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Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2017 - Part 1



January 2017 - part 2 <--- February 2017 - part 1 ---> February 2017 - part 2


February 14, 2017


Bunches of Bunnahabhain – part zwei

Actually, we have so many Bunnies yet to taste, that we could do this in a totally disordered fashion. Could be funny, let’s see…

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1987/2015 (48.6%, Maltbarn, sherry cask)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1987/2015 (48.6%, Maltbarn, sherry cask) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: most probably refill. It’s a grassy, mineral and slightly leathery sherriness that we’re experiencing, bordering on light, earthy peat. I’m also finding papers, not obligatorily old ones, as well as a little honey and tarte tatin. Mouth: much fruitier than expected, around apple compote and squeezed oranges, before more greenness kicks in again, green tea, bitter almonds, green oak… It’s very good but it’s not one of those round and luscious old Bunnahabhains. Finish: medium, even grassier, and slightly salty. Quite a lot of nutmeg from the oak, also bitter walnuts and almonds. Comments: goody good, but perhaps not greatly great. A little shy, perhaps. SGP:361 - 85 points.

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1988/2016 (44%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, 10th Anniversary)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1988/2016 (44%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, 10th Anniversary) Four stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: a much more honeyed old Bunnahabhain, with bags of dried flowers (chamomile), honeysuckle honey, sponge cake, and then a little mint, most probably from the cask. Very easy, very engaging. Mouth: really very good, starting with dried figs and dates, and going on with some earl grey tea, as well as something slightly drying, or say cinnamon-led. Nice touches of tangerine marmalade and soft pepper, also elderberry spirit. All that is very fine. Finish: medium, drier yet not drying, with more oak spices. Cinnamon and orange cake. A grassy kirsch eau-de-vie in the aftertaste. Comments: SGP:551 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 44 yo 1968/2013 (41.2%, Glen Fahrn Airline, refill oak, No.14)

Bunnahabhain 44 yo 1968/2013 (41.2%, Glen Fahrn Airline, refill oak, No.14) Five stars Probably one of the oldest, if not the oldest Bunnahabhain I’ve ever tasted. Colour: full gold. Nose: yes! No weakness, no over-woodiness, rather a superb herbal/fruity development, between many teas and fruits (you kid me not?) Verbena, overripe apples, fresh mint, praline, brioche, kugelhopf, then something more tropical, mangos… Isn’t it funny that in the 1960s, and as we’ve found out several times already, Bunnahabhain was sharing some traits with Bowmore? Mouth: this almost very old cognac! Superb peaches stewed in mint sauce and served on some kind of cake, with hints of oriental pastries (orange blossom and honey) and almond biscuits. Some precious black tea. Finish: medium, amazingly fresh, and just a tad oaky now, which is totally normal at 44. Tobacco and soft spices, a drop of Chartreuse. Comments: there, on the podium. Mind you, forty-four years. SGP:561 - 90 points.

Bunnahabhain 34 yo 1980/2014 (46.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #847945, 257 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 34 yo 1980/2014 (46.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #847945, 257 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: a maelstrom of honeydew and cakes, well in Bunnahabhain’s style. Then more tarte tatin, mead, then pipe tobacco and leather, raisins, old Sauternes (it’s much more ‘Sauternes’ than any Sauternes-finished whisky), then wet rocks and grass. A touch of camphor too. Lovely. Mouth: fruitcake and pipe tobacco, but without any heaviness. Bags of dried dates, some honey cake, a few bits of Lindt’s creamiest chocolate (Lindt, is the cheque in the mail?), and then a herbal/citrusy side. Pink grapefruits, perhaps. Finish: quite long, very fresh, fruity, and guess what, this one’s also rather cognacqy. Mint and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: impeccable, flawless, and extremely drinkable (I agree, that can be a flaw). SGP:551 - 90 points.

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1987/2015 (49.1%, The Maltman, 228 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1987/2015 (49.1%, The Maltman, 228 bottles) Four stars and a half This baby from Donald Hart’s racing team. Colour: gold. Nose: in the style of the latest 1980, just a little grassier and more citrusy. A little more earth, tobacco, perhaps leather… But it remains rather honeyed and cake-y. Orange cake. Nice nose! Mouth: this is the most citrusy of them all, with many oranges and tangerines. I’m also finding angelica, stewed rhubarb, and then a greener side, around green tea. Another one that’s totally lovely, it’s perhaps just a notch less complex than its older bros. Finish: quite long, and earthier/spicier. A wee touch of green pepper. The aftertaste is frankly grassier. Comments: isn’t tit great that there would be so many affordable old Bunnahabhains at the indies? SGP:561 - 89 points.

‘In a totally disordered fashion’, he wrote. Well, not quite today, perhaps next time? Which could be right tomorrow?

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



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February 13, 2017


Bunches of Bunnahabhain – part one

If alliterations kill, as they say, it is a slow death ;-). Anyway, there’s even more Bunnahabhain around these days, although the older ones (I mean, really old) are getting a little harder to find. This is why we’ll mainly have youngish ones today, in no particular order…

Bunnahabhain 8 yo ‘Fruit by the Sea’ (48%, Langside, Distillers Art, 374 bottles, +/-2016)

Bunnahabhain 8 yo ‘Fruit by the Sea’ (48%, Langside, Distillers Art, 374 bottles, +/-2016) Three stars A pale young one at a good strength, what could go wrong? Colour: white wine. Nose: I believe there are two kinds of very young whiskies, the ones that remain too spirity and the ones that are more on fresh fruits and barley, perhaps with a porridgy side. It’s clearly the latter here, in fact it is extremely barleyish, with a faint coastal freshness as well as hints of artisan muesli and vanilla. Simple, straight, fresh, clean. And nice. Mouth: we’re very close to the distillate, the only oak one may feel translates into a little white pepper. Overripe apples, more muesli, more porridge, a spoonful of pear juice, and a touch of salt – unless I’m dreaming of the place too much. Finish: rather long, with a welcome grassiness, and notes of eaux-de-vie, like often in very young whiskies au naturel. Lemon and salt in the aftertaste. Comments: young whisky au naturel indeed. It’s hard to do much better without peat. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Bunnahabhain 8 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, The MacPhail's Collection, +/-2015)

Bunnahabhain 8 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, The MacPhail's Collection, +/-2015) Three stars Is this peated or not? Let’s see… Colour: pale straw. Nose: it is peated, very ashy, you’re almost nosing the ashtray of the old Volkswagen Kombi that used to belong to Bob Marley and the Wailers. Behind that, rather salted fish, seaweed, and a touch of lemonade. I find it a little cleaner and purer than earlier batches. Mouth: very ashy again, this is almost like crunching a fistful of malt that was just kilned. We’ve all done that at distilleries, haven’t we? I think it’s the first time I’m coming across a whisky that’s this kilny. Spectacular, in that sense, but perhaps a notch unbalanced. Finish: medium, always very, very ashy. Comments: do not sip this while on a plane or a train, the crew would think you’re smoking an untipped Gauloise or Gitanes. My advice – you’re welcome. SGP:347 - 80 points.

Bunnahabhain 6 yo 2007/2014 (57.7%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #800089)

Bunnahabhain 6 yo 2007/2014 (57.7%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #800089) Four stars If the very distinguished people at BBR have decided to bottle a Bunny at this very young age, that should mean that it’s got something special, let’s see… Colour: white wine, almost white. Nose: ultra-clean smoked lemon juice plus a little tincture of iodine and seawater. That’s all, folks. With water: even smokier, this time with rather some camphor and a little incense. Mouth (neat): now I understand. It’s salted smoky malt with hints of white mezcal and Jamaican rum. The Wailers again! With water: simple, but perfect. A clairin of whisky, I would say. Smoke, salt, lemon, brine, and basta. Finish: long, extremely ashy, almost as much as the G&M. Comments: forgot to mention cigarette ashes. Really! SGP:456 - 85 points.

Bunnahabhain 17 yo 1997/2015 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 17 yo 1997/2015 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s peated as well, but it’s somewhat peated ala Ardbeg, with rather a mineral and slightly tarry side. In other words, a fatter peat smoke this time. With water: whiffs of menthol and raw wool. Wouldn’t that be Woolite? Mouth (neat): oh excellent! It’s got a little more complexity than the youngsters – the benefits of older age, as Methuselah once said – and certainly a lot of lemon, seawater, and this kippery feeling. Both sharp and fat(tish), is that possible? With water: it’s the lemon that wins, which makes it almost summery. Extremely zesty, and rather less ‘Ardbeg’ when reduced to +/-45% vol. Finish: pretty long, and zestier than lemon juice. Still a little menthol in the aftertaste. And tangerines, and passion fruits. Comments: I find this absolutely excellent. The age is right. SGP:656 - 88 points.

There will be more tomorrow...

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



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February 12, 2017


White mezcal, baby!

Phew, those tequilas anejo we had last week were really frustrating indeed (remember, always from a malt enthusiast’s point of view). So today, time to unleash the full Power of the Agave, with a slight wink to their neighbour in the north Donaldo T.

Alipús ‘San Juan del Rio’ (47.8%, OB, mezcal, +/-2015)

Alipús ‘San Juan del Rio’ (47.8%, OB, mezcal, +/-2015) Four starsI think this is espadin, so cultivated agave, from the village named San Luis del Rio. We’ve tried an earlier batch a few years ago and thought it was very good (WF 85). Colour: white. Nose: yeah, smoked meats and bacon, burnt herbs and olives, seawater, tinned gherkins, old wool (visiting Islay’s woollen mill), and yesterday’s oysters. Mouth: high-octane mezcal, with pots and pots of old pu-her tea, many smoked herbs, lime, fern, spearmint (bags and bags), and a dusty/waxy side that does remind me of Clynelish. Whether this is a malternative spirit or not is not debatable. It is. Finish: long, saltier and more lemony. Samphires and seaweed. Even smokier aftertaste. Comments: unquestionably, immaculately malternative. Unless we’re talking old sherry monsters of course. SGP:455 - 87 points.

Me happy, me go on…

Vago ‘Ensamble En Barro’ (50.5%, OB, mezcal, +/-2016)

Vago ‘Ensamble En Barro’ (50.5%, OB, mezcal, +/-2016) Three stars and a half Some small batch artisan mezcal from Sola de Vega, Oaxaca. As I understand it, the fields are kind of ‘complanted’, meaning that they grow different varieties of agaves in the same field. It’s all distilled in clay pot stills, so I guess you can’t make more authentic and artisanal mezcal than this. Colour: white. Nose: much lighter than the Alipús, without much smoke this time, but with more earth, humus, mushrooms, damp chalk, and all that. Say unpeated Caol Ila. Really! With water: more of all that, while it goes towards manure, cheese… Shall I quote gym socks? Mouth (neat): I’m positive this tastes like unpeated Caol Ila. Lemon syrup and green tea. It’s a fat spirit, and yet there is some lightness to it. In essence, it’s very lemony. With water: small berry eau-de-vie, really. Elderberry, sorb, rowan… Finish: long, earthy, lemony… Comments: it hasn’t got the immediacy of the Alipús, and that may come from its ‘complantation’ scheme. Not too sure. It’s very complex spirit, it just loses you at times. SGP:452 - 84 points.

La Venenoza ‘Raicilla Sur de Jalisco’ (47%, OB, +/-2016)

La Venenoza ‘Raicilla Sur de Jalisco’ (47%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars and a half I’m not too sure whether this is tequila or mezcal, knowing that all tequilas are mezcals. Ooh my head… Anyway, there’s a nice Ubu-esque gidouille on the label (right, it’s a snake) and you’ll be happy to learn that it was distilled in an ‘hybrid Filipino/Arabic still’. Colour: white. Nose: a wonderful earthy tequila, rather than a smoky mezcal. Mashed turnips and gentian eau-de-vie, plus notes of turmeric and crushed Brussels sprouts, as well as big white asparagus. Nothing that I do not like so far. Mouth: totally sublime, really. Extraordinary gherkins, olives and limes singing in unison, with an earthy/smoky background. It’s just not very deep spirit, but other than that, I just love it despite its inherent simplicity. Finish: rather less nice, loses points now. A little dirty and burnt, if they ever need a distiller, I know names… Comments: some sides are extraordinary, others a little too ‘artisan’. No wonder, raicilla actually being what moonshine is to bourbon – as I understand it. SGP:462 - 84 points.

Donaji 2015 (40%, OB, mezcal, +/-2016)

Donaji 2015 (40%, OB, mezcal, +/-2016) Two stars and a half Right, the name, the packaging and the story do suggest this is all made up. You know, princesses and all that, the equivalent to Norse gods or clan chiefs for Scotch. But let’s see… Colour: white. Nose: after the big ones we just had, this one’s got nothing, nada, niente, rien, nichts. Perhaps vase water? Mouth: no, it’s pretty okay, it’s good distillate, but it’s got a vanilla-ed/syrupy side that’s troubling, given that this is joven/blanco mezcal. Tinned pineapples. Finish: short to medium, a little nicer, brinier, more olive-y, earthier… Comments: let’s be honest, I should have tried this one as #1. I may do that next time, but for know, it’s a little disappointing… SGP:552 - 77 points.

A last one please…

Marca Negra ‘Ensamble’ (48.1%, OB, mezcal, +/-2016)

Marca Negra ‘Ensamble’ (48.1%, OB, mezcal, +/-2016) Four starsOne of the smartest packagings of the last few years if you ask me. This one’s involving several varieties of agaves, including espadin, madrecuishe, and bicuishe. No, only ever heard of espadin so far. Having said that, loved the brand’s ‘Dobadán’ (WF 86). Colour: white. Nose: this one’s more ‘engine-y’, more on oils and benzine at first nosing, then rather on forgotten vegetables. Jerusalem artichokes, parsnip, swede, all that. And ginseng, it actually reeks of ginseng. Mouth: luminously citrusy and earthy. God this is good! More ginseng, gentian, turmeric, ginger… And lime, grapefruits, greengages, rhubarb… It’s actually some rather fruity mezcal, but it’s got depth and, well, profoundness. Finish: rather long, fruity and rather floral. Hay and dandelion jelly. Comments: when easiness and complexity meet. Whatever. SGP:541 - 85 points.

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



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February 10, 2017


Ardbeg and Ardbeg and a kind of Bonus

Would this be a proper whisky blog without a few Ardbegs every once on a while? Today we’ll revisit an old quite-favourite and tackle a newish indie. Because, you know, it’s Ardbeg.

Ardbeg 15 yo 2001/2016 (47%, Dun Bheagan, casks #256, 258, 380, 682 bottles)

Ardbeg 15 yo 2001/2016 (47%, Dun Bheagan, casks #256, 258, 380, 682 bottles) Four stars I find it interesting that Ian MacLeod would vat three casks and sell the end result for a not-that-crazy-price. Still, 180€ a skittle… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather simple and lightish Ardbeg at first nosing, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Bitter almonds, hessian, sea air, clams, tarry ropes, and plenty of kelp. Really, it’s rather simple, but it does the job. Mouth: very good, with some tarry lemons and always this feeling of smoked marzipan, but it tends to become sharper and brinier, it’s becoming almost a cocktail with lemon juice, gherkin juice, and smoked water. Again, it’s rather simple, but it’s got this dry and ashy backbone that’s nowhere else to be experienced on Islay. Right, perhaps at the Indian restaurant in Port Ellen, what’s the name again? Right, Maharani, are they still active? Certainly hope so… Finish: medium, salty, olive-y, and almost mezcaly. Did you ever spot agaves on Islay? Comments: one Ardbeg that’s rather brinier, ashier, and more ‘gherkiny’ (please don’t shoot, Ed) than others. A minimal oak impact, that’s good. SGP:367 - 87 points.

Ardbeg 'Corryvreckan' (57.1%, OB, +/- 2016)

Ardbeg 'Corryvreckan' (57.1%, OB, +/- 2016) Two stars Corryvreckan, even if it hasn’t got any age statement (boo!), is one of the whiskies I should try to follow on a more regular basis. Mind you, last time I tried it, that was in 2014 and it was a 2012 bottling (WF 90). What’s good is that while, according to some, ‘you could make any whisky just anywhere’, this baby, last time I checked, was still carrying ‘a sense of the place’. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I’d swear they pushed the US oak. This reeks of plankish vanilla and sawdust at first nosing, and you have to wait for a few seconds before you may experience more Ardbegness. Tarry ropes, smoked almonds, old hessian, sea air, cider apples… Everything is slowly falling into place, but that wasn’t obvious. Mixed feelings… so far… With water: simple. Water doesn’t add much. A little varnish, perhaps. Mouth (neat): of course it’s quite good. Smoky lemons, marzipan, and kippery ashes. Right, ashy kippers. It’s just that it’s very simple and at this point, you would think it’s barely five years old. With water: hello? Planet Earth? What happened? Sawdust, ashes, and a little salt. That’s not quite enough. Finish: medium, ashy, and sawdusty. Rather unpleasant. Comments: where is my beloved Corrywreckan? This is some pretty soulless peaty/oaky whisky. Plus, horseshoes are better swimmers. The Dun Bheagan, which wasn’t a show frog, was much, much better in my opinion. What's sure is that I won't swap a case of this for one bottle of Ardbeg Ten! SGP:347 - 75 points (out of Christian charity and because I love the distillery and its people).

Bad bad mood at WF Towers… the whisky world seems to be falling to pieces… Corrywreckan! Perhaps shall we find some relief in some newer cat such as this one. You may call this a desperate attempt if you wish…

Ailsa Bay (48.9%, OB, +/-2016)

Ailsa Bay (48.9%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars After all, it starts with an A, doesn’t it. And the malted barley was peated to 21ppm, apparently. This is Aisla Bay’s first release, it seems. William Grant’s Roseisle, you know. Colour: straw. Nose: pears, coal smoke, porridge, boiled ham, smoky lapsang souchong. A smoker’s jacket. That is pretty all. Perhaps a little uninteresting, but I can’t find any obvious flaws. I’m thinking of some aguardientes. Mouth: extremely simple and very one-dimensional, but yeah, it’s not ugly, it’s just very ashy. Porridge from Porridge’s, some gingery oak, and a few bready flavours. Some virgin oak involved? Finish: medium, sweet, cinnamony, gingery, and ashy. A feeling of smoked pears. Comments: feels immature, and as always, more oak just cannot make up for the lack of ageing (yeah, time).  At some point any taster should wonder if he/she would actually drink what he/she’s tasting. The answer here is probably not. An anecdotal bottle in my opinion, I can’t see who would sip this while listening to Mozart. Or even to poor Mariah Carey. SGP:456 - 70 points.

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



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February 9, 2017


Three indie Aultmore

Aultmore is not an underdog!

Aultmore-Glenlivet 19 yo 1997/2017 (54.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles)

Aultmore-Glenlivet 19 yo 1997/2017 (54.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles) Four stars A brand new one. Apparently, there’s also a new Aultmore 19 in the Small Batch range. Colour: white wine. Nose: pure barley eau-de-vie with a thin layer of custard mixed with green tea, and then growing Williams pears as well as whiffs of camphor and damp chalk. A very fresh nose, probably x-fill wood. With water: same, really. Perhaps a touch of hay? Mouth (neat): a rather acidic arrival, with bags of lemon bonbons, green gooseberries and plums, and then some very lemony ginger eau-de-vie (try Metté’s!) Or perhaps some very citrusy gin, but I’m totally uncultured with regards to gin. With water: add a little spearmint and a drop of mezcal. Finish: medium, really on some kind of lime-y mezcal. Comments: a very naked oldish Aultmore. We’re close to Nature with this one. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Aultmore 24 yo 1990/2014 (46%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection, sherry butt)

Aultmore 24 yo 1990/2014 (46%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection, sherry butt) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: wah, millionaire shortbread, old Madeira, Brussels sprouts, cigars, walnut wine, leather, Swiss cheese, manure… Aren’t we very curious about the palate now? With this kind of slightly cabbage)y nose, it’ll be either brilliant, or totally wrecked, let’s see… Mouth: well, it’s more an old dry sherry than malt whisky! It’s closer to sherry than, well, brandy de Jerez. Wheelbarrows of walnuts, bitter caramel, cigars, asparagus, soft mustard, all-spice mix… Finish: long, on exactly the same flavours, although the tobacco-ish side tends to grow and grow. An obvious saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: some rather extreme dry-sherried malt. I have to say I like this quite a lot, but it’s probably pretty segmenting. SGP:262 - 88 points.

Sherry? Sherry!

Aultmore 25 yo 1990/2016 (54.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11066, 302 bottles)

Aultmore 25 yo 1990/2016 (54.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11066, 302 bottles) Five stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: oh well, you know that song. Prunes, raisins, chocolate, cigars, humus, coffee, Christmas cake, whiffs of crushed mint leaves… So with water: and right there, maduro cigars and walnut cakes. Mouth (neat): some very rich, and very excellent I should add, sherry monster. You just cannot not think of old-style Macallan. Pipe tobacco, Corinth raisins, figs, marmalade… In short, the whole shebang. With water: oranges! Superb notes of Seville marmalade… Finish: long, orange-y, softly spicy, with more cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent total sherry monster, a Wagner of whiskydom. What’s more, balance was achieved. SGP:462 - 90 points.

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



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February 8, 2017


A short study of The Macallan

Macallan, former Grand Cru of malt whisky, has lost the interest of many a whisky enthusiast, while gaining, I’m sure, much more traction amongst the wealthy unlearned. They’ve totally become ‘a brand’, while many other distilleries have remained, well, distilleries. Probably a very smart move financially, after all there are very few genuine whisky enthusiasts like you and me out there, and we already own more whisky than we can drink anyway, don’t we. Now, some recent moves, such as the re-introduction of some age-stated young whiskies, may change all that again. Let’s see… And let’s start all this with a newer bottling of the often criticized - not by me - ‘Gold’, as a benchmark…

Macallan ‘Gold’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Macallan ‘Gold’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars From the infamous no-age-statement ‘1824 Series’. To be honest, when we first tried it in 2012, we had though it was more than okay (WF 81). Colour: light gold. Nose: it really is very okay, vanilla-ed, malty, and fruity (plums, oranges and citrons). I wouldn’t say there’s a lot to add, except that it tends to become a little earthier, with touches of moist old wood, which is certainly not un-nice. All in all, a nice freshness. Mouth: perhaps a little weak and short, because of the low strength, which makes it frustrating, especially since the profile is most pleasant, fresh, citrusy, and even kind of joyous. Really like these notes of Fruit Loops and jelly babies, candied angelica, and dried apple rings… Really, too bad it’s a little, say disembodied. Finish: very short. Did we just have whisky? Comments: I don’t know if they’re going to keep this expression, but if they do, they should up their game and switch to 43 or 44% vol. I think the juice itself is very nice, hence my good score. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Macallan 12 yo ‘Double Cask’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Macallan 12 yo ‘Double Cask’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars Ha, double casks! That’s nothing when you already have ‘four oaks’ elsewhere (Laphroaig). But is all that only silicone for whisky? Let’s see… Oh and this has been aged in ‘a combination of American oak and ex-sherry casks’. Very vague, I’d say, but as they say in Washington, it’s only the result that counts. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: to be honest, I liked the freshness of the ‘Gold’ a little better. This one’s nice as well, but it’s a little more, yeah, vague, with wee leafy smells, some kinds of dusty nuts, and this feeling of old books that can be brilliant… Or not. Some burnt sugar too, toasts… Mouth: once again, it’s the low strength that makes it a little too flabby and frustrating. There’s some cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as walnuts, but it feels bizarrely empty, there isn’t enough fruity kick to support those dry spicy notes. Finish: very short and quite dry. As if we’ve just had black tea that we had sweetened with aspartame. Comments: I’m disappointed. I was so glad they had added a proper age statement! But between us and frankly, 40% have now totally gotten passé. Like red wine at 11.5%, you know… SGP:341 - 74 points.

Macallan 12 yo ‘Sherry’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Macallan 12 yo ‘Sherry’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars 40% again, I’m afraid, so no high hopes. We used to have the older 12 sherry from the late 1990s at +/-84 points (but they were still bottling it at 43%), the newer ones from the early to mid 2000s at +/-80… Let’s see what will happen now. Colour: bronze gold. Nose: sure it’s not big, but it is rather nice, despite a few disturbing whiffs of pencil shavings. Large-brand chocolate, brownies, garden peat (and other earthy things), dried porcinis… Sadly, it really fades away after just two minutes, to the point where I’m thinking I should have used an amplifying glass instead of my faithful tulip glass. Goodbye! Mouth: ah, more power now, at least for a while. More oomph and flavours than in the Double Cask, cloves, marmalade, chocolate cake, pecan pie… But then, again, it tends to become thin. What’s nicer is that oranges remain there. Finish: short and thin, but not as evanescent as the humble Double Cask. Orange cake covered with chocolate. Comments: lovely whisky, very very lovely whisky. It’s just a crying shame that it’s this thin. Next time I think I’m going to add a few drops of surgical spirit at 90%. Wouldn’t that work? SGP:451 - 81 points.

More power please… let us look to the indies!...

Macallan 25 yo 1991/2016 (51.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11489, 231 bottles)

Macallan 25 yo 1991/2016 (51.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11489, 231 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: a proper age, a very ‘refill’ cask according to the colour, and so a neater expression of the distillery. That is to say rather fat fruits, around bananas and small pineapples (some American oak still at play, perhaps), williams pears, late-season apples, and unexpected hints of bubblegum and marshmallows. Mind you, this is still ‘young’. With water: whiffs of fresh mushrooms and moss, always nice. Mouth (neat): bags of playful assorted fruits, jellies, jams, and sweets. The distillate makes me think of Aberlour (unsherried), with this ueberfruitiness that works so well. Lovely hints of Japanese macha, orange blossom water, pineapples again… It really is playful. With water: our beloved fruit salad topped with barley syrup. Finish: medium, fresh, fruity, are rather more cerealy than expected. Comments: I’m not sure, would someone have asked me how old this baby was, that I would have answered ‘25’. More like 12 or 15, but it’s extremely good. Macallan totally au naturel, baby. SGP:641 - 88 points.

Don’t we have room for a last one? One that should rock our boat?...

Macallan-Glenlivet ‘As We Get It’ (57.3%, J.G. Thomson & Co., 75cl, +/-1975?)

Macallan-Glenlivet ‘As We Get It’ (57.3%, J.G. Thomson & Co., 75cl, +/-1975?) Four stars and a half We’ve already tried many wonders in this series. Sadly there aren’t many details to be obtained, but our hopes are deep. Colour: gold. No heavy sherry, I suppose. Nose: what what what? This is e-xac-tly the same nose as that of the Douglas Laing, aroma for aroma. Perhaps just a tiny wee touch of vanilla missing in this one, but that is all. Amazing – and no, I did not muddle up my glasses. With water: last week’s cut grass and freshly squeezed orange juice. Mouth (neat): ho ho ho… Small berries and the eaux-de-vie distilled thereof, this is as close to some ‘pure’ distillate as you could get. In other words, the cask seems to have filtered out the unwanted molecules – which is one of his duties, as you know – but it did not impart any additional flavours. Not one. The end result is pretty brilliant, albeit a little simple, on barley water, melons, ripe apples, cherries, and lemongrass. Wheelbarrowloads of lemongrass. With water: same, just the same. Perhaps a notch more on sweet barley notes. Finish: only medium, but so perfectly barley-ish that you would start to declaim poetry. No, not obligatorily Robert Burns. Comments: good, it’s probably not one of the most majestic ‘As-We-Get-Its’, but while it’s certainly much younger, we’re only one point below the rather superb XOP. SGP:541 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Michel Portal. Track: Mutinerie. Please buy his music...

February 7, 2017


Four more Springbank, officials

Look, I’ve just checked that we’ve spent far more than six (6) long weeks without tasting any Springbank here! How’s that possible? Let’s rectify the situation, starting with an apéritif…

Springbank 10 yo ‘Against The Grain’ (46, OB for Oddbins, +/-2000)

Springbank 10 yo ‘Against The Grain’ (46, OB for Oddbins, +/-2000) Five stars A lovely label and a bottle that’s becoming rare. Colour: gold. Nose: typical Springbank from that era. In all honesty, I prefer the ones that had been distilled either in the 1960s (more complex), or since the mid-1990s (more oomph and minerality), but I won’t deny that this nose is quite awesome, as it’s ridden with honeyed notes and overripe fruits. Figs and mead, I’d say. In fact it’s rather very meady. Some drying kelp in the distance, but also something that I sometimes find in these batches, something slightly plastic-like. Mouth: no, cancel all what I said, this is rather excellent. Grapefruit marmalade and lavender honey, mirabelle jam, more mead, and something distantly coastal, hard to describe. Perhaps some kind of Japanese brine, I don’t know… A little pipe tobacco too, but the grapefruit jam always stays in the front. Finish: long, slightly hammy/meaty, always with these perfect notes of grapefruits and mead. And this brine in the aftertaste. Comments: we all know that ages don’t mean much with these batches, as some kind of mismanagement of production did make them bottle some much older whiskies as younger ones, because of large gaps in the inventory. Well that’s what rumour has, but what’s sure is this doesn’t not taste exactly ‘ten’. SGP:562 - 90 points.

And now, newer stuff, perhaps another ten…

Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, 2016)

Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, 2016) Five stars Not everyone agrees with the new livery, but to me it shouts ‘we don’t care about the outside, it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts’. Something only self-confident brands can do, while I believe there aren’t that many of them in whiskydom. But onto this wee tenner, while keeping in mind that I had just adored its predecessor last year (WF 91). Colour: gold. Nose: no, really, it’s becoming boring. Such a perfect dry, almost top-manzanilla-like profile, with everything sooty, inky, tarry, mineral, saline… Even its fermentary side is a hit, when that can be totally disastrous elsewhere. And look, plasticine, that can be seen as a flaw elsewhere, but not here, because of the way it mingles with the other aromas. Boring boring Springbank… Mouth: I’m very upset now. I was hoping for some tiny flaws, something shaky, something that would keep the conversation going, something controversial… But this palate is disappointingly immaculate, deplorably perfect, and lamentably satisfying. Tarry lemon juice, waxy minerals, and sooty herbs. You know, I’m feeling I’m about to lose my temper… Finish: I’ve just decided to go on strike. After all, Alsatians are also French. Comments: I said no. SGP:452 – 92 points (but that’s my very last warning).

Good, let’s go on, I’m sure we’ll find more flaws in the new 18. Dead sure.

Springbank 18 yo (46%, OB, 7200 bottles, 2016)

Springbank 18 yo (46%, OB, 7200 bottles, 2016) Four stars I’m asking you, who wears purple? Bishops, Volkswagens, and Springbank, that’s about it. Yeah, and poor Melania. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not got the sublime brightness of the 10, neither has it got its immediate minerality, and just between us, I believe the sherry’s to blame. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong (well done, S.) but while the 10 is so wonderfully streamlined, this one’s got too many side notes in my opinion. Like some gas/eggs/truffles, for example, or some kind of cardboardy ultra-dry cocoa. On the other hand, I do enjoy these wild mushrooms and the notes of soy sauce and lovage (Maggi). It’s just that the 10 was so perfectly sleek… Mouth: ah, this is not as unsound as I had thought. Good smoky and salty chocolate, some umami, parsley, Seville oranges, salty black olives (always a hit at WF Towers) melissa water, kippers, brine… And some drying cardboard too. Finish: medium, and rather ‘bouillony’. Now this feeling of salted oranges is not uncommon in some Springbanks. Comments: of course it’s very good, it’s just that I should have tried it before the 10. Which no serious taster would have done anyway, since we need law and order, don’t we.. SGP:452 - 86 points.

So, because of that 18 that’s very-good-not-great, we might need another one to call this a tasting session…

Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (56.3%, OB, 2016)

Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (56.3%, OB, 2016) Five stars Warning, warning and alert, there’s 70% sherry casks in the mix. Let’s proceed with caution… By the way, this is still the older livery, I don’t quite know what was wrong with it. Colour: gold. Nose: that’s the problem with electric cars, you don’t get all these wonderful fumes anymore. Now indeed I do get whiffs of old power cables, 1995 Macintosh, and indeed ‘old’ exhaust. Plus fresh concrete, cigars, and new walnuts. And mushrooms after the rain, chalk, carbolinium, leatherette… In short, Springbank. Bwilliant. With water: mother earth. And an old cabinet of Partagas 8-9-8. As far as I can remember, haven’t touched a cigar since years. Yeah, varnished or not. Mouth (neat): smoked limoncello and tarry lemon curd. A little icing sugar, perhaps. If it’s sherry it’s fino, and if they say otherwise, they’re lying. There. With water: amazing lemon, salt, and earth. Smoky. Our lovely olives are back, please call the anti-maltoporn brigade, chop-chop! Finish: sadly. Comments: it’s not utterly complex whisky, and it hasn’t got the 10’s unquestionable immediacy. That’s why I’ll only give it… SGP:373 - 91 points.

(Gracias, Greg and Paul)

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Jean My Truong. Track: A new soul. Please visit his website and buy his music...

February 6, 2017


Long time no Ardmore

Let’s do something to help the situation! We’ll see if we find some very peated ones, you never quite know with Ardmore…

Ardmore 8 yo 2008/2016 (58.7%, North Star Spirits, refill barrel, 198 bottles)

Ardmore 8 yo 2008/2016 (58.7%, North Star Spirits, refill barrel, 198 bottles) Four stars Another one from this very serious and very lovely new range of whiskies. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s one of these bourbon casks that give out hints of dry leafy sherry, but that way as well be the peat, since this is seriously smoky. I’m thinking pine cone smoke, charcoal, or garden bonfire… Some parts remind me of Tomintoul’s Ballantruan. With water: more traditional, more ‘kilny’. Could you smoke apples? Mouth (neat): it’s funny how it feels ‘American craft’, with a very bready smokiness, liquorice, more saps and resins, and then Seville oranges and candied angelica. I’d have never said refill barrel, this feels like first fill or even virgin oak. With water: same comments. A gingery smoke. Finish: long, sweet and pungent at the same time, with some very lovely notes of honey coming out. Ever tried agapanthus honey? Comments: there must have been some kind of innovation going on. And that was a success. Young, modern, and pretty glorious. SGP:555 - 87 points.

While I’m at it, some friends have said that honey was honey, and that going into more details was just, well, superfluous in tasting notes. Poppycock! There can be more differences between two kinds of honey than between a banana and a redcurrant, while both are fruits. Anyway…

Ardlair 5 yo 2009/2015 (47.6%, The Whisky Agency and Acla Da Fans, sherry, 391 bottles)

Ardlair 5 yo 2009/2015 (47.6%, The Whisky Agency and Acla Da Fans, sherry, 391 bottles) Three stars and a half As you may know, Ardlair is the name of Ardmore’s unpeated malt whisky, sometimes nicknamed ‘Ardless’ by the owners themselves. Colour: straw. Nose: plain and pure malt whisky. Barley, ale, lime, vanilla, grass. Probably a little elementary, but totally flawless. The sherry is anecdotal – is there any sherry? Mouth: simple, and extremely good. Sweet malt, bonbons, icing sugar, lemon curd, and repeat. Finish: medium, with a few more grassy and herbal elements. Lime tea, for example. Comments: some excellent, yet elementary young malt whisky that got it all going on. SGP:551 - 83 points.

Ardmore 20 yo 1992/2012 (48.6%, Archives, barrel, cask #4764)

Ardmore 20 yo 1992/2012 (48.6%, Archives, barrel, cask #4764) Five stars Long gone of course, I’m a bit late again. Five years late, pfff… Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s much more austere, sootier, ashier, and indeed more complex. Vegetal oils, barbecued aubergines (don’t ask), metal polish, coal, and then that argan oil that we love so much. So sad that 90% of what’s sold in the world is fake argan oil, but I digress… Mouth: perfect smoky lemon and guavas, and even bananas, camphor, passion fruits, pink grapefruits… Sweet Vishnu, how glorious is this! Extremely well chiselled and super-ultra-clean. Finish: medium, concise, tropical and smoky. Smoked maracujas or something. Comments: some of the very best high-precision Ardmores ever. To think that I needed five years to find out. SGP:555 - 90 points.

It’s going to be difficult to ‘climb over’ that 1992, but where there's a will there's a way.

Ardmore 30 yo 1977/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill sherry, cask #DL 3514, 427 bottles)

Ardmore 30 yo 1977/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill sherry, cask #DL 3514, 427 bottles) Four stars In fact, I had already tried this baby some ten years ago, and thought it was terrible (WF 45) and probably corked. That’s why I’m trying it again, from another bottle provided by my friend Patrick B. Let’s not remain unfair! Colour: gold. Nose: an oily nose for sure, and we’re rather talking graphite oil. I’m also finding cut flowers, peonies for sure, blackcurrant buds, quite some bacon and smoked meats, green walnuts, charcoal, coal tar… Much in line with what I had found back in 2008, but things rather went pear-shaped on the palate, you see… Mouth: okay, it was an accident. This has no glue, no rotting fruits, and no plastic, rather a sharp, lemony peat that’s very clean if a wee tad simplistic given the age of this dram. Some sharp herbal notes, around rocket salad and ‘stuff’, plus this feeling of smoked lemon juice. Green pepper. Finish: long, sharp, and green. Cuts you a bit, while ‘a trace of sherriness’ tends to make it through the smokescreen. Green walnuts. Comments: I’m glad I was wrong, and happy to rehabilitate this wee old Ardmore. Something you can’t quite do on paper, can you! SGP:465 - 85 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Gilad Atzmon. Track: Manhattan. Please visit his website and buy his music...

February 5, 2017


It's not that good, it was ridiculous

All right, all right, indeed yesterday’s tasting note for the Trump Glendronach was fake and a joke – agreed, probably a bad one – but I thought I should write this additional comment because it seems that around 1% of your friends did not quite get that. Anyway, let’s set the record straight, and after the ‘alternative’ one, re-publish the genuine tasting note. Adios, see you tomorrow.

Originally posted on May 30, 2014

Glendronach 26 yo 1985/2012 'Trump' (53.3%, OB for Trump Golf Links, Pedro Ximenez, cask #1036, 504 bottles)

Glendronach 26 yo 1985/2012 'Trump' (53.3%, OB for Trump Golf Links, Pedro Ximenez, cask #1036, 504 bottles) Three stars and a half That’s right, cough, Donald Trump. Cough. It seems that he did not select the cask himself, as he does not drink. Cough. Colour: amber. Nose: there are wee touches of sulphur and mashed turnips at very first sniffs, quite some struck matches too, but it tends to become more and more ‘all right’, with the expected leather, tobacco, chocolate, raisins and beef jerky. With water: more cigars, and assorted (used) matches. Quite some humus too, musty old cellar, saltpetre… Mouth (neat): well, I have to say I quite like this palate, which is rather unusual. No PX sweetness, rather some game, Spanish ham, bitter oranges, earthy liqueurs, tar, pu-erh tea… But there’s also a strange sourness. Eglantine tea, perhaps? With water: same, not much changes. Finish: rather long, earthy, gamy, leafy, leathery. Comments: very fine, but Donald J. Trump can do better. Well, not too sure ‘bout dat... Anyway, several of these Pedro Ximenez casks are unusually un-sweet in my opinion. SGP:462 - 84 points.

February 4, 2017


It's so good, it's ridiculous


Glendronach 26 yo 1985/2012 'Trump' (53.3%, OB for Trump Golf Links, Pedro Ximenez, cask #1036, 504 bottles) Five stars Colour: this is the sexiest colour in Scotchland, it’s fantastic. Nose: look at this nose, this big fat nose, it’s not flat like, for example, Haig Club. It’s so flat, total disaster. This is the best nose, love it. It is great. It’s so terrific. We have the best nose, this nose is a big plus. The Mexican whiskeys, they call it tequila, have the worst noses, just look, no Mexicans in Scotchland, because they have Hadrian’s Wall. Look at that wall, it works, it’s great. The Scotch have made the Romans pay for it, they’re smart. Brilliant. Mouth: love it. The most powerful palate in the world. We invented it, you’ll love it, all the other palates make no sense, believe it. This one’s that good, it’s ridiculous. Ri-di-cu-lous. Isn’t it ridiculous? It’s the best palate, believe me, it’s great. Like fried meatloafs and cheese bites, they are terrific. With water: I tell you, I’ll bring back waterboarding in whisky, believe me. Finish: amazing. I’m automatically attracted to those finishes, it’s like a magnet. It’s so sad other distillers are forcing their most unwanted whiskeys into the United States. So sad. Comments: this whiskey’s so good, and so smart like me, I’m calling for a total shutdown of other whiskeys entering the United States until our whisky writers can figure out what’s going on. Such a disgrace, it’s sad. But some news, I’ve signed an executive order that pushes all whiskey manufacturers in Scotchland to return to the United States. I have a great relationship with the people in Scotchland, but we have to make our country great again. SGP:who needs that? - 100 points, it’s so good, it’s ridiculous, believe me.

February 3, 2017


Deanston, Watson!

Yes, some Deanston for a change. Not that there are many of them around, but I’m trying to give each and every distillery a chance every once in a while. So, today, it’s Deanston’s choice…

Deanston 15 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, refill butt, cask #1343, 787 bottles)

Deanston 15 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, refill butt, cask #1343, 787 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: nice! First tobacco, gunpowder, mustard, and walnuts, then bitter oranges and leather, then malt and leather. It’s got an amontillado feeling that I really enjoy, you could chill this and sip it while eating olives somewhere in a small plaza in Jerez. Mouth: a little more candied and malty at first sips, but the dry leathery sherry is soon to strike back, with its attendant walnuts and bitter oranges. It’s even got a fino-ish minerality, and even this saltiness. Really very nice, if this as refill indeed, and I wouldn’t doubt that, it was second fill. Finish: medium, with more walnuts and salty candied oranges. Comments: there are real gems within this rather affordable series by Signatory, and this dry Deanston was another example. Some sister casks had been less ‘clean’, in my opinion. SGP:362 - 84 points.

Deanston ‘Batch 2’ (49.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 248 bottles, +/-2014)

Deanston ‘Batch 2’ (49.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 248 bottles, +/-2014) Three stars and a half Ah those funny NAS! Colour: straw. Nose: oh this is funny indeed. Whiffs of soap and musty cellar, greens covered with mint sauce, damp fabric, plasticine, metal polish, engine grease, sour apples, dough, lemon juice… Very unusual indeed. Mouth: more catholic, as we Catholics say, with cleaner oranges and other citrus fruits, fresh caramel, green gooseberries and rhubarb, fresh hazelnuts, and perhaps a pinhead of lavender soap. Forgot to mention plasticine. Finish: rather long, greener and a little bitterer. Pinesap? Comments: unusual indeed. Perhaps not a bottle that you’d down in a flash, but whenever you need a different and totally un-commercial dram, this baby would make for a worthy candidate. The whisky world needs these funny drams. SGP:361 - 83 points.

(With thanks to Greg and Paul)



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Dana Gillespie. Track: Happy Birthday Blues. Please visit her website and buy her music...

February 2, 2017


Two 21 years old Tobermory

Tobermory? Let’s be honest, their peated version, Ledaig, is really stealing the show these days. But their regular juice, well… Having said that, in the news, the distillery will be closed for two years while they’re upgrading it!

Tobermory 21 yo 1994/2015 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #DL10950, 306 bottles)

Tobermory 21 yo 1994/2015 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #DL10950, 306 bottles) Two stars Shall we find a mashy/porridgy profile? Colour: white wine. Nose: you bet, this is pure porridge and mashed Jerusalem artichokes matured in stoneware. You may add concentrated lemon juice and drops of grape pips oil, while the whole’s getting even more acetic. With water: cardboard and new plastic pouch (you can’t find them in France anymore, but I still remember them). Mouth (neat): a surprisingly creamy and even syrupy arrival, but it’s soon to become bitter, extremely herbal, and I cannot not think of that thing called Underberg, that my uncles used to down after any serious Sunday meal. With water: mashed turnips, salted. And sugar syrup. Finish: quite long and rather lemony, but a feinty side remains there. Comments: interesting for sure - I'm glad they bottled this - and probably challenging. Drinkable, though, but drop by drop, for educational purposes. Or for the record! SGP:262 - 71 points.

Tobermory 21 yo 1995/2016 (53.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 246 bottles)

Tobermory 21 yo 1995/2016 (53.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 246 bottles) Four stars and a half Let’s see if the skilled people in Campbeltown will manage to clear this hurdle… Colour: straw. Nose: where’s the plastic? The turnips? The mashed potatoes? The feints? This one seems to be rather approachable, ‘normal’ in a way, earthy, medicinal (tincture of iodine), with some freshly broken wood, apple peeling, mushrooms? This is intriguing, it’s certainly cleaner than the average Tobermory… With water: smoked ink, I’d say. Saltpetre and carbon paper. Mouth (neat): yeah, it’s Ledaig. Or a blend of Ledaig with Tobermory, or something. A salty/peaty tang, lemons, seawater, ink, grapefruits, chillies, ashes… Yeah yeah yeah… With water: very good, peaty. Slightly peatier than Talisker 10, to give you an idea. Finish: quite long, and very salty. Comments: yeah next time I’ll bottle some Brora 1972 and call it The Claymore! That’ll be commercially suicidal of course, but at least we’ll have some fun. Yeah, Tobermory, right… SGP:356 - 88 points.

PS: indeed, quite a few Ledaigs have been named Tobermory in the past, this is not a first.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Bireli Lagrene. Track: Cool Blue. Please visit his website and buy his music...

February 1, 2017


More great old undisclosed Speysiders

There are more of them, those Ballindallochs, Whiskies That Cannot Be Named, Very Old Speysides, Speyside Regions, and other Secret Seysides. They are often said to stem from that famous family-owned independent Speyside distillery starting with a G, while they’re also sometimes blended malts, so let’s have a few again, sorted by ascending strengths…

Speyside ‘Very Old Selection’ (45.8%, Sansibar, Dutch Whisky Association, selected by Peter Van Vliet, blended malt, butt, 187 bottles, 2016)

Speyside ‘Very Old Selection’ (45.8%, Sansibar, Dutch Whisky Association, selected by Peter Van Vliet, blended malt, butt, 187 bottles, 2016) Four stars No age, no vintage, no distillery… Just a region and a trustworthy provenance. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts very malty and grassy, pretty austere, with even a little rubber, also fresh hazelnuts and almonds. Goes on with more ‘engine-y’ notes, damps chalk, brake fluid, Bakelite… All that is very nice, it’s not one of those rich and very honeyed/raisiny ones at all. More fresh walnuts, cut apples, and more barley after five minutes... Mouth: really malty again, with also some olive oil, grape pips oil, green coffee beans, bitter oranges… It’s only after around three minutes that more fruity sweetness emerges, around marmalade and sweet curry, green plums, and a feeling of dried beef. Jerky or bresaola? You decide. Finish: rather long, and pretty grassy and herbal. Propolis, cinnamon, leather, menthol… A curious trace of peat in the aftertaste. Comments: a little funky and yet austere at times, and it needs your time indeed, but then it’ll deliver. Worth repeated tastings, as they say. SGP:471 - 87 points.

Speyside Finest Whisky 1975/2016 (46.9%, Beacon Spirits)

Speyside Finest Whisky 1975/2016 (46.9%, Beacon Spirits) Five stars We‘ve tried many from these batches, and many have been just superb. Colour: light gold. Nose: a wee touch of artichoke and plasticine at very first sniffings, and then it would just unfold on many many fruity and herbal notes, all rather beautiful. Malt, steamed rice (which is close), then honey cake, stewed tropical fruits (bananas first, then wacky guavas), golden raisins, and more and more wax polish. And myriads of tinier touches. Mouth: exceptionally honeyed, perhaps a tad spritzig for a few seconds (Schweppes), then we have oranges kept in spicy oak, cigarette tobacco, and tiny camphory/leafy touches. A tiny wee touch of chilli, perhaps, or even horseradish. You couldn’t fall asleep while sipping this. Finish: long, with a perfect balance between the tart fruits and a green spicy bitterness. Comments: perfect, one could spend a whole evening with a glass of this in the hands. Who said a bottle? SGP:561 - 91 points.

Old Speyside 1973/2016 (47.8%, Eiling Lim, 118 bottles)

Old Speyside 1973/2016 (47.8%, Eiling Lim, 118 bottles) Five starsI think the 1973s are less common than the 1975s. Colour: gold. Nose: some kind of walnut cake covered with grappa-flavoured icing sugar and full of honeydew and bits of orange zests. More ‘natural’ barley-y notes after that, wash, earth, perhaps even mashed turnips, all that being just perfect. Perhaps a drop of Japanese Bulldog sauce (new on Whiskyfun! ;-). I think it is an exceptional nose. Mouth: typical early 1970s Speysider, quite in the vein of all those 1972 Caperdonichs, or 1970 Glen Grants or Benriachs… Stewed orchard fruits covered with honey and many soft spices from the oak. Some propolis as well, again. I know some of you do not know what propolis is, well it’s something that the bees make out of wax and various resins that they gather from some trees. Highly antiseptic. Excuse me? Yeah, just like old whisky. Finish: medium, perfect. Waxy honey and softly spiced fruits. Some kind of Thai dish? A little green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: high category, as expected. Hope we’ll see more of these in 2017 (and 2018, 2019, 2020…) SGP:561 - 91 points.

Perhaps one from a few years ago, and we’re done…

Speyside Region 41 yo 1969/2010 (54.3%, The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 195 bottles)

Speyside Region 41 yo 1969/2010 (54.3%, The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 195 bottles) Five stars Yes I know I should have tried this baby much earlier, but we’re doing what we can! Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s earthy and more mentholy. In a way, it’s from a different age of whiskydom. Some balms, camphor, iris, hyacinth, freesia… Indeed it’s very floral! Also pollen and nectar, which is connected of course, and a little mead (same comment). And ale. With water: wonderful old wood, old books, thyme tea, ‘good mud’… That’s perfect. Mouth (neat): bigger than the others, and that’s probably not only the higher strength. More oranges and grapefruits, our beloved kumquats (did you know hey have banned them in the Netherlands?), thin mints, lemongrass, and yet again, propolis. Propolis often comes with very old wood. Grassy-ish honeydew. With water: very ale-y, almost hoppy, with more honey again, orange cake, kugelhopf dough… You cannot be against that. Brilliant old whisky. Finish: medium, with a magnificent mentholy and lemony side. If you ever mention mojitos, I’ll kill you (just a tribute to Richard Paterson, for no particular reason). Comments: we’re flying very high again SGP:561 - 92 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Adrien Moignard. Track: Some skunk funk. Please buy his music...

January 2017 - part 2 <--- February 2017 - part 1 ---> February 2017 - part 2



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardmore 20 yo 1992/2012 (48.6%, Archives, barrel, cask #4764)

Aultmore 25 yo 1990/2016 (54.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11066, 302 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 44 yo 1968/2013 (41.2%, Glen Fahrn Airline, refill oak, No.14)

Bunnahabhain 34 yo 1980/2014 (46.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #847945, 257 bottles)

Old Speyside 1973/2016 (47.8%, Eiling Lim, 118 bottles)

Speyside Finest Whisky 1975/2016 (46.9%, Beacon Spirits)

Speyside Region 41 yo 1969/2010 (54.3%, The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 195 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo ‘Against The Grain’ (46, OB for Oddbins, +/-2000)

Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, 2016)

Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (56.3%, OB, 2016)