one comes hot off the bottling line, almost. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s one of these easy and rather leafy styles of sherry. Sultanas, prunes, young Calvados, wee hints of mead, milk chocolate and some nicely bitter marmalade. Clean and impressively fresh. With water: becomes straight away more bready and cereal. Notes of orange cordial, malt loaf and banana bread with walnuts. Works well with water. Mouth: gingery and rather warming at first. Some blood orange, peaches, green pepper and softer wood spices. The strength works quite well I think. Get’s a little more earthy and mushroomy over time with notes of dried herbs and bouillon stock. With water: feels sweeter and as on the nose there’s a rather cakey aspect arising: Guinness cake, fruit loaf and malt extract with quite a few dark fruits. Finish: medium and rather earthy, slightly sooty and wee notes of bitter chocolate, dried herbs and crystallised dark fruits. Comments: Very easy and enjoyable mid-aged Glenfarclas. The sherry has a deftness of touch which makes the whole very quaffable. Although I think it probably needs a tiny splash of water to show at its best. 
SGP: 541 - 85 points. 



Glenfarclas 1995/2018 Family Casks (52.1%, OB, cask #9, 4th fill butt, 575 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1995/2018 Family Casks (52.1%, OB, cask #9, 4th fill butt, 575 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: golden syrup, gingerbread, cake mix and some rather leafy tobacco notes with a few green fruits scattered about the place too. Fruit scones, sultanas, gooseberry jam and some nice notes of malt extract and hessian. A rather fat, gloopy and fruity profile - which is most pleasing. With water: greener, fresher, brighter and a tad more pithy and citrusy. Cornflakes dusted with icing sugar and candied pecans. Mouth: Very bready at first, towards malt extract, fresh breads, dough, pastries, lemon curd, digestive biscuits and some dried banana chips. A nice rich texture that’s bolstered by notes of sunflower oil and more of these bready, autolytic impressions. With water: as on the nose, water seems to elevate the naturally sweeter side. Candied fruits, icing sugar, lemon barley water and some delicate herbal tea notes. Finish: medium and rather malty, herbal, rich and biscuity again - custard creams this time. Comments: I’ve tried enough of these Glenfarclas Family Casks that I feel encouraged every time I see the words ‘4th fill butt’. Anyway, this one was very good. 
SGP: 551 - 87 points.



Glenfarclas 1996/2018 Family Casks (58.9%, OB, cask #24, 4th fill butt, 515 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1996/2018 Family Casks (58.9%, OB, cask #24, 4th fill butt, 515 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: this is very cool, you really feel like you’re getting up close and personal with the unvarnished Glenfarclas distillate character here. It’s all mineral oils, shoe polish, greenery, cereals, seeds, soft earthy tones, grassy olive oil and fresh fabrics. And what’s more, it remains wonderfully fresh and approachable even at full strength. With water: becomes a little drier, more chalky, more direct and austere. Notes of crushed aspirin, flints, pebbles, gravel and moss. Mouth: terrifically full and oily texture on arrival. Lots of putty, limestone, greenery, grassy notes, limoncello, very delicate medical notes, tiger balm, slightly sooty aspects and more of these cereal, polish and mineral qualities. Very good! With water: the texture is really terrific now, full bodied, buttery, thick and yet with this nicely chiselled, austere profile as well. Treads a line between intellectual and fun. Finish: long, peppery, slightly waxy, drying and full of soft notes of ink, grass, sunflower oil, mint tea, lemon peel and carbon paper. Comments: Really excellent, naked yet full bodied and complex Glenfarclas. One for those who dismiss refill wood as superfluous/naff/incidental (select as appropriate). 
SGP: 361 - 90 points.



Glenfarclas 1998/2018 Family Casks (54.8%, OB, cask #4455, 4th fill hogshead, 219 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1998/2018 Family Casks (54.8%, OB, cask #4455, 4th fill hogshead, 219 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: the sherry is still very much present here. Although it’s still on the lighter and more elegant side of things with these very leafy tobacco and sultana notes. Hints of millionaire shortbread, dark grains, miso, brown bread and chopped dates. A nice seesaw between sweet and dry. With water: slightly spicier, still nicely bready, rich, autolytic and with quite a few dried dark fruits. Mouth: lovely arrival, all on spiced honey, baked pears, prunes in armagnac, sweet mint tea, apple crumble and madeira sponge cake. Some candied mixed nuts as well. Again this balance between sweet and dry. With water: again gets spicier, more earthy, more tobacco, slightly salty and brothy with dried herbs and a little waxiness. Finish: long, leathery, drying, some bitter chocolate, ginger, wood spices and warm tannins. Comments: Another very good one. A superbly elegant and light-footed sherry; you have to wonder how long the first three fills were for though? 
SGP: 451 - 88 points.



Glenfarclas 1999/2018 Family Casks (56%, OB, cask #7060, refill butt, 627 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1999/2018 Family Casks (56%, OB, cask #7060, refill butt, 627 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: deeper, more profoundly earthy, chocolatey and much more meaty than the others. Pencil erasers, game pie, beef stock, treacle, Maggi seasoning and lamp oil. Rather fatter and more swollen than the others with a nice touch of natural grubbiness about it. With water: these more meaty and brusque earthy tones shy away and we’re left with more direct syrupy sweetness, fresh pastries, lemon cough drops and sweet coffee.  Mouth: a Snickers bar! All peanuts, milk chocolate, caramel sauce, treacle pudding, banoffee pie and some rather decadent custard made with posh dessert wine. Great syrupy texture and notes of caramelising brown sugar and toffee apples. With water: again a little more direct and classical. Clean notes of fresh brown bread, toasted seeds, bitter cocoa powder, golden syrup on toast and some darker fruit preserves. Finish: good length, slightly bitter and herbal with notes of liquorice, prune juice, dark chocolate and game meats. Comments: the epitome of a good refill sherry cask. Although there are a few moments which might prove a tad too ‘Mortlachy’ for some. 
SGP: 561 - 87 points.



Glenfarclas 2001/2018 Family Casks (56.9%, OB, #3297, refill hogshead, 284 bottles)

Glenfarclas 2001/2018 Family Casks (56.9%, OB, #3297, refill hogshead, 284 bottles)
Colour: coppery gold. Nose: a rather striking mix of orange oils and limoncello at first. Lots of cocktail bitters, barley sugars, mixed citrus peel, bitter marmalade, travel sweets and blood orange. Parts of it leaning towards cough syrups and cherry throat sweets as well. Quite different and very enjoyable. With water: a wee touch of lemongrass, olive oil, warm breads and some fresh orange peel. Mouth: orangey, rather nutty and quite sugary. Like curaçao mixed with herbal bitters and marmalade. A good winter dram it would appear. Some soft tobacco notes in the background alongside sultanas and dates With water: winter mulling spices, herbal cough medicine, orange cordial and more barley sugars. Finish: medium and rather herbal, slightly bitter, more orange pith, some aniseed and more notes of cough medicine in the aftertaste. Comments: I didn’t mention refill ‘sherry’ hogshead, but there’s definitely some kind of sherry mystique about this one. Seasonally appropriate wintery ‘mulled’ whisky. 
SGP: 551 - 87 points.



They’re very good these Glenfarclas, but they’re getting a tad samey. One final one for the road… 



Glenfarclas 2003/2018 Family Casks (58.3%, OB, cask #1963, 4th fill butt, 612 bottles)

Glenfarclas 2003/2018 Family Casks (58.3%, OB, cask #1963, 4th fill butt, 612 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s one of these leafier and pleasantly lighter ones again. Lots of cereals, greenery, petrichor, citrus pith, chalk and pebbles. White pepper, hessian, newspaper ink, dried tarragon and a hint of menthol tobacco. This is a style I really enjoy I have to say. With water: dried are more towards fresh fabrics, linens, wool, clay, chalk and green tea with lemon. Also some rather grassy rapeseed oil. It’s very good but probably something you need to be in the mood for. Mouth: a direct and rather punchy arrival. Green pepper, lightly sooty, freshly bailed hay, caramelised oatmeal, runny honey, old shilling ales, melon and lemon curd. Big, quite gutsy and rather grown up malt whisky. With water: fruity museli, baking soda, pastry, dried apricots, bay leaf, moroccan spices. Still rather peppery, warming and lightly earthy. Finish: long, slightly mentholated and full of light wood spices, putty, coal dust, hefty cereals and buttery brown toast. Comments: Technically very good whisky, but probably a tad difficult in many ways. Fun to dissect with whisky pals but maybe not a go to dram of a quiet evening. Still, technically excellent. 
SGP: 461 - 88 points.



I find these latter day Glenfarclas Family Casks are not unlike the official Highland Park single casks that are ubiquitous these days. That is to say: technically excellent but perhaps a little demanding to drink. They can certainly be quite tiring when trying multiple versions in a row, seeking differences in profile and variations in quality. In that way they are both excellent examples of modern whisky. Overall very good, but peaks of quality have fallen in favour of the level playing field of uniformity. That’s why there’s such a narrow range of scores on display here. 






Glenfarclas 1975/1983 (54%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.3, sherry)

Glenfarclas 1975/1983 (54%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.3, sherry)
One of the very first bottlings from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I remember fondly the 1.1 sister cask to this one which Serge recorded notes for on these pages last year (WF 88). Let’s see how this one compares… Colour: coffee. Nose: a world of difference from these Family Casks. This is deep, sticky and superbly dense old school sherry. Dates, fudge, toffee sauce, caramelising brown sugar, prunes soaked in Armagnac, old balsamic, rancio and even a slightly tarry edge. All manner of damp earth, cellar floors, tobaccos, sweet raisins, treacle sponge pudding and damson jam. Beautifully concentrated and emphatic. With water: more umami, more meaty, more gamey, earthy, fatty and with notes of hardwoods, fur and wild mushrooms. Mouth: these casks were purportedly quarter casks and so it’s no surprise they were already so full on and intense at such a youthful age. Lots of wet leaves, pipe tobacco, strawberry jam, dark fruit chutneys and preserves. Some herbal bitters, caraway and hints bicycle inner tube. Pretty powerful and serious stuff. With water: again it evolves towards meatiness, bitter herbal extracts, espresso, bitter chocolate, dried mint and cherry kirsch. Finish: long, nicely bitter, spicy, tannic, earthy and with more notes of umami, liquid seasonings, dried herbs and dark fruit cordials. More chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: In many ways these are challenging, almost brutal young sherry bombs. But there’s a precision to the power and the overall might and structure is pretty emphatic and seductive. Hard not to be swayed by its rustic and sinewed charms. 
SGP: 461 - 90 points.



Thanks again Dirk!




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


December 20, 2019


A trio of Lagavulin

Are you expecting the new Special Releases (well, it’s old news already) or some of those new young limited editions that seem to proliferate (but who-the-hell-is-Nick-Offerman, is he a guy from Game of Thrones?) I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed, as I’ve selected only three Lagavulins, as usual at that time of year, and that’ll be it. One newish old OB, one newish IB, and one older OB. Let’s proceed…

Lg10 2007/2019 (57.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon, 986 bottles)

Lg10 2007/2019 (57.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon, 986 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s pretty vegetal this time, I’m even finding traces of cabbage at first nosing, turnips, vegetable soups… But that’s far from unpleasant, it’s an interesting and rather lovely variant, although it would become more coastal and peaty after just one minute, and much closer to raw kilned barley. Smoky porridge sprinkled with soy sauce, then fresh almonds. It’s a soft one, actually. With water: a working kiln indeed. A little fresh milk as well. Mouth (neat): very good and yet seemingly very young. I mean, even younger than it is (12). Smoked pears, pencil shavings, smoke, kippers, sweeter brine, perhaps plums, vanilla… It is not a deep one, and neither is it ‘a blade’. Between two waters, I would say. With water: sweeter and rounder, almost too fruity and syrupy. Bubblegum, marshmallows, guavas, papayas. Finish: rather long but very sweet. Comments: very good, naturally, but I’m missing the usual zing. I also find it a little too sweet, almost sugary at times. What’s up, Lagavulin?  
SGP:646 - 85 points.

Lagavulin 26 yo 1991/2017 (51.7%, OB, Casks of Distinction, Hong Kong, butt, cask #3479, 492 bottles)

Lagavulin 26 yo 1991/2017 (51.7%, OB, Casks of Distinction, Hong Kong, butt, cask #3479, 492 bottles) Five stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: superb! A walk in the woods after a tropical storm (soon everywhere on this planet), with pine cones, mushrooms, moss, bark, rotting wood, pine needles… Really very lovely, just not very Lagavulin, but I suppose that isn’t what’s important. With water: more of all that. Some very well-composed old pipe tobacco, perhaps by Mr. Dunhill himself. I find this earthiness pretty stunning. Mouth (neat): rather extraordinary, huge, even aggressive, ridden with sharp citrus juices, saps and resinous oils, and this Jerezian dryness that leads to leather, walnuts and roasted pecans. Big stuff. With water: it is rough whisky, do not expect something well-polished and civilised. There are even sour meats and some bizarre fruits (I shall not mention durian… too late!) Finish: very long, sour and sweet, and bitter at the same time, unbalanced, kind of muddled, and yet just top-notch. The aftertaste is rather more medicinal. Comments: almost a wrestling match on your tongue. It’s dirty, it’s deviant, it's unbalanced, but I just love it. Hope it’s a little democratic as well, friends. Oh and I’m wondering whether a good blender (they’re all masters these days) would have rejected this rather whacky cask or not. Anyway…
SGP:566 - 91 points.

It was rather Lagavulin without Lagavulin so far. Let’s see what an older bottling will have to tell us…

Lagavulin 25 yo 1977/2002 (57.2%, OB, 9000 bottles)

Lagavulin 25 yo 1977/2002 (57.2%, OB, 9000 bottles) Four stars
I remember I had tried this one as it was coming out and was disappointed (WF 83 – sadly no tasting note). But that was, ach, seventeen years ago, while some proper bottle ageing may have improved it, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: it was certainly better chiselled, but also rather rounder, with some tangerine-flavoured custard, shall we say. Some notes of copper too, rhubarb, perhaps… Some mouthwash too, menthol, a little thyme honey… With water: gets frankly medicinal. Embrocations and ointments, as they used to say when whisky was some kind of ointment too. At least the foreshots, err…  Mouth (neat): I can see why I did not love it to death, it’s very brutal and really very peppery, as if some kind of re-racking in new European oak had gone wrong. By the way, will they still call that European wood after Brexit? Needs water, for better or for worse… With water: for better. That’s the trick, it needs careful dilution, drop by drop, or it would get too gritty and oaky. Touches of mentholy marmalade of some sort. Finish: medium, almondy. Wax and saps, plus green tea and just sawdust. Comments: 83 was probably too harsh, but I still don’t find it grandiose.
SGP:565 - 85 points.

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


December 19, 2019


Festive time warp, today Glenfiddich

It’s not that we’re Mother Theresa, but I believe Glenfiddich get too much flak just because they’re big and #1 here and there. I also believe they recently upped their game, which is absolutely not the case everywhere in Scotchland. There.

Wardhead 21 yo 1997/2018 (47.7%, Liquor Library + Helvetica + Whisknick, hogshead)

Wardhead 21 yo 1997/2018 (47.7%, Liquor Library + Helvetica + Whisknick, hogshead) Four stars
This one came with a pretty un-Facebookable label, and probably not many hopes to comply with American regulations. That’s perhaps why we should like it even more (S., you rebel). Oh and yes, Wardhead is Glenfiddich, even if legally a blended malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: exactly un-or-lightly sherried Glenfiddich as we always knew it, that is to say shock-full of williams pears and cut apples, then grasses and a spoonful of mashed potatoes plus touches of almond oil and vanilla. Custard, hints of shortbread. Mouth: very good, a bit simple in the best sense of that word, pretty tense, with more pears and even a feeling of young calvados (rather Domfrontais), then pure barley, sweet ale, and just eau-de-vie de malt. Perhaps ides of cantaloupes. Finish: medium, rather bright, very orchardy, malty, and pure. Also bitter oranges and more almonds (marzipan). Comments: perhaps not quite Brora 1972, but impeccably malty.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

So an old official… perhaps this…

Glenfiddich 36 yo 1974/2011 (46.8%, OB, Rare Collection, 1000 bottles)

Glenfiddich 36 yo 1974/2011 (46.8%, OB, Rare Collection, 1000 bottles) Five stars
Fully ‘American oak’, but since most sherry casks are made out of American oak as well, it’s hard to tell whether they actually mean ex-bourbon, or virgin. Not that that’s very important, mind you, let’s just remember than in the old days, American oak often meant bourbon, and European oak, sherry.… I agree, a tad misleading. Colour: gold. Nose: it is rather firm, starting with whiffs of warm leather and cigarette tobacco, as well as a thin slice of ginger cake, also cigar box, dried figs, dried pears... It’s after one minute that fresher fruit start to burst out, including the expected pears (even at 36), more figs (fresh and dried), melons, and a touch of chamomile tea, or even earl grey. It’s absolutely not an old thing for Wall Street veterans, quite the contrary. Mouth: indeed, no signs of overpowering oak despite the notes of pencils and balsa wood, rather big custard and fig cake. Or there, some fig-dominated Christmas cake, then all things made out of apples and pears, mainly cakes. But dried figs keep running the show, even when the expected cinnamon and nutmeg from the oak start to be willing to come to the front. Finish: medium, never oaky, and never fragile, just a tad more tea-ish, which is normal. Cinnamon cake and… no, we won’t mention Christmas again. Some marmalade too in the aftertaste, as (almost) usual. Comments: good work by some ‘fiddich luminaries who composed this vatting at that time, including our old friend ‘HHH’. Cheers HHH.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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


December 18, 2019


Festive time warp,
today Highland Park

HP, again and again. We’ll first have a new Cadenhead (this to the wonderful Mr. Mark Watt, who did more for Cadenhead than anyone else, including Mr. W.M. Cadenhead himself) and then perhaps an earlier OB, if we can find one that we haven’t tried yet… Oops, don’t I sound pretentious now?

Highland Park 30 yo 1989/2019 (47.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 240 bottles)

Highland Park 30 yo 1989/2019 (47.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 240 bottles) Five stars
Brand new! This is typically Cadenhead, release a 30 yo HP just like that, next to a 11 yo Deanston and a 12 yo Glentauchers, almost as if they were hoping no one would notice. Colour: straw. Nose: totally naked, as if the cask had first been used around 1870, and so integrally shaped by time. The main consequence is that it feels younger than 30, but there’s strictly nothing to complain about as it got superbly orchardy, without a trace of oak, rather just touches of praline and cappuccino. Forgot to list the fruits, that would be cherries, oranges, gooseberries, and just one tiny pink banana. Perhaps a whiff of cough syrup as well. Mouth: absolutely lovable and much fruitier than current HPs that are usually more mineral. This has multi-vitamin fruit juice and even marshmallows at first, then the same cough syrup as on the nose, and then indeed, a grassier chalkiness than usual, which would lead us to a feeling of fruit peelings. Finish: rather long and as if someone had added a wee pinch of salt to that multi-vitamin fruit juice. Also lemon juice and olive oil. That was a good idea. Leafier aftertaste, not the best part, but there’s a remedy, just have another glass. Comments: right up my alley, but I would understand it if some good folks would find it a little… naked, and yet unsexy. I’m sure you know what I’m trying to say.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

And so that earlier OB…

Highland Park 1967 (43%, OB, +/-1991)

Highland Park 1967 (43%, OB, +/-1991) Five stars
Indeed I believe this baby was bottled in 1991, which means that it’s actually not that old. Its reputation has always been so-so, but so was Fran Zappa’s (S., what the fudge?) I tried it before, but never took any notes. Colour: amber. Nose: seriously, it’s marvellous. The problem is that fifteen or twenty years ago, there were many stupendous older HPs that were still easy to find and buy, such as the old bulky bottles with their round black labels. Which means that this 1967 may have been kind of overshadowed, but actually, in 2019, I think this nose is fantastic, with its notes of almonds, cough syrup, castor oil, olive oil, tar, old Barbour jacket, camphor and dried figs. It’s just a little fragile, seemingly. Oh and yeah, the John Goodwin bottle, or some of the Dragons used to kill all HPs as well. Mouth: fab, just a tad fragile indeed, but that’s just the low strength. A wonderful mix with dried fruits and herbal liqueurs, would we say. Say the usual figs and dates, and the expected chartreuse and Verveine (verbena liqueur), all that being unified by overripe apples, or the slightly oxidative juice made thereof. In the background, some very tiny notes of meat and iron, but that may well be OBE in motion. Finish: a little short, but bright, going towards some old vin naturel (fortified). Very old Maury or Banyuls, does that ring a bell? Some mint tea and a touch of smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s funny that in a sense, the new 3S and this old 1967 do share quite some similarities. And the same score by the way. Buy that Cadenhead.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

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


December 17, 2019


Crazy old Talisker

I’m afraid we’ll have some pretty rare ones today, one for America, one for the Far-East, and one from my birth year as a bonus.

Talisker 14 yo 1979 (46%, Whyte & Whyte, USA, D&M Liquors, +/-1993)

Talisker 14 yo 1979 (46%, Whyte & Whyte, USA, D&M Liquors, +/-1993) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: ah, I remember, I think Moon also had some of these batches, they’re very lightly peated, if not almost unpeated, and would rather go towards stewed vegetable, cauliflowers, cabbage, brussels sprouts, with just a wee dollop of crème de menthe and some soot… A pretty austere nose all in all, without much of the trademark coastalness. Having sad that, there are various fresh mints developing, which is nice, obviously. Spearmint, basil mint… Mouth: it’s a very earthy, oily, almost muddy Talisker at first, that gets then properly coastal, and really very salty. Some white pepper as well, then oysters and whelks. Even langoustines, honestly, but no mayonnaise (that was helpful, S.), rather some wee coconutty touches from the oak. Perhaps samphires, wakame seaweed, hijiki… Solid body. Finish: rather long, and rather on salted tropical fruits, like in some kind of Indonesian dish, the name of which I have long forgotten. The aftertaste is impeccably maritime and waxy ala Old Clynelish, it wins one or two extra-points here, which does not happen often. Comments: this baby just never stopped improving. Not the first time that in these vintages, Talisker and Clynelish kind of converge a wee bit. Give this one time – should you find a bottle.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Talisker 33 yo 1985/2018 (53.6%, OB, Private, Asia, 384 bottles)

Talisker 33 yo 1985/2018 (53.6%, OB, Private, Asia, 384 bottles) Five stars
One of those single casks Diageo are liberating for Asia only – quite. I’m sorry I don’t read Chinese, so if you’ve got a little more data about this baby, I’m interested. Colour: full gold. Nose: this one was distilled just six years later, but it’s much rounder, less rough, and brighter than the 1979, even if I do find wee whiffs of cabbage indeed. Or Jerusalem artichokes. Other than that, we’re having the whole oysters menu plus mint and lemongrass and one or two madeleines. Beautiful notes of fresh marzipan and putty arising after two minutes. With water: perfect earthiness, mud, mint sauce (not a French thing at all having said that), and, indeed, a tiny wet dog. Yorkshire? Chihuahua? Mouth (neat): bang! Extremely tart and peppery at first, then unexpectedly honeyed, which combines well once you get over the initial surprise. Rather on lime then, but the oysters are always there, while I would even find touches of tabasco. I may be dreaming, though, should be pepper. With water: careful with water, but provided you add just a drop, a lot of salt and liquorice would come out, while you’d avoid a few notes of cardboard. Big pepper too. Finish: wax, salt, pepper, and oysters. A drop of some kind of fruity sauce as well. Perhaps passion fruits… Comments: Talisker is less immediate than Lagavulin on the peatier side, or than Clynelish on the less-peaty one, but in a way, it’s a kind of blend of both, at least in this very case. Very classy malt that you cannot quaff just like that. It needs your attention.  
SGP:564 - 91 points.

Oh and so this little bonus while we’re at it, let's try to climb yet a little higher...

Talisker 1960/1979 (75° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd, 26 2/3 fl oz)

Talisker 1960/1979 (75° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd, 26 2/3 fl oz) Five stars
If you would try to translate those very British-Empire-esque measures, that would be 43% vol. and 75.7cl., but I’ve heard Boris wants to restore those old units, does he not? In theory, I should have kept this baby for my next birthday, as it’s my vintage. I mean, not 1979. But youth is impatient… Colour: gold. Nose: phooh, what a nose. It’s extremely subtle, and emblematic of a great old malt at 43% vol. Old malts could stand low strengths because they were much fatter and better textured, while contemporary distillates are much thinner ‘in general’, and rather need 46 or even 50. So, I would say pink grapefruits, winkles, seaweed smoke on a beach, maracuja, and just coal smoke. It is to be remembered that the still house was burned down in November 1960, and subsequently reconstructed, so this is well ‘old’ Talisker. Marvellous, in a way akin to a 1950s Macallan as far as texture is concerned. Another world. Mouth: thick and even syrupy, and full of animal waxes and oils. Mutton suet, ham, then those pink grapefruits, a touch of rather rough lamp oil, old cigars, old Pu-her tea, salted liquorice, vegetal tar, some kind of local broth made with, well, err, Talisker (bravo, S.!) and just God know what else. Perhaps bone marrow quenelles in a proper vegetable bouillon. Are you hungry yet? What’s noticeable is that the palate is rather less fruity than the nose. For the record, as they used to say at the KGB. Finish: you’ll hate me because I’ll use a wine analogy yet again. A Montrachet from around 1959-1961. Of course not 1960, a bad vintage for French wine! Comments: a benchmark old Talisker. Some say the spirit did not change one iota after the fire, since the SMD (I suppose it was SMD) rebuilt the Distillery exactly as it was. Hard to say, what’ sure is that this is magnificent. At 43% vol.!
SGP:363 - 94 points.

(Mucho gracias Angus and KC)

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


December 16, 2019


Cold case: Kinclaith, Killyloch and Glenflagler

Indeed, this won’t make much sense, but you see, there are old whiskies that any serious taster will never put aside in an old shoebox. Indeed let’s not take the risk of forgetting about them and letting them go stale! (tsk-tsk, just any excuse…)

Kinclaith 24 yo 1965/1989 (51.4%, Cadenhead, 150th Anniversary)

Kinclaith 24 yo 1965/1989 (51.4%, Cadenhead, 150th Anniversary) Three stars
I believe this same juice had also been bottled as a ‘black dumpy’ by Cadenhead. It’s to be remembered that Kinclaith used to be Strathclyde’s malt distillery and that it was only active between 1957 and 1975. So, it’s probably even rarer than a Kardashian solving an equation of third degree. Yeah, even second. Colour: pale gold. Nose: not much of a quiet Lowlander (it was a Lowlander), rather a style that reminds me of several other old-school dryish malts, such as Millburn, or Glenesk. So not the tiniest piece of fruit, rather bags of grass and leaves, then baker’s dough, and yeast, graphite oils, soot, plaster, concrete, and then more menthol. Enough to bring texture to a good blend… forty years ago. With water: ooh the old days! Paraffin aplenty, fabric, Barbour grease, rabbit fur (yep)… Mouth (neat): a feeling of quaffing cold-distilled ale at first (remember Brewdog’s?) then some kind of pine-y bread and the feeling of crunching some grapefruit-flavoured wax. Much better than it sounds, despite the touches of soap that are there too. With water: please don’t add any water, should you stumble upon a bottle. It just wouldn’t swim on the palate, and would just sink and get very cardboardy. Unless you added just a tiny drop of H2O to 5cl of whisky. Finish: medium, dry, rather on ale. Comments: it’s not an easy-sexy-ooh-ah malt whisky, quite the contrary. After all, it was ‘an ingredient’. Having said that, the waxy part was pretty fantastic.
SGP:262 - 82 points.

So, please another closed Lowland distillery that used to start with a K, and an even rarer one if that’s even possible…

Killyloch 22 yo 1972/1994 (52.6%, Signatory Vintage, sherry Killyloch 22 yo 1972/1994 (52.6%, Signatory Vintage, sherry cask, cask #206413, 230 bottles)

Killyloch 22 yo 1972/1994 (52.6%, Signatory Vintage, sherry cask, cask #206413, 230 bottles) Four stars and a half
Killyloch was made at Moffat (Garnheath) just like Glenflagler, and was, to my knowledge, a slightly peatier version, while another distillate, which I have never tried and that used to be called Islebrae, was much peatier. Killyloch’s Longrow, if you will. It is said that they had planned to christen the make Lillyloch instead, but that some worker made a bad stencil by putting a K instead of the initial L. In true Scottish fashion, the distillers decided to change the name rather than the stencil, as the make was only aimed for blending anyway. A funny story that dear Michael Jackson was always telling with much wit…  Colour: gold. Nose: it is clearly a mild peater, perhaps a bit in the style of Highland Park. So not as much a filler as I had thought. Good pinesap, paraffin again, a touch of coconut, sour fruit wine (red currants?), clearly some cured ham, then more oils and waxes. Teak oil, gun oil, a little damp earth… It’s a very interesting nose, much more complex than I had expected. Class! With water:  a great wild IPA, made with good citrusy hops and good Brettanomyces. Really. Mouth (neat): very good! Although I’m sure that’s partly down to proper bottle ageing. Great fatness, beeswax, vanilla and croissants, a salty tang, some lovely earthy tones, myrtle, some white pepper, a little citron liqueur… A drying oak tends to be willing to come to the front, but the spirit stands up well so far. Having said that, with water: no, that holds very goodly. Finish: rather long, on some kind of salted and smoky citrus liqueur or wine. Comments: try to try this, it’s worth your effort while it’s not even very expensive, since no one knows the name. What our American friends call an unicorn. Well, it’s sure that it’s not Macallan, is it.
SGP: 452 - 88 points.

Right, and who says Killyloch says Moffat, and who says Moffat says, indeed, Glenflagler.

Glenflagler 23 yo 1972/1996 (51.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #228442, 255 bottles)

Glenflagler 23 yo 1972/1996 (51.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #228442, 255 bottles) Four stars
Not the first Glenflagler we’re having these months, isn’t that funny? Colour: gold. Nose: to tell you the truth, we aren’t that far from the Killyloch, this is just a tad lighter indeed, and rather more on oranges. So it’s more approachable globally, fruitier, easier… Whiffs of flour and old banknotes in the background. Pre-Euro Scottish pounds sterling, I suppose? Not much else to add, this is not Bora 1972, mind you. With water: it got very medicinal. Vicks, bandages, camphor… Earthy as well. You do feel this was bottled not only because it’s a very rare name, well done Signatory! (if I may, even if I’m 23 years late). Mouth (neat): good, tenser and sharper this time, and really shock-full of fresh oranges, with additional cinnamon and, I have to say, sawdust. Lovely notes of angelica too. With water: excellent! Pine needles, green liquorice, chestnut honey, some kind of oriental balm that you may eat… And mint cordial. Really and once again, it is a surprise. Even if, I insist, this baby should have improved after those 23 years in a good bottle. Finish: this is the weaker part, it’s pretty long but it’s getting a notch drying. No problem. Comments: I’m so glad I could try those two ‘Moffats’ head to head. They’re more similar than what some would think, and yet more different than what others would believe. You’re right, that does not take us very far.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

(Thanks a lot, Angus, François and Lau!)

December 2019 - part 1 <--- December 2019 - part 2 ---> January 2020 - part 1



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1974/2000 (56.4%, OB, hogshead, cask #2895, 190 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.6%, Chorlton Whisky, butt and hogshead, 439 bottles)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (51.8%, OB, Private Cask, cask #1424)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (52.2%, Thompson Bros. for The Amber Light, Royal Mile Whiskies, refill sherry, 497 bottles)

Clynelish 14 yo 2005/2019 (51.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, cask #19/090, refill sherry hogshead, 224 bottles)

Clynelish 23 yo 1995/2019 (54.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Clynelish 20 yo 1995/2019 (58%, 20 rue d’Anjou, Signatory Vintage for la Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #2158, 574 bottles)

Glenfarclas 25 yo ‘London Edition’ (50.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, oloroso, 2019)

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1988/2018  (50.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles)

Glenfiddich 36 yo 1974/2011 (46.8%, OB, Rare Collection, 1000 bottles)

Highland Park 30 yo 1989/2019 (47.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 240 bottles)

Highland Park 1967 (43%, OB, +/-1991)

Lagavulin 26 yo 1991/2017 (51.7%, OB, Casks of Distinction, Hong Kong, butt, cask #3479, 492 bottles)

Lp10 1998/2019 (53.9%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 442 bottles)

Springbank 18 yo 2000/2019 (47.9%, Sansibar, The Clans, sherry, 310 bottles)

Talisker 14 yo 1979 (46%, Whyte & Whyte, USA, D&M Liquors, +/-1993)

Talisker 33 yo 1985/2018 (53.6%, OB, Private, Asia, 384 bottles)

Talisker 1960/1979 (75° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd, 26 2/3 fl oz)

Domaine de Baraillon 1900/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Angostura 16 yo 2003/2019 (55.4%, Single Cask Nation, Trinidad, sherry hogshead, cask #3, 309 bottles)