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Whisky Tasting




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


November 2021 - part 2 <--- December 2021 - part 1 ---> December 2021 - part 2


December 14, 2021


Caol Ila on the desk again

A.K.A. the sure bet or the peater that never disappoints. #1 malt whisky on little WF as far as numbers of different expressions go, and that won't change any time soon.

Caol Ila crabs still fed on distillery waste back then, best in ye whole world->

Caol Ila 19 yo 2001/2021 (57.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, first fill barrel, cask #308900, 192 bottles)

Caol Ila 19 yo 2001/2021 (57.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, first fill barrel, cask #308900, 192 bottles) Three stars and a half
CI, G&M, CC, TWE, that's a classic set-up. Colour: light gold. Nose: fully on cigar ashes and other ashes, vanilla, sawdust, peat smoke and toasted cake. Bonfire and barbecue. No seawater/oysters and no lemons this time, which is a little unusual. With water: same, plus a medicinal side. Iodine, gauze… Mouth (neat): salt, brine, seawater and oysters this time, even if the core remains extremely ashy. Some tapenade in the background (crushed olives with anchovies and garlic – well all families have their own recipes). With water: I'm wondering of the barrel wasn't a little too active for Caol Ila. Don't get me wrong, it's rather perfect Caol Ila, but I tend to like them 'fresher'. Finish: same feeling, some peppery oak, vanilla, a little fudge… Comments: a slightly oak-boosted variant, very good for sure but perhaps also a little fat around the corners.
SGP:456 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (54%, Thompson Bros., de-char/re-char hogshead, 333 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (54%, Thompson Bros., de-char/re-char hogshead, 333 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: you do feel that it's been boosted-up with some reactivated oak, rather in the style of the G&M CC, but this time they're rather smoked almonds an lapsang souchong that are playing first fiddles. A little more plasticine too. With water: ashes and coconut. Not hundred percent sure. Mouth (neat): big smoky butterscotch and salty ale. Something like that. With water: ah, there, the spirit's having the upper hand now, it was about time. Sauvignon blanc, lemon juice, rhubarb, oyster juice. A little coconut again in the aftertaste. Finish: long, a tad fat for CI. Smoked cakes or something. Oily aftertaste. Comments: same ballpark. An interesting variant but there's a little too much 'sweet and coating' oak for me.
SGP:656 - 83 points.

All right then…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (52.9%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, 500 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (52.9%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, 500 bottles) Four stars
Welcome back to civilisation ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: there, crabs, French beans, young Comté cheese, bandages, ashes, smoky porridge (well, porridge with a good glass of Caol Ila thrown in), limestone, mashed potatoes… With water: superb beers and sourdough. Leaven. Mouth (neat): perfect sharp young chiselled CI, with a lot of apple juice, then salt, seawater, lapsang, lemon and mercurochrome. NO quibbles this time. With water: excellent, with first-grade lemons. Finish: long, medicinal, bandage-y. Comments: all right. Pure refill all the way.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

… Just to be sure…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (54.2%, Thompson Bros. for London Whisky Club, 294 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (54.2%, Thompson Bros. for London Whisky Club, 294 bottles) Four stars and a half
Just one question, is Boris a member of the London Whisky Club? Colour: white wine. Nose: bicycle inner tube and new magazines, porridge, ink, bandages… This is impeccable. With water: same. Impeccable. A tad more rubbery than the previous one, but that would be good rubber. Mouth (neat): salty, coastal, smoky, pure, clean, sharp, chiselled. With water: some immaculate smoky brine. Finish: same. Tough young CI, toughness being an utter asset in this context. Tarry olives in the aftertaste – olives always win it, tarry ones even more so. Comments: big young boy, rather of South-Coast style. I could pour this into my main hipflask! (the one with a Tom-Petty-and-the-Heartbreakers logo).
SGP:357 - 88 points.

Nah, oak's not always your friend; Let's move on…

Caol Ila 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage for malt, grain & cane, hogshead, cask #300057, 292 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage for malt, grain & cane, hogshead, cask #300057, 292 bottles) Four stars and a half
We're expecting some kind of purity here… Colour: white wine. Nose: sharp smoky porridge, ink, ashes, eggplants, olives, hessian, tarry ropes, kelp… Pristine. With water: carbolineum and leatherette, then gravel and beach pebbles. Mouth (neat): late-harvest riesling, smoked and peppered, plus a little butterscotch. With water: immaculate young Caol Ila, extremely hard to beat. Finish: long, salty, pure, superb. Comments: we're still expecting all those new distilleries in SCO to make a proper peater. No, dumping your make into ex-Laphroaig casks does not count, that's even ueber-lousy. Do not cut corners.
SGP:357 - 88 points.

Perhaps some multi-vintage by The Sponge?...

Caol Ila 9 yo 2007+2011/2021 (53.6%, WhiskySponge, 481 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2007+2011/2021 (53.6%, WhiskySponge, 481 bottles) Four stars
A brainwave by our dear Sponge, assembling some perfectly all right ex-refill CI with some moderately embarrassing ex-de-char/re-char American oak hoggie CI. What could go wrong? Colour: straw. Nose: nice, just a little indefinite. Old hessian bag found on a beach and some curiously sweetened seashells. Would anyone dare stew mussels or oysters in vanilla sauce? With water: okay, even very good, rather reminding me of the official range. Mouth (neat): good, but I'm not sure I'm getting why this little fatness around the edges. With water: good but kind of in midstream. Finish: good but a tad sweet. Comments: honestly, it's very good, but it kind of reminds of that old Vietnam poster that we were all having in our bedrooms in the early 1970s and that was just asking 'Why?' (next to that bl*^dy Che Guevara).
SGP:556 - 85 points.

Let's try another G&M…

Caol Ila 13 yo 2008/2021 (59.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice or LMDW, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #312075, 562 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2008/2021 (59.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for LMDW, first fill sherry butt, cask #312075, 562 bottles) Four stars
562 bottles from a single barrel, that's rather a lot, no? But who's counting? Colour: gold. Nose: it's ex-first fill but it is a straighter, purer one, more medicinal than others, more on embrocations, bandages, iodine, then fish oils, creosote, mud, raw wool, even wet dogs (we owe you eternally, dogs!)… With water: even more medicinal. Mercurochrome. The 1st fill wood did not kill it. Mouth (neat): absolutely very good, rather resinous, vegetal (oregano), with wee chemical notes (nothing too serious, rather around plastic bags, or rather rubber bands) and a grassy smokiness. With water: well, there's a little more oaky sweetness, which ain't too god in my book, but it's well-behaved vanilla and coconut. Still, too bad… Finish: rather long, a little sweet(ish). Comments: extremely good once again, but the sweetish 1st fill American oak feels in the end – while it lost two points. Remember that in whisky, oak is the best friend and the worst enemy.
SGP:556 - 86 points.

Update: there had been some mismatch in some documents, it was not a first fill bourbon barrel contrarily to what I had first written. Thanks Claude.

What's rather terrifying is that we currently haven't got any late 1970s-early 1980s CI in the boxes...

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.1%, The Whisky Blues, refill hogshead, cask #320327)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.1%, The Whisky Blues, refill hogshead, cask #320327) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: this is going to be quick. Sharp lemon, chalk, seashells, mercurochrome. With water: chalk, raw wool, porridge… Mouth (neat): the superiority of refill over first fill showcased and demonstrated. Wonderful sharp, chiselled, ultra-vertical peppery and smoky embrocations and medicines. Oh, and oysters. And lemons. With water: yeah, pristine, ultra-tight and tense, with these coastal coatings (lobster?) Finish: long, rich and yet tight, and superb. Comments: high-class bluesy Caol Ila, with some power. I'm thinking of Poppa Chubby (google is your friend - well it isn't at all, but you see what I mean).
SGP:467 - 88 points.

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


December 13, 2021


Young Ord and an ancestor on the table

Love Ord. It's one of the most important places in the Scotch whisky industry and the make's always either very good, or excellent.

Ord Maltings, 2006 (SV) ->

Glen Ord 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, first fill bourbon and refill hogsheads, three casks, 1118 bottles, 2021)

Glen Ord 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, first fill bourbon and refill hogsheads, three casks, 1118 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: typical. Peanut oil, Meursault, touches of varnish and pineapple (amyl diacetate), rhubarb and vanilla. Mouth: very malty, with more rhubarb as well, beers, cake, walnuts and cashews, roasted peanuts, and this oily/earthy side that's always rather Ord in my book. Finish: medium, caky. Orange cake, marmalade, peanut butter. Comments: I think we'll do that old joke once again (bear with me), Ord is anything but Ord-inary. No, not too proud, but I loved the peanut butter in this one. Very very good.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Ord 11 yo 2004/2016 (60.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 342 bottles)

Ord 11 yo 2004/2016 (60.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 342 bottles) Three stars
Indeed we're late, once again. Colour: gold. Nose: a little uncertain when neat. Putty, nail polish, model glue, cut cactus, British strawberry yoghurt. No, that's a different one. With water: earth, peelings, mezcal, gentian. Sounds great but only the palate will tell. Mouth (neat): feels good, ueber-tart, almost spritzig. Lime and grass juice. With water: ultra-tight, very grassy, acidic and ascetic. Not for the faint-hearted; as they say in Disneyworld. Finish: lemon juice and granny smith juice, 50/50, plus a little lavender soap that, indeed, would bring it down a good ten points. So sad… Salt in the aftertaste. Comments: a rollercoaster of a young Ord. Loses you at times.
SGP:471 - 80 points.

Let's do another CAD…

Ord 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 210 bottles)

Ord 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 210 bottles) Three stars and a half
Hold on, this was only a finishing, as it was transferred to an oloroso sherry hogshead in November 2016. Okay, say a double maturation. Colour: red coffee and Cherry Heering. Nose: and bingo, there, Cherry Heering. Clafoutis and battelman, PX, black pipe tobacco… With water: in truth I think this is awesome, you would almost believe you're visiting a bodega in Jerez. Blackcurrant jam and thick pinot noir all over the place. Mouth (neat): ueber-rich, fat, this is almost some spicy and earthed-up Christmas cake. Crystalised cherries, prunes, old pinot noir, Spanish ham, black pepper, cloves… Not a ballerina-malt for sure. With water: no, it's very good. Mars bar, coffee, pipe tobacco, prunes, cassis syrup, and just more pinot noir. Palomino fino, right… Finish: a sweet earthiness, some dates, some prunes, some cherry liqueur (guignolet) and a drop of gravy. Menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: some heavy treatment and not much distillery character left, but to be honest, it's a fine sherry monster.
SGP:651 - 84  points.

Ord 13 yo 2005/2018 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Ord 13 yo 2005/2018 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Two stars
From one hogshead plus one butt. Colour: gold. Nose: this bready greasiness and really a lot of lager or pilsner. Kronenbourg and plaster. With water: more indefinite. A walk in the woods while drinking Glen Ord from your old hipflask. Indeed, not much sense. Mouth (neat): good tight malt, with a lot of grass and fruit peelings, including citrus zests. With water: somewhat between two worlds. Tough peppery stuff. Finish: long, ultra-tight, grassy, peppery, difficult. Loses many points now. A sour malty fruitiness in the aftertaste. Comments: feels a little 'random' and pretty un-Ord. Perhaps not one of the malts we'll remember forever…  It was Glenrothes, was it not?
SGP:451 - 76 points.

Glen Ord 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 337 bottles)

Glen Ord 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 337 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh gristy and brioche-y barleyish arrival, then linseed oil and hummus. Also white asparagus and oats. Sure this ain't Ardbeg 1975, but we do enjoy the gristiness in there. Bang, yet a new word. Mouth: much more happening, with petroly oranges, paraffin, oranges-and-cloves, sweet mustard, pink pepper, some turmeric, some ginger, horseradish… Now this baby would tend to bite you before you down it. Better down it fast then. Finish: rather long, spicy and gristy. Some kind of spicy and fruity oiliness, hard to describe. Hops, bitters… Comments: another good one that we won't remember forever. In short, this is neither Ardbeg Provenance, nor Glen Ord 30 yo OB (WF 93, no less), but there sure is a lot of goodness.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 39 yo (46.2%, OB, 1,695 bottles, 2021)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 39 yo (46.2%, OB, 1,695 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
A brand new bottling. It is a curious custom to add descriptors to the front of such a posh bottle, in this case: 'succulent blackberries with muscovado crumble'. It's like if on the back bumper of a Porsche, the makers would have added 'fast and reliable but careful in curves to the left'. This Ord has been multi-finished (claret, sherry) but we'll just forget about all that and try it as if it was just, well, an old Glen Ord. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: Mrs Robinson's done it again. Old Cuban cigars, very old Morgon (gamay ages very well when from a good house), shoe polish and many embrocations, resins, oils, Barbour grease, then lighter notes of pink bananas, cherry stem tea, dog rose tea, then rosewood and just strawberry cake. Ouahouh, would we say in French. Mouth: I'm not too sure about the combo that's in motion here, resins and red berries, perhaps? But it remains malty and rather spicy, while you do indeed feel that the old whisky has been revived in a way, or even reactivated. I'm wondering, would this work on humans too? Imagine you're 60+ and you go to Blackgrange, and they do a few tricks on you with woods and wines, and presto, et voilà, you're 40 when you come out! Finish: medium, with hints of copper polish, otherwise chestnut purée, walnut wine and thyme tea. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: there sure was some fragility to these old casks, but the refurbishment works went very well. This is Notre-Dame-of-Scotland.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

They were also having these in the very, and I mean very smart press pack (to whomever did it, bravo!) so why not try them?

The Singleton 12 yo 'Cask Sample' (55.5%, OB, press pack, 2021) Not even sure this is Glen Ord. Colour: white wine. Nose: pure barley. I mean, barley as in barley. And malt as in malt. Mouth: high-focus orangey malt and cassata. Green coffee, celeriac eau-de-vie, asparagus eau-de-vie, and beets. Finish: extremely long, extremely malty. Comments: wow, what a stunning ueber-malt, what's striking here is that just as you would expect any fruity eau-de-vie to express the very essence of said fruits, this is plain and pure eau-de-vie de barley. But let's not forget that Ord's also an essential malting plant.

Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso 'Bespoke Blend' (15.4%, OB, 2021)

So the kind of 'blend' they're using to do some of the seasonings of the finishing casks they would then use on malts. It's a whole process, you understand. So very happy to be able to try this, while keeping in mind that this is probably the 'higher solution' they have. We're a great audience anyway. Colour: coffee brown. Nose: pretty sour and rather on vegetables, asparagus, weissbeer, salsify, strawberries, cabbage, and indeed rancio wine. Certainly not as sweet and comfy as I would have thought. Mouth: yeah great. I sure wouldn't start to question anything here, but it is a lovely softer sherry and frankly, I'd bottle and sell this rather than use it to season any lousy two-penny oak casks, in Jerez or in Clackmannanshire. Finish: yep, good. Strawberries, red berries, banana skins. Comments: some kind of drier cream sherry. We all hate cream sherry, but I'd say that's because we haven't tried this kind.

In Jerez, a long time ago.


Château Lacoste-Borie 2018 (14.5%, OB, Pauillac) Lacoste-Borie is Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste's second wine, it is not actually a 'château'. This fine little Bordeaux has been used in the old Glen Ord 39, in some way. First time I'm trying a pretty fine red Bordeaux as a sample sent by a drinks multinational, but I suppose that is the way of the world. Colour: red purple. Nose: blackcurrant and bell peppers, vanilla and sawdust, tomato sauce, this is classic middle-bodied Pauillac. Mouth: pretty good, a tad grassy and thin, perhaps. Tomato sauce and cassis. Finish: a little short. Comments: a light, grassy little Pauillac, certainly not a Pichon or any of the first, but this little Bordeaux sure ain't bad at all. At all, at all, at all……  

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


December 12, 2021


Selected Rums for the Festivus season

More and more rum coming my way. We shan't complain, naturally, but rum and brandy were only meant to make for gentle diversions from whisky and only on Sundays! Let's do this at random for more fun, and yet start it with a little apéro…


O Reizinho 'Gold' (45%, Latitudes, Portugal, Madeira, +/-2020)

O Reizinho 'Gold' (45%, Latitudes, Portugal, Madeira, +/-2020) Four stars
We've already tried the version at 57% and thought it was rather excellent (WF 84). Remember Madeira has got its own legit 'agricole' appellation, just like Martinique. I think this one's pretty young and that it had spent some time in Madeira wood. Which for once, makes sense (ha). Colour: white wine. Nose: it's agricole but it is absolutely not in the style of a Martiniquan, as it's got many more esters and does, indeed, display a rather congeneric profile. As if someone had blended away some Jamaican, some tequila, some liquorice liqueur, and would have let the end result further age in pinewood. I seem to remember some cachaças that were a little like this – you're right, a cachaça session is long overdue on WF. Mouth: I'm very fond of this salty and pretty smoky make that, this time, would rather remind me some grogues from Cabo-Verde. Same school, I would suppose. Also gherkins, cucumbers, brine, lemon, the liquorice again and only touches of vanilla. A wonderful spirit, to think that I've never been to Madeira. Finish: rather long, salty, diesely, with a smoky aftertaste. Pinewood and lemon wood. Comments: these agricoles remain little-known but I'm sure that's going to grow. Lovely, very idiosyncratic make. I think I like this one even better than the one at 100 proof.
SGP:563 - 86 points.

Perhaps another pure cane juice…

Chamarel 2012/2021 (55%, The Navigator, Mauritius, Highveld Aging Series, Moscatel finish, cask #MOS 03, 298 bottles)

Chamarel 2012/2021 (55%, The Navigator, Mauritius, Highveld Aging Series, Moscatel finish, cask #MOS 03, 298 bottles) Four stars
Indeed, pure cane juice, and this time a finishing in one of the sweetest wines there ever was, Moscatel. A good part had been distilled in pot still, the remainder in columns, in a Foursquare fashion. Colour: red coffee. Nose: what came from the rum and what stems from the moscatel? Hard to tell, but I'm rather fond of these big whiffs of shoe polish and burnt cake mingled with some varnish and pineapple liqueur. Loads of raisins later on, as expected, some liquorice, roasted chestnuts, embrocations (camphor) and umeshu. With water: warm sawdust chocolate, the rest remains virtually unchanged, just drier. Mouth (neat): good and reminding me of some older French agricoles. Some thick varnish ala old bourbon, sweet clove and orange jam, thyme and caraway liqueurs or sweets… I'm happy to report that I am not finding any obvious muscaty notes, rather more and more chocolate over time. Runny chocolate cake. With water: saltier and curiously reminiscent or the Madeiran. A little tar, while the whole would become much drier. Black tea. Finish: long, very dry. Raw chocolate with some salt and perhaps a little mustard. Cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: very good use of some Moscatel cask. No cloying sides whatsoever. One of my favourite Mauritians, I think. 
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Since we've mentioned Foursquare…

Foursquare 12 yo 2009/2021 (61.5%, Whisky AGE, Barbados, barrel, 250 bottles)

Foursquare 12 yo 2009/2021 (61.5%, Whisky AGE, Barbados, barrel, 250 bottles) Four stars
I won't stop blogging about booze before I know of Foursquare's proportions, between column and pot still  batches. Talking about their 'regular' output. Colour: gold. Nose: relatively light and even a little 'grainy' (I know this is rum) but that's always worked in FS. Vanilla, coconut and oranges, roasted raisins, blancmange, peanut syrup (ever tried that?) and Weetabix. With water: wee roots… I won't mention beetroots as that would be pure historical provocation, but there. Wee whiffs of cappuccino. Mouth (neat): ha, the 61% don't even feel, this is fresh, fully on triple-sec and acacia honey, with just a mocha-spoonful of maple syrup. Light-not-thin. With water: extremely typical. Oranges, acacia honey, maple syrup, a little sunflower oil, roasted pecans… And no coconut in the way. Finish: medium, fatter. Brioche dough and then coconut macaroons in the aftertaste. Comments: to paraphrase The Stranglers, never a frown with golden Foursquare.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Guyana 15 yo 2004/2020 (57.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R2.12, 'A precious treasure trove', 1st fill bourbon barrel, 208 bottles)

Guyana 15 yo 2004/2020 (57.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R2.12, 'A precious treasure trove', 1st fill bourbon barrel, 208 bottles) Five stars
Stuff from El Dorado/Demerara Distillers, obviously, but I don't feel like I'll go try to find out about the marque in the remotest corners of the darkest Internet. Let's call it 'Diamond'. Colour: straw. Nose: Port Mourant? Rather big benzine and olive oil, carbon paper, capers, acetone and ammonia, rotting bananas… Nutshell: all is well. With water: what, mashed turnips and Jerusalem artichokes? Old hessian, basement dust, graphite, coalpit… Mouth (neat): the best they have, the Ardbeg of Georgetown. Not for lovers of Bacardi or Havana Club for sure, but there are deep polishes and soots, even some coal, liquorice aniseed and camphor, and more rotting bananas. Big varnish too. All remains well and good… With water: salt up, with a feeling of tarry anchovies and brine. Finish: same. Class. Comments: friends who are not into spirits will believe we're mad when reading our ramblings. And that we're gluttons for liquid punishment. Anyway, great selection by the very honourable SMWS (I've got this from their Advent Calendar 2021).
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Back to Barbados (sounds like a new series on Netflix, does it not)…

Foursquare 14 yo (57.1%, Watt Rum for The Nectar, Barbados, 2021)

Foursquare 14 yo (57.1%, Watt Rum for The Nectar, Barbados, 2021) Five stars
Early landed rum from Barbados selected and handled in Campbeltown/Scotland for Belgium. What's this world coming to? Colour: amber. Nose: ooh. Honey, milk chocolate, praline, butterscotch, baklavas and just distant whiffs of orange blossom water. Pretty simple, very perfect and streamlined. With water: more honey, hay wine, Bailey's (I know) and butterscotch. Mouth (neat): same feeling of flawless simplicity. Orange cake, touch of varnish, honey, maple syrup, butterscotch, a drop of cellulosic varnish (you've already mentioned varnish, S.) plus a small coconut ball. With water: back to butterscotch. Next up on Netflix, 'Back To Butterscotch in Barbados'. Seriously, brilliant FS. Finish: medium and a tad more on triple-sec. Lovely and unexpected earthy aftertaste. Comments: very excellent selection, up there with the very, very best officials. As if the proportion of pot-still FS was much higher here. Oh and as usual, the Belgians have it good, I think I'll write a letter to the European Commission (now, it's either booze or football – joking)..
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Back to Guyana (more Netflix stuff…)

Diamond 17 yo 2003/2021 (54.3%, Morisco Spirit, Guyana)

Diamond 17 yo 2003/2021 (54.3%, Morisco Spirit, Guyana) Four stars and a half
It seems that this one came from Diamond's Savalle still, which would suggest, Watson, that this would be Uitvlugt. Colour: amber. Nose: lighter than the SMWS for sure, perhaps even a tad thin, but very elegant, with some milk chocolate, macchiato, orange wine (I mean wine made out of oranges), then Golden Grahams and a dollop of pancake sauce. A wee floral side too (early dandelions in the Spring). With water: caramel cream. Who would resist caramel cream? Mouth (neat): punchier, with rather a lot of coffee liqueurs at first, then fudge and pistachio nougat. Sweet soft liquorice taking over. With water: lovely, really. Devilish fudges and toffees, a drop of amontillado, one of Italian hazelnut liqueur, perhaps even a little, err, Nutella? I'm sorry, really. Finish: medium, very cappuccino-y. Once again, rather macchiato in the aftertaste, with an unexpected drop of Williams pear eau-de-vie. Comments: too good, almost decadent and actually a little perverse. Come on, Nutella…  
SGP:631 - 88 points.

Let's change island. Remember, technically, Guyana (ex-British Guyana) is part of the Caribbean…

Appleton Estate 18 yo 2003/2021 (63%, OB/Velier, Jamaica, Hearts Collection)

Appleton Estate 18 yo 2003/2021 (63%, OB/Velier, Jamaica, Hearts Collection) Five stars
There was a very appealing Zoom tasting with this one the other day but I had no other choice than miss it. I feel shame, I'm not any better at that social part than a crossbreed of a tardigrade and an axolotl. Having said that, we've got a lot of details here (they're on the bottle), that there are 688 g congeners per hectolitre alcohol, that they've disgorged casks #420930 through #420950, and that they came up with 1,280 bottles. Colour: amber. Nose: what I'm always finding in those Appletons is hardwood, rosewood, also cedarwood, sandalwood… Behind that, thujas, taxus, pine, sour wines, cherries, brine, olives and capers. With water: bitter brine, amers, samphires, muds, stale seawater (a favourite), olives, tapenade, Maggi, miso… Mouth (neat): mesmerising. I'm not exaggerating. Many many vegetal oils, hevea, sesame, pumpkin seed, with something very 'roasted' which I always loved (roasted sesame oil, when its good it's fab), cashews, then just cane essence, bitter teas, cinchona and turmeric… Well this one's pretty conversational, is it not. With water: olives! Olives would save any booze. Olives and liquorice, with some peppermint liqueur. Finish: long and saltier yet. We've had seawater from the Mediterranean. Comments: I have to be careful because we'll now have an even older Appleton, but what the fudge, it'll be…
SGP:472 - 92 points.

Yeah I've missed the stories, but as they say in contemporary retro-marketing, never let a story get in the way of a great product…

Appleton Estate 37 yo 1984/2021 (63%, OB/Velier, Jamaica, Hearts Collection)

Appleton Estate 37 yo 1984/2021 (63%, OB/Velier, Jamaica, Hearts Collection) Three stars
2197 g esters per hlpa this time and 650 bottles from some lovely casks ranging from #3391 to 3399… Well, provided they bottled everything, there wasn't much left in those woods. We know marketeers are pushing tropical aging, but between us, what do accountants really think? Colour: red mahogany. Nose: it's going to be tough after the 2003, that's obvious. More jams, more old rose liqueur (Cyprus?), more cloves and cumin, putty, used engine grease (old gearbox), whiffs of peonies, even notes of high-brow sangria, but we're somehow missing the 2003's impeccable oomph and assertiveness. With water: old grocery store, old rubber hoses, charcoal, burnt pinecones… You just cannot make any spirit any drier. Mouth (neat): wood extracts. Spectacular, but really tough. The ristretto-est of all ristrettos, like, it evaporated even before it ever got to your lips. With water: a little easier – but it remains tough – and extremely piney. Rubber boots macerated then distilled and aged in new thuja wood. Finish: very long, which is part of the problem. Big resins. Comments: you wouldn't score the drawing of a mammoth done by a Neanderthal Picasso on a cave's walls, would you. Good, conservatory score. The magnificent 2003 totally slaughtered this 1984, while I'm reminded of those very old Irish that Cadenhead used to have 30 years ago. All pinewood juice.
SGP:182 - 80 points.

Good, so indeed, the 2003 any time; let's move on.

Trinidad 20 yo 20 yo 2001/2021 (65.6%, La Maison du Whisky, Conquête, 65th Anniversary)

Trinidad 20 yo 20 yo 2001/2021 (65.6%, La Maison du Whisky, Conquête, 65th Anniversary) Five stars
What a stunning constructivist bottle! Between Malevich and Kandinsky, we'll find our way… Oh and I'm happy to report that the great folks at La Maison seem to have thought that it was important to add, at 65.6% vol., that this baby had been bottled at cask strength. They could not hide it any longer anyway. Colour: amber. Nose: Caroni or Angostura? I got an idea… It's one of those floral ones, with flabbergasting topical fruits plus jasmine and ylang-ylang, floral earths, compost, mangos, lemongrass, spearmint… and a rather petroly background. Well, I find this one sublime. With water: old Chinese grocery store, plastics, geranium and mutton suet. Mad stuff. Mouth (neat): sublime. Please call the Anti-Caroniporn Brigade. Sure the oak's a little loud and even dominant, but that would translate into collector-level notes of old Chartreuse and Bénédictine. With water: yes. Timut pepper, fennel and spearmint. Finish: long, fresh, almost mentholy. Comments: well, if this was a conquest indeed, we've been defeated. I could tell you about that amazing constructivist exhibition at the Guggenheim sometime in the 1990s, named Paris-New York, but that would be bragging way too much. If you need the catalogue, just ask. Sublime rum.
SGP:572 - 91 points.

We've already tried a lot from a whisky drinker's POV, but when there's a will, there's a way…

Clarendon 27 yo 1995/2021 (61.3%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, refill barrel, 270 bottles)

Clarendon 27 yo 1995/2021 (61.3%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, refill barrel, 270 bottles) Five stars
When do they call them Clarendon and when do they call them Monymusk? No ideas, we're only simple whisky guys… But great work on the labels, Jury, great spirits have always got something transcendental, if not religious. Every bottle is an ex-voto, is it not? Colour: rich amber. Nose: yah. Varnish, upholstery, seafood, soy sauce, old bourbons, beeswax, mint cordial, liquorice, menthol and terpenes, tar liqueur, absinth, acetone… With water: leafier. Autumn leaves, walnut skins, olives, glutamate, Maggi… Mouth (neat): below the limits of over-oakiness, that's sorted. A lot of menthol and liquorice, though, but remember, we're flying above the 61% vol. mark. This is almost the I.S.S. With water: more petrol and brine. Very salty brew, almost a little intimidating in that respect. Do they grow olives and oysters in Jamaica? No-ganja-to-be-found though. Finish: very long, salty, petroly, totally Jamaican. There's a debate to be had around the notions of 'aging', and 'location' and 'maturation', and 'climate' and stuff. Indeed, you could call that 'war'. Comments: olive-y glory. Have I mentioned olives? This is olive oil.
SGP:473 - 90 points.

This is not reasonable but since the next one comes from Kate and Mark Watt's racing stable, and since I'd trust them blindly and even when Covided-up to the brim… It's just that we'll do this quick…

Clarendon 16 yo 2004/2021 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Jamaica)

Clarendon 16 yo 2004/2021 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Jamaica) Four stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: soy sauce, glutamate, quince jelly, olive paste, moss, menthol tobacco (Kools). And there. With water: model glue, balsa wood, nail polish and linoleum. We said we'd keep this short, right? Mouth (neat): yeah very good, salty oak, lemony olives, liquoricy menthol, acrid aniseed… With water: deep salty mossy lemons, a tad extreme now. Very grassy and salty, the more water you add, the more it would get herbal and tough. And very piney. Extremely hard to control. Doesn't swim very well, to say the least. Finish: long and tough. Very good at natural strength – but remember, 57.1% - getting difficult when watered down. Clarendon/Monymusk is tough and a dresser isn't a filler. See what I mean… Comments: I'm not sure this tasting note made any sense, but it is not an easy spirit for sure. Bitter olives, anyone? Leaves? Ueber-leafiness?
SGP:273 - 86 points.

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


December 11, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
A fistful of Ardbeg
Our tour of 'blue chip' names continues apace (will it slow or pause before the year is out? Seems unlikely… ) today with Ardbeg. These are some notes I took while at the distillery when I was on Islay the other month. It struck me while I was there that it has been 16 years since I first worked there as a summer tour guide. It's quite scary when you can start to quantify your adult life by increasingly expensive whisky age statements!



Angus tour guide at Ardbeg (picture courtesy Tomislav)


Arrrrrrrdbeg (51.8%, OB, ex-rye casks, 2020)

Arrrrrrrdbeg (51.8%, OB, ex-rye casks, 2020)
Fully matured in ex-rye casks and bottled to mark the departure of the great Mickey Heads. I couldn't tell you if I put the correct number of 'r's in the name there. Colour: pale straw. Nose: I don't find it particularly Ardbeggy, it's more on light seawater, washing salts, beach foam and sand to begin with. Any peat is very restrained. Putty, some crab sticks, sandalwood and chalk. Quite elegant but a bit uncertain perhaps. With water: very crystalline with brittle salinity, lemon juice, pine wood and a touch of aniseed. Mouth: some peat comes now, light and peppery peat, with metal polish, soot, indeed a little pumpernickel rye spiciness as well. Although overall it remains a bit youthful and sharp around the edges I think. With water: some smoked olive oil, some lemon juice and a bit of sharp, slightly acidic and tangy smoke. Finish: medium, prickly with smoke, some pickle brine, more aniseed and more pepper. Comments: not too sure about this one. It feels a bit undercooked and not particularly Ardbeg to me. Still, the freshness and crispness are very enjoyable.
SGP: 355 - 82 points.



Ardbeg 5 yo 'Wee Beastie' (47.4%, OB, b29/10/2020)

Ardbeg 5 yo 'Wee Beastie' (47.4%, OB, b29/10/2020)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: lots of these typically youthful yeasty sourdough starter notes, lemon juice on wet sheep wool, wet rope, creosote and a rather sooty smokiness. Some things like whelks and salty pasta water in the background. Youthful but excellently and refreshingly so I'd say. Mouth: tingling peat smoke, seawater, wood ashes, kelp and iodine. Rather excellent straight away. Lovely sense of bath salts and tarry hessian. Finish: good length, a warm peppery feeling, more sharp salt crystals, lemon juice, seawater and hessian. Comments: I don't find this particularly beasty, but I do find it extremely charming and very good. How about 'wee beauty' instead?
SPG: 466 - 87 points. 



Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, L 22/03/2021)
Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, L 22/03/2021)

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, L 22/03/2021)
Colour: white wine. Nose: wet rocks, hessian, chalk, brine, lemon juice, medicines, lightly acidic peat smoke. It's  Ardbeg 10 and everything appears to be in its place. Mouth: great arrival, sharp, drying peat smoke, more hessian, oily tool rags, smoked sea salt, camphor, tar, iodine. Textural but also chiselled and precise too. You could think in some ways it's a mix of Caol Ila and Laphroaig at times. Some lovely maritime qualities like seawater and kelp come through with a couple more sips. Keeps evolving with more things like creel nets, more tar, anthracite embers and roof pitch. Picking up power as it goes along. Finish: long, full of wood ashes, silky peat smoke, tar, embrocations and things like lime and seawater. Comments: I think they never really altered the recipe of a mix of 1st and refill casks since this one was introduced. Very smart, because IMHO, this remains a brilliant modern classic. Total bang for your buck territory for sure.
SPG: 367 - 90 points.



Ardbeg 8 yo 'For Discussion' (50.8%, OB, b18/03/2021)

Ardbeg 8 yo 'For Discussion' (50.8%, OB, b18/03/2021)
It's great that these bottles have more 'common sense' L codes these days. Colour: bright straw. Nose: delicately salty, this sense of things like smoked and pink sea salts. Bath bombs, sandalwood, briny pickling juices, kippers - feels notably more mature after the 5yo, perhaps deceptively so. But still, it's another very good one. With water: getting more aromatic and medicinal now with things like witchhazel, wintergreen and aniseed. Some touches of germoline and camphor as well. Mouth: hoho, lovely oily and textural peat, slathered on phenolics, engine grease, tar extracts, some punchy hospital vibes, gauze, iodine, black pepper and thick sooty notes. Totally superb and the texture is really what impresses most! With water: wonderful peat flavour, cough medicines, pepper and anchovy paste. A terrific tarriness that feels totally Ardbeggy. Finish: good length, peppery, tarry, slightly fishy and still with this wonderfully oily and phenolic vibe. Comments: I find this wee baby just absolutely superb, what I love most is that it feels not only technically good, but with this wonderfully texture it also feels like it has a soul to match. Benchmark young modern Ardbeg at its best. I will be buying a couple of bottles and you may take that as a firm seal of approval.
SGP: 577 - 90 points.



Ardbeg 19 yo 'Traigh Bhan' (46.2%, OB, batch 'TB/03 -10.10.01/21.BL', American oak and oloroso sherry casks)

Ardbeg 19 yo 'Traigh Bhan' (46.2%, OB, batch 'TB/03 -10.10.01/21.BL', American oak and oloroso sherry casks)
The latest batch I believe. Is it just me, or are these batch numbers are longer than Bill Lumsden's joke book? Colour: pale gold. Nose: a highly aromatic and scented type of peat smoke that feels quite wispy, soft and permeating with impressions of sandalwood, furniture polish and crushed sea shells. Also things like smoked tea, menthol tobacco, myrtle and heather beer. Even though I suppose this is early 2000s Glenmorangie produced batches now, it feels more reminiscent of the 1990s Allied style. Which is quite reassuring in many ways. Mouth: pepper, smoked olive oil, very tarry, a lot of hessian, smoked cereals and some struck flints and other rather punchy mineral touches. In time it evolves these big camphor aspects but also quite a lot of dried herbs, aniseed, dried lime peel and hardwood resins. Finish: medium and with this warming peppery and peaty side (which seems to be an increasing hallmark of these modern Ardbeg), leather, pine cones, wood smoke and a little more aniseed. Comments: excellent whisky, no doubt about it. But perhaps the 8 was a tad more impressive simply by virtue of its youthful zest. Anyway, we're splitting hairs - this is lovely.
SGP: 566 - 90 points.



I have to say, it's a joy to see excellent quality, fairly priced and age stated Ardbegs back on the shelves. This made me very happy this wee session.




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


December 10, 2021


Glenlossie 2011-1966


(Iain Macaulay)

I have the impression that the indies are having more and more Glenlossie these days. Let's handpick of few of them, starting with three little apéritifs…

Glenlossie 12 yo 2009/2021 (43%, LMDW Artist Collective 5.0, first fill bourbon, 1317 bottles)

Glenlossie 12 yo 2009/2021 (43%, LMDW Artist Collective 5.0, first fill bourbon, 1317 bottles) Four stars
This baby from four barrels, the whole bottled at what has now become an unusual strength from an indie bottler. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's pretty much on fresh barley, brioche, kougelhopf, porridge and custard, with a wee floral side that would bring more complexity. Dandelions. Touches of banana skins and a little cut grass. Typical fresh young Speysider al natural. Like! as they say on Facebook. Mouth: good, fresh, a tad bitterer and more liquoricy than expected, with touches of green oranges and a little peppermint. The strength works well. Finish: unexpectedly long and even more on liquorice, or rather liquorice wood. Even a drop of absinth in the aftertaste. Comments: real good, easy but solid and serious unsherried Speysider. This session is starting well…
SGP:351 - 85 points.

Glenlossie 9 yo 2011/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, recharred hogshead, cask #1082)

Glenlossie 9 yo 2011/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, recharred hogshead, cask #1082) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: same ballpark, this one being just a tad rounder, 'sweeter' on the nose, and a little more on praline and muscovado sugar. Very nice. Mouth: indeed very similar, if not quasi-identical. Lovely liquorice, cake, triple-sec, then a grassier side of excellent quality. Wonderful balance. Finish: long, on liquorice cake, should that exist. I'm sure it does. Comments: a perfect malt whisky that would show all your better friends what's exactly malt whisky, beyond all kinds of aromatisation and flavouring that are used these days. Indeed, very good.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Glenlossie 10 yo 2010/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, UK exclusive, 923 bottles)

Glenlossie 10 yo 2010/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, UK exclusive, 923 bottles) Four stars
Does the wild boar on the label suggest this baby will be a little rougher? Colour: white wine. Nose: same, really, and almost undistinguishable on the nose. Mouth: same. Excellent barleyness and, perhaps, a little more oranges this time. Finish: rather long, cakey, with some brioche, orange blossom water, then a bitterer side in the aftertaste, which pleases me. Comments: well, the nose was close to that of the Orcines whilst the palate was closer to that of the Artist. Very similar ex-bourbon Glenlossies, all very good.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Those were some excellent apéritifs, time from some older Glenlossie! Vertically, of course…

Glenlossie 33 yo 1984/2018 (56.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #2533, refill sherry butt, 530 bottles)

Glenlossie 33 yo 1984/2018 (56.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #2533, refill sherry butt, 530 bottles) Four stars and a half
Angus tried this one already here, but please let's not check his tasting note… Colour: amber. Nose: a tad hottish at first but that's just the effect of contrast… Typical notes of old amontillado, I would say, walnut cake plus a little kirschwasser, almonds, pecan pie, then nosing some fresh raisin rolls straight from the bakery, certainly some cigars, mushrooms, sweet bulldog sauce, tiny touches of Marmitte… With water: still serious, not exactly one of those luscious old sherry casks, although these touches of camphor and cough medicine would indeed suggest older age, should you try this one blind. Mouth: cherry cake and Seville oranges, marmalade, quite some pepper, bitter tonic, liquid caramel, then a sweet pinot gris, perhaps… I would believe the higher strength tends to block it a wee bit. With water: towards chocolate and coffee, with even more walnuts and bitter almonds, old pu-her tea… There's also a small salty side that would suggest fino or manzanilla, although I doubt this would be any of those. Finish: long, firm, both a little meady and tannic/oaky now. A feeling of having just had some mocha ristretto in the rather drying aftertaste. Comments: a big, dry and tense boy.
SGP:361 - 89 points.

Glenlossie 44 yo 1975/2019 (43.3%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, 278 bottles)

Glenlossie 44 yo 1975/2019 (43.3%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, 278 bottles) Three stars and a half
Ah that Platinum Selection. I'll always remember the first time we spotted a bottle (at DL times) in a shop window. 99€ a bottle! We were shocked, first time an indie bottling was sold at almost 100€. Shocking and we were shoking indeed… Brora, Glendullan, Ardbeg… Colour: gold. Nose: there, mead, honey, roasted raisins, pollen, dandelions, figs and dates, very old cognac, peach syrup, a drop of coconut water… All awesome, a rather perfect beehive-y nose. Mouth: probably a little controversial, as it's started to jump to the other side, with a lot of mint tea, walnut skin, green tannins, a little too much cinnamon… On the other hand the honeyed notes are still there, fighting to the last minute. Should we call it Glen Alamo? (pff, S.) Finish: medium and really drying now. Liquorice wood and strong black tea. Comments: to be respected, like an old actress. No, of course no names. The nose was awesome, maybe we should keep this one in a crystal decanter and just nose it from time to time. After all, that's what modern collectors do, except that they don't even nose their stuff. And they keep their decanters lying in their boxes, tsk-tsk, that's not how you secure an investment.
SGP:351 - 83 points.

Didn't we say three old Glenlossies?...

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 18 yo 1966/1984 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 18 yo 1966/1984 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Three stars and a half
Distilled in April, so this is Spring distillation (wow, you're in full form, S.!) Bottled when Cadenhead was still on the East Coast, in Aberdeen. We had tried a 1966/1979 back in 2005 and our conclusion had been that it was 'one to drink rather than collect!' Colour: light gold. Nose: incredible how it kept, you would believe this was bottled right this morning. Lovely barley-y and citrusy tension, with a little lemongrass, agave, perhaps avocado and a little horseradish, then the expected whiffs of metal polish and chicken broth that are to be found in many a 'black dumpy' and that we all love so much. Let's just never ask any chemists to analyse them, deal? Mouth: it's slowly going off the road now, with probably a little too much metallic meatiness plus these chemical touches that remind us a little too much of the last time we've had some of Marks & Spencer's strawberry yoghurt. Now the rather intense miso-y side remains a belter. Finish: long, dry, herbal, bitter, metallic. Underberg in the aftertaste. Comments: in truth, this is difficult whisky, for the old guard only, perhaps. Another Glen Alamo.
SGP:372 - 84 points.

(Thank you Tim!)

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


December 9, 2021


Once again, the whisky world is ours
Let's see where the chase will lead us today, what's sure is that we'll take off from France…

Eddu 17 yo 2004/2021 (49%, OB, LMDW, France, Cognac cask, cask #184, 250 bottles)

Eddu 17 yo 2004/2021 (49%, OB, LMDW, France, Cognac cask, cask #184, 250 bottles) Four stars
This is pure malted buckwheat whisky from Bretagne/Brittany, mind you. In my own little book, buckwheat sure is a cereal. It's like art, it is art when you see it as art (not sure that applies here, S.) Colour: light gold. Nose: wonderful, lighter, sweeter, aromatic, with melons, peaches and pears, then a little lavender ala rye whisky, poppies, hay, barbecued liquorice, tangerines, woodruff, wormwood, verbena… This is a pretty amazing perfumy nose, you would also believe the fine folks at Christian Dior have distilled it. I would suppose the peaches and the pears came from the cognac cask, though. Mouth: cognacsky or whiskgnac? Feels pretty meta indeed and when blinded, I'm not sure I wouldn't have said 'cognac!' Raisins, peaches, melons, cassata, panettone, earl grey, grenadine, raisins, granny smith… Finish: medium, very fruity, pretty light. All-fruit western fruit juice, ice-tea, peaches… Comments: a category-breaker, almost a 'political whisky'. Is this real whisky? What's sure is that I'm finding this metaspirit as good as I'm finding Zuck's metaverse BS totally lousy.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

To Slovenia please..

Broken Bones 3 yo 'Peated' (46%, OB, Slovenia, batch #2/21, 2021)

Broken Bones 3 yo 'Peated' (46%, OB, Slovenia, batch #2/21, 2021) Three stars and a half
We had rather liked the unpeated version of Broken Bones the other day. This has been partly matured in ex-Scottish peated wood, but it seems that the barley they've been using had been smoked too. So, it is not only a lousy cask-smoked whisky as others, including some Scots, are doing these days. Colour: white wine. Nose: mild smoke, fireplace, burnt magazines, pancake dough, salsify, turnips, ashes… This sure isn't unpleasant, just a tad dry. Mouth: hey, gentian, celeriac, wild carrots, radish, chartreuse, dill, fennel… Great fun here, even if we've somehow left whisky territories. When you distil good roots (guilty as charged) this is what you may get. Caraway. Finish: rather long, very aniseedy and mentholy. More celeriac and celery. Comments: I am all for this, as I cherish anything earthy, herbal and rooty. Great work, Slovenia!

SGP:572 - 84 points.

Off to England...

Oxford Rye 2017/2021 #004 (51.3%, OB, England, bottled for IF Oxford Science & Ideas Festival)

Oxford Rye 2017/2021 #004 (51.3%, OB, England, bottled for IF Oxford Science & Ideas Festival) Three stars
Sounds as serious as Mr Bean, does it not. Seriously, love what they do, we just have to suppress any images of Boris J. Trump from our mind. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely spicy and floral rye, full of poppy bread, lavender, violets and caraway. With water: carrots all over the place. No, really. Mouth (neat): very good, with some spicy oak and then more lavender, liquorice, caraway and, perhaps, a little too much oak this time. A tad sawdust-heavy. With water: no, we're fine, even if it's getting a tad too custardy for us. Finish: rather long, with good roots and perhaps a tad too much oak. Comments: yeah a tad quercus-heavy, but otherwise fresh and right on rooty and earthy rye. Perhaps this with smoked salmon? Or on scallop's carpaccio, with Szechuan pepper? Good fun, good spirit, just forget about Boris.

SGP:551 - 81 points.

To Melbourne, Australia…

Starward 5 yo 'Apera cask' (52.4%, OB, for LMDW, Australia, cask #1870, 240 bottles, 2021)

Starward 5 yo 'Apera cask' (52.4%, OB, for LMDW, Australia, cask #1870, 240 bottles, 2021) Two stars
From a 1st fill apera cask. To be honest, I used to know what an apero was, but had no ideas about an 'apera'. Apparently, apera is a kind of Australian sherry made from palomino. All right then…  Colour: gold. Nose: sweet. Apricot bread, nougat and cassata. Some crystallised tangerines. With water: sawdust, vanilla, semolina, tapioca… Mouth (neat): very oaky, spicy, concoctiony. Deep drying tannins. With water: some tropical sweetness at first, then a lot of gingerbread, then some drying oak spices. A little too much for me. Finish: long and a little plankish. A little too IKEA-y. Comments: fine but the oak's rather too much in the front for me.

SGP:351 - 75 points.

To Israel…

Milk & Honey 2017/2021 'Ex-Islay Cask Conquête' (64.5%, OB, cask 2017-0328, 233 bottles)

Milk & Honey 2017/2021 'Ex-Islay Cask Conquête' (64.5%, OB, cask 2017-0328, 233 bottles) Four stars
This doesn't make any kind of sense, come on, an Islay cask in Israel! But whisky's not about logic or rationality, whisky has no limits, whisky's about transcendence and love. No? Colour: white wine. Nose: young Laphroaig in your nostrils. Green crabs, mercurochrome, bandages, iodine, brine, kelp, all that being only a wee tad muted. With water: pears! Good fun to see the original distillate making it to the front. Mouth (neat): I'd have called this Milk & Honey & Peat & Pepper. Big peat indeed, big pepper, and frankly, at 64%+, it's a little, cough, ach, a little hot. Huge pepper, pepper sauce, chilli flakes... With water: balance has been achieved, thanks to a lot of Vittel (WF's official water – they paid for my new Bentley mind you). Young Laphroaig made in Israel, really. Finish: long, with lemons, menthol, eucalyptus and a grittier grassiness. Comments: whisky from Ilslayel, really. Very good, a little unlikely, mindboggling, uncertain, questionable, and yet very good. Very well done, M&H!

SGP:465 - 86 points.

December 7, 2021


A new wee bag of Springbank including my, cough, 17,000th whisky

(a double session)

We've said we'd try Springbank, the whisky from that other planet that is Campbeltown, at least once a month. Of course Hazelburn counts.

The great 3-cylinder engine, 2004 ->

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.4%, OB, batch #22, 2021)

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.4%, OB, batch #22, 2021) Three stars and a half
This is 50% sherry and 50% bourbon. I would have preferred 50% bourbon and 50% refill hogshead, but there, not my business… Colour: light gold. Nose: probably not the dirtiest young Springbank ever, but I do find it very porridge-y, full of sourdough, soot, concrete, beach pebbles and with these typical notes of 'new electronics'. Tends to become pretty medicinal too (bandages), but it hasn't quite got these very mineral notes that were to be found in earlier batches. No raisins this far, hurray. With water: raw wool and wet dogs. We are sorry, dogs! Damp chalk too. Mouth (neat): pure lime juice with some salt and some blood oranges, then drops of orange liqueur. Perhaps a little simple but what it does it does good. With water: more pepper, greens, and sour fruits, cherries, fermenting raisins… Finish: rather long, a tad rounder, with some muscovado sugar. Raisins indeed in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, as expected. The problem is that I had a shot of the 10 only yesterday and found it rather vastly superior. Bur let's not exaggerate, this 12 is still a rather mighty dram.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Some diversion…

Springbank 12 yo 1997/2010 (57.1%, OB, private, Ian's Artisan Dram, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #315, 233 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1997/2010 (57.1%, OB, private, Ian's Artisan Dram, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #315, 233 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: soot and Demerara sugar, marrow soup and quenelles, lamb, then burning pinecones and rather a lot of metal polish, 'good' sulphur, old copper coins, old kettle, old stove… Oh so very old Springbank.  With water: rotting fruits, game, hoisin sauce, coal… All very brilliant! Mouth (neat): love these dirty old sherried Springbanks. Eating metal polish straight from the tube, bitter oranges, sucking pipe tobacco (you should not do that, it's toxic), more marrow, this feeling of coal-smoked raisins… With water: umami sauce, glutamate, chestnut purée, rancio, sweeter gravy… One could pour this over hamburgers, really. Finish: long, sooty and yet sweeter, with more raisins? Smoked raisins, of course. Cough syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: a great bottle that starts to benefit from OBE, if you ask me. 91 on ten years' time.

SGP:463 - 90 points.

Springbank 25 yo (46%, OB, 1400 bottles, 2021)

Springbank 25 yo (46%, OB, 1400 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Some rum wood in there. Oh hell, why not. Colour: light amber. Nose: it is as if you would feel the rum, and as if it had been ex-Jamaica, really. In that case, we're all for these notes of olives, peppermint, tiger balm, liquorice wood, wood earth (fern), moist Cuban cigars, cured ham, old-style embrocations and balms… Oh, and that old pack of untipped Camels, circa 1975. Funny how memory works, is it not. Mouth: grand whisky, extremely punchy at 46% vol., very complex, with a good amount of coffee and chocolate, then rum indeed, salted caramel, umami, bouillons, savoury mixes, Maggi, drop of chilli sauce (perhaps Harissa?), fermentary sauce, peppered oranges… Well it is all a little untidy and shambolic, but that's precisely what we enjoy in these creative drops. And there, those large capers they have in Sicilia… And honeydew.  Finish: long, drier, saltier yet. Imagine someone would have added salt to a fine Assam, or something like that… Comments: shambles that we love. Forgot to mention black and green olives on the palate.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Springbank 1996/2020 (47.3%, OB, private, for Bar Sugar Hill Arnhem, fresh sherry hogshead, cask #108, 36 bottles)

Springbank 1996/2020 (47.3%, OB, private, for Bar Sugar Hill Arnhem, fresh sherry hogshead, cask #108, 36 bottles) Five stars
From a private cask that's been shared. They share many things in the Netherlands, especially gouda, lakrits, spliffs, and whisky casks. Colour: amber. Nose: exactly sherried Springbank as it should be, if I may. Wonderful crude cocoa and black teas, all kinds of mints and liquorices, meats and marrows, cured ham, Swiss cheese, old rancio, artichoke liqueur, dates filled with marzipan, stouts, soy sauce… It's all pretty mad and just wonderful. Mouth: huge, almost aggressive at just 47%, peppery, Campari-y (apologies), going on with a lot of marmalade, chillies, liquorices, a little tarragon, aniseed, pastis, tar liqueur… A very mad mixologist could have created this using many old liqueurs and cordials. And mead. Crazy whisky. Finish: long, stunningly herbal and shock-full of salted liquorice, with a little venison sauce in the aftertaste. Cranberries. Comments: no wonder some friends in Holland would have selected this, het is erg lekker!
SGP:562 - 91 points.

1996… Great vintage at many places!

Now if you please, let's try my personal 17,000th whisky here on little WF! Our 16,000th last year had been the first Dornoch, but this time it's going to be a Springbank, as some friends on FB had rather smartly guessed. No, 17K that isn't that much, I needed almost 20 years to get there and professional sommeliers would tend to try at least ten times those amounts.

WF 17K

Springbank 17 yo 1996/2014 (53.3%, OB for Taiwan, fresh sherry, cask #582, 534 bottles)

Springbank 17 yo 1996/2014 (53.3%, OB for Taiwan, fresh sherry, cask #582, 534 bottles) Five stars
Some of these bottles really flew under our radars here in Europe. Colour: light amber. Nose: totally on Demerara sugar and rhum agricole of good age, plus a few drops of Hampden or Worthy Park. Well, that's what happened first, before more savoury, Springbanky, faintly sulphury notes started to come out, with some plasticine, a little diesel oil, pencil eraser, Maggi… It's all very lovely indeed. With water: creosote, saltpetre, ashes, samphires, Worcester sauce… and stuff like that. Mouth (neat): how great is this? Fab mineral, smoky, salty, tobacco-y, walnutty and chestnutty notes just everywhere, with these touches of sulphur that work so well in Springbank, while they would only also work in, say Mortlach and Ben Nevis. See what I mean? With water: salt, cigars, cocoa, acidic coffee, nuts, tar, resins, very old riesling… Finish: long, tighter, almost lemony. Lemongrass, tobacco, brine, smoke, Madeira, mustard sauce… Comments: wow, this one was right up my alley. Wait, it's almost as if they had added a little Longrow to the cask, no?

SGP:473 - 91 points.

We do keep flying high, do we not…

Springbank 1980/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, fino sherry, 540 bottles)

Springbank 1980/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, fino sherry, 540 bottles) Four stars and a half
I've never written any formal tasting note for this one, but I've drunk some and I remember it was a little controversial. Now's the time; after all we're only around 33 years late… Colour: gold. Nose: whooh, lovage! Always loved lovage. Also malt extracts, manzanilla (right, fino), mustard, green walnuts, vin jaune, curry, mustard again, a drop of mezcal, then olives, plasticine, waxes… Boy do I love this pretty vertical profile! With water: dry, chalky, sooty. Nosing some dry spice combo, allspice, concrete, plaster… Mouth (neat): smoked lemons, limoncello, pine liqueur, with a sudden drop around the middle, quite unexpected. Ah, now I remember… With water: a sweeter side, Sylvaner, liquorice allsorts… Not quite on the same level as on the nose, but no complains, it's a great drop. Finish: typical salty/meaty/lemony combo, it would almost take off again. Touch-down whisky. Comments: stunning nose, great arrival on the palate, more pedestrian middle, superb finish… hold on, I'm just realising that this baby was only 8 when dear Silvano S. bottled it. Mind you, eight years old.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Back to Taiwan, perhaps…

Springbank 1972 (51.2%, OB, Big S, for Taiwan, +/-1995)

Springbank 1972 (51.2%, OB, Big S, for Taiwan, +/-1995) Four stars and a half
This is very rare, I think I've never seen it before, neither have I tried it 'knowingly' (indeed when you have good friends, you never quite remember what's they've poured you around 3:30 a.m… ha!) Colour: light gold. Nose: goes towards beeswax and in that respect, reminds you of many an old 'Local Barley' or 'West Highland Malt', or 21/25 by 'Archibald Mitchell'. Exceptional meady earthiness and old 1st-cru Sauternes. Amazing, truly 'the smells of 1972' (Clynelish, Springbank Glen Grant and so on). Stuff of legends. With water: damp earth, camphor, swamp, old mead, old furniture polish… It holds for sure.  Mouth (neat): unexpectedly rustic, mentholy, dry, herbal… Not exactly what I've been expecting. Maybe the cask. With water: roots and earths. Really good, but it is as if it wasn't the same whisky on the nose. Beers and meads. Finish: medium, earthy, with a feeling of old chardonnay that's gone a little bit too far. Flabby Chablis, as dead constantly imbibed American poets would have said. Comments: the nose was out-of-this-world.

SGP:551 - 89 points.

Let's call this a tasting session, if you agree.

(Many, many, and I mean many thanks, Chang!)



Bonus. Guess what, Angus decided, at the very last minute, to join the festivities…




Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Springbank, if you don't mind.
Admittedly I've been trying quite a lot of very good whiskies in these weekly tastings lately. I see no reason to stop that streak of pleasure just yet…


Campbeltown 7 yo Blended Malt (57.4%, Watt Whisky, 66 bottles)

Campbeltown 7 yo Blended Malt (57.4%, Watt Whisky, 66 bottles)
An exclusive local bottling for local people - so I'm told. Quite curious to see how these batches are evolving as they age, assuming not all casks were bottled at 5yo? Colour: straw. Nose: familiar! Sheep wool, wet rope, rigging, lanolin, linen cloth, chalk and aspirin. Pure, clean, young, feisty and invigorating with a yeasty kick up the arse! With water: white flowers, flints, hessian, sun lotion and olive oil. Mouth: again this is all on wet wool, lemon juice, chalk, pebbles, cod liver oil, hessian, cooking oils and wee camphor and medical touches. With water: gets impressively oily and fatty in texture with dilution. Many more cooking and industrial oily vibes. Camphor, lanolin, ointments and a little seawater. Finish: long, salty, oily, more fatty cooking oil vibes, roasted peanuts out of nowhere and asparagus. Comments: fun and rather boisterous whisky that probably should be consumed shoreside in C-town between the hours of 2 and 5 am.
SGP: 462 - 85 points.



Springbank 8 yo (80 proof, OB, 1960s)

Springbank 8 yo (80 proof, OB, 1960s)
I've tried this already on these pages (WF92) however, that was the 43% Sutti import version. Not sure whether this is really an 80 proof version or not, I think I only saw these 60s tall 8 year olds at 43%? Anyway, for the record… Colour: gold. Nose: extremely focussed on medical vapour rubs such as tiger balm, also medical embrocations, bandages, gauze, iodine and eucalyptus oils. Immensely fatty and full of many herbal extracts, mineral oils, animal fats, suet and mustard oil. Hugely charismatic distillate - if perhaps slightly lopsided towards these very precise medical aspects. Mouth: pin sharp medicines, mineral oils, waxed canvass, seawater, pickling juices, natural tar, salted liquorice and some pretty heavy umami paste flavours. Very savoury, herbal and medicinal. Finish: long, salty, peaty, oily and with a lot of herbal bitters, soot and smoked olive oil. Comments: huge whisky, and definitely a different batch from the last bottle I tried. This is seriously medicinal and peaty old style whisky. Probably not totally balanced but the sheer force of personality is unequivocally mighty.
SGP: 464 - 91 points.



Springbank 10 yo 2009/2019 'Local Barley' (56.2%, OB, 9000 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2009/2019 'Local Barley' (56.2%, OB, 9000 bottles)
Composed of 77% bourbon, 20% sherry and 3% port casks apparently. Colour: pale gold. Nose: perhaps a more gentle profile of Springbank. Initially I find olive oil, light camphor notes, freshly milled grist, hints of bandages and sheep wool. Over time it starts to evolve some very lovely notes of sea air and grapefruit. Gaining complexity and some very typical distillery character along the way. With water: becomes quite pointedly salty, brine and citric with lemons and limes galore. Waxes, mineral salts and beach pebbles. Mouth: here we go! Big coastal and seawater notes, more grapefruit - pink this time - lemon oils, bergamot, lime, waxes, fir wood resins, mineral oils, ointments and smoked olive oil. Big personality whisky. With water: eases into a pretty classical Springbank mix of waxes, olive oil, seawater and various citrus fruits with their rinds intact. Superb texture and mouthfeel. Finish: long, peppery, mineral, salty, waxy and with a nicely delicate peat smoke thread. Comments: started quiet, but unfolded pretty quickly into some Grade A modern Springbank. The palate is really superb!
SGP: 463 - 90 points.



Springbank 10 yo 2010/2020 'Local Barley' (55.6%, OB, oloroso sherry, 8500 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2010/2020 'Local Barley' (55.6%, OB, oloroso sherry, 8500 bottles)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: cherries and some other assorted red fruits strike first, also rather a lot of polished and quite scented hardwoods, resins, black tea and pipe tobacco. Dark chocolate with sea salt and dark fruits stewed with spices. impressively clean sherry so far. With water: focused on jams, wood spices, dark fruit cordials, lapsing souchong tea and cheng pi aged orange peels. Mouth: the Springbank certainly comes through loud and clear, which is good news, although I think the peat and medicine of the distillate maybe jar slightly with the sherry cask. Some more hardwood resins, jasmine, black tea, tobacco, herbal toothpaste and salted liquorice. There's also something like peated cola syrup going on - root beer maybe more accurate. With water: rather tarry, peppery, on creosote, ointments, TCP, bergamot and smoked black beers. Smoked paprika, game meats, anchovy paste and eucalyptus again. Powerful stuff that's probably not perfectly balanced but a lot of fun. Finish: long, very herbal and medical, medicated toothpaste, mouthwash, bitter blood orange marmalade, hessian, black pepper and more cured meats. Comments: great distillate and very good 'modern' sherry casks don't necessarily equal terrific whisky, especially when you introduce peat into the mix. Now, I'm probably being a bit nit-picky here - this is still an excellent and very fun whisky. You just have to like these rather pointed and syrupy medical vibes.
SGP: 663 - 87 points.



Springbank 19 yo 2001/2021 (50.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)

Springbank 19 yo 2001/2021 (50.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: soft medicines, heather smoke, herbal infusions, Scotch broth, bandages, wet beach pebbles, white flowers… these batches are just totally brilliant I'm afraid. A feathery, crystalline peat smoke with chalk, lanolin, lemon rind and seawater. Also some crystallised exotic fruits, lemon barley water and drops of smoked olive oil. The kind of nose you could just spend ages picking apart in detail. With water: a tad more floral, a few more pollens, slightly drier, slightly more crisp and coastal. Some more citrus rinds and more subtle things like smoked teas and fruit syrups. Mouth: perfect smokiness, peatiness, coastal freshness, waxes, minerals, citrons, chalk, menthol tobacco, medical embrocations, salted honey, heather beer, ointments. Totally superb and feels like it was captured at a perfect age. With water: perfectly sooty, waxy, mineral and oily. A wonderfully thick but not too assertive peat smoke flavour, white pepper, lanolin, mineral oils, shoe polish and more waxy lemon rind vibes. Finish: long, lightly smoky, sooty, resinous, still full of coastal freshness, dried flowers and peppery waxy flavours. Comments: hard to beat. These vintages at this age are just outstanding. A great cask that's alive from start to finish with distillery character.
SGP: 563 - 91 points.



Springbank 28 yo 1992/2021 (50.9%, Milroy's Of Soho, cask #185, hogshead)

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2021 (50.9%, Milroy's Of Soho, cask #185, hogshead)
Colour: gold. Nose: there's something rather funny and '1992ish' about this one, things like cheese rind and curds, something slightly lactic anyway, but that's not intended negatively. This is still quite oily, syrupy sweet delicate peat, fragrant waxes, Barbour jacket, wax paper, tea tree oil, wintergreen and herbal liqueurs. Feels very concentrated and delicate, with a strong degree of complexity. With water: gets more complex and still very oily, mechanical oils, cooking oils, camphor, natural tar, metal polish, sooty coal scuttles, coins, peat embers and Scotch broth. Really quite a lot going on. Mouth: great arrival, very oily and fatty. Lots of camphor, suet, waxes, fir wood resins, herbal ointments, embrocations, mineral oils, beeswax polish and oily rags. An impression of sweetened olive oil, tiny briny inflections and dried seaweed. Excellent and beautifully balanced. With water: perfectly drying and a notch more saline now, mineral salts, putty, lemon rind, seawater and a dry, herbal waxiness. Some ancient herbal liqueur with shades of honey. Finish: long, becoming a little heathery, warming peppery vibes, more nicely drying waxiness, dried herbs, teas, mineral oils and umami. Comments: some of these early 90s batches can be pretty unlikely, but this one really sings. Same quality as the 2001.
562 - 91 points.




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


December 6, 2021


More 30 yo Jura

From the Isle of Jura where they have many more deer than humans, even during Feis Ile.

Colour picture, 2006 ->

Jura 29 yo 1992/2021 (47.2%, Whisky Age for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #836, 140 bottles)

Jura 29 yo 1992/2021 (47.2%, Whisky Age for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #836, 140 bottles) Four stars and a half
In theory, nothing should go wrong here. What's more, we do also remember that stunning recent Talisker 10 for the Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical seawater with a little sweet mustard, walnuts, paraffin, gorse, sandalwood, cigarette tobacco, then scoria, soot, castor oil (very old car), and any old stuff you would find in an old basement, just, perhaps, not dead mice. Mouth: appropriately salty and bitter at first, that is to say rather on brine and some kind of resinous mustard, also miso soup, then bitter almonds and bitterish vegetables. Eggplant, artichoke, dandelion greens, grapefruit peel… Finish: long, salty and bitter indeed, a tad unsexy but that's something you would expect from some typical Jura. Sooty and ashy aftertaste. Comments: reminds me of some older OBs, but this is wider. A very perfect example of the 'harsher' Jura style, perhaps not for everyone, but surely for us.
SGP:372 - 88 points.

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (54%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #946, 100 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (54%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #946, 100 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: mustard and soot once more, dry Madeira, fino, green walnuts, old tools, engine oil, horseradish, carbon paper, brake dust, then camphor and more green walnuts and mustard which, rather serendipitously, would remind us of some Vin Jaune from… Jura. Rather around Arbois than Château-Châlon. With water: whiffs of fresh French varnish (but naturellement), grass, heather, sourdough, manzanilla… What's not to like here?  Mouth (neat): sweeter than the 1992 – maybe the barrel -  and rather more on Seville oranges and just marmalade at first, then we find the expected walnuts, touches of curry (very vin jaune indeed), salty bouillons, elderberry eau-de-vie, plus these sooty ashes. With water: geared towards vegetable soups, bouillons, chicken broth, curry, cardamom, juniper… Finish: medium, sooty. More slightly sweeter miso. And walnuts again in the aftertaste. Comments: superb, whisky jaune from the isle of Jura, shall we say; we've come full circle.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 216 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 216 bottles) Four stars and a half
Angus has already tried this 100th bottling by the hyperactive Thompson Bros. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather closer to the 1992, with a little more vegetal oils (hazelnut, sunflower) and then paraffin and plasticine, while some softer seafood would dance in the background (say langoustines) before some straight soot would then take over. A little lettuce and rucola, incense, then some sweeter liqueur, perhaps hibiscus? They make that in French Guyana.  A little melon too. Mouth: a wee tad tougher, with a lot of lemon peel, indeed rucola, then putty and plasticine, green walnuts, chlorophyll, mustard, then drops of Get 27 (peppermint) and just grass juice. Finish: long, on marmalade and rather green pepper this time. Very peppery aftertaste. Comments: the nose is superb, the palate is not exactly a bed of roses, but this old-schoolness remains absolutely wonderful. Almost distilled fino.
SGP:472 - 89 points.

Grouped fire today, as expected.

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


December 5, 2021


Rums that we were having

Just more rum, as after brandy, there's rum  - and reversely. First up, a wee apéritif…

Trois Rivières 1979 (40%, OB, Martinique, +/-1990)

Trois Rivières 1979 (40%, OB, Martinique, +/-1990) Two stars
Rhum agricole for sure but this was pre-appellation. Hope it's not flat dead, I'm just opening the bottle, cross fingers… Colour: light amber. Nose: typical OBE on rum, with obvious notes of shoe polish which, I'm sure, weren't there back in the 1990s. Mushrooms, mud, rotting oranges, dried rambutans and banana confit, and really a lot of earth. Which, in truth, is scary… Mouth: it got dry and drying, too mentholy, too liquoricy, a little fleshless, scrawny, now you do still feel that this has been great. Like, twenty years ago. No, seriously, gathering old bottles is cool, but believe me, your investment is never totally secure. Old bottles, whether whisky, brandy or rum, are not much better than Bitcoins, they just take more room. Finish: nicer! Mouthwash and pine liqueur, with a little honeydew. Comments: I should have opened this thirty years ago but then again, there were no d*rty blogs back then ;-). Although I could have started a page on our dear old 'Minitel'.
SGP:471 - 72 points.

Off to Cuba (love Cuba)…

Havana Club 25 yo (40%, La Distillerie Générale, Cuba, 35 cl, 790 bottles)

Havana Club 25 yo (40%, La Distillerie Générale, Cuba, 35 cl, 790 bottles) Four stars
Some crazy 'independent' stuff by Pernod-Ricard, who as anyone would know, do handle Havana Club. Those 25 years are the average age here, rather than the age of the youngest component. Better just try it, the stories being a tad unlikely and, well, dissonant. Colour: orange amber. Nose: the Cuban lightness, the oranges, this feeling of nosing Grand-Marnier, these tiny touches of crystallised tangerines, these notes of burnt caramel that, in my lousy experience, will be found in any Cuban rum… And, guess what, no whiffs of 'Cuban cigars' whatsoever. Mouth: light but delicate and complex, with awesome touches of burnt sugars (muscovado, demerara), then café latte and Swiss hot chocolate (Caotina, allez). It is really thin but it does make you think of Juana Bacallao, that utter star from La Havana which I last saw at the Buena Vista Social Club around five years ago. Finish: not long, but wonderfully caramelly. Comments: unless I 'm wrong, this one would dethrone my former favourite Cuban, which used to be Santiago de Cuba 11 years old (WF 85). But we'ved got the Santiago 25 on the shelves...
SGP:640 - 86 points.

Mauritius 2010/2021 (52.9%, Single Barrel Selection for The Whisky Exchange, Mauritius, moscatel cask finish, 305 bottles)

Mauritius 2010/2021 (52.9%, Single Barrel Selection for The Whisky Exchange, Mauritius, moscatel cask finish, 305 bottles) Three stars and a half
From Gray's distillery apparently. I'm still struggling with my rums from Maurice/Mauritius, I have to say, and a finish in moscatel will probably not help. Colour: amber. Nose: fudge, warm cane syrup, then flowers (lilies, ylang-ylang), then rather huge notes of pineapple and passion fruits. That's all extremely aromatic and pretty lovely, hope the palate won't be sugary – or lightish. With water: peonies all over the place, with wee whiffs of mothballs, musk, old wardrobe, mink, old lady's perfumes… Mouth (neat): crazy fruity palate, on huge raspberries, mulberries, prickly pears (huge, totally huge) and liquorice allsorts. With water: easy, fruity, and frankly gewurztraminer-like. Turkish delights, rose jelly, litchi… Finish: good length, extremely fruity. More Turkish delights and roses. Comments: not my preferred style, as a malt enthusiast, but let's be honest, there's some stamina in there, and an insane fruity floralness.
SGP:740 - 84 points.

Foursquare 2005/2020 (61.1%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, Barbados, cask #112, 272 bottles)

Foursquare 2005/2020 (61.1%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, Barbados, cask #112, 272 bottles) Four stars
What a series! Not a rum day without Foursquare. Colour: light amber. Nose: very Foursquare, that is to say all on cakes, either burnt or 'natural'. Typical mid-light, mid-heavy style, so very self-blend. Perhaps a little too much coconut too, but let's see… With water: varnish and 'new-sawn plywood', then wee vegetables, asparagus, salsify… Those vegetables are adding to the distillate's body, otherwise it would be a little too skinny IMHO. Mouth (neat): a thinnish body, as always, but all the rest is rather perfect, as always. Bananas and roasted nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, sesame, black nougat… With water: praline galore and a nougaty extravaganza. How very Foursquare, with no proper esters in sight. I mean, esters that you would taste upfront. Finish: long and light. Some varnishy touches, tangerine juice… Comments: impeccable, just not totally sexy. This thinness on your tongue…
SGP:541 - 86 points.

Karukera 6 yo 2014/2021 (61.8%, OB for LMDW, Guadeloupe, cask # 10R12N1, 122 bottles)

Karukera 6 yo 2014/2021 (61.8%, OB for LMDW, Guadeloupe, cask # 10R12N1, 122 bottles) Four stars
From a sherry brandy cask, which was probably an oloroso cask in the first place. I suppose we're talking brandy de Jerez, right? Colour: amber. Nose: huge liquorice. Love liquorice. Amazing liquorice, plus star anise and obviously a feeling of artisanal pastis. I have to say I've always been a fan of Karukera – and of artisanal pastis. With water: cedar and sandal wood, thujone, wormwood, celeriac and gentian. How rooty is this? Mouth (neat): wham, modern meaty, almost Chambertiny liquoricy arrival. Then more and more liquorice, menthol, and eucalyptus. Almost stuff by Domaine Leroy if you ask me. With water: superb, if a tad concoctiony but isn't that the fate of many a modern-style spirit? Huge liquorice and mint. Finish: very long, very mentholy. Perhaps a little 'too much' at this point. Aniseed and fennel. Comments: almost pastis at cask strength, you would almost believe this was made in Pontarlier, rather than in Guadeloupe. Extreme spirit which I like a lot, but you wouldn't down a bucket of it.
SGP:471 - 85 points.

A last one please, and let's make it something special…

Port Mourant 31 yo 1989/2021 (47.3%, Greenheart Collection, 218 bottles)

Port Mourant 31 yo 1989/2021 (47.3%, Greenheart Collection, 218 bottles) Five stars
From Port Mourant's wooden still when it was still at Uitvlugt. Even utter loudmouths/windmills cannot make rum crazier than this. Bla-bla-bla… Colour: amber. Nose: awe and resins, warm waxes, propolis, liquorice lozenges and natural tar liqueurs. This is deep, subtle, solid and heavy, all at the same time. No, it's sublime. Mouth: heavy oak, heavy pinewood, strong liquorice, cough syrup, mentholy ointments, all-crazy resins, this is the equivalent to JJ Burnell's hardest basslines with the Stranglers. You may check 'Another Camden Afternoon'. De nada. Finish: long, liquoricy, with some extraordinary balance between the lime, the mint, the liquorice and the resins. Thirty-one years, mind you! Comments: as a malt lover, I just adore this. Some unbeatable ueber-malternative-y rum.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

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


December 4, 2021



Old Unpublished Session
A Bottomless Pit Part 2
(Or Dante's Inferno?)
Well, we'll see, if we ever stumble upon more sublime marcs de Bourgogne, that'll rather be Tintoretto's Paradise… We started it with an Alsatian gin last time, let's kick this off with another gin. Well, with a 'gin liqueur'; in truth I didn't even know that existed…

Elderflower Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020)

Elderflower Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Browsing The Whisky Exchange's website while there's nothing on TV may prove dangerous. What's a little reassuring is that 'London' warns you, this is "divine on pancakes", a wording that, I suppose, has got nothing to do with the late performer (RIP Divine). Colour: white wine. Nose: I'm a sucker for elderflowers, we tend to add some elderflower liqueur to champagne or crémant here in France. It would also make marvellous spritzes. Lovely nose. Mouth: a tad wobblier, less straight to the point, with some oddish sour tones (unripe gooseberries) and indeed touches of ginger tonic, but I'm trying this at room temperature while I suppose it's rather meant to be drunk on crushed ice. Finish: medium, sugary, rather on rhubarb this time. Comments: the remainder will be slurped on ice cream. I find this pretty good.

SGP:630 - 78 points

Right, elderberry…

Eau-de-Vie de Sureau (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015)

Eau-de-Vie de Sureau (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
Sureau, that's elderberries and this will be a tribute to Monty Python. In general, they let the berries macerate in neutral alcohol (apple) and then redistill that. This stems from Alsace, where we would just distil anything, even troubles. Having said that, I've never distilled sureau myself. Hope they won't have added any sugar to this, which would feel immediately… Colour: white. Nose: it's a slightly dirty spirit, in the style of some baijius, with something a little rancid and clearly fermentary, plus quite a lot of earth and humus. Notes of stewed cabbage, turnips and celeriac too, but that's not a flaw, it's 'a style'. Mouth: a little hot, grassy, herbal, and pretty much on roots and vegetables indeed. Turnips, parsnips, fermenting hay… Well, this is a wee challenge indeed but you could chill it and drink with choucroute. To be honest, I do not dislike this at all. Finish: rather long, very grassy, pretty sour and earthy. Notes of raw kirschwasser. Comments: some kind of Tobermory of eau-de-vie. Right.

SGP:370 – 78 points.

Yes please? You say more elderberry?...

Sureau Noir (45%, Nusbaumer, France, +/-2015)

Sureau Noir (45%, Nusbaumer, France, +/-2015) Three stars
Black elderberry, didn't know that existed either. This Alsatian kitten was first macerated before distillation, just like the Miclo. It's been matured in steel tanks for a few years prior to bottling, as only barbarians or financial controllers would bottle eau-de-vie right after it was distilled. N.e.v.e.r do that. Colour: white. Nose: similar, naturally, but I'm finding more citrus rather than vegetables in this one, which would make it more akin to some good Dutch genever. Pretty fresh, with once again, wee echoes of baijiu. Mouth: I like this! Once again, we're close to some lovely genever/genièvre/jenever whatever, with a wee soapy touch as always but also some cute notes of grapefruits and sliced pickled ginger. Even a little sake, I say you bring the sushi. Finish: long, earthier. Comments: this one would love ice and make for a very refreshing drink as a highball. Ooh my head…
SGP:271 - 82 points.

Oh wait, we've also found a 'Quince Gin Liqueur' by those fine folks at Bramley & Gage… I cherish and worship quince.

Quince Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020)

Quince Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020) Two stars
I have indeed distilled quince, twice. And almost made the still implode because I hadn't wetted the mash enough. Quince is very tricky, it sticks to the copper and if you heat it up too much, it may suck your pot in. Well, you see what I mean. Colour: why is it brown like this? Nose: there are two main kinds of quinces and when you make eau-de-vie, you try to gather fifty percent 'apple' and fifty percent 'pear', to balance the taste. In this case, they seem to have used the sweeter one, which is the sort that you'd use to make jellies and fruit pastes. That slightly saturates the nose, which is extremely aromatic and tends to go towards funny spices. Juniper? Caraway? Mouth: a little too much for me but the quinces are loud and clear. I'm sure it would be ten times nicer over crushed ice. Finish: medium, sour and pearish. Fermenting figs. Comments: the elderflower gin was clearer and cleaner, while this is a tad more uncertain. But then again, with ice… we'd drink too much of it.

SGP:540 - 75 points.

I'm sure you see me coming…

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015)

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
Coing is quince. This is Alsatian too. Colour: white. Nose: a little hot and a tad unprecise at first but unfolds well. More notes of fermenting figs, dates, even bananas, even elderflowers (not kidding), plus rather a lot of honeysuckle. Isn't it funny that once again, I would find a little moutai? Nevertheless, it's is not quite a 'loud and clear' quince eau-de-vie but I rather like it. Mouth: pretty good on the palate, rather soft, with rather more quince, just a touch of candy sugar that may have been added at some point. I mean, after distillation. Finish: medium, pretty much on the fruit. The aftertaste is a little rough and too grassy, though. Comments: not the clearest quince I've ever tasted, but it's not bad at all. Again, quince is difficult.

SGP:440 - 78 points.

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (43%, René de Miscault, France, +/-2015)

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (43%, René de Miscault, France, +/-2015)
As it says on the label, this one too was obtained through maceration, just like the Miclo (I suppose). But real quince ought to be integrally fermented IMHO. BTW, this one is probably not really Alsatian. Colour: white. Nose: nope. Dried coconut and eggplants in my quince? Perhaps not… Having said that, this is a little surprising as I've had some pretty eaux-de-vie by René de Miscault in the past. Mouth: sweet, while you would not recognise quince. Some kind of litchi liqueur, perhaps, plum wine… Odd raisins… Nope. Finish: medium, dirty, nope. Burnt aftertaste - now then again; quince often burns. Comments: non, nan, nein, no!
SGP:260 - 20 points.
(Please remember that with fruits, seasons and harvest vary a lot!)

Time to fly to another region (I tend to prefer trains but French trains are always on strike)…

Eau de Vie de Gentiane (45%, Distillerie des Aravis, France, +/-2016)

Eau de Vie de Gentiane (45%, Distillerie des Aravis, France, +/-2016) Five stars
Gentian is one of my favourite plant/root/liqueur/cordial/eau-de-vie. What's more, I got this wee one from Emmanuel Renaut, who runs the *** restaurant Le Flocon de Sel in Megève. Fabulous cuisine, fabulous place, great people, deep passion for herbs and… roots. Oh and chartreuse, they've got an incredible collection. So, next time you're in the French Alpes… Colour: white. Nose: Jesus Mary and Joseph! This is pure, crystalline, uncluttered and perfectly distilled gentian. In fact, you're nosing the root. If I remember well, I had written a short article about this one for Whisky Mag France a while back. Oh and yes, they distil the roots, not the flowers! Mouth: ite missa est, top two gentian together with Marcel Michel's in the Doubs. Totally pure while that's exactly what distillers are looking for, the purest expression of the raw materials. You're right, exactly the opposite of malt whisky. Finish: rather long, a wee tad hot perhaps, I would say Marcel Michel has got the edge but it all depends on the batches, naturally. Comments: Distillerie des Aravis are located in La Clusaz, great place for skiing (just saying)…

SGP:371 - 90 points.

Looks like we've made good progress. Let's go on…

Calvados Pays d'Auge 3 yo 2013-2014/2018 (55.5%, 30&40, Ferme des Parquets, France 225 bottles)

Calvados Pays d'Auge 3 yo 2013-2014/2018 (55.5%, 30&40, Ferme des Parquets, France 225 bottles) Three stars
A single cask of young Pays d'Auge, 2013 being when they harvested the fruits, and 2014 when they distilled the whole shebang.. Calvados is one of the spirits I should really work on, I really feel shame and am afraid I know more about pisco. Which, as a Frenchman, takes the biscuit. Colour: white wine. Nose: boy is this hot and raw! Now it reeks of great artisanal cider, having said that. I suppose water is mandatory… With water: really raw, extremely rustic, grassy… but it does grow on you, provided you like apples and cider. Mouth (neat): pfew, this is really hot, rough, tough and grassy. Makes Ardbeg taste like Diplomatico by comparison. With water: no, there, we tamed it, we're rally more on apples, grasses, and really a lot of cider. Finish: long and ultra-grassy. Comments: some friends are dying for these tough Calvas. I'm not quite there yet, but I'd be happy to learn and train my palate (until the new Brora comes out, ha-ha).

SGP:271 - 80 points.

Good, time for some weirdos, after all this is supposed to be fun… No wait, we were having another interesting Pays d'Auge in the boxes…

Calvados du Pays d'Auge 1898 (40%, Adrien Camut, Domaine de Semainville, +/-1970?)

Calvados du Pays d'Auge 1898 (40%, Adrien Camut, Domaine de Semainville, +/-1970?) Five stars
Yep, 116 years earlier, a whole different world, but careful with these old bottles, they're very inspirational, but even with the rarest and most glorious old spirits, the truth lies in your tulip. I mean in your tulip glass. Having said that, the house Camut has got the highest reputation, even today. Colour: mahogany. Nose: no, this is flabbergastingly brilliant, fresh, complex, polished, in the same category as that of, say Bally 1929, Macallan 1938, or the oldest A.E. D'Or. Amazing ripe plums, collector figs (what?), cigars, chocolate, it's just that it would tend to lose a bit of steam and become a tad too chocolaty. By the way, no apples and no pears that I could find, it's all been digested and this is more proof that very old spirits do converge, whichever the raw materials. Grains, grapes, apples, sugarcane… Mouth: rum, I would have said. It's kept a lot of tension at 40% vol., and that may have been the apples. Toffee, bouillons, a touch of smoke, tar, liquorice, mushrooms, black tea, marmalade, menthol, touch of camphor, coffee, tobacco… Between us, this could have been old Macallan (but they would have replicated it then, he-he). Finish: this is where the apples would come out, as well as a few pears, probably. That's incredible, where have they been hiding for so long? All that would lead us to what's one of old Mac's staple flavours: slightly burnt tarte tatin! Comments: amazing. I know I should have rather gathered a few old Calvas and done a proper, coherent session, but days have only 7 hours, have they not? Extraordinary old Pays d'Auge by Camut. Imagine, 1898, even Keith Richards wasn't born.

SGP:462 - 92 points.

A last one for fun. Remember, these sessions are meant to be fun…


Waqar (40%, OB, Pisco, Chile, +/-2012) Two stars and a half
Good, Chilean Pisco, why not. This stems from the Tulahuén Valley and was entirely distilled from Muscat wine. But muscat may get heady and cloying, let's be careful… Colour: white. Nose: we're nosing big white muscat grapes, the ones that look like rugby balls. But it remained rather fresh, pretty pure, and well-delimited. This is indeed muscat, with just a smidgen of lemon zest. Mouth: we distil muscat too, but rather use the crushed grapes (marc) than wine. I actually distilled 'fine de muscat grains nobles' one day and came up with… cheapo perfume. Never again, it wasn't worth the hassle. Anyway, this is good, fresh, very muscaty indeed, and perhaps a little too much on rose essence and preserved litchi? More gewurztraminer than muscat? Finish: medium, fresh, sweet. A tad too sweet. Comments: no, this goes down well, it's just a tad too much, too sweet, which makes it a notch vulgar… But then again, ice would help, I'm sure.
SGP:730 - 78 points.

One day, we might only do these kinds of freewheeling sessions, with just any kinds of spirits, from early XIXth century cognac to white pisco throughout Bunnahabhain NAS, Clynelish three-years-and-one day old and Foursquare ex-Gewurz. And why not? Yeah give me a good reason why not.


December 3, 2021


A rather long verticale of young to middle aged Ben-rinnes

Benrinnes Distillery (Andrew Wood)

I think we'll kick this off with one of those fresh super-good and dangerously easy new 'Orcines' from Lyons, France. It's to be remembered that Benrinnes used to do some kind of partial triple-distillation using some intermediate stills between the wash and spirit ones, until 2007 when they switched to double-distillation. In theory, pre-2007 Benrinnes used to be meatier and more sulphury, somewhat ala Mortlach.

Benrinnes 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines)

Benrinnes 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines) Four stars
Picture is that of another bottling in the Orcines range. So, this is 'new regime' Benrinnes. Colour: white wine. Nose: there, this humble taster is now finding this one rather a little meaty and sulphury. Go figure. Rather a lot of paraffin, soot, muddy touches, plaster, hay, carbon dust, brake pads, sourdough, and not one single ounce of fruit. Very austere and gristy. Mouth: starts a little sour, on, well, sour cherries and cider apples, before it would get very grassy, with only touches of bitter oranges. Other than that, we're almost drinking liquid grist and wheat bran. Finish: medium, with a little more citrus and vanilla towards the aftertaste. Comments: I find this very rustic, and probably pretty true to the distillery's style. The latest Strathmill Orcines was ten times easier.
SGP:261 - 85 points.

Benrinnes 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.9%, James Eadie, 1st fill oloroso finish, cask #4/1, 563 bottles)

Benrinnes 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.9%, James Eadie, 1st fill oloroso finish, cask #4/1, 563 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold, so much less dark than expected. Nose: there is a slightly sulphury meatiness (so much for new double-distillation) but all the rest is a classic perfect almondy and fruity nose, with quince jelly and custard. But it burns a little bit… With water: gooseberries and fresh broken branches, pancakes, shortbread and butterscotch..; that's well the style of the house. Mouth (neat): feels good, thick and oily, with marzipan and bitter almonds, but once again it would get a little hot and burning. After all, this is almost 60% vol. (finely observed, S.) With water: same development as on the nose, with gooseberries, granny smith, lemons… And croissants. Finish: rather long and limoncello-y.  Comments: I may have said before, that in my book, this sensibly priced series almost never disappoints (I'm not even sure why I added 'almost').
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Benrinnes 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Chapter One, hogshead, cask #305966, 255 bottles)

Benrinnes 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Chapter One, hogshead, cask #305966, 255 bottles) Four stars and a half
Always these stunning labels. Ten more points just because of the labels! (why do I feel the need to add that I'm joking…). Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh croissants and marmalade, plus fudge and pancakes, that's what I would call a perfect breakfast malt. Oh and porridge with slices of banana… and a nip of this whisky (hold on, circular assessments, that surely can't work). With water: as anticipated, more bread, doughs, grist and softer citrus. Mouth (neat): it is just perfect, full of bread, malt, lemon, nougat and vanilla, with just a little Timut pepper and a wee hotness in the background (rough eau-de-vie). With water: superb tight citrus, we went from wrestling to gymnastics. Finish: long, lemony. Lime, yuzu… Only the aftertaste is a wee tad hotter/muddier. Touches of raw kirschwasser. Comments: only the marginally rougher aftertaste prevented me from going up to 89. Excellent drop.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

All right, 2009, 2008, then…

Benrinnes 11 yo 2007/2019 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles)

Benrinnes 11 yo 2007/2019 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles) Four stars
Cadenhead are/were having many such young Benrinnes. BWT, was this double-distilled or triple-distilled? That's some data they should have added! (all right S., enough with those geekeries please) Colour: straw. Nose: natural malt whisky without much cask works if any, so rather the opposite of the James Eadies. Both style work in my book. Mashed potatoes and celeriac, fresh butter, chalk, then dandelions and grass. Some gentian (mild hurray). With water: custard. Mouth (neat): very good, bright and tight, ueber-citrusy and grassy. Zests and honey. With water: real sweet. Heather honey and limoncello, lemon drops… Finish: same. Long. Comments: excellent, really. Very fair prices too.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Perhaps one from Y2K?

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (55.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 618 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (55.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 618 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: I'm reminded of the Orcines, as this is much more austere, chalky, grassy and almost un-fruity this far. A drop of antiseptic that doesn't quite belong here. I would believe water is needed. With water: some chalk and some lemons waking up. A very good sign. Mouth (neat): total lemon bomb, which would include variants such as kumbawa. Nah, nothing to do with kumbaya. With water: and there, lemon tarte with caramelised meringue, lemon curd and bamboo shoots. Finish: long tart and excellent. Comments: great high-intensity fattish lemony drop. I know these bottling tend to go unnoticed, but that is not fair.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (58%, Cadenhead for HNWS Taiwan, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 192 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (58%, Cadenhead for HNWS Taiwan, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: good balance between shortbread, lemon curd, nougat, branches, celeriac and bergamots. Those bergamots are particularly lovely. With water: dough, flour and just mash coming out. 'Touring a distillery'. Mouth (neat): high-power citrus and minty herbs. Green chartreuse and, well, more green chartreuse. Perfect earthiness. With water: pretty exceptional. Cadenhead were having many such 1997s and as far as I can remember, they've all been great. Perfect malt for refill wood. Finish: long, fat, perfect. Comments: this was scandalously short, I agree. However, the whisky's incomparably long and more precise than a Rolex. Which, in truth, isn't… oh forget.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Benrinnes 23 yo 1997/2021 (53%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 233 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1997/2021 (53%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 233 bottles) Four stars and a half
'It tastes like it looks' say the Sponge's official pages at Decadent Drinks'. Well, does it really taste like something by Keith Haring? Colour: office coffee. Nose: a drop of office coffee indeed (ha), otherwise a lot of metal polish, umami, Corinth currants, burnt kougelhopf (our preferred kougelhopfs), dried longans, pipe tobacco, beef jerky and English brown sauce. And yet, it is not exactly 'heavy'. With water: looks like someone's just opened a family pack of fruit-flavoured beef jerky in the room. And a good bottle of very chocolaty oloroso. Mouth (neat): rather a little fat and, indeed, sooty and sulphury (as in a sulphury distillate, not from a sulphurous sherry cask), with abundant tobacco and leather, as well as marmalade and goulash. Jaffa cakes keep it a little easier. With water: rather a classic young sherried malt distilled in the 1950s and bottled around 1970, just without any OBE, naturally. Finish: rather long and rather back on tobacco and leather, with some fig chutney in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent heavy wrestler, 80% whisky and 20% sherry. Quite. Cellar for twenty years and it'll reach 90.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Benrinnes 1995/2017 (54.9%, Cairn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, hogshead, cask #7799, 255 bottles)

Benrinnes 1995/2017 (54.9%, Cairn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, hogshead, cask #7799, 255 bottles) Four stars
Probably the most annoying label ever, together with Adelphi's microscopic ones. Well, at least Cairn Mor replaced them later on… (I'll have to borrow Ralfy's magnifier one day). Colour: white wine. Nose: tough and chalky, bready, doughy, natural, unsexy. Melon skin is very obvious here. With water: nicely fermentary. Provence melon with white Port and drops of chartreuse. Help yourself… Mouth (neat): rather amazing that I would find this much melon again. Even Bruichladdich has less melon. Even melon liqueur has less… With water: excellent swimmer. Herbal liqueurs, liquorice and fruit skins. Including melon, naturally. Finish: rather long, with green bananas chiming in. Comments: I would say these Benrinnes remain below the radars because the 'brand name' (urgh) is virtually non-existent. But they all make for perfect examples of a good distillate-driven whiskies. Even the Sponge's sherried one remained kind of distillate-driven.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Perhaps another 1995, quickly…

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 708 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 708 bottles) Four stars and a half
What Mark Watt did at Cadenhead's was equivalent to what Karl Lagerfeld did at Chanel's. Just saying. Colour: gold. Nose: not a bomb, but these vattings rarely are. You need to take your time with them… Some green bananas, some lemon, some menthol, lotus leaves, pink grapefruits, ginger tonic… With water: some bready tones, banana cake… Mouth (neat): just very good, with soft fruits and citrus. Some coconut water (a feeling of pina colada – that's the oak) and tangerine liqueur. Even a wee rutscherla of Gewurztraminer. If you do not know what a rutscherla is, that just means that you're not Alsatian, which is perfectly fine mind you. As they say, everybody's perfect. With water: more tight and tart citrus. Finish: very citrusy, with a fat, oily base. Always welcome. Comments: discretely superlative. No, we won't elaborate.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Do we say ten's a good number? Didn't I tell our doctors (who are all whisky enthusiasts) that I'd never have more than ten whiskies in a row anymore, cross my heart?

Benrinnes 18 yo 1988/2006 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 1988/2006 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles) Two stars and a half
From a bottle I bought on location at CAD Covent Garden as it came out. Which shouldn't matter much, let's crack it open… Colour: straw. Nose: menthol and terpenes, and a few varnishy touches that shouldn't quite be here. Then lemons. With water: same, no changes. It's not impossible that this make would pre-date Benrinnes' heyday, which may have started around 1995. Is someone a Benrinnes expert? Please report (for glory)… Mouth (neat): citrus, mint, syrups. With water: same. No meats and no sulphur, not even candles, rather just lemon and pine needles, plus sugarcane syrup. Finish: medium, on similar notes. Some antiseptic in the aftertaste. Comments: bwah bwah bwah, to think that I had to endure EasyJet service to bring this back. Well, in truth, they've always been much friendlier and helpful than British Airways, Swiss, KLM or Air France. Which, I agree, ain't too hard to do.
SGP:451 - 79 points.

All right amigo, we found the ones that had to be meaty very fruity, and the ones that were supposed to be fruitier pretty meaty. I think we'll drop this game and retire to a remote monastery with no booze and no Internet. Adios.

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


December 1, 2021


A wee pair of Aberfeldy

You know, Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery, that's near the Black Watch Memorial and close to Castle Menzies, Edradynate and Bolfracks. Got to love the names they have over there…

Aberfeldy 16 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Aberfeldy 16 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars
Aberfeldy 16 had been a little lightish last time we tried it but that was in 2015. A shame that they keep those stingy 40% vol. though, that's not very premium is it… Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, a fairly lighter malt-driven whisky, with some hay and some beers, scones, shortbread, tea and butterscotch. Good five o'clock whisky, it seems… Mouth: more watts, more oomph would be needed indeed. This is flattish, drying, rather deceptive, tea-ish, and frankly, it seems that I was in a good mood back in 2015 (WF 82). That or they changed the recipe. Finish: shortish, drying. A little cardboard, gunpowder tea, perhaps a touch of butter too. A wee feintness in the aftertaste. Comments: a little fleshless, I would say. Skinny. The backbone's okay though.
SGP:341 - 76 points.

Aberfeldy 15 yo 2005/2021 (55.3%, Quaich Bar Singapore, hogshead, 165 bottles)

Aberfeldy 15 yo 2005/2021 (55.3%, Quaich Bar Singapore, hogshead, 165 bottles) Four stars
From a series selected by no one else than Frank McHardy! Which would make this wee 'feldy  the equivalent to a new guitar selected by Jimmy Page, right. Colour: light gold. Nose: same as the official 16, only with much more power of course, but not only that, also more barley, malt, grist, oils, breads, doughs and cakes. Pure barleyness, enough said. With water: much more grass, gooseberries, a lot of porridge, sour beers, white beers… Mouth (neat): total barleyganza, hot, punchy, with some tarte tatin, beers, bitter herbs and, well, more bitter herbs. Not easy-easy but this one's got some statement to make. Like, 'barley and basta'. With water: much sweeter, easier, fruitier, on apples and pears, plus gooseberries and various plums. Finish: long and a little grassier again. Comments: rather a wrestler, malt whisky al natural, undisguised, for your favourite hipflask. Kills the OB.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

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

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Bushmills 32 yo 1989/2021 'Port Cask' (50.1%, OB, for LMDW, Ireland, 205 bottles) - WF92

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Glen Elgin-Glenlivet 15 yo 1965/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) - WF89

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Hazelburn 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.6%, OB, Limited Edition, 6,000 bottles)  - WF89

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Petite Champagne 1973 (50.6%, Jean Grosperrin, L803, +/-2021) - WF91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Mirascielo (38%, OB, +/-2020)   - WF15

November 2021 - part 2 <--- December 2021 - part 1 ---> December 2021 - part 2




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (54%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #946, 100 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1997/2010 (57.1%, OB, private, Ian's Artisan Dram, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #315, 233 bottles)

Springbank 17 yo 1996/2014 (53.3%, OB for Taiwan, fresh sherry, cask #582, 534 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo (46%, OB, 1400 bottles, 2021)

Springbank 1996/2020 (47.3%, OB, private, for Bar Sugar Hill Arnhem, fresh sherry hogshead, cask #108, 36 bottles)

Appleton Estate 18 yo 2003/2021 (63%, OB/Velier, Jamaica, Hearts Collection)

Clarendon 27 yo 1995/2021 (61.3%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, refill barrel, 270 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo (57.1%, Watt Rum for The Nectar, Barbados, 2021)

Guyana 15 yo 2004/2020 (57.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R2.12, 'A precious treasure trove', 1st fill bourbon barrel, 208 bottles)

Port Mourant 31 yo 1989/2021 (47.3%, Greenheart Collection, 218 bottles)

Trinidad 20 yo 20 yo 2001/2021 (65.6%, La Maison du Whisky, Conquête, 65th Anniversary)

Calvados du Pays d'Auge 1898 (40%, Adrien Camut, Domaine de Semainville, +/-1970?)

Eau de Vie de Gentiane (45%, Distillerie des Aravis, France, +/-2016)