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Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2016 - Part 2



February 2016 - part 1 <--- February 2016 - part 2 ---> March 2016 - part 1


February 29, 2016


Some Highland Park, old and new

For some reasons that I shall explain later, I needed to try Highland Park 12. And then, we’ll have other HPs, chosen more or less at random. New bottlings, older bottlings, we’ll see. Preferably newer ones, that would be more useful, but if you had the choice between test-driving a 1930 Bugatti and the brand new Golf Diesel, what would you do? But first things first…


Highland Park 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half This is terrible, I just noticed that last time I ‘formally’ tasted the popular Highland Park 12, that was in… 2007! Almost tn years ago! Let’s rectify the situation… Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is well Highland Park, with whiffs of smoke, orange squash, burnt grasses, a touch of sea air, a few raisins, and the trademark heather honey. Well, we always say heather honey, but that could be other honeys. Globally, I find it rather more on oranges than the ‘usual’ HP. Didn’t it change a bit? Mouth: sure the strength is a bit low, but the spirit’s quite big, so all remains balanced and certainly not too weak. Other than that, I find our oranges again, this grassy smoke that’s so typical, and perhaps a touch of cardboard. And let’s not forget honey and raisins. I find it very fine. Finish: perhaps not the longest ever, and perhaps is it a bit drying, but it works. Quite malty. Comments: as always, there were rumours that this baby got ‘less good’ in recent years. I’m not sure I agree, this is very fine for the price, and at least it’s got an age statement! SGP:452 - 84 points.

Good, let’s unleash some random troops…

Highland Park 12 yo ‘Fascadale’ (46%, Adelphi, batch #5, 1483 bottles, +/-2013)

Highland Park 12 yo ‘Fascadale’ (46%, Adelphi, batch #5, 1483 bottles, +/-2013) Three stars and a half How do I know Fascadale is Highland Park? That’s easy, it’s written on the label ;-). Colour: straw. Nose: we’re extremely close to the official 12, surprisingly close. It’s a wee bit more powerful, and probably a little fresher and less honeyed, but other than that… Also a little more fresh malt, apples, earth… Let’s say the distillate’s a little more in the front. Mouth: same comments. Very same comments. Perhaps a little more citrus as well. Well after a few seconds it got rather more mineral and grassy, which often happens in indie HPs (while the officials are usually rounder). Finish: rather long, with more bitter notes. Chlorophyll. Comments: a bigger whisky, but also a more austere one. Same ballpark as far as personal (always personal!) scores are concerned. SGP:462 - 84 points.

Wait, since we’ve still got the new official 12 in a glass, why not try an earlier version?

Highland Park 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-1995)

Highland Park 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-1995) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: there are similarities and there are differences. What’s sure is that this one’s rather more rounded and complex, with some extra-dimension around flowers and herbs, that were almost absent in the new one. Such as eucalyptus, or lemongrass. The honeyed side is also rather more complex, and there’s some beeswax as well, as well as rather more earth than in the new. Oh well, it’s simply more complex, and possibly older ‘on average’. Some parsley and chicken bouillon coming out after ten minutes, that should be the sherry talking. Mouth: yeah well, the differences are even more striking on the palate. Fatter, oilier, waxier, both more mineral and more earthy, with more cough syrup, more honeydew… Now it’s not tremendously better, but better it certainly is. Finish: quite long, earthy, grassy, with a mildly honeyed signature. Comments: I was afraid this one would have won by a landslide, but the new one hasn’t been put to shame. Now, should we have chosen an old ‘silkscreened’ 12 instead, the outcome might have been different. 5 points or more! SGP:562 - 87 points.

Yet another 12 years old? Good idea…

The Old Man Of Hoy 12 yo (43%, Blackadder, Cask Ref # 2001/H05, 2001)

The Old Man Of Hoy 12 yo (43%, Blackadder, Cask Ref # 2001/H05, 2001) Four stars Yes this is HP. We had the C/S version in 2010, and thought it was very good (WF 87). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s firmer, wilder, and rougher. We all know that the differences between 40% and 43% vol. are huge, and this is another example. Marmalade, heather honey (right), leather, natural rubber, roasted pecans, raisins, old wine barrels, sea breeze, kelp, cigars… There’s a lot happening in this one! Also Vick’s, tiger balm… Mouth: purfekt. Wild again, rough again, salty, bitter (in a good way), honeyed, meaty, marmalade-y, with then honeys and assorted roasted nuts (that is to say honey-coated nuts), some liquorice… This is so very good, and already so antique, in a way! Where has this fat style gone? Finish: long, a tad more rustic, with a peppery earthiness that might not be to everyone’s tastes. That rubber again. Comments: these bottles used to be very cheap, almost ‘budget’. But they were great. SGP:462 - 87 points.

I agree, we’ve had enough 12s. So let’s try a… 8!

Highland Park 8 yo (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1975)

Highland Park 8 yo (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1975) Five stars The high strength version of this just kills you. Instantly. Colour: gold. Nose: boy, it’s not that this one won’t kill you. Exquisitely complex, floral and mineral, ridden with tobacco, camphor, honeysuckle, elderberries… And all that. It is what we could call ‘a tertiary whisky’, there are myriads of tiny aromas. Let’s only hope the palate won’t be too tired after all these years (and this low strength)… Mouth: not-at-all. Fabulous arrival, on olive oil, citrons, waxes, chamomile, a greasy mineral side, perhaps plasticine… And it would go on, with chartreuse, some kind of flavourful glycerin, a touch of ham and smoked fish, high-end green tea… It really is amazing. Now remember that ages were just numbers at that time, and that many whiskies were actually older. Think Springbank from that era! Finish: medium, splendidly earthy, waxy, and citrusy. Comments: what’s really amazing is the fatness that makes up for the lower strength. A benchmark bottle, as they say. SGP:552 - 90 points (I could have gone higher, but there…)

We could stop here. We should stop here. But this is Whiskyfun, so… Ooooohhh…

Highland Park 15 yo (105° proof, Private bottling by the Orkney Hotel, bottled July 1967)

Highland Park 15 yo (105° proof, Private bottling by the Orkney Hotel, bottled July 1967) Five stars C-h-r-i-s-t! An ultra-rare bottle, at 60% vol. (more or less), 1950s or even 1940s distillation, the Orkney Hotel in Kirkwall (no need to travel afar to select good casks!)… What could go wrong? Colour: gold. Nose: a feeling of plenitude and freedom (excuse me?) This is, as expected, totally amazing. And it’s not even too strong when undiluted, as if it had been ‘reduced by time’. Mind you, almost 60 years in glass. In truth, we’re almost nosing Yquem 1967, with a fungal layer, and the most amazing kind of chocolate. There’s a little engine oil as well, but that would be ex-Jaguar D-type. A whisky for Le Mans Classic. With water: all things mentholy, as expected. I often quote chartreuse, but this does nose like old chartreuse. Wait, let me be smart… old white chartreuse? (apologies, never tasted that utter rarity that goes for insane amounts of money – just like Johnnie Walker White Label, I suppose). Mouth: a whisky to marry. Amazingly powerful (the 60% vol. do feel now), candied, chocolaty, and above everything, amazingly tropical. Like old Bowmore or Laphroaig can get tropical. We’re talking mangos and passion fruits. Good, while we’re adding a few drops of water, would you mind calling the anti-maltoporn brigade? With water: irrepressible. Had to use that word one day. Leather, tobacco, smoke, nuts, honeys, mangos… And a touch of cardboard, to be honest. Gets a little drying, perhaps, but I’m feeling like Donald Trump judging a painting by Botticelli now. Finish: long, and akin to some very old rhum agricole. Seriously. Mango jam, some smoked ham, perhaps even a wee slice of dried banana… What’s even more impressive is that there’s a rather massive smokiness in the aftertaste. A bit of oak and grapefruits too. Comments: I was ready to go as far as 94, but the oak in the aftertaste was just a little ‘too much’. Indeed, Trump and Botticelli. SGP:563 - 93 points.

Good, once again we’ve been hoist with our own petard. No way we could or should try contemporary bottlings after that one, that wouldn’t be fair to them. So let’s call this a session, and have all these new HPs that we’ve got another day. Perhaps even tomorrow, we’ll see. Stay tuned!

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



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February 28, 2016


Possible malternatives,
our last Cuban rums

I mean, the last rums we’ve tasted while in Cuba. So far, our favourite has been the Santiago de Cuba 11yo (Onze), while the Vigia 18yo was a close second. It also seemed that most Cuban bartenders were agreeing on the Santiago 11. Let’s see if we’ll find one last gem today…

Sao Can (40%, OB, Cuba, aguardiente de cana, +/-2015)

Sao Can (40%, OB, Cuba, aguardiente de cana, +/-2015) Two stars Not quite rum, but it’s what some bartenders use to make the famous Canchánchara cocktail. I could not find any serious definition of what Cuban aguardiente is, as opposed to rum, but what seems plausible is that aguardiente is made out of cane juice, or canes that have already been pressed (like marc), while Cuban rum is made out of molasses. Colour: white. Nose: we’re not that far from mezcal, which is good news. There are whiffs of damp earth and antiseptic, the whole being rather rough, but characterful. Also hints of celeriac eau-de-vie. Mouth: still rough and spirity, with hints of sucrose, but this earthy side that never stops growing is most pleasant. May need ice. Finish: medium, with some artichoke, celeriac, earth, and even some gentian. Quite lovely! Comments: unusual, but it beats many a Cuban white rum in my book., because of its dry and earthy profile. SGP:362 – 75 points.

Ron Cubay ‘Carta Dorada’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Ron Cubay ‘Carta Dorada’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Said to be 4 years old. Colour: gold. Nose: quite dry, with a lot of coffee beans and quite some bitter chocolate, or cocoa. Some more vegetal notes as well, perhaps some artichokes like in the Sao Can (both are made by the same company). Quite interesting so far. Mouth: sadly, it’s rather too spirity and oaky (a feeling of oak chips). What’s more, there’s a sucrosity that’s not too pleasant. Finish: short, always with this feeling of oak chips. The aftertaste is a little bitter, drying, and a kind of hot. Comments: doesn’t feel very ‘top range’. Not too bad, though. SGP:361 – 65 points.

Ron Cubay ‘Anejo Suave’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Ron Cubay ‘Anejo Suave’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) This one’s said to be 5 years old. By the way, Cubay’s made where they also make Havana Club. Colour: dark gold. Nose: kind of evanescent, with a little coffee liqueur, a bit like in the Carta Dorada. Notes of corn syrup, plus molasses honey (sadly, most of the honey they’re selling you in Cuba is actually molasses-based, no bees having been involved in the making of it). Mouth: very sweet and sugary, quite in the style of Zacapa and consorts, but with less complexity and depth. Quite a lot of burnt sugar. Finish: short and sugary. Comments: not quite the kind of suavity I enjoy, and not quite the better side of Cuba’s rums in my opinion. SGP:720 – 55 points.

Corsario ‘Palma’ (36%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Corsario ‘Palma’ (36%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) A very cheap rum in Cuba, it’ll cost you around 4.5 CUC (convertible pesos) a litre, so around 4 Euros. It’s made by Tecnoazucar (scary name, isn’t it) who are also making Mulata and Vigia. Colour: white wine. Nose: wood alcohol and a little butter, possibly from an oak-treatment, then rather grass and paper. No fruitiness whatsoever. Mouth: it’s okay! Sugarcane, plain sugar, a little grass, and this olive-y feeling that I usually enjoy. There are roughnesses as well, which is kind of pleasant. Finish: short, rather grassy, with a salty touch. Comments: as I often write, we’ve tasted worse spirits. I think this baby would be perfectly all right in a mojito or something, thanks to its grassy side. SGP:241 - 59 points.

Santero (40%, OB, Cuba, aguardiente de cana, +/-2015)

Santero (40%, OB, Cuba, aguardiente de cana, +/-2015) Two stars and a half Another aguardiente, by the most popular brand for cocktails in Cuba. It is very cheap, and is largely used in mojitos. It’s made at Distileria Paraiso in Sancti Spiritus. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: a raw and rough sugarcane-y style, very herbal, slightly medicinal, and pretty ‘mezcaly’, just like the aguardiente Sao Can. Very close to the raw materials, which we always enjoy. Mouth: extremely rough, which is great! Little sweetness, rather a huge cane-y profile, very grassy, olive-y, and salty. We’re not too far from some white agricoles from la Martinique or Guadeloupe. This will give character to any cocktail. Finish: medium, very grassy, with more lime and lemon this time. Comments: you could add bubbles and a few mint leaves, and you’d almost get a high-strength mojito. I like! SGP:261 - 79 points.

Mulata ‘Silver Dry’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Mulata ‘Silver Dry’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) I wouldn’t say Mulata’s got the highest reputation in Cuba. Colour: white. Nose: it’s suffering a lot after the Santero, nosing much lighter and unpleasantly mellower, with whiffs of wood alcohol that aren’t any pleasanter. It’s pretty much a no-nose rum, I’d say. Mouth: not much. Sugary and oddly lemony (Schweppes Lemon), with no backbone and a grassiness that goes astray. Some notes of banana sweets, which isn’t much better. Finish: short, a little bitter. Burnt grass? Marshmallows in the aftertaste. Comments: some shy rum that will desperately need compadres. Such as Coca-Cola. SGP:321 - 45 points.

Mulata ‘Añejo Blanco’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Mulata ‘Añejo Blanco’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) I don’t think the Silver Dry was aged, but this one was. It’s also sold at a lighter strength. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: a slightly rounder version of the Silver Dry, just as harmless and innocuous, although there are a few notes of… wait, smoked salmon? Well, it tends to improve a bit with some breathing, with hints of cut cactus and grass, plus a little banana once again. It’s okay. Mouth: sweeter and fruitier. Jelly babies, banana sweets, marshmallows, all that… Lacks texture and structure, but it’s very easy and, again, harmless. Finish: short and sweet. Comments: oh, just saw on the brand’s official website that this baby was ‘the result of mixing aged sugar cane spirit, Rums Bases, Fine Alcohol A, Demineralized water and Preservatives’. That explains a lot – but don’t we like such transparency and honesty? Kind of? SGP:420 - 50 points.

And a very last one. Dear Santiago de Cuba, the floor is yours!

Santiago de Cuba 12 yo ‘Extra Añejo’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Santiago de Cuba 12 yo ‘Extra Añejo’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Two stars Will this baby be even more to my liking than the excellent 11 yo? In theory, the answer is yes (the price is 50 CUC vs. 40 CUC for the 11), but that’s no sure bet, remember we liked the 20 yo much less than the 11. Colour: amber. Nose: quality for sure, with first plenty of chocolate and raisins, as well as a vanilla-ed oakiness that screams bourbon. Then we have raisins and praline, then perhaps a little sawdust and more vanillin. A discreet grassiness keeps it straight and ‘frank’. Nice nose, in any case. Mouth: oh, too bad, there is some sugar! Or some kind of syrup, or raisin juice, or pineapple syrup… Or any proprietary mixture. That feels a little too much for me. A shame, because what’s behind that is quite lovely, fruity and firm at the same time, with good cane-iness. Finish: a little short, a little jammy. Bananas flambéed and pineapples in syrup. Comments: ite missa est, the 11 beats both the 12 and the 20 hands down. I mean, in my book. SGP:730 - 76 points.

Good, ya eso esta liquidado. We haven’t tried all Cuban rums of course, but I think around 25 of them is not a bad number. I could have sips of much older and much more expensive ones, but most have been a little flabby, and rather too ‘smooth and mellow’ for me. But I’ll try to look for more little Cuban aguardientes, I’ll see what I can find…

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



Block Today: SALSA. Performer: Juana Bacallao. Track: the eponymous Juana Bacallao. We saw this extraordinary 91 years old 'shouter' at the Buena Vista Social Club in La Habana last week. Please buy her music...

February 24, 2016


Old Havana Whisky!

Only one whisky today, but you see, it’s THE Cuban whisky, which, I believe, they stopped making quite a while ago. If you ask any Cuban friends, that’s neither a pity nor a shame. According to the Herald Scotland, ‘Fidel Castro reportedly sent '’spies'’ to Scotland 40 years ago to learn how to make whisky'. Sounds fishy if you ask me. Anyway, I spotted an old bottle at the Saratoga in La Habana, and while all waitresses were seemingly admiring my bravery, I ordered a glass of it. I was feeling like a hero of the revolucion, you see. But what does it taste like? Let’s see…

Old Havana (40%, OB, Cuban whisky, +/-2010?)

Old Havana (40%, OB, Cuban whisky, +/-1995?) According to the label, this baby iwas made at Ronera Santa Cruz. That’s the place where the Havana Club blanco and oro rums are made. Colour: gold. Nose: rounded and smooth and, to tell you the truth, rather closer to some light rum such as Havana Club 3yo indeed. Now there is some kind of marzipan, perhaps a little cheap ‘supermarket’ milk chocolate, and, perhaps, hints of flat Guinness. Which may go to show that some cereals have been used at some point. No foul notes so far, I have to say. Mouth: it’s a curious thing, this, but as almost always, when it’s curious and unusual, it’s fun to taste. What shall we say? Perhaps ‘American coffee’, but that’s a little strange since Obama will only show up in La Havana next month. The same feeling of Guinness, or rather that Belgian dish that can be fantastic when it’s made properly, carbonnade flamande. Certainly some brown beer, or rather a sauce made thereof, then, I’m afraid, some bitter caramel and, well, some regular caramel. But it’s not repulsively awful, not at all. Even the body’s acceptable. Finish: nah, things go pear-shaped now, it gets bitter, too dry, and too drying. Many things burnt. Comments: I’m so happy I could try this Cuban rarity! And defy all the barmaids and barmen who kept pestering me, wondering why I didn’t choose Johnnie Red or Chivas instead. Apologies, amigos! SGP:331 - 45 points.



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February 23, 2016


More of Cuba's rum

Still in Cuba, Obama's not here yet, so let’s have yet another bunch of rums, since these are days ‘mas especial’ at WF. Why would I post about whisky while being in a rum country? Besides, all the whiskies one can find in Cuba are heavy sellers that we’ve already tasted many times. So, let’s have a few… Havana Clubs. Btw the Cubans (and Pernod-Ricard) seem to be very proud of the fact that they just won it against Bacardi and may now use their brand name again in the US.

Havana Club ‘Añejo Blanco’ (37.5%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Havana Club ‘Añejo Blanco’ (37.5%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) This baby was aged for a few months – perhaps two years? – and heavily filtered afterwards. It’s not meant to be sipped like that, and is advertised as ‘perfecto for daiquiris’. But still… Colour: white. Nose: raw alcohol, almost ‘industrial’. White spirit, raw plum spirit… And then a discreet herbalness, with perhaps touches of lime juice. Other that that, pretty nada. Mouth: what’s good is that it is dry, totally unsweetened, and kind of lemony. But other than that, this feeling of industrial alcohol remains. Finish: short and kind of, well, absent. Comments: mind you, this is made in huge stainless steel columns, and filtered through charcoal. I doubt many congeners would have made it into the distillate. But then again, they do not sell it as a sipper! SGP:220 - 50 points.

Havana Club ‘Añejo 3 años’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Havana Club ‘Añejo 3 años’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) This is the one they traditionally use in mojitos in Cuba. Not meant to be a sipper either. Colour: very very pale white wine. Nose: gone are ‘industrial’ notes, while there’s more lemon, as well as, perhaps, a little cane juice. Just a little… Still very discreet. Mouth: rather fresh, probably a little rough and ‘industrial’ as well, but less so than the cheap blanco. The lemon’s a little more obvious, and indeed you feel a little cane juice. Touches of burnt sugar, perhaps? What’s kind of enjoyable is the freshness, and the fact that it’s not sugary. Finish: short, with touches of lemon lemon juice with drops of cane syrup. Or rather pure cane juice. Comments: I believe one could sip this on ice. Perhaps with a little lemon juice, some sparkling water, and a few crushed mint leaves. But that would be a mojito. SGP:230 - 65 points.

Havana Club ‘Añejo Reserva’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Havana Club ‘Añejo Reserva’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Not too sure how old this is, probably around four or five. Colour: gold. Nose: not much. Some burnt sugar with ideas of overripe apples and a little green oak. A little spirity, perhaps? But other than that, it’s rather innocuous and harmless. I think I liked the 3 years old better. Mouth: the same kind of raw alcohol, with notes of burnt oak and some similarly burnt cake. A little bitterness, over-brewed tea, vanillin… I do not find this too pleasant. Finish: short, burnt, a little bitter. Bitter caramel. Comments: not quite my cup of rum, unless you use this baby to make a canchancharra, a lovely Cuban cocktail that involves 2 or 3 parts rum, 1 part limejuice, 1 part honey, and 1 part still water. SGP:240 - 50 points.

Havana Club ‘Añejo 7 años’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Havana Club ‘Añejo 7 años’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Three stars This is the Havana Club I really enjoy. I mean, really. Colour: gold. Nose: pretty nice whiffs of praline and milk chocolate, plus some sugar cane juice, then notes of tinned pineapples and citrus. Hints of wood smoke as well, which is nice. Some vanilla too, obviously. Mouth: I find this really good, balanced, fruity, without any burnt notes this time. You’ve got citrus (oranges and tangerines), pineapples again, notes of ‘mildly soapy guavas’, and then a slightly mentholy and tarry side that adds structure and fatness. But then again, this is certainly no fat rum, and remains as light as any Cuban. Finish: short but clean, fruity, and delicately chocolaty. Comments: I do really enjoy this little 7yo, even if I’m usually not into these lightish rums. SGP:530 - 80 points.

Varadero 5 yo (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Varadero 5 yo (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Two stars We had tried the 7 yo the other day and it was way too sweetened for me. Let’s give its younger sibling a go… Colour: dark gold. Nose: not a lot happening, having said that, there are rather nicer touches of honey and, perhaps, orange juice and sugarcane juice. Noses a bit like some good canchanchara (that’s the honey). Some (Cuban) guava as well, perhaps, with a faint metallic touch. Mouth: it’s really sweet, with plenty of caramel, candy sugar, molasses, and coffee liqueur. Some raisins as well, kugelhopf, cassata, more molasses, even more molasses… Finish: medium, extremely caramely. Comments: once again we’re closer to some ultra-sweet South-American rums such as Zacapa, than to lighter Cubans. But in its own style, I find it pretty good. I rather enjoy these raisins that abound. SGP:720 - 72 points.

We had liked the blanco, and rather disliked the ‘Anejo’ by Santiago the other day (perhaps was it yesterday, I’ll all depend on internet access ;-)). Time to taste some of their their older siblings…

Santiago de Cuba 11 yo ‘Anejo Superior’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Santiago de Cuba 11 yo ‘Anejo Superior’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Four stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: very rich, fragrant, molassy and fruity at the same time, which works well. Beautiful notes of sugarcane juice, as well as ripe oranges and coffee, without any excessive sweetness or roundness. This one does punch in the upper category. Lovely whiffs of some kind of smoked chocolate as well. Mouth: it does start rich, not too sweet (hurray), and rather on coffee and cinnamon, plus various ‘tropical’ jams. Banana jam, papayas, pineapples… All this dry coffee fights the sweetness and wins it in the end, which is most pleasant. Quite some ‘black’ honey too. Probably my favourite Cuban rum so far. Touches of black tobacco as well (Gauloises, of course). Finish: quite long, roasted, surprisingly dry. Something reminds me of Mexico’s best Mocambos. Coffee beans in the aftertaste. Comments: really really good. And of course, 40% vol. works better than 37.5 or 38%. SGP:561 - 85 points.

Santiago de Cuba 20 yo ‘Extra Anejo’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Santiago de Cuba 20 yo ‘Extra Anejo’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Three stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: we’re obviously in the same family, but this older version’s smoother and rounder, seemingly a little syrupy (but we’ll see on the palate), although there are nice hints of furniture polish. Something floral as well, musk, roses, honeysuckle… I’m really curious about the palate… Mouth: great news, it is not too syrupy, and there’s even this dryness that works so well. Bitter chocolate, walnuts… But it does tend to lose steam a bit, becoming just a touch too molassy and kind of flat. But it’s no flat rum! Ripe bananas, overripe guavas (but clean ones!)… Finish: goes on with bananas, sugarcane syrup, and just the right amount of coffee and bitter chocolate, so that it doesn’t get flabby. Comments: totally high-quality rum, it’s just that the 11 years old had more oomph and, would I say, more personality. This one’s a little bit too smooooooth for me, in comparison. SGP:640 - 80 points.

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



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February 22, 2016


More Cuban rum

I know, this is supposed to be a whisky day, rums and other possible malternatives being for Sundays on Whiskyfun. But you see, I’m still in Cuba, and when in Rome ... so…

Santiago De Cuba 'Carta Blanca' (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Santiago De Cuba 'Carta Blanca' (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Two stars Well, apparently, absolutely no one is claiming that this baby’s supposed to be sipped neat and naked (so to speak)  and it’s very popular in Cuba. As the name suggests, it’s made in the city of Santiago de Cuba, in the South-East, where original Bacardis used to be distilled, almost 800km away from La Habana. Colour: extremely pale white wine. Nose: there’s a sucrosity, and hints of crushed bananas and, perhaps, strawberries. Also a little white chocolate, but that’s pretty all, this is no ‘nosing rum’. Mouth: honest, sweet, light, without any off-notes, although there is some kind of spirity burn. It’s not exactly thin, but narrow it is. Finish: short, but with touches of lemon. Comments: I think I liked Caney’s white card rather better, there was a little more happening. It probably IS for cocktails, but it’s ‘lightly flawless’. SGP:430 - 70 points.

Santiago De Cuba 'Añejo’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Santiago De Cuba 'Añejo’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) This is the aged version, which has an excellent reputation. In Cuba. Colour: amber. Nose: really really smooth and light, rather on vanilla, butterscotch, ripe pineapples, perhaps ripe peaches, a little custard… It is not a rum that’s very ‘rum’, and at times you could even think of Glenlivet’s new Founder’s Reserve. That’s probably the sweet oak. Mouth: starts a little rough, perhaps. Some caramel and various eaux de vies, a little fudge, roasted peanuts… But the whole is really very light and thin. Not really unpleasant, but you got to be thirsty. Finish: short, light, but rather clean. A little caramel, a little liquorice. Comments: I hope they’ll let me out ;-). Seriously, I liked the blanco rather better. SGP:330 - 65 points.

A little independent and we’re done. Of course, these bottles aren’t to be found in Cuba...

Sancti Spiritus 2003/2015 (43%,  Bristol Spirits)

Sancti Spiritus 2003/2015 (43%,  Bristol Spirits) Three stars This one was bottled in the UK. It was distilled in the official Distilleria de Sancti Spiritus, in central Cuba. It’s to be noted that there used to be some small illegal distilleries in Sancti Spiritus and thereabouts, but the Cuban police dismantled them two or three years ago. Not something that Bristol Spirits would have bought and bottled, naturally. By the way, we tried a Sancti Spiritus by Duncan Taylor a few years ago, and found it lightish.  Colour: straw. Nose: indeed it’s light rum, but I find it better structured than most official Cubans, with more aromas of, well, sugar cane, as well as a mineral dustiness that adds dimension. Concrete, plaster, gravel after a tropical rain (yeah)… Then bananas and pineapples, like in many a rum. Mouth: it’s got the same rough arrival as the Santiago Añejo, but this one’s firmer, tenser, and a little more sugar-cane-y and even grassy. Nice notes of tangerines, while it tends to ‘take off’ after a few seconds, becoming a little more complex. Cinnamon cake? Finish: medium, a little grassy and a little candied. Some liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: probably one of the bigger Cubans, with some nods to La Guadeloupe or even Trinidad. But it’s not ‘big’ rum. SGP:450 - 80 points.

Hasta luego!

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



Block Today: CUBAN JAZZ. Performer: Poncho Sanchez. Track: Psychedelic Blues. Please visit his website and buy his music...

February 21, 2016


Live from Cuba, Cuban rums

Indeed I’m on location today. No a bad place. Not sure I’ll manage to post more sessions in the coming days, but I’ll try. In the meantime, and since we’re in Cuba, let’s have some Cuban rums!

Caney 'Carta Blanca' (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Caney 'Carta Blanca' (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Two stars This baby was matured for three years in oak casks. Given the very pale colour, these casks were probably first used before Fidel. The distillery is located in Santiago de Cuba, while the sugarcanes are grown organically, which can’t be bad given all the scandals that are occurring in South-America these days (dying cane cutters). Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: very light, slightly earthy, with a touch of aniseed and perhaps melons. This baby’s totally innocuous, it seems, bit I do not detect any foul notes (obviously). Mouth: indeed, extremely light, but fair, not too sweetened, with again a little aniseed, fennel, lemon, and a good taste of sugarcane. Some fresh liquorice. Finish: short but clean, on aniseed and limoncello. A little honey in the aftertaste. Comments: frankly, I find this light rum better than most sugar-ridden dark South-Americans. Very pleasant freshness. SGP:440 - 72 points.

Legendario 'Añejo Blanco' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Legendario 'Añejo Blanco' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Two stars and a half ‘Nos gusta la vida’, says the brand. Legendario is one of the oldest Cuban brands and is owned by Cuban Beverages. It’s made in La Havana, and is now widely exported to Spain. This particular one is white rum but it’s actually 4 years old, and probably colour-filtered before bottling. Colour: white. Nose: another light one, but it’s got nice cane-y notes, some lime, touches of olives, brine, a little earth, and a touch of leather. Quite fresh globally, and even refreshing. Mouth: good mouth feel. Starts a little ‘all jumbled’, but the flavours are starting to fall into place after three or four seconds, with some sweet tangerine liqueur, some tinned pineapple, guavas, a touch of honey, and then more lime to keep it ‘nervous’. Once again, there’s a little aniseed as well, which hives it a pleasant kick. Finish: short, sweet, limy. The aniseed keeps singing. Blood oranges. Comments: really good, easy, rounded and sweet but never stuffy and cloying… And it goes down extremely well. Too well, perhaps. SGP:630 - 77 points.

Varadero 7 yo (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Varadero 7 yo (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) An old brand made since the 19th century in the region of Santiago. Probably Spanish style, so quite sweet and molassy, let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: not a lot. Caramel, molasses, chocolate, and return. A little coffee too after a few seconds, which works in this context. Gets a little nicer after ten minutes, with herbal tones. Parsley? Mouth: really sweet, sugary, caramely… Corn syrup, bags of candy sugar, coffee liqueur. Not quite my style, I liked the white ones much, much better. Finish: short. A cup of coffee with ten sugar cubes inside. Perhaps tracs of Cointreau or Grand-Marnier. Comments: in the style of the Venezuelan or Guatemalan rums, only a little better, in my humble opinion. SGP:620 - 65 points.

Caney 'Añejo Centuria' (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Caney 'Añejo Centuria' (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Two stars Another Caney, this time an aged one. By the way, Caney Distillery was the place where the original Bacardis used to be distilled when they were still made in Cuba. Colour: amber. Nose: rather silent, the Varadero had more to tell us. Less caramely, though, which can’t be bad. Maple syrup, candy sugar… But other than that, almost nada. Not a nosing rum. Mouth: not bad! Sweet and fruity (pineapples, bananas, raisins) and slightly honeyed. More maple syrup, light molasses, corn whiskey… Finish: rather short but a little more cane-y, with a few herbal touches. Small ones. Comments: I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t too sweet, but I think the Carte Blanca was rather superior. SGP:520 - 70 points.

Vigia 18 yo ‘Gran Reserva’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Vigia 18 yo ‘Gran Reserva’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) Three stars and a half It seems that this is a fairly new brand from Destileria Santa Fe in San Juan de los Remedios, where they also make Ron Mulata, with a story related to Hemingway who used to live in a Cuban farm at La Finca Vigia. If it’s genuinely 18 years of age, well, that’s very old. Colour: amber. Nose: oh, nice. Some whiffs of fern, tobacco leaves, maraschino, old dry oloroso, raw cocoa… Some coconut too. This is really more complex than most other Cuban rums, in my opinion. Let’s only hope it’s not sugary… Mouth: not at all. I find this very good, complex, earthy, with more pipe tobacco, earl grey, a touch of salt, lovely cane-y notes, some honeydew, a touch of eucalyptus… Hey hey, it seems that we found a malternative in Cuba! The mouth feel isn’t big, but there is a body. Finish: medium, warming, on coffee liqueur and more tobacco. Always this salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: really very good, in my opinion. Hemingway, of course! SGP:541 - 84 points.

We could not end this little Cuban session without a…

Havana Club ‘Añejo Especial’ (45%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015)

Havana Club ‘Añejo Especial’ (45%, OB, Cuba, +/-2015) one star and a half The best rum to make Cuba libre, according to the brand’s website. Yet, we’ll have it without any Coke if you don’t mind. It’s young rum, the older components being five years of age. It seems that they did a finishing in first fill bourbon wood, but I’m not 100% sure. By the way, the real Havana Club – so this - is a joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government, while in the US, it’s Bacardi who’s selling other versions of HC made in Puerto Rico. Same story as with cigars, I suppose, and very stupid if you ask me. But booze and politics don’t blend well, so… Colour: amber. Nose: this one’s more ‘international’, with more toasted bread, pastries, fudge, apple pie, honey… In a way, it’s the Glenlivet of rum. Mouth: good, with some honey, maple syrup, vanilla, more toasts, chocolate, custard, candy sugar… Sadly, it tends to become a little too sugary for my taste, and the Vigia just kills it. Finish: rather short, sugary. Comments: I think the 7 yo is much, much better. And the older ones as well, of course. This one was very humble, and probably not meant to be a sipper. SGP:631 - 68 points.

Hasta luego a todo el mundo!

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



Block Today: SALSA. Performer: Afro Cuban Jazz Project. Track: Coge Este Tumbao. Please visit their website and buy their music...

February 18, 2016


In a few hours I’m off to a country where Internet access may be very intermittent, if not totally impossible. That’s why I’m posting a big fat tasting session today, because I may not be able to post more for quite a few days, we’ll see.

A Glen Grant extravaganza

Glen Grant’s a classic. In Italy, for example, the brand’s long been number one, not only in volume, but also in value, some bottling fetching extremely high prices among early collectors. It was, believe or not, ‘above’ Macallan. Anyway, time to have quite a few of them, both old and recent. Starting, as usual, with a popular apéritif that used to be sold as an apéritif indeed…

Glen Grant 5 yo 1968 (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1973)

Glen Grant 5 yo 1968 (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1973) Four stars Not the first time I’m trying this one, but my previous notes were very rudimentary. Colour: white wine. Nose: lemon juice with touches of barley, hay, and metal polish, possibly from bottle ageing. I’d add limoncello, lemongrass, and well, all things lemony. Mouth: it’s certainly got more fatness than contemporary Glen Grants, which are rather more innocuous, and obviously more lemons again. Once again this feeling of drier limoncello, blended with a little liquid wax and perhaps drops of brine, or oyster juice, which gives it an unexpected coastal side. Finish: unexpectedly long and peaty/salty. Comments: it’s well known that 1968 had been very dry on Islay, and that most distillery were consequently silent, which may have led several distilleries on the mainland to produce peaty batches for their blends. That’s why they had restarted Brora, for example. Did they do the same at Glen Grant? What’s sure is that this baby’s surprisingly good. SGP:452 - 86 points.

Another apéritif please…

Glen Grant 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1975)

Glen Grant 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1975) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: up! These bottles are easy to find at auctions for quite cheap, and are not to be missed. Lovely combination with praline, chocolate, metal polish, tobacco, leather, walnuts, and indeed, dry sherry. Bottle ageing has probably improved it, as it does nose much older than just 12. Unless, as they were almost all doing at those times of high whisky loch, there was some much older malt inside in the first place. Mouth: a-ma-zing. Really an ‘hidden gem’, very complex, with a lot of old oloroso, walnut wine, cigar tobacco, dried figs, cinnamon, perhaps dried bananas, and indeed this wee smokiness that complements the whole very beautifully. Plus, it tastes much stronger than just 40% vol. Finish: long, earthier, but always on a lot of tobacco and oloroso. Comments: the good old times, really. An extremely impressive cheap old bottle! SGP:462 - 88 points.

Glen Grant 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl, +/-1990)

Glen Grant 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl, +/-1990) Two stars The version at 57% vol. or 100° proof is rather more well-known. And excellent (WF 87). Colour: gold. Nose: rather lighter, and perhaps a little flatter than the others. A little more menthol, green tea, and cardboard, and rather less of anything else. Still pleasant, though. Mouth: yeah, it got a little too drying and kind of tannic, although what’s in the background is clearly of high quality. Bananas flambéed and tarte tatin, with a lot of dry black tea and bitter chocolate. Some sourness as well, overripe apples… Finish: medium, kind of tannic and cardboardy. Comments: very much drinkable, but I wouldn’t say it’s stood the taste of time as well as, say Tina Turner (what?) SGP:371 - 72 points.

Another chance…

Glen Grant 10 yo (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 fl. ozs, +/-1968)

Glen Grant 10 yo (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 fl. ozs, +/-1968) Colour: gold. Nose: a grassy dry sherry, and something sour. Dry Madeira, tarragon, cigars, balsamic vinegar… Sounds interesting, doesn’t it, but I think the balance isn’t right (anymore). Mouth: rather better, but really unusual. Bottle ageing gone mad! Chicken soup with some honey inside (I know), coffee and mustard (apologies), and black tea with some salt (I’m deeply sorry). And quite some salted liquorice (that’s better). Finish: long, salty, with some ham and plenty of cardboard. Comments: certainly fun, but trying this is like listening to Ornette Coleman for the very first time. Not foul, but highly disconcerting. The ‘less good’ side of Old Bottle Effect. SGP:172 - 65 points.

Okay, I think we’re ready, let’s just start a verticale!

Glen Grant 1995/2015 'Cherry and lemon Treat' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 275 bottles)

Glen Grant 1995/2015 'Cherry and lemon Treat' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 275 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: nothing to do with the old ones, this one’s much more ‘orchardy’, fresh, fruity, clean, and perhaps simple. Ripe apples drizzled with honey and maple syrup, plus some custard, then touches of mint and perhaps fruity olive oil. Mouth: more apples than lemons if you ask me, and probably more plums than cherries, but we won’t argue. The vanilla might be a tad loud(ish), and makes this baby lose a bit of its fresh fruitiness. Finish: medium, with a touch of sawdust beyond the vanilla, the malt, and the apples. Comments: certainly good, but there’s a little less character, in my opinion, than in most other bottlings by Wemyss, which I almost always find very excellent. A little ‘in the middle of the road’. SGP:541 - 78 points.

1995? Let’s see what Cadenhead have to say…

Glen Grant 20 yo 1995/2015 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 510 bottles)

Glen Grant 20 yo 1995/2015 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 510 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: first you open a new box of Cuban cigars (hint), you nose them deeply, then you nose some fresh pencil shavings, then some chocolate by a good maker (no industrial junk), then some guignolet (cherry liqueur – at last!), then a glass of your favourite mouthwash. You’ve got a pretty good idea of this wee malt. With water: farmier and more leathery. Clean cow stable, horse saddle. Mouth (neat): some punchy, fruity, caramely sherry. Raisins, caramel sauce, maple syrup, Demerara sugar, vanilla, Ovaltine, and one Mars bar. Not deep-fried. With water: some fresher fruits, which is always better. Stewed peaches, and more honey. Heather? Finish: long, even more honeyed. Plum jam. Comments: only the traces of new oak bothered me a tiny wee bit. Otherwise this would have been a solid 90. SGP:551 - 88 points.

This is really becoming Cadenheadfun.com, but imagine a lover of, say sports cars complaining about the fact that he’s got too many Ferraris to test-drive…

Glen Grant 19 yo 1995/2015 (58.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 1086 bottles)

Glen Grant 19 yo 1995/2015 (58.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 1086 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: what, volatile acidity in malt whisky? I’m not joking… Let’s wait… zzz… zzz… (after ten minutes)… Well, we aren’t very far from the AC, this one’s just a little leafier, with more walnuts as well. So a little drier, I’d say. With water: it got tenser, sharper, a little more herbal than the AC. But they’re very close together, obviously. Mouth (neat): we’re so close to the AC! Perhaps are there a little more oranges, a little more menthol, and a little more earth? But it’s really strong, so… With water: same fresher fruits and honey, with the same minty thing behind all that. Spearmint. Finish: same, really. Comments: you could spend hours, and buckets of both whiskies, to analyse the differences between the Authentic Collection and the Small Batch. Hey, wouldn’t that be another cunning plan by W.M. Cadenhead’s? Tsk tsk… SGP:551 - 88 points (PS I had a tiny preference for the AC, but we don’t do quarter points).

Crikey, we’re still in 1995, while we’ve got so many older Glen Grants to try…

Glen Grant 21 yo 1992/2014 (51.5%, Exclusive Malts for Whisky.com.tw, bourbon barrel, cask #130811, 204 bottles)

Glen Grant 21 yo 1992/2014 (51.5%, Exclusive Malts for Whisky.com.tw, bourbon barrel, cask #130811, 204 bottles) Four stars A lovely Taiwanese bottling. Taiwan’s really become one of the leading whisky places in the world, not only because of Kavalan or Nantou, but also because of its crazily smart whisky enthusiasts. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s very revealing to taste this one after the sherried ones, because this really underlines the influence of active American oak. Indeed, this is a fruit salad covered with litres of custard and quite some grated coconut. In a way, this could have been made at Midleton’s. With water: honey and vanilla-ed sawdust. Mouth (neat): an abundance of vanilla, ripe apples, cakes, and coconut balls. Very easy despite the rather high strength. With water: more sweet oak, some mint, and notes of geranium flower jelly. We’re approaching bourbonness. Finish: medium, rounded, fruity. Comments: this baby was surprisingly Redbreasty (should that word exist), or rather right between Kentucky and Southern Ireland. American oak at its most vivid. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Glen Grant 1990/2015 (56.6%, Archives, hogshead, cask #15230, 231 bottles)

Glen Grant 1990/2015 (56.6%, Archives, hogshead, cask #15230, 231 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: light gold. Nose: a sharper, less vanilla-ed one, but it’s still easy and fruity malt whisky. Many tined fruits, such as peaches, pears, apricots, perhaps even bananas, covered with a light honey-and-vanilla sauce and a little barley water. Plain easiness, despite the strength. With water: caramelised Gueuze and tarte tatin. Mouth (neat): classic fruity Speysider, with pears and apples and white cherries (there) and a little honey. Plus a little bubblegum and sweet hoppy beer, IPA-style. With water: caramel, caramelised peanuts, apple pie. Finish: medium, maltier, with a little citrus, which is good. Comments: modern style, not a very wide and complex profile, and this might even be the ‘simplest’ kind of expression of malt whisky, but it’s very good indeed. What’s more, it swims very well. Average in the better sense of that word. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Break. More very soon.

Good, where were we? Right, in 1990. Let’s go further back in time, to the 1970s. We’ll have delve into the 1980s on another occasion.

Glen Grant 1975/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary)

Glen Grant 1975/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary) Five stars Samaroli played it old-school on their labels for their anniversary. ‘Special Old Liqueur – Unblended Malt’? How funny is that? Colour: coffee. Nose: oh perfect sherry! It’s extremely oloroso-y (err…) but there are also delicate hints of roses and polished precious wood, plus something that would remind me of some very old cognac of great provenance. A little musk, perhaps. What’s sure is that it’s rather fragrant, and simply fantastic, provided these perfumy notes don’t get a little cloying, or simply off on the palate. Let’s see… Mouth: no. It’s some total sherry monster, full of walnut wine, Cynar, prunes, Russian black tea, pipe tobacco… and all that. A fantastic kind of full-blown sherry that’s not often to be encountered in contemporary whiskies. Finish: very long, and very chocolaty this time. Comments: an extreme and extremely good dry sherry monster. SGP:362 - 93 points.

More of this please!

Glen Grant 1975/2001 (45%, Samaroli)

Glen Grant 1975/2001 (45%, Samaroli) Five stars An antique-looking handwritten label that reminds me of some very expensive old cognacs. Colour: dark amber. Nose: less extreme than the 75/03, and consequently fruitier and rather more herbal. But no less cognacqy! Dried figs, raisins, stewed peaches, pipe tobacco, a little leather, roasted pecans… I have to say that this fresher and brighter style is as much to my liking, even if it’s a little less ‘obviously great’. Mouth: a lot of sherry this time, with fantastic raisins and other dried fruits. Dates, pears… A little jammier as well (quinces, plums) and marmalady. Quite some spices, especially cinnamon and ginger. A wee tad prickly, perhaps (that’s the oak). Finish: drier indeed, with a lot of cinnamon, black tea, and a touch of leather. Comments: very, very high quality again, it’s just that the 1975/2003 was more spectacular. SGP:461 - 91 points.

Glen Grant 1974/2000 (50.5%, Scott's Selection)

Glen Grant 1974/2000 (50.5%, Scott's Selection) Two stars and a half There’s isn’t much Scott’s Selection around these days. Do they still bottle whisky? Colour: gold. Nose: a completely different style, much grassier, with many more lemons, as well as whiffs of damp clay, but also something a little sour. Sour apples, even drops of apple vinegar… Let’s see. With water: rather nicer. Humus, earth, damp pipe tobacco… It’s also rather less sour, which is obviously better. Mouth (neat): a little weird, with ‘chemical’ tastes, leatherette, more sour apples, a feeling of sucking chalk (at school ;-))… Not very convincing. With water: not quite, I find too much paraffin, and a yeasty side. Finish: medium, dry, always with this sourness. Comments: I’m simply not a fan of this style. SGP:361 - 77 points.

Glen Grant 37 yo 1973/2010 (46%, Thosop, sherry cask)

Glen Grant 37 yo 1973/2010 (46%, Thosop, sherry cask) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: largely nicer than the Scott, but that wasn’t extremely difficult to do. Some kind of fruit wine, or perhaps fig arrak, some vanilla, some sultanas, and a touch of earth. Hints of baklavas and other oriental pastries. Mouth: starts very well, on these dried fruits, but the oak tends to take over, making this old Glen Grant rather drying and tea-ish. A bit of a shame, because all the rest is extremely pleasant. Same notes of baklavas, orange blossom water, then rather sour apples and walnuts. Finish: medium, rather oaky again. Tea tannins. Comments: very good, but we’re a little beyond my own limits with regards to oak impact. But yeah, otherwise, very good. SGP:461 - 83 points.

Glen Grant 37 yo 1970/2007 (53.3%, Duncan Taylor, for The Nectar, cask #3475, 139 bottles)

Glen Grant 37 yo 1970/2007 (53.3%, Duncan Taylor, for The Nectar, cask #3475, 139 bottles) Five starsColour: gold. Nose: typical 1970 Glen Grant by Duncan Taylor, they had many. You’re nosing a whole beehive – without the stings – plus a rather marvellous blend of apple and orange juices. It’s the freshness that’s most impressive, and the balance. Mouth: indeed. It’s not that there isn’t almost as much oak as in the Thosop, but this time it brought some refined mentholy notes, plus notes of grapefruit skins. Many orchard fruits, apples, peaches, gooseberries, some honey, tangerines… From the oak, rather cinnamon and white pepper, plus a little nutmeg. Finish: medium, on the same flavours, plus more green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: totally excellent. Loved the freshness. Only two or three casks in this series got a tad too oaky in my book. Sadly, they’re now bottling the last casks in ‘unlikely’ decanters and sell them for ten times the original prices. But business is business, I suppose. SGP:651 - 90 points.

The 1960s now. Why not an old young sherry monster?

Glen Grant 10 yo 1967/1978 (86.8 US proof, Averys for Corti Bros., San Francisco)

Glen Grant 10 yo 1967/1978 (86.8 US proof, Averys for Corti Bros., San Francisco) Five stars Ten years in wood and almost forty years in glass, we have high hopes, very high hopes… Colour: mahogany. Nose: old brandy de Jerez! Well, that won’t last, because there’s an admirable smokiness arising, some tar, wee touches of natural rubber, bags of hot roasted chestnuts, and this amazing ‘bouillony’ side that can be so stunning in the best sherried whiskies. Perfect umami. Mouth: very high class, not unlike the best G&Ms (some Book of Kells, for example). Perfect chocolate, a touch of copper, Spanish ham, walnuts and chestnuts, hints of Seville oranges, drops of crème de menthe, quite some liquorice, a little tar, barbecued/caramelised beef, chocolate sauce (Mexican mole)… All that at a perfect strength. Finish: quite long, superbly chocolaty, well in the style of the best old very sherried Macallans from the better days. Comments: just totally and plainly amazing. SGP:452 - 93 points.


We’re back for a last salvo, all by old indies.

Glen Grant 1966/2013 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Queen's Award)

Glen Grant 1966/2013 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Queen's Award) Two stars and a half This baby was bottled to celebrate G&M’s Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade. Some kind of rather strange custom they have in Britannia ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a fresh one that starts on early grey and mandarins, with a fair deal of buttered cream and overripe apples. All that makes it pretty pastry-like, or breakfasty as some say. There are whiffs of burnt oak in the background, which is both intriguing and a little worrying wrt the palate, let’s see… Mouth: it is rather oaky indeed, gritty, drying, tea-ish… I think this baby went past its prime, and these notes of apple peelings and strong black tea in the background do confirm that. All this cinnamon as well. Finish: medium, drying, oaky, with a mentholy and liquoricy signature. Comments: it’s as if the very excellent and highly distinguished people at G&M’s had wanted to say, in a very cunning manner, ‘we don’t care much for the award’. Just a wild guess ;-). SGP:271 - 78 points.

Glen Grant 12 yo (80° proof, Cadenhead, licensed bottling, 26 2/3 fl ozs, 1960s)

Glen Grant 12 yo (80° proof, Cadenhead, licensed bottling, 26 2/3 fl ozs, 1960s) Four stars Another rare licensed bottling by Cadenhead, who were using more or less the same ‘official’ labels as G&M. We’ll have another interesting one after this one. Colour: gold. Nose: some rubber at first nosing (a box of new rubber bands), and probably whiffs of exhaust fumes, then some rather obvious notes of high-ester rum, Jamaican-style. Did they recycle some old rum casks? Another one that’s very intriguing, to say the least. The whole’s very dry. Mouth: not so sure, after all. I wouldn’t call it ‘rum-inflenced’, but there may be traces, such as this Demerara sugar, and this discreet brininess. Beyond that, some malt, oranges, tea, and apple pie, then some mint-flavoured tea, Turkish-style. With pine nuts! Finish: medium, with some chocolate, marmalade, orange juice, and a little honey. Very nice. Comments: very good, and funny. Not too sure about the rum part, have they kept the old Aberdeen records at Cadenhead’s? We should check that… SGP:452 - 87 points.

Glen Grant 13 yo (107° proof, H.R. Ingram Aberdeen, licensed bottling, 26 2/3 fl ozs, 1960s)

Glen Grant 13 yo (107° proof, H.R. Ingram Aberdeen, licensed bottling, 26 2/3 fl ozs, 1960s) Five stars 107 proof, that’s 61.1% vol.! I haven’t found any information about H.R. Ingram of Aberdeen, so I suppose that was one of Cadenhead’s sub-brands. But I could be wrong… Colour: gold. Nose: it still roars and scratches! I seem to find notes of sour beer, mashed turnips, mentholy earth and moss (where the porcinis grow), and perhaps a little marzipan. This should be very lovely, in fact. With water: it is. Some mineral notes, limestone, old cigar box, citron liqueur, orange-flavoured marzipan, quince paste… A very lovely nose, easy to tame. Mouth (neat): very powerful, but just superb. Chocolate mints, pink grapefruits, marmalades (lemon and orange), bone dry riesling, angelica, pinesap, a touch of fennel and dill… Really superb. With water: very, very excellent. Orange liqueur-filled chocolate, a little cocoa, more marzipan, a touch of leather, tobacco, salted almonds… Fantastic. Finish: medium, chocolaty and orangey, always with this almondy side. A few raisins on the aftertaste – it was about time! ;-) Comments: an old young Glen Grant de la muerte, I say! SGP:562 - 91 points.

This madness has to stop. So, a last one…

Glen Grant 1954/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, 1st fill sherry casks)

Glen Grant 1954/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, 1st fill sherry casks) Five stars 1954? Ooh the ‘Book of Kells’ for LMdW from two years ago, what a star that was! (WF 93). Colour: deep amber. Nose: very impressive, imparting an immediate feeling of well-being, just like when you’re listening to Bach, or early Miles Davis. Ultra-classic sherried malt whisky, full of Corinth raisins, prunes, marmalade, chocolate, dates, zests, figs… and other dried fruits. A wonderful Christmas cake moistened with the best kirsch ever. After twenty seconds, some mint (as almost always with fine very old malts) and a touch of liquorice for good measure. And after forty seconds, the much expected and anticipated umami-esque notes of soy sauce, mushrooms, earth, and pipe tobacco. More classic than this no exist. Mouth: we’re in the same family as that of a great old cognac or even calvados, with raisins again, fruitcakes aplenty, some chocolate, more raisins, ripe plums, oranges… Now it’s true that the oak feels a bit (mind you, 58 years in wood), but since it’s geared towards a chocolaty and minty profile, all remains more than very fine. Only the strength is a tad low, I’m sure 43% vol. would have worked better. Finish: medium, with an amazing freshness, rather on chocolate, mint, and oranges. Perfect combo. Comments: they call this an after-dinner dram. I do agree, unless your meal’s been a little rich, in which case I prefer something that’s got more oomph. Like a Port Ellen Rare Malts ;-). Anyway, great, great old Glen Grant. Despite the old-fashioned 40% vol.! SGP:561 - 91 points.

Good, nineteen Glen Grants, some just perfect, I guess that’ll be enough. I hope I’ll be able to post ‘something’ while abroad, but that’s a little unlikely, we’ll see what we can do. In the meantime, stay safe, don’t buy whisky that’s too expensive for what it is, and don’t drink too much!

(With thanks to Angus, Diego, Luc, Max, and Olivier)

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



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February 17, 2016


Another bag of blends

You may remember that last time we tried to try a flight of modern blends, we had a newish Chivas 18, then had a very old Chivas 25 for the sake of comparison, and then just couldn’t help having other very old blends for the very same reasons. In short, it all became an old blend session. So, let’s try again today…

Clan Campbell (40%, OB, blend, +/-2015)

Clan Campbell (40%, OB, blend, +/-2015) Two stars A French bottling. Clan Campbell, together with Label 5 or Glen Peel, is one of these high-volume-low-shelf brands that made France the number 1 export market for Scotch, in volume. It is not exactly Brora 1972. Colour: yellow gold. Nose: caramel, sawdust, overripe apples, corn syrup. I repeat, caramel, sawdust, overripe apples, corn syrup. Whiffs of musty old wood. Mouth: not too good. Raw, spirity, with too much caramel, then a few dried fruits, shortbread, and plenty of pears. As they say in the army, I’ve seen much worse, but this is no ‘interesting’ whisky. One to mix. Finish: short, toasty, fairly malty, with more bitter caramel. Comments: seriously, it’s really honest, but it will need ice or soda water. I don’t think you could sell millions of bottles if there’s not some kind of quality to the juice. SGP:431 - 70 points.

William Cadenhead 12 yo (46%, Cadenhead, blend, +/-2016)

William Cadenhead 12 yo (46%, Cadenhead, blend, +/-2016) Three stars Matured as a ‘solera’, only half of the vat being bottled at one given time. So perhaps not exactly a solera, rather a kind of living cask, but that’s probably better. 65% malt, 35% grain. Nice retro label. Colour: gold. Nose: starts with sour apples and touches of gunpowder, then we have flints, ham, natural leather (you may call that Turkish souk), and perhaps the brake pads of a private Porsche after the 24 Heures du Mans. Very singular, to say the least. Mouth: very, very singular. Roasted nuts, coffee beans, bitter chocolate, sulphury ashes, smoked tea… It’s all really very unusual. Finish: long, with a little citrus jumping out of this dry chocolaty and ashy combo. Comments: we could call this ‘a debatable whisky’. I’m sure some will love it, while others will run away. Very hard to score. SGP:362 - 80 points.

Great King St. 'Artist's Blend' (43%, Compass Box, blend, +/-2015)

Great King St. 'Artist's Blend' (43%, Compass Box, blend, +/-2015) Four stars We had tried the first batch back in 2011, and really enjoyed it (WF 85). 46% grain, the rest being malt, so 67%. Colour: straw. Nose: some tend to find Clynelish in anything by Compass Box (guilty as charged) but I wouldn’t call this a very Clynelishy blend. It’s maybe going a little more towards Pulteneyesque aromas… Not too sure. Apples, melons, chalk, a touch of kiwi, a little sea air, a few bonbons… What’s sure is that it is not grainy despite these bonbons and bubblegum. Mouth: it all happens rather more on the palate. Sweets, bonbons, green tea, lemon, custard, some green tea (you already said that, S.)… The malts are shining through, and there’s some youth. Sugar Easter eggs – when is Easter this year? Finish: short to medium, with a salty touch. Comments: of course I was joking, that would be 54% malt. Score unchanged, even if that would rather be 84.5 – but we don’t do silly halves. I find it a little lighter. SGP:541 - 85 points.

The Lost Distilleries Blend (49.3%, The Blended Whisky Company, blend, batch #6, 534 bottles, 2015)

The Lost Distilleries Blend (49.3%, The Blended Whisky Company, blend, batch #6, 534 bottles, 2015) Five stars Another mad bottling by the mad people at Master of Malt. This time they’ve blended Mosstowie, Port Ellen, Glenisla, Imperial, Caperdonich, Glen Mhor, and Brora, plus some grain. WHAT, they have blended Brora? Where did I put my fantasy Gurkha knife? Colour: straw. Nose: yeah well, we all know the best blend recipe. 1. choose great malts. 2. blend. In this case they’ve managed to create some kind of ultra-austere, mega-mineral whisky that reeks of wet old concrete, damp ashes, brake fluid, sand, plaster, and simply ‘one old machine in a old factory’. Mouth: we’re changing directions. The lemons and grapefruit kick in, and would come with more peat (PE, I suppose), some salt, a wee touch of rounded bubblegumy notes (Mosstowie?) and ‘a farm near the sea’ (Brora, obviously). Plus some jammy fruits, such as plums, that couldn’t not come from Imperial and Caperdonich. As for Glenisla, and although I’ve tried a handful of them, I just couldn’t tell you. Certainly not the ‘peat’. And Glen Mhor? That might be this engine-y, greasy side. Finish: long, and rather ashy and peppery, although there is a little fudge and maybe sugar-coated caraway seeds (what they give you in Indian restaurants with the bill  ;-)) Comments: excellent, and certainly not dissonant (which could have happened). But the question is, was the Brora even better, or not? Crikey, I really don’t seem to find my Gurkha knife, they are very lucky up there. SGP:463 - 90 points.

Home Blend 35 yo 1980/2015 (47.6%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, sherry butt, cask #26, 529 bottles)

Home Blend 35 yo 1980/2015 (47.6%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, sherry butt, cask #26, 529 bottles) Four stars and a half A vintaged blend, that’s rather unusual. Colour: golden amber. Nose: starts with touches of rum, then cognac. A meta-spirit? Now it’s the sherry that’s doing most of the job after just five seconds, with plenty of raisins and walnuts, plus touches of orange liqueur and almond oil. Also tobacco and tea, which is really really nice. Mouth: excellent arrival, flavourful, very nutty (and we’re talking walnuts, pecans, and peanuts), before it gets even more sherry-ish, with more walnuts, bitter chocolate, a touch of mustard, and, quite bizarrely, ‘ideas’ of both amaretto and maraschino. It’s as if the fact that the (excellent) bottlers are Italian does influence my perceptions. Finish: quite long, on more or less the same flavours. Chiefly tobacco and walnuts, not to forget marmalade. Comments: is there any grain whisky in there? I find this extremely well made. Che maestria! SGP:551 - 89 points.

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



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February 16, 2016


Young Balvenie

Easier to do than old Balvenies these days ;-), but we’ll try to have a panache-y ending. Watch this…

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars An expression that we like to follow every two or three years. Now’s the time. Colour: gold. Nose: fine, easy, relatively earthy, with raisins, malt, a touch of PX, and drops of cough syrup. A little honey as well, high-honey-content gingerbread, but rather less oranges than usual. Mouth: very malty, then raisiny, with a little earthy oak and natural chocolate (no supermarket junk by multinationals… err… excuse me). Enjoy this leafiness as well. Finish: short, but pleasantly grassy/oaky and malty. Ovaltine and green tea. Coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: strictly nothing to complain about, and last time I checked, the price was fair. Perhaps is this expression becoming a little drier, having said that. SGP:451 – 80 points.

Balvenie 12 yo 'Triple Cask' (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Balvenie 12 yo 'Triple Cask' (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Lol, after the double, the triple. Soon plywood ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got more herbal, mentholy, and even camphory aromas, which is nice. That may mean more oak extraction, but we’ll have to wait until we’ve got it on the palate. Hints of crème de menthe, and perhaps not a lot of Balvenian flowers and yellow fruits. Unless, these distant whiffs of old roses, and even litchis… Mouth: I have to say this works. I’m not into carpentry, especially with my whisky, but I have to admit that this was smartly made, and I even find some Balvenie-ness. Mirabelles, apricots, light honey… And mint, vanilla, green tea… Tends to get drier. Tea tannins. Finish: medium, starting well, but becoming a little too drying. Just a little. Comments: oh well, this is really good, let’s not deny ourselves a good things. And they haven’t dumped the age statements, which I find extremely smart. SGP:451 - 83 points.

And now, Balvenie Quadruple-Wood. I’m joking…

Balvenie 15 yo 'Single Barrel' (47.8%, OB, sherry, cask #16293, +/-2015)

Balvenie 15 yo 'Single Barrel' (47.8%, OB, sherry, cask #16293, +/-2015) Three stars and a half It’s always a bit weird to have a cask # without having the vintage, but after tall, here is an age statement (which is normal, this no young immature sweet-oak-doped juice). Colour: amber. Nose: a tad weird indeed, because there’s a sweet raisiny sherry indeed, but also whiffs of fresh oak (newly sawn plank) that do hint at a finishing in new or rejuvenated oak. But of course, I could be wrong – I’m probably wrong. What is sure is that we’re totally in the style of the 12 Triple Cask. Perhaps a little more tobacco? And a little more mushrooms/humus? Mouth: very much so indeed. It does feel a bit ‘designed’, with these pencil shavings and other woody flavours, but on the other hand, I cannot find any flaws to this smart beverage. Chocolate, praline, figs, butterscotch, gingerbread… Finish: long, oaky, with raisins and a sharp tobacco-like feeling. Snuff? Some chocolate and ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: very likeable (how minimal, S., how is this some comments?) SGP:451 - 84 points.

Indies, the floor is yours…

Burnside 1992/2015 (50.8%, Sansibar for S Spirit Shop Selection, sherry cask, 341 bottles)Burnside 1992/2015 (50.8%, Sansibar for S Spirit Shop Selection, sherry cask, 341 bottles)

Burnside 1992/2015 (50.8%, Sansibar for S Spirit Shop Selection, sherry cask, 341 bottles) Three stars and a half As you may know, Burnside’s the name of teaspooned Balvenie. They have retired old ladies from Dufftown that spend their weeks wandering throughout the warehouses with a silver spoon and a bucket of Glenfiddich, and who add two cls to each and every casks of Balvenie that are meant to be sold to blenders and indies as ‘Burnside Blended Malt’. Quite. Colour: white wine. Nose: that’s the thing, less oak means more definition, accuracy, and distillery character. I find it really weird that the indies are becoming the guardians of distillery character in Scotland, while the distillers are busy becoming ‘masters of wood’. Ripe plums, apricots, acacia honey, quinces, limestone. With water: same, water doesn’t change much. Mouth (neat): totally and plainly Balvenie, with sour garden fruits and quite a lot of light honey. Now there’s also something a little beerish (yeah, like the stock markets these days, but they would be bearish). Gueuze? With water: fruitier, more honeyed, with more honey-glazed and sugar-coated mirabelles. Finish: medium, on the same flavours. Comments: really good, just, perhaps, a little timid. SGP:551 - 84 points.

And now, let’s let the guns to the talking, because we desperately need a 90+…

Balvenie 'As We Get It' (102.9 proof, MacFarlane, Bruce & Co., +/-1970)

Balvenie-Glenlivet 'As We Get It' (102.9 proof, MacFarlane, Bruce & Co., +/-1970) Five stars That’s around 59% vol., am I not right? Colour: gold. Nose: sharp. Chiselled. Beehivy. Herbal. Metallic. Strong. With water: pure. I’ve mentioned Dagueneau’s Pouillys in another tasting session, but not sure it’ll have been posted when this will be published. Anyway, yeas, Dagueneau’s best Pouillys. That is to say, all of them. Mouth (neat): amazing. I’ve had other batches at other strengths, but this one really rocks. It’s not easy-easy, and perhaps not one to sip without thinking, but it’s got these wine-similarities that we cherish. After all, good whisky is like wine, just a little stronger. Citrons, I get citrons. And metal polish, green apples, rhubarb, pinesap, lemons… Nah, it’s the purity of it all that’s just perfect, as well as the absence of dull woody flavours. With water: ziiiing! Totally perfect, despite a certain lack of, say complexity. Finish: long, perfect, a little rounder and a little grassier as well. One of the best lemon juices you could find. Comments: I’m not sure this ultra-chiselled profile would be to everybody’s liking. But who cares, this bottle became as difficult to find as something even remotely smart said by this shamelessly vulgar ectoplasmic entity (and waste of spermatozoid) named Donald T. SGP:561 - 92 points.

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



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February 15, 2016


Japan with power and ages

Only three whiskies today, but probably (hopefully) some of the best Japanese, with due ages or vintage statements –whether old or young – and all at high strength. So no tiring gimmicky and questionable bottle. Please fasten your seat belts…

Hanyu 2000/2015 (58.8%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, cask #63, 300 bottles)

Hanyu 2000/2015 (58.8%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, cask #63, 300 bottles) Three stars The prices that any Hanyus are fetching these days are totally insane, but at least most are very good whiskies. I'd add that LMDW's artwork is always splendid, at least they don't just plunder old books that are supposed to have gotten 'free of rights'. Colour: red amber/copper. Nose: starts a wee tad buttery, like many Hanyus in my meagre experience, and gets then rather meaty, with some ham and notes of pencil shavings. Not too easy to nose when undiluted. With water: I wouldn’t say it changed much. Butter cream, old chenin blanc, heather honey… No, wait, it gets pretty immensely floral, which is really cool. Peonies, pot-pourri, roses, lilac… A ‘different’ whisky for sure. Mouth (neat): massive, acidic and jammy at the same time, with a buttery oak and notes of lavender sweets and Toplexil. The jury’s still out… With water: gingerbread, ginger, mango chutney, white pepper, coriander… It’s getting there, it’s getting there. It’s really pretty different. Finish: long, rather spicy, on a slightly sour honeyed base. Mead and ham – nice meal! Comments: an unusual dram for sure. Having said that, I tend to like mine a little cleaner and better chiselled, this baby reminds me a bit of those ‘natural’ wines, or of some orange wines. Let’s say it’s somewhat ‘segmenting’. SGP:472 - 82 points.

Yamazaki 1998/2013 'Arima' (60%, OB, Izumiya 60th Anniversary, sherry butt, cask #CU 70065)

Yamazaki 1998/2013 'Arima' (60%, OB, Izumiya 60th Anniversary, sherry butt, cask #CU 70065) Five stars Let’s see if this baby’s better than the former ‘best’ whisky in the world that’s still advertised everywhere as the best whisky in the world without any due mention of the year it was while a much cheaper Canadian won it the year after… By the way, Izumiya is a Japanese supermarket chain. Colour: light coffee. Nose: typical sherried Yamazaki. Prunes, black raisins, tamarind, incense, cedar wood, and a touch of beef gravy, very discreet. Some parsley, perhaps. With water: more of all that, but it tends to become even meatier. Meat loafs with gravy, roasted pine nuts, and raisins. Mouth (neat): oh my god this is heavy and strong! Totally huge, almost out of all proportion. Some kind of meaty rum, perhaps. Or rather a blend of super-strong armagnac and super-strong tropics-aged Port Mourant. Or something like that. Not for the fainthearted ;-). With water: perfect leathery and prune-y meatiness. Pipe tobacco juice. Finish: long, with many more herbs. Thyme, rosemary, sage… and something that I enjoy mucho, and that’s not often to be found in whisky, ramson! Much more chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: did they really sell this monster in Japanese supermarkets? Oh, forgot to say, loved it. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Chichibu 2011/2015 'The Peated' (62.5%, OB)

Chichibu 2011/2015 'The Peated' (62.5%, OB) Four stars Vorsicht! Caution! Atención! Colour: gold. Nose: some kind of rounded peatiness, perhaps. Maybe a little silverware polish? Antiseptic? Well, it IS antiseptic for sure. Nah, it burns a bit. So, with water: it’s quite hard to tame, finding the right amount of water is difficult. I find a grassy peat, some wormwood, some seaweed for sure, touches of camphor… Sometimes it’s young Laphroaig distilled a long time ago, and sometimes it’s rather young Ardbeg distilled a long time ago. Hints of gherkin brine, green grapefruits... It’s not to be rushed, this baby needs your care and your attention. Like all babies, I suppose… Mouth (neat): it seems that someone smoked marshmallows. Or sno balls. Not a bad idea, that, but this drop is really too strong when undiluted. With water: almost gone the sno balls, and gone the marshmallows. This is young grassy and fattish peat, with a little salt, and, there, a little sake. The mind is weak, isn’t it. Finish: very long, salty, briny, and green. Green tea (my brain says macha), and grapefruits. The aftertaste is rather superbly zesty, but there’s a little gritty pepper from the oak. Comments: not an easy beast. There is some complexity, but every time you find some subtle notes, a wave of young peat just crushes them, which can get a little tiring. But yeah, it’s great, great whisky. SGP:466 - 85 points.

(with thanks to Phil)

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



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February 2016 - part 1 <--- February 2016 - part 2 ---> March 2016 - part 1



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Balvenie-Glenlivet 'As We Get It' (102.9 proof, MacFarlane, Bruce & Co., +/-1970)

Glen Grant 1954/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, 1st fill sherry casks)

Glen Grant 13 yo (107° proof, H.R. Ingram Aberdeen, licensed bottling, 26 2/3 fl ozs, 1960s)

Glen Grant 10 yo 1967/1978 (86.8 US proof, Averys for Corti Bros., San Francisco)

Glen Grant 1975/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary)

Glen Grant 1975/2001 (45%, Samaroli)

Glen Grant 37 yo 1970/2007 (53.3%, Duncan Taylor, for The Nectar, cask #3475, 139 bottles)

Highland Park 8 yo (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1975)

Highland Park 15 yo (105° proof, Private bottling by the Orkney Hotel, bottled July 1967)

The Lost Distilleries Blend (49.3%, The Blended Whisky Company, blend, batch #6, 534 bottles, 2015)

Yamazaki 1998/2013 'Arima' (60%, OB, Izumiya 60th Anniversary, sherry butt, cask #CU 70065)