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


January 2018 - part 2 <--- February 2018 - part 1 ---> February 2018 - part 2


February 14, 2018


Tormore vertically

It’s well known that Tormore’s one of the fruitiest malts there ever was, and we’re talking fresh fruits here. It’s to be noted that fifteen years ago, not all indie Tormores were stellar, but in my opinion, the distillery did up their game again around the late 1980s… Well, that’s what the whisky chatterati say. Vitamins, here we come…

Tormore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Tormore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars
I last tried this baby, under the very same livery, in 2009, but this is a newer expression. Which is good news since the older one had been rather weak (WF 72). Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed, some improvements may have occurred, as I’m finding this nose perfectly fruity, with ripe red apples and rather papayas, then even passion fruits. I find it much, much less mashy and grainy than last time I tried Tormore 12. Mouth: surprise surprise, this is very fine, delicately fruity (fruit salad) and, well, really pleasant. Touches of mangos and passion fruits again, just two drops of pear juice, and then breakfast cereals. Just any, really, I’m no expert. Finish: a tad short, perhaps, but the lovely  fruitiness is still there. Comments: very commendable, and quite closer to the superb old white labels from the 1960s and 1970s. Which says a lot… Bang for you buck!
SGP:641 - 85 points.

Tormore 2002/2017 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, Côte Rôtie Wood Finish, 4000 bottles)

Tormore 2002/2017 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, Côte Rôtie Wood Finish, 4000 bottles) Three stars and a half
I have to say this Côte Rôtie thing is scary. Love my northern Syrahs, but just like, say Nebbiolos, I don’t think those wines tango too well with malt whisky. But let’s see… Colour: apricot. Nose: well, a pile of coal and bags of potpourri and dried rose petals, with hints of raspberries in the background. Not too sure what to think, I’m not finding the nose of this premix unpleasant, not at all. Mouth: starts rather soft, but the very spicy wood and the notes of bitter oranges and tamarind from the wine are soon to come to the front of the stage, together with these leafy and leathery notes that would often come with French oak and red wine. Also prunes, damsons, blood oranges, and more raspberries. To my amazement, this rather works, maybe because the fruity spirit and the wine do kind of converge here, for once. Finish: medium, not too wine-y, and very fruity. More blood oranges. Comments: so a finishing in red wine that actually worked pretty well in my book. Probably not a monster of a Côte Rôtie, having said that.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Tormore 20 yo 1995/2016 (59.4%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask for HNWS Taiwan, refill butt, cask #HL12137, 248 bottles)

Tormore 20 yo 1995/2016 (59.4%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask for HNWS Taiwan, refill butt, cask #HL12137, 248 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one straight from the very active Taiwanese whisky scene. Colour: deep gold. Nose: ah, tarte tatin made with both sliced apples and apricots, plus some orange honey, marmalade, and plenty of figs. I suppose the sherry made this Tormore a tad rounder, and less freshly fruity, but the end result is most appealing. Although some whiffs of maracuja do appear in the back of the background after two minutes. With water: perfect, moss, herbs, rainwater, porridge… And all the fruits to boot. Mouth (neat): perfect, just perfect indeed, zesty, slightly mentholy, and moderately raisiny. Crush a banana, add mint leaves, drizzle honey, add orange juice, add two drops of olive oil, three raisins… And there. With water: gets more citrusy, so cleaner and zestier, which is always welcome. Did I write perfect? Finish: long, fresh and full at the same time, perfect. Comments: indeed, perfect. An impressive fresh fruits / light sherry combo.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Tormore 20 yo 1995/2015 (53.1%, The Single Cask Collection, bourbon hogshead, 220 bottles)

Tormore 20 yo 1995/2015 (53.1%, The Single Cask Collection, bourbon hogshead, 220 bottles) Four stars
This one stemmed from Austria and some say it would go well with Schnitzels. You’re right, rather Streussels. Colour: gold. Nose: look we knew about 1988 at Tormore, but it seems that 1995 was very fine too. This one’s a little more branche-y, having said that, less immediate, a tad grassier… But it’s got some marvellous citrus too, and I find it very elegant. With water: a little soap (saponification) but that’s normal, let’s wait a little longer… Well, not quite, water wasn’t quite useful here, but after all, 53% vol. is nothing. Mouth (neat): extremely good, perfectly zesty, with superb blood oranges and just touches of mangos. Love the grassiness that keeps it tight and focussed. With water: works this time, I’m finding very pleasant notes of earl grey tea. Green earl grey rather than black. Finish: medium, well balanced, and rather mandariny, as they say in China (oh come on, that was weak, S.!) Comments: these Tormores always work. And let’s just forget about the 1970s – mid-1980s distillates if you please…
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Tormore 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.7%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #20159)

Tormore 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.7%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #20159) Four stars
Already found some lovely ones in this series. Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s almost as fruity as the lighter ones, but it’s got more wax for sure, beyond some rather massive notes of butter pears and oranges. Actually, we’re nosing a whole basket of citrus fruits. With water: perfect hints of minerals, chalk, and paraffin that complement the citrus to perfection. Mouth (neat): citrus, citrus, and citrus, with all the peel. Quite spectacular in that respect, but of course, you have to like citrus – but who doesn’t? With water: multi-vitamin fruit juice, rather towards lemons and grapefruits this time. Some sour garden fruits as well, rhubarb, gooseberries, redcurrants… Finish: rather long, on just very same very citrusy notes, plus a little sweet barley. Comments: these easy yet full-bodied Tormores are hard to beat within the fruity malts cluster.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Tormore 24 yo 1992/2016 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, casks #5694 + 5695, 338 bottles)

Tormore 24 yo 1992/2016 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, casks #5694 + 5695, 338 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: same huge fruitiness, but rather towards a western orchard this time, with apples and greengages, plus custard and barley water. Little citrus this time, but this is just as lovely. Growing notes of pastries, croissants au beurre, rolls, raisin bagel… With water: a few mashy notes, buttered mashed potatoes, muesli, bread dough… Mouth (neat): no, wait, lemons and grapefruits are back! Very zesty, sharp, angular, and perfect. Love this, it’s almost some bone-dry white Sancerre by one of the best makers. Excuse me? Indeed, or Pouilly-Fumé. With water: so simple, so great. Swims extremely well, and really goes towards multi-vitamin fruit juice. And these wee pink bananas… Finish: medium, very fruity, but not extravagant and, as some malts can get, cloying, not in the least… Comments: Tormore’s a little name that does improve on acquaintance, I’d say.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Tormore 25 yo 1992/2017 (55.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill butt, cask #13311, 434 bottles)

Tormore 25 yo 1992/2017 (55.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill butt, cask #13311, 434 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: a very minimal sherriness, and a whole basket of fruits, some tropical, some from our beloved European orchards (although, with global warming, we’ll soon grow pineapples in Alsace the way it goes… Some barley syrup, ripe apples, mirabelles, small mangos, honey, pollen, fresh hazelnuts (hope no one will mention that dreadful Nutella)… With water: very nice humussy notes, fern, almost mushrooms… Perhaps the faintest whiff of gunpowder, but I may be dreaming. Mouth (neat): didn’t the butt previously shelter some peater? Or a tighter malt such as Clynelish or Highland Park? Great waxy minerals, branches, grapefruits, then rhubarb, drops of barley water again, ideas of peat smoke… With water: becomes even more branche-y, well it’s possibly the least fruity Tormore we’ve had today. And yet, it’s excellent. Finish: medium, grassy and pretty waxy. Fruit peelings. Comments: a Tormore that’s a little Clynelishy, why would we be against this?
SGP:552 - 87 points.

Good, grouped fire today. But it’s not impossible that there will be a Part Two…

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Tormore I've tasted so far


February 13, 2018


Caol Ila, a sequel session

Right, those very funny Valinch & Mallet ones almost killed us yesterday, while we had more CIs on the tasting table. Now that we’ve recovered, well, let’s have those…

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2017)

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2017) Four stars
Another expression I’m following each and every year. WF 85 for circa 2016. Colour: light gold. Nose: light yet assertive. Olive oil and lemon juice, plus bandages and soft embrocations. I had already noticed, last year, that CI 12 was getting a little more medicinal, and this is confirmation. Whiffs of sour apples, which is very CI as well, in my opinion. Cider. Mouth: it’s becoming really good, and rather more complex, as if the actual age was a little older. Great brine, olive oil, actual olives, and rather less sweetness than previously. A very nice rooty/earthy side as well, I’d almost quote gentian. The holy grail! Finish: rather long, a tad sweeter and rounder again, but nothing excessive. Wee hints of white rhum agricole, perhaps. Comments: everyone should have Laphroaig 10, Ardbeg 10, Bowmore 12, Lagavulin 16, and Caol Ila 12 in the bar. Just talking about the obvious peaters.
SGP:446 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 2006/2017 (60.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butts, casks #306183, 306184, 306186, 306187)

Caol Ila 2006/2017 (60.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butts, casks #306183, 306184, 306186, 306187) Five stars
The price is/was very right! And let’s not forget that the greatest old CIs by some Italian bottlers were actually from G&M’s. In other words, G&M have been totally seminal. Colour: pale gold. Nose: get out of here! Olive oil, lemon juice, mezcal, chalk. Plus crushed anchovies, ink, shoe polish, lime juice, kelp… With water: wow. Low tide on Islay. Mouth (neat): I totally hate this. I hate it profoundly. It’s horrible whisky. With water: a mindboggling simplicity and a supreme elegance (I think you made your point, S.) Finish: tangerines, crabmeat, seawater, roots, and cigar ashes, for a long time. Comments: how could anyone beat this glorious young CI? £50 max a bottle, no cupidity and no greediness to be found in Elgin. Plain panache, G&M. I say no more, or some are going to get suspicious. Now, first fill sherry, really? How could first fill sherry be so timid? Not that I’m complaining, rather the opposite…
SGP:457 - 92 points.

But let’s try to beat that whippersnapper… And try to be quick…

Caol Ila 2005/2017 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butts, casks #301522, 301530, 301532)

Caol Ila 2005/2017 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butts, casks #301522, 301530, 301532) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. But where’s the sherry? Nose: extremely fine, but it hasn’t quite got the 2006’s incredible… shall we say mezcalness? This one’s more a classic, it’s even got some bacon, beyond the perfect Caol-Ila-y purity. A young Caol Ila that rather toes the line, in other words. With water: indeed. Everything is in place, there are no flaws whatsoever, but still, the 2006… Mouth (neat): extremely good, pure, sharp, smoky, lemony, briny… Superb, just not quite as entertaining as the 2006. Wow, the 2006! With water: top notch CI, but it’s getting just a little too sweet. Sweetish. Smidgens of sweetness. Finish: same. Comments: very very good, but it was having the death seat after the 2006. I’m deeply sorry, etc., etc., etc.
SGP:546 - 86 points.

I'd rather stop now, with fond memories of the 2006. A future legend, I say, watch the Rare Whisky Glasgow Show 2047 (whatever), it’ll be there, totally triumphant after thirty further years of bottle aging…


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


February 12, 2018


A bag of young Caol Ila

There’s much less CAol Ila around these days, while just a few years ago, one malt out of two was a CI. Okay, exaggerating a bit…

Port Askaig 8 yo (45.8%, Elixir Distillers, +/-2017)

Port Askaig 8 yo (45.8%, Elixir Distillers, +/-2017) Four stars
Of course, there’s no proof that Port Askaig is Caol Ila. Could be Bunnahabhain, after all… And Ardnahoe one day… Colour: white wine. Nose: frankly, could be peated Bunny, really. It’s rather yeastier, and less coastal than its close neighbour… On the other hand, it’s also got this crab-y minerality (seashells) that’s more Coal Ila. So? There are also whiffs of new Wellies, scuba diving suits, and simply fresh kelp on the beach. What gives it away is this almondy development. Fresh almonds. Mouth: rather fat, oily, smoky, salty, almondy, ashy, lemony. That you cannot beat – at the same young age, that is. Smoked mackerel in rapeseed oil. Finish: medium to long, ashy, with this typical salty ashiness and all these fresh walnuts. More lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: nobody's going to go fill any complaints.
SGP:457 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Four Grain Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Four Grain Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017) Four stars
As neighbours, we Frenchies know that our Italian friends are mad people, especially with anything they put into their mouths, including whisky. So, what could this be, Caol Ila finished in Koval casks? I have to say we’re Koval fans at WF towers, so let’s approach this odd combo with good faith and will… Colour: straw. Nose: I wouldn’t say I’m detecting any Kovalness, neither would I claim that there were four grains involved. All I can say is that this is a proper young Caol Ila that’s seen some fairly active American oak, which made it a little rounder and a tad more ‘popcorny’. All the rest consists in classic seashore-y smells plus clean smoke and brine. Mouth: more lemon, really? More popcorn indeed, more roasted sesame seeds, more roasted maize, but also some bright salty and lemony smoke, with this ultra-cleanliness that’s so enjoyable. Finish: long, blade-y, lemony, ashy, and very coastal. Comments: me not comprendo mucho (how’s my Italian?) but me very pleased with this young CI that’s already very well matured. A tad softer than the Port Askaig 8.
SGP:556 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Bourbon Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Bourbon Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017) Four stars
I think our Italian friends are very smart, and no we won’t mention Marco Materazzi. Colour: straw. Nose: right, more buttered popcorn. It’s all quite subtle, as far as differences are concerned, but those are evident subtleties. So yet a rounder, more ‘coated’ Caol Ila. Mouth: oh no, the opposite, this is blade-ier and zestier on the palate, although I’m finding even more roasted nuts, some kind of smoked popcorn, and ‘ideas’ or pumpkin seed oil. Not too sure… All the rest is purely Coal Ila. Finish: long, really a little fatter than the Four Grains. Something toasted and roasted. Comments: I like my Coal Ilas very zesty, unless they’re old. That is why I liked the ‘Four Grains’ a notch better. But what are we doing here?...
SGP:556 - 85 points.

Whaaat? Rye Koval Caol Ila?...

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Rye Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Rye Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017) Four stars
Actually, this could be more challenging – hence even more interesting. Like a Ferrari with a Lambo engine (mi scusi)… Colour: straw. Nose: dunno, really. I do not get the rye yet, I’m just getting more coastality, and in that respect I believe we’re a little closer to the ‘Four Grains’ again. Did I tell you that I think that our Italian friends are a tad mad? Mouth: yes indeed, more blade-iness, more zesty flavours, more lime, more smoked seeds and grains, more smoky limoncello… Finish: long, on the same rather sharp, lemony and seawatery flavours. Comments: these are good, but this ain’t easy. A bit mad, really…
SGP:556 - 86 points.

Mr Valinch and Mr Mallet, please!...

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Oat Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2011/2017 ‘Oat Koval’ (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, The Peaty DNA Collection, 2017) Four stars
That’s it, I quit, I give up! (as Adele would sing). Oat, really? This is getting madder than madness… Colour: pale gold. Nose: back to a rounder one, so rather more ‘bourbon’, but it’s well young Caol Ila. I may get a little eucalyptus, but frankly, I’m about to lose my nostrils by dint of trying to find nuances. To give you just one example, I’m beginning to find that this baby’s closer to a Talisker. A Talisker, imagine! Mouth: yeah it’s zestier yet, more lemony, more salty, more oystery, and its even got hints of mezcal joven. Which cannot be bad. As for the oats, I’ll refrain from commenting on them… Finish: long, with more wine gums and lemon drops, perhaps. I don’t know, I’m almost dead… I mean, my taste buds are almost dead. Comments: oat, I don’t know; some very good young CI, I’m sure. But crazy, crazy Italians… Does all this make any sense?...
SGP:556 - 87 points.

Wait, I go write my will and I’ll be back in a few seconds… Okay I’m back…

Caol Ila 15 yo 2002/2017 (52.8%, Valinch & Mallet, sherry hogshead, cask #17-002, 319 bottles)

Caol Ila 15 yo 2002/2017 (52.8%, Valinch & Mallet, sherry hogshead, cask #17-002, 319 bottles) Four stars
Where-is-the-Koval? Colour: gold. Nose: it must have been American oak – as 95% of the sherry casks are anyway – since I’m finding a little bready vanilla and this feeling of fresh sawdust and broken branches. But all the rest is purely Caol Ila, with smoked oysters, fresh seaweed, light ashes, and just a few drops of olive brine. With water: smoked almonds. Mouth (neat): yeah good, with zesty fruits (grapefruits), ashes and smoke, hints of blueberries… With water: loses steam a bit, and that’s the sherry seasoning. Finish: medium, good, slightly buttery/raisiny/sour. Comments: in fact and all things considered, I liked their mad and madder young Koval CIs better and thought they were more precise and ‘accurate’.
SGP:555 - 85 points.

Good, this series was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done tasting-wise, even if some joy was had. Only listening to a few Brand Ambassadors’ senseless drivel has become even harder (I’m now avoiding those like the plague – not all of them mind you, because some, including beginners, are very good - )…

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


February 11, 2018


Time for Armagnac

As I said, as this is Sunday, and as we’re always on the lookout for malternatives… Lets do that in no particular order if you don’t mind, for more ‘fun’…

Ryst-Dupeyron 20 yo ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, +/-2015)

Ryst-Dupeyron 20 yo ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, +/-2015) Three stars
The house Ryst-Duperon in Condom in the Gers (yep) also used to distribute their own malts under the label ‘Captain Burns’, which are/were sourced from G&M’s. This XO is said to be around 25 years of age actually, but it’s not a ‘cru’, so probably a blend. Colour: dark amber, almost coffee. Nose: lovely old-school Armagnac, with prunes and chocolate, then coffee beans and touches of marmalade. And let’s not forget the raisins, as well as the small camphory touches, verging on eucalyptus. An Armagnac that’s totally, well, Armagnacqy.  Mouth: indeed, this is a gritty and almost as tannic as some black tea that you forgot in the teapot last night. Plus chocolate, burnt cake, and indeed prunes, with an obvious rancio as well. It’s very rancioty, I would say. Finish: long, very dry, and you cannot not think of an old oloroso. Comments: some very traditional Armagnac, with this earthy rusticity. Reminds me of my youth (which, in itself, is worth one or two extra-points, ha-ha).
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Armagnac 18 yo ‘Brut de Fût Folle Blanche’ (47%, OB, Florence Castarède, +/-2016)

Armagnac 18 yo ‘Brut de Fût Folle Blanche’ (47%, OB, Florence Castarède, +/-2016) Four stars and a half
So pure folle blanche, from owner Florence Castarède’s own stash, I believe. Colour: amber. Nose: pretty perfect cake-y Armagnac, rather on black raisins than on prunes, with a big profile at first (brioche, brown sugar, sultanas) and more delicate floral tones in the back (wallflowers, dandelions, foccacia, orange blossom). Rather perfect and pretty traditional, in a good way. Mouth: it is a tad rustic, which is the whole point anyway (ground coffee, burnt wood), but there are also perfect citrusy notes, many kinds of oranges, and stunning notes of cigar tobacco. Wild black pu-erh tea. Perhaps a few roasted sesame seeds. Finish: long, appropriately gritty, rather on earl grey and an unexpected malty side. A partnership with Glenfarclas? Comments: perfect middle-aged Armagnac. Now go find this wee cuvee…
SGP:452 - 88 points.

Domaine de Charron 1987/2017 (46.6%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #53)

Domaine de Charron 1987/2017 (46.6%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #53) Five stars
This is full bacco, from one of my favourite little Armagnac houses. Own estate, naturally. Colour: coffee. Nose: first, the oak’s about to take over. Second, it’s beautiful oak, with just the right amounts of soft caraway-y spices and pine-y aromas (cough syrup, embrocations, pine liqueurs) mingling with the peaches, raisins, and prunes. Some rancio too, as well as some black moist pipe tobacco. Sort of evident, shall we say. Mouth: bingo, if you’re not afraid of just a milligram of pencil shavings. It’s getting very umami-esque, with some parsley, chicken soup, bone marrow, miso soup, then we have roasted chestnuts and pecans, more tobacco, Italian coffee (no politics), black chocolate, Maggi and lovage… Love it when they get meaty and vegetal like this. Finish: long, more on menthol and liquorice. The salted prunes are back in the aftertaste, though. Comments: pretty grand. Were I to do an ad for a 1950s magazine, I’d write ‘Some Great Armagnac for All Generations’. Or something like that.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Château du Tariquet ‘Le Légendaire’ (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2017)

Château du Tariquet ‘Le Légendaire’ (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
The youngest component in here is 13. Tariquet is a fairly large house that did a fantastic coup a few years ago with a very successful little white wine that just any bobo in Paris was wanting to gulp down around 5 years ago. But they make Armagnac too. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather fresh at first (dandelions, honey) but gets then pretty caramely. Milk chocolate, praline, butterscotch… And just a little hay and overripe apples. There’s quite a lot of vanilla, just like there’s a lot of vanilla in modern Scotch malt whisky. Mouth: indeed the oak feels, with some butter, vanilla, and something slightly sour. Sour oranges, for example. It’s fair, but nothing to write home about. Struggling a lot after the Castarède and the Charron. Finish: medium, with notes of fermenting oranges and sour apples, plus coconut in the aftertaste. Coconut kills spirits, you know. Comments: really fair, but I think it may lack coherence and body.
SGP:531 - 77 points.

Perhaps another chance…

Château du Tariquet 8 yo (50.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2017)

Château du Tariquet 8 yo (50.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
This is 100% folle blanche, mind you! Actually, Tariquet are huge, I’ve just seen that they own 25 hectares of folle blanche! Colour: gold. Nose: could this really be the same house? Although quite modern, this is fuller, better chiselled, and certainly more precise as far as aromas are concerned. Macaroons, burnt wood, baguette, and butterscotch plus liquorice, with a wee feeling of young Balvenie, if you will. No bad news, I agree. With water: damp humus and mushrooms, always hits at WF Towers. Mouth (neat): we’re clearly approaching whisky territories here. Perfect tangerines and vanilla fudge, plus gooseberries and acacia honey. Some American oak at play? Would that be legal in Armagnac? With water: do not add too much water, it makes it disjointed, but otherwise, the fruits are standing out. Apples, melons, apricots. Finish: medium, fruity, modern, well balanced. Comments: better without any water, in fact. Very well made modern Armagnac, did they hire Dr. Lumsden? One for whisky freaks for sure – and it’s not expensive.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Armagnacs I've tasted so far


February 10, 2018




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Seven Glentauchers
Not sure what to say about Glentauchers, except that it can often be a characterful make and there are many highly drinkable ones out there. Let's try seven of them today in reverse order of vintage, well, almost. Perhaps an inverted couplet for an aperitif...


Glentauchers 1991/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail) Glentauchers 1991/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail)
I think Serge has already tried this one, but hey ho… Colour: Straw. Nose: Delicate honey, earth, mead, pink candy floss and eventually a few Pparma violets and a touch of aspirin. Also barley sugar and a suggestion of shoe polish. Perfectly fine but perhaps a tad simplistic. Mouth: A bit strange at first, almost plasticky and slightly sour, like a flat Rodenbach. Musty and bit dank with these notes of wet cardboard and cold porridge. Not totally my cup of tea if I'm honest. Some dull lemony notes in the background and more plain barley flavours, but again it remains slightly stale overall. Finish: Medium and picking up with some notes of sourdough bread, a little cotton, some soot and more sweetness but it's also still somewhat strange and tough. A little lime and chalk in the aftertaste. Comments: Started out ok but kind of dwindled away a wee bit from there. Having said that, it's a perfectly ok dram, it's just that others in this series were much better in my opinion.
SGP: 331 - 76 points.


Glentauchers 8 yo 2007/2016 (58.8%, Adelphi, cask #900857, 312 bottles)

Glentauchers 8 yo 2007/2016 (58.8%, Adelphi, cask #900857, 312 bottles)
Good news, I can still read Adelphi's labels (just about), that's a visit to the opticians postponed again until next year. Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Butterscotch, fudge, hay and a slightly fermenting, almost Goat's cheesy aspect which is not unpleasant. Raw wool, linen, green pepper, grist, earth and a fistful of porridge. With water: a tart gooseberry compote, cucumber, mint and even a hint of quinine. You could make a pretty sufficient whisky and tonic with this I suspect. Gets slightly mossy with a bit of time. Mouth: the ash rind of the Goat's cheese has arrived late to the party. Then lots of straw, dry grass, chalk, soot, sunflower oil, lemon rind and a touch of agave nectar. Good clean fun. With water: rolled oats, barley sugar, cooling wort; pure malt whisky in other words. A prickle of green and pink peppercorns, some orange bitters and a slightly bitter edge. Finish: Good length. Veering between dry earthiness and sweet barley qualities. Some green grassy notes in the aftertaste. Comments: A good, robust but slightly boisterous youngster. One for getting the party started. Or killed stone dead…
SGP: 352 - 82 points.



Glentauchers 20 yo 1996/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask #7311)

Glentauchers 20 yo 1996/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask #7311)
Colour: Green and floral at first. Plenty pollen, daffodils, cut grass, rapeseed oil, a little gravel and an earthy touch as well. Becomes sweeter with some vanilla fudge and cocoanut water, then plain old malted barley and a few dried herbs. Perhaps some gorse as well. Mouth: Nicely oily in texture and with a pleasant waxy note. Some linen, forest fruits, green apples, ripe pears, more earthiness, mint leaf, green tea with lemon and good quality olive oil. Finish: Good length with some buttered toast, white marshmallow, wood spice and various fresh cereals. Comments: Simple and straightforward but rather excellent I think. Well selected and probably quite smart to bottle it at 46% I'd say.
SGP: 451 - 86 points. 



Glentauchers 20 yo 1996/2017 (55.3%, Hidden Spirits, cask #617)

Glentauchers 20 yo 1996/2017 (55.3%, Hidden Spirits, cask #617)
Colour: Straw. Nose: This one is more on bubblegum, pink grapefruit, lemon oil, barley sugar and a touch of cornflour. Nice, easy and again somewhat uncomplicated malt whisky. Although there is a freshness and a liveliness to this one which is quite charming. With water: gets noticeably greener with some grassy tones, a few chopped fresh herbs, olive oil and some white pepper. Mouth: Toasted marshmallows, caramelised sugars, Edinburgh rock, a little mint tea and eventually some earthier tones and even a suggestion of wax. With water: slightly dustier with coal hearth, strap leather, some meaty tones (BIltong) and a little vague spiciness. Also still rather peppery and lively. Finish: Good length, spicy, some citrus oils, a scattering of minerals and a touch of earthiness. Comments: I feel this one really improves with a splash of water, both on the nose and the palate.
SGP: 452 - 83 points. 



Cadenhead, the floor is yours…



Glentauchers 27 yo 1989/2017 (51.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 120 bottles)

Glentauchers 27 yo 1989/2017 (51.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 120 bottles)
Colour: Gold. Nose: This is a different animal again, all on mirabelles, quince, fragrant wood spices, sandalwood, hardwood shavings, old garage, a tool box, earthen floor warehouses and in the background these pretty marvellous notes of blood orange and assorted citrus peels. Continues with a little camphor, some shoe polish, a delicate waxiness, some pollen and a few wildflowers such as honeysuckle. With water: fresher, greener, more herbal and a tad more sooty. Mouth: It's woody but in a beautifully rich and polished way. Camphor, hessian, dunnage, plum wine, five spice, a few cured meats, a little nutmeg and mulling spices and then some green and citrus fruit notes. The wood never dominates just sways gently and stoically in the background. With water: marjoram, white pepper, good olive oil, rainwater, linseed oil and old paraffin. The fruits become crystallised and nervous. Finish: Long, earthy, lightly waxy and with a sweeter aspect emerging in the aftertaste: barley sugar and throat sweets. Comments: Top notch stuff, we're close to 90 here. I love the way the wood has a voice but never quite at the expense of any other aspect. Probably caught just at the right time.
SGP: 452 - 89 points.



Glentauchers 16 yo 1977/1994 (63.8%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection)

Glentauchers 16 yo 1977/1994 (63.8%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection)
Colour: Pale gold. Nose: straight away this one oozes fatness in comparison. Glistening with oils, soft waxes, raw barley, minerals, pebbles, graphite, a slosh of old dry riesling, a little camphor and hessian and a scraping of well salted butter for good measure. It's probably a tad austere but it's this old school, unsexy style which I really love. With water: becomes sootier and more medicinal towards some old ointments from Granny's cabinet, cough sweets, a horse stable and, with a little time, dried herbs and especially mint leaf. Mouth: Good! The character holds up on the palate. Straw, icing sugar, waxes, oils, hessian, herbal toothpaste, flints, chalk, lime oil, soot, some soothing earthiness (what?) and a bit of crushed oatcake. I hate to say it but this is just more characterful distillate than the 1990s ones. With water: earl grey tea, mint, coal dust, quite a punchy waxiness and some sweet lemon rind and a little orange oil. Brilliantly textural and punchy. Finish: Long, delicately herbal, waxy, lemony, oily and sooty. Quite earthy as well with a few white flowers and fruits amongst everything. Comments: We're in another class to the previous ones I'm afraid to say. When these older style distillates are just left on their own for the right amount of time they really shine. You totally forget this all the way up at 63.8%!
SGP: 462 - 90 points.



Glentauchers 38 yo 1976/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 210 bottles) Glentauchers 38 yo 1976/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 210 bottles)
Colour: Gold. Nose: Mmmm, soft waxes, precious hardwood resins, citrons, quince jelly, warm spices, quite a bit of coconut butter and some tea tree oil. A perfect aged single malt profile if you ask me. Goes on with a little white pepper, some goose fat, lanolin, camphor and a peppery watercress edge. With water: ripe gooseberry, kiwi, star fruit, banana cake, some aged demerara rum and spice loaf. Mouth: Nicely chiselled, soft citrus fruits, flavoured oils, Moroccan spices, preserves lemons, kumquat, trail mix and a big, comforting hug of waxiness. With water: the waxiness fans out and the whole becomes softer, more open and more obviously luscious and fruity. Although there's also slightly more wood spice and bite overall. Finish: Long, waxy, full of nervous citrus fruit peel and resins, a little minerality and some residual wood spice nibbling away into the distance. Comments: Great and rather perfect aged, old school malt whisky. What is most striking is how there is a real sense of shared identity between this and the 1977, it feels like very similar distillate just matured twice as long. Wonderful and highly pleasurable whisky.
SGP: 462 - 91 points.



February 9, 2018


Kilchoman fighters

It’s moving, when you were there when they started the works and then when they inaugurated the distillery, to be able to try some properly aged Kilchomans… Not that the youngsters weren’t good, quite the opposite in fact, but doesn’t complexity only come with age, as Methusalem would have said? (pff that was lousy, S.!)

Kilchoman 10 yo 2007/2018 (58.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, sherry) Two stars and a half
Quite a feat to be able to sell a 10 yo malt – were it at C/S - for £125. Let’s simply hope this is not PX, because PX plus peat usually work like coffee plus mustard in my book (hey Billy!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather works. Wild cigars, smoked meats, bacon, plasticine, toffee and artichokes, mead, cassis… There are some unlikely parts, but those could become assets later on, let’s see… With water: old books and old cherries. Hints of manure, fermenting plums… Mouth (neat): not quite limpid, but not quite a jumbled hotchpotch as previously experienced with other sherried expressions. Kids’ mouthwash, cherry liqueur, amaretti and maraschino (salute, amici!), prune liqueur, barley water, and a thick layer of some kind of fruity smoke. Cherry wood smoke? With water: careful, just one or two drops or you’ll kill it. Notes of smoked blood oranges, perhaps, ham, Borkum Riff (pipe tobacco…) Finish: rather long. Cherry stem tea, oranges, clams and whelks, tobacco… Comments: very funny. How should we call this wee Kilchoman? A significant snafu? One hell of a mess? A friendly clusterf***k? This one will make you laugh…
SGP:546 - 78 points.

Kilchoman ‘Red Wine Cask Matured’ (50%, OB, +/-2017)

Kilchoman ‘Red Wine Cask Matured’ (50%, OB, +/-2017) one star and a half
Ouch! Red wine form Douro! Love those wines from Portugal, some are totally stellar, but why the hell would anyone decide to mature (or finish?) a perfectly fine young peaty Islayer in such casks? Sabotage? Perversity? Pure sadism? Lack of inspiration? Drunk marketing? Cocaine? Let’s see… Colour: apricot. Nose: olive oil. That, is nice. Apple peelings, sardines, red pesto, Parma ham, farmyard… Not a nose that would make your head spin, but so far, so fine. With water: fine. Barbour grease, crushed raspberries, cassis, cherry leaves. We’ve nosed worse. Mouth (neat): not quite. I find this unbalanced and frankly, the smoke and the red berries just wouldn’t tango. With water: okayish. Red pepper, cherries, green smoke, juniper, artichokes… And indeed, sundried tomatoes. Finish: medium, leafy, getting bitter. Comments: a puzzling combination. In fact, I just don’t get the idea behind it – or is it for the Portuguese market? I wouldn’t drink this.
SGP:365 - 69 points.

Kilchoman 2011/2017 (56.5%, OB for Whiskybase, 10th Anniversary, PX finish, 213 bottles)

Kilchoman 2011/2017 (56.5%, OB for Whiskybase, 10th Anniversary, PX finish, 213 bottles) Two stars
A PX finish on a young peater? Sounds like a turbo-look VW Golf if you ask me, but there, since we’re here, and since the good folks at Whiskybase are just great people, let’s (try to) try this without any preconceptions… Colour: gold. Nose: ah! Now we’re talking, this is much more coherent, it is one whisky and not just a juxtaposition of discordant aromas, and I do enjoy these notes of… say heavily smoked salmon with puréed cranberries and old kelp. Yes that works. With water: ouch, rubber. Mouth (neat): indeed it is very okay. Not my preferred style at all but we’re rather geared towards blood oranges than industrial raspberry jam, so all is pretty fine, despite these heavy notes of bitter leaves and stems that are starting to invade your glass. With water: not quite. Raspberries marinated in lapsang souchong. Finish: long, with more blood oranges and some kinds of smoked figs. Rotting oranges. Comments: unlikely, but fair. But when you know how Kilchoman is when it hasn’t put on tons of makeup, you can’t stop wondering ‘why?’ Botticelli’s Venus reinterpreted by Jeff Koons.
SGP:455 - 75 points.

Okay, read my lips, if the next one’s PXed as well I’ll pour it down the drain straight away…

Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm’ (46%, OB, 2017 release)

Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm’ (46%, OB, 2017 release) Four stars and a half
Ah, peace, civilisation, and all that!... Sure it’s sherried, but previous adventures with Loch Gorm have been pretty positive, so… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s like listening to Mozart in the car after a Black Sabbath gig. Not that anyone would do that, I agree… Wonderful pure smoke, with some Havana smoke, some dried fish, engine oil, black olives, kelp, a bag of winkles… This is perfect! Mouth: really very good. Wow, after the monsters, it is really like listening to Chopin after Ted Nugent (make up your mind, S.) Oh well… Salted fish, tapenade, smoked oysters, drops of walnut wine, more black olives, some kind of peppered and smoked chocolate (only the Italians would do that!)… Finish: long, perfectly balanced, salty, with some leather and some tobacco… All is very well. Comments: redemption and, frankly, a relief. Brilliant Islay whisky, exactly what’s to be expected from Kilchoman’s… Don’t know why they’re doing all these whacky and Machiavellian PX-ed – or even worse, red-wined - single casks, frankly. Wait, the Illuminati?
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Okay, quickly…

Kilchoman 6 yo 2010/2016 (56.9%, OB, Original Cask Strength)

Kilchoman 6 yo 2010/2016 (56.9%, OB, Original Cask Strength) Two stars and a half
Some purity, perhaps?... Although it was matured in quarter casks, which sounds a little shady… Colour: straw. Nose: yeah fine, very fine. Farmyard and smoked barley, beach sand, seaweed, mandarins, citrons, and only ‘ideas’ of vanilla. Plums. All fine, really. With water: good mud in the farmyard, mushrooms, damp barley, wort… Mouth (neat): extremely good, and we’ve known Bowmores (some natural ones, not the doctored ones) that were a bit like this. Very good peppery and smoky profile, with just a little ginger and nutmeg, from the quarter casks I suppose. Sadly, those woody notes tend to grow and grow and grow… Quick, water: really good, despite these oaky tones that tend to invade everything. Finish: oh, noooo… The oak managed to dominate almost everything. Bitter leaves, juniper, nutmeg…  An even bitterer aftertaste. Comments: it all started extremely well, but the bitter oak managed to find its way and frankly, it won.
SGP:356 - 77 points.

Good, I’m exhausted, so a last one and we’re done…

Kilchoman 2007/2016 (56.5%, OB, Feis Ile 2016, oloroso butt, 634 bottles)

Kilchoman 2007/2016 (56.5%, OB, Feis Ile 2016, oloroso butt, 634 bottles) Two stars
Haven’t been to Feis Ile since around 2010, that is why I’m late once again. But I’ll be back… Now, this is a red label, so let’s proceed with caution… Colour: gold. Nose: fine, really. Pastries, smoked baklavas, barley and muesli, blond pipe tobacco, oranges. No off notes so far. With water: fine, muddy, slightly gingery, with peelings and grass. Mouth (neat): it’s okay, very smoky, with lemony traits, oysters, lime juice, and no odd sherriness that would get in the way. Hurray! Quite… With water: okay, again. But not really good, not very sexy, and not very well-balanced. Finish: long, a tad saltier, but too leafy for me. Comments: dear Scottish friends (whom I adore and will cherish all my life), please stop murdering your exceptional distillates using those poor and miserable modern wine casks. In my very humble opinion, that just doesn’t work, and frankly, I would redistill everything A.S.A.P. Please accept the assurances of my heartfelt wishes for the continued well-being and prosperity of the whole Scottish whisky industry, (sgd) Serge.
SGP:365 - 74 points.

So, Loch Gorm anytime! Loch Gorm is superb! Buy Loch Gorm by the pallet! (yeah, trying to make amend ;-)…)

Hold on, we’ve also found this wee baby…

Kilchoman ‘Sanaig’ (46%, OB, +/-2017)

Kilchoman ‘Sanaig’ (46%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars
Seventy percent oloroso and thirty percent bourbon. Colour: gold. Nose: there is a touch of bitter almonds and walnuts, as well as a little curry powder and nutmeg, but otherwise it’s a rather clean, coastal, smoky, seaweedy Islayer, getting then earthier by the minute. Whiffs of bitter coffee (ristretto). Mouth: same feeling, a rather spicy, curry-like arrival, with smoked almonds and touches of leather, seawater, olive brine, and blond tobacco. Not too many red berries, which comes as a blessing in this context. Finish: medium, with grapefruits, Seville oranges and lemons getting it on the act. Lovely saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, I think, with a sherry that’s much better integrated than in many a single cask.
SGP:456 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Kilchoman I've tasted so far


February 8, 2018


Another wee bag of Glen Grant

Always a joy to try Glen Grant, what’s more many older bottlings are still available here and there. As an example, our little apéritif…

Glen Grant 8 yo (70°proof, OB, 26 2/3 fl. Ozs., +/-1970)

Glen Grant 8 yo (70°proof, OB, 26 2/3 fl. Ozs., +/-1970) Four stars and a half
A much paler vatting this time, there were also darker ones in this famous square flat bottles. Colour: white wine. Nose: this stems from when Glen Grant was a fatter and bigger spirit. Fern, grape pips oil, coal smoke, ashes, grapefruits, fresh coriander, wort, farmyard, used tealeaves… Indeed, a fatter one! Mouth: excellent. Big lemony arrival, with some clear peat smoke, some peppermint, grapefruits, green gooseberries… Then a leafier smoke, fresh walnuts, a little olive oil, and always these lemons and grapefruits. Delisiously old-school. Finish: really long, with clear notes of Chartreuse and even more smoked grapefruits. Comments: absolutely adored this Chartreuse-y aftertaste. So much for a light apéritif…
SGP:463 - 89 points.

Glen Grant 2008/2017 (56.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, casks 900011-900014)

Glen Grant 2008/2017 (56.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, casks 900011-900014) Two stars and a half
G&M are famous for their older Glen Grants, while younger bottlings of theirs outside their licensed label are rather uncommon. Colour: full gold. Nose: a very almondy, leathery and flinty sherry style, with bags of fruit stones, kirsch, then muesli. It’s a tad aggressive and rough so far, but water may help us… With water: damp hay, leather, raw cocoa beans, soy sauce, ginger juice… Mouth (neat): boy this one’s raw! Leather, pipe juice, ginger, green fruits, more ginger, nutmeg, even more ginger… Some sour spices at play. With water: gets grassier, even sharper, peppery, leathery, bitter… Finish: long and really very spicy. Notes of lavender in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather monstrous young Glen Grant, far, very far from G&M’s usual silky and rounded old ones. I can take a rough malt but I’m afraid this one was a little too harsh and grassy for me.
SGP:371 - 77 points.

Glen Grant 1972/2010 (48.3%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, refill sherry, cask #3886, 138 bottles)

Glen Grant 1972/2010 (48.3%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, refill sherry, cask #3886, 138 bottles) Five stars
There was also an excellent 1972/1993 by the Circle (WF 90), but 1972 was a great year all around Scotland, wasn’t it. Colour: gold. Nose: perfect combination with honey, pollen, blond tobacco, dried figs, old Sauternes, and some kind of lemony raisins. Very lovely, as expected. Mouth: late harvest Pinot Gris, honey and honeydew, Breton mead, fig rolls, barley water… all that is purely impeccable. Wonderful honeyness. Finish: medium, with some citrus chiming in, all for the better. Pink grapefruits and a touch of beeswax in the aftertaste. Comments: this vintage is extremely hard to beat at many distilleries, and this was another fine example.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Glen Grant 24 yo 1992/2017 (45.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Glen Grant 24 yo 1992/2017 (45.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Four stars
This baby from two barrels. Colour: straw. Nose: the barrels’ vanilla and butterscotch are playing first and second fiddles here at first nosing, before a more ‘natural’ malty barleyness appears, with some porridge, wet oatcakes, Golden Grahams and a growing mentholy side. A touch of pinesap, genepy… Oak-aged genepy? Mouth: goody goody good. Vanilla, a little grass, tangerines, pear sweets, wine gums (not many), barley and agave syrups, and perhaps a touch of peppered chocolate. Oh and butterscotch again. Finish: medium, rather bright, with some vanilla, drops of limoncello, apple pie, and this butterscotchy feel in the back. Grassier aftertaste. Comments: all is well in the best of worlds.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Speaking of G&M’s older Glen Grants…

Glen Grant 1961/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #6200)

Glen Grant 1961/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #6200) Five stars
Colour: deep amber. Nose: it’s true that we keep complaining about low strengths, but with these those lower strengths aren’t always a problem. What’s sure is that this nose is full of chestnut purée, raisins, some kind of pleasantly dusty wood (balsa?), chocolate, and even fine-crushed hazelnuts. No, no one said Nutella. Notes of black tea as well, rather Assam style. A perfect nose, I have to say. Mouth: so typically old Speysider by G&M! And proof that bottlers can have their own styles. Some old rancio, which leads to old Cognac, then tangerines and juicy ripe peaches, liquorice, blood oranges, the tiniest drop of soy sauce (umami), and a growing feeling of old white Burgundy, with wild mushrooms and this slightly rancid butteriness that can work so well. You’d never find this baby too weak, never. Finish: medium, and rather in the wine category again. Tiny herbs, parsley, dry raisins, figs… Comments: ultra-classic and ultra-class. And very ‘G&M’, which is often kind of the same thing.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

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


February 7, 2018


Yet another Bunnahabhain session

Didn’t we say we would have more of them? Say five?

Bunnahabhain 2009/2017 (59%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st fill sherry hogsheads, casks # 326, 327, 329)

Bunnahabhain 2009/2017 (59%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st fill sherry hogsheads, casks # 326, 327, 329) Four stars and a half
Young rocket fuel or not?... Colour: gold. Nose: ah, smoke, beach sand, sea breeze, burning menthol cigarette, patchouli, leather, camphor, dried kelp, Corsican citrons, lemon squash… So there’s a lot happening here, with a growing feeling of seaweed fire. With water: some kind of peat made out of million-year old mint leaves, plus crushed barley and lager. Some porridge! Mouth (neat): nuts! Someone smoked some limoncello, redistilled it, and bottled it as Bunnahabhain. Better than gin, eh. With water: well the smoke is almost gone, but the lemons are fighting back and the end result is fantastic. Finish: quite perfect, superbly zesty, with drops of cough syrup in the aftertaste. The kind that makes you want to catch a cough. Comments: at barely 50€, this is a strong contender to this month’s Favourites in the BFYB category.
SGP:464 - 89 points.

And as a direct consequence…

Bunnahabhain 2009/2017 (60.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st fill sherry hogsheads, casks # 323-325)

Bunnahabhain 2009/2017 (60.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st fill sherry hogsheads, casks # 323-325) Five stars
Curious to see why these cool people in Elgin bottled these two sister casks separately. Because there must be a reason! Colour: gold. Nose: oh I see, this is much more mineral, limestone-y (do you say calcareous?) and barley-y, so much drier, more austere… Now if this is really ex-first fill sherry – and of course I have no doubts - they were fino or manzanilla casks, even if I do get wee touches of bubblegum, and rather less smoke. With water: a perfect pure maltiness. Mouth (neat): oh wow! Smashing lemons and quinces, plus angelica and soft roots. Jerusalem artichokes? Or is that parsnips? Love this, really love this… With water (while the whisky gets very cloudy, as often with G&M): totally perfect mineral lemons. I say no more. Finish: sadly, yes. Comments: whether you’re on a budget or not, you should rush out and buy these glorious and immaculate young Bunnies by G&M. State of the art, gives you faith in ‘whisky today’.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

Back to the older ones…

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1989/2017 (42.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, 264 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1989/2017 (42.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, 264 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: look, I’d better sing you a song. Ob la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra - La-la, how the life goes on… Ob la di, ob-la-da… Seriously, I was expecting something pretty great, and I’m not disappointed. Artisan cider, ripe mirabelles, quinces, acacia blossom, hints of papayas, a bowl of fresh pollen, macadamia nuts, dandelions… How elegant is this? Mouth: scandalously superb and breakfasty. You’ve got squeezed oranges, you’ve got Fruity Loops, you’ve got sweet maize bread, you’ve got various light honeys (acacia, rape)… And you’ve even got a small glass of Champagne. Breakfast indeed. Nowhere is the lighter strength a problem here, quite the opposite. Finish: medium, a tad maltier, and a tad more towards dried fruits, cassata, energy bars, chardonnay… And as often, some fine oranges are adding some zing to the aftertaste. Comments: can you call some whisky ‘luminous’?
SGP:541 - 91 points.

Well done, it was not an easy task to come after the fantastic young G&Ms… Hold on, young G&Ms?

Bunnahabhain 2007/2016 (55.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st fill sherry hogsheads, casks # 15602601, 15602603)

Bunnahabhain 2007/2016 (55.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st fill sherry hogsheads, casks # 15602601, 15602603) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: more struck matches in this one, more roasted sesame or argan oils, and certainly more leather and tobacco, while it would go on with some marmalade and a little clay. I liked the 2009s better, but this is fine, just less ‘wow!’ With water: more on smoked malt and beach bonfire. Some cut cactus, kelp, brake pads, carbolinium, antirust… Mouth (neat): even more straight smoke this time, smoked meats, charcoal, smoked almonds… Well, anything that you could smoke, really. Almost anything, officer! Big notes of toffee and butterscotch. With water: I like it better now. Mint, lemon, leather… Well the leather’s a bit ‘too much’. Sucking your leather gloves when we were kids (or when skiing)… Finish: long, with a gingery leather that got even more prominent. Comments: very fine but rather more challenging than the 2009s, that’s what I’ll say. A rough baby.
SGP:464 - 81 points.

Good, I think we’ll need more light freshness to call this a session. Let’s try to find a very young one… (rummage rummage…)

Bunnahabhain 4 yo (40%, La Maison du Whisky, Tartan, +/-2017)

Bunnahabhain 4 yo (40%, La Maison du Whisky, Tartan, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
You can’t make them much younger, can you. As they say, our wines and our cigars are older… and probably bolder. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s cool to end a session with a very fresh and light dram, you just need to take your time. In this case and as expected, I’m rather finding cut apples, barley water, fresh croissants (no wonder, the bottlers are French), broken branches, sunflower oil, fresh almond and hazelnuts, sorrel… These sorts of things… Mouth: easy, light, not weak, barley-y, with some sucrosity (agave syrup? No, barley syrup) and notes of vanilla fudge. What it lacks is depth, but it’s a four year old. Finish: short, a tad sugary, but pleasant. Nice notes of sweet fruit peel. And perhaps tinned litchis? Comments: fine, natural, much quaffable, uncomplicated. Perfect soft landing.
SGP:531 - 78 points.

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


February 6, 2018


Another Bunnahabhain session

I’ve got many fond memories with Bunnahabhain, the best one being touring the warehouses in 2006, valinch in hand, opening several casks from the 1960s with their very engaging and much missed late manager John MacLellan. In truth, I don’t remember the whiskies, but I’ll always remember John. Let’s have a few Bunnies to his memory…

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1989/2017 (45.8%, Sansibar, bourbon, 233 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1989/2017 (45.8%, Sansibar, bourbon, 233 bottles) Five stars
Isn’t it refreshing to spot some Scottish clansmen back on some whisky labels, after having seen parrots, ducks, musicians, molluscs, cars, rockets, planes, chainsaws, girls, samurais, boats, dishes, atoms, motorcycles, guitars, insects, fish or jet fighters? Thank you Sansibar! Colour: pale gold. Nose: a blend of crushed chalk and limestone with apple compote and light honey, as well as soft porridge and brioche dough. A superb natural maltiness, and no oaky aromas that would get in your way. Not even the tinier nuts! A little mint and dill as well. It’s perfectly fresh. Mouth: lemon and apple juices, with wee touches of cinnamon and ginger. We’re almost in IPA territories here, Citra hops springing to my mind. A drop of seawater too, and touches of peppermint. Finish: medium, a notch more honeyed but the core remains lemony and mineral (or mineralic, as Angus would say). Rather salty aftertaste. Comments: a top notch old Bunnahabhain that leaves a wink for Highland Park, perhaps in remembrance of the times when both distilleries used to belong to Highland Distillers.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Bunnahabhain 1987/2017 ‘The Viceroy’s Elixir’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 579 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 1987/2017 ‘The Viceroy’s Elixir’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 579 bottles) Five stars
Some extravagant sherry to be expected, according to the colour. Colour: very dark amber. Nose: full oloroso mode, with litres of walnut wine, prune juice, and quite frankly, some old Armagnac. Huge notes of pipe tobacco as well, chocolate, black toffee, and the obligatory fruitcake. In the background, a few winey touches, cassis, drops of old balsamic vinegar, an a flinty touch. No sulphur whatsoever, having said that. Mouth: totally old-school sherry, with wheelbarrows of black raisins and a camphory/mentholy side over it. A notch more Moscately on the palate, but that’s all fine, this is no savage fast finishing (as seen elsewhere). Almost forgot to mention these dried dates and figs, the kind of combo that almost always comes with proper sherry. Finish: long, a tad drier and more flinty. Some tobacco while the walnuts are back. Comments: we’ve known Glendronachs… (some Glendronach on WF soon, BTW).
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Well, this is what I call a session that started well… Let’s move on with a younger sherry bomb…

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.5%, OB for 10th Anniversary Quaich Bar Singapore, oloroso, 332 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.5%, OB for 10th Anniversary Quaich Bar Singapore, oloroso, 332 bottles) Five stars
Colour: full amber. Nose: indeed the sherry impact is lighter here, while we’re rather geared towards some kind of sweet tobacco, then lots of sultanas and orange rinds. What’s even greater is what’s happening in the background, with some kind of apricot syrup playing with some spearmint, puréed vanilla-ed chestnuts and quince jelly. Rather more complex than your average 12 yo. With water: perfect, fig rolls, cinnamon cake, honeydew. Mouth (neat): oh very good. This one’s earthier, with more bitter oranges as well, always these touches of spearmint, then some kinds of mentholy raisins and quite some heather honey. Another wink for HP? Just a wee touch of fresh oak in the background. With water: gets a tad firmer, earthier, and a little earthier as well. All is well in place, I can’t find the slightest flaw. Not that we need any, mind you… Finish: rather long, a tad more orange-y. Marmalade, cloves, ginger, chocolate, raisins, and a welcome pine-y earthiness in the background. Comments: another one that’s quite amazing. Hello, Singapore Airlines?... …
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Three 90s in a row. Well, this is Bunnahabhain… Now let’s be logical…

Bunnahabhain ‘Moine Oloroso’ (60.1%, OB, +/-2017)

Bunnahabhain ‘Moine Oloroso’ (60.1%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
No age statement, some heavy peat, and probably some heavy sherry. Let’s be extra cautious… Colour: dark amber. Nose: bam! As if someone had put some medicinal alcohol, some strawberry jam, some lapsang souchong, some chocolate, some Maggi, and some shiitake in a blender. But who would do that? With water: dried porcinis and umami sauce all over the place. This baby’s pretty rough and tough!  Mouth (neat): feels a tad ‘tightly concocted’, as if a mixologist was in charge when composing this, instead of a master blender. Heavy strawberries, pomegranates and cherries, plus more lapsang souchong, treacle toffee, ashes, and… well, ashes. With water: add chestnut honey and oak extracts to some miso soup. You’ve made it. Finish: long, thick, a tad cloying I have to say. The fourth spoonful of heavy honey. Earth in the aftertaste. Comments: some extreme whisky that, in my humble opinion, would need twenty further years of quiet ageing. Other than that, it’s a fine – if extreme – drop, with a peat that got a little… scared?
SGP:664 - 80 points.

Quick, let’s find a lighter one…

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1989/2013 (53.6%, Whisky-Doris, sherry butt, cask #10805)

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1989/2013 (53.6%, Whisky-Doris, sherry butt, cask #10805) Four stars
Yes I know I should have tackled this baby a long time ago. Colour: straw/gold. Nose: ultra-classic Bunnahabhain, more so than all the others, with some nutty cake, light honeys, mirabelle jam, and just two used matches, reminiscent of some kind of sherry wood. Nice costal earthiness. Beach sand? With water: gets more Islayesque, slightly muddy, a wee tad peaty, and quite lemony and coastal. It’s as if the sherry had been defeated. Mouth (neat): very nice, starting slightly tarry and even a little rubbery, then unfolding on marmalade and honeyed raisins, with a wee pinch of salt plus a touch of earth. And a few drops of lime. With water: really good, with some orange blossom water and notes of elderberries, as well as some greenish honey. Finish: medium and more coastal. Evocative of some Loch Gruinart oysters, ever tried those? Rather green walnuts on the aftertaste. Comments: water works very well on this one, it makes it tighter and brighter. And more coastal.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

See you soon, perhaps with more Bunnies…
(With thanks to Benjamin)

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


February 5, 2018


New Highland Park The Dark and others

Some coming undisclosed, which means that they could as well be Scapas. In theory…

Highland Park 17 yo ‘The Dark’ (52.9%, OB, 28,000 bottles, 2018)

Highland Park 17 yo ‘The Dark’ (52.9%, OB, 28,000 bottles, 2018) Two stars and a half
Integrally ex-European oak sherry seasoned casks, this baby comes with a story long like an arm. I’ll simply tell you that it’s a brand new expression. Colour: gold. Nose: starts a tad hot and pretty gingery, so well in line with what’s to be expected from these kinds of bespoke casks (as I could check last time I was in Jerez). Sawdust, pencil shavings (including leads), then a mentholy side (embrocations) and wee whiffs of yellow curry powder. Noses very modern this far. With water: some wood smoke, barbecue, burning pine needles and cones… Mouth (neat): same feeling, there’s a rather huge pine-y arrival, with quite a lot of ginger again, cinnamon mints, sawdust, caraway, nutmeg, bitter oranges… Feels a bit ‘flavoured’ rather than ‘matured’, I have to say. With water: same feeling, with a lot of oak extraction, bitter oranges, and cumin. Finish: long, spicy, oak-forward. Peppermint, green pepper, nutmeg. Nicer touches of grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: the casks’ part was rather too big for my taste, but it’s a very fine drop for sure – should you like them oak-driven. I'm totally sure I'll like its coming sibling 'The Light' better...
SGP:361 - 79 points.

Let’s find one that should be rather more distillate-driven…

Highland Park 2005/2014 (56.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill bourbon barrels, casks #2823, 2824, 2825)

Highland Park 2005/2014 (56.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill bourbon barrels, casks #2823, 2824, 2825) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Phew! Nose: granted, there is a little sawdust and vanilla, but also some better detailed Highland-Parky notes, limestone, coal smoke, garden peat, moss, broken branches, lemon rinds, autumn leaves… You see… With water: naked and natural. Sharp, grassy, mineral, and yet deep and profound. Very nice medicinal touches, Band-Aid, mercurochrome, half a drop of tincture of iodine… Mouth (neat): perfect young HP, zesty, angular, very lemony, slightly peppery, and certainly very mineral, what I sometimes call ‘sauvignony’ (you’re afraid of nothing, S.) With water: the best part! Lovely lemon curd, quinine, chalk, a hint of salty wakame… Finish: pretty long, pleasantly sharp, and certainly quite coastal. Some mineral oils in the aftertaste, salted lemon juice... (no Margarita though). Comments: that’s more my kind of spirit. Question of the days, haven’t the indies become the actual guardians of the distilleries’ styles? Discuss freely with your friends…
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Orkney 15 yo 2002/2017 (58.7%, Archives, refill hogshead, 270 bottles)

Orkney 15 yo 2002/2017 (58.7%, Archives, refill hogshead, 270 bottles) Four stars
So, perhaps HP? Stromness? (yeah yeah…) Colour: gold. Nose: not smoky enough for Stromness. Ha. But the G&M isn’t too far away, styles are similar, grassy and mineral, perhaps a tad more buttery this time, with more hay as well, notes of ale, leaven… So a little more fermentary (but not feinty, not at all), and more austere, perhaps because of the refill wood. With water: gets very chalky. Aspirin tablets in Perrier plus fresh asparagus. Mouth (neat): really punchy, rough in a good way, grassy, gritty, lemony… Exactly the kind of malt that goes well in a hipflask before you go to the country. With water: sweeter and a tad rounder, and more citrusy for sure. Lemon drops and a drop of tequila. Finish: rather long, with a little more wax and chalk. Comments: reminds me of one of those strangely shaped HPs from two years ago. One of the Norse gods aboard longships, remember? The greener one, I think, the one that did give quite a few interior designers heart attacks…
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Orkney 13 yo 2004/2017 (50.5%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask)

Orkney 13 yo 2004/2017 (50.5%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask) Four stars and a half
What’s happening? Have HP just started to forbid the use of their brand name? Or just one or two parcels of casks that came with ‘anonymous’ papers? Colour: straw. Nose: a tad softer, with added notes of green bananas. Other than that, it’s a perfect HP, with everything you need, chalk, lemons, mineral oils, seaweed… We won’t even add any water, which is contrary to WF’s rules as soon as the 50% vol. were reached, but there… Mouth: splendid purity, sharpness, smoke, chalk, lemons, seaweed, graphite oil, green apples and bananas, cough drops… Finish: long and wonderfully green and mineral, with a fruity coating. Peppery/fizzy aftertaste, as if you had just downed one litre of tonic water. Something more medicinal as well. That’s fun. Comments: what a distillate! One of the greatest in Scotland.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

(Et merci, Fabien!)

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


February 4, 2018


A day for Cognac

As always, looking for malternatives… Let’s see what we can find in the stash…

Paul Beau ‘Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2016)

Paul Beau ‘Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2016) Four stars
A rather large estate in Segonzac (around 100 hectares) with fully integrated production, from harvest to bottling. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s a very fruity Cognac, lush, with bags of golden raisins and ripe peaches and apricots, as well as whiffs of broom, jasmine, and wallflower. Very sexy nose, easy, void of any excessive caramel or oaky tones. Mouth: really easy and fresh, and extremely fruity again. Very lovely oranges and peaches, a touch of liquorice, the obligatory raisins, and then small berries, cranberries, raspberries… Really very good and easy, which is absolutely not contradictory. Finish: medium, fresh, full of juicy raisins, with very nice touches of liquorice and rather tarte tatin in the aftertaste, with a nod to old Macallan. Comments: one of these Cognacs that are very dangerously quaffable.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

Tiffon ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Cognac, Fins Bois, +/-2016)

Tiffon ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Cognac, Fins Bois, +/-2016) Three stars
An assemblage (vatting) of very old Fins Bois, some said to be eighty years old. The house Tiffon too are owning their own vineyards, while the distillery’s located in Jarnac. Colour: very deep reddish amber. Nose: the older age feels, but in no way is this very fine Cognac tired, or too oaky. We’re rather finding plenty of prunes, dried currants, hints of violets, and just touches of thuja wood, pine, and eucalyptus… As for the flowers, I’d rather say peonies, and perhaps carnation (discreetly). Mouth: this has clearly more oak, but the fruits keep singing in the background. Quite a lot of cocoa and coffee beans, black tea, and behind all that, rather blackberry jam and indeed prunes. Tends to get a little thin, I find it a little regrettable that they’ve gone down to 40% vol. here. Finish: medium, a tad mentholy, with more prunes as well, and a black tea-ishness in the aftertaste. A tad harsh. Comments: isn’t it getting out of fashion to bottle such an old spirit at 40%? I’m totally sure that things would have been very different à 45%, or even 43%. Excellent Cognac and a missed opportunity as well in my opinion.
SGP:461 - 82 points.

This, will be more fashionable…

Gallienne 27 yo 1990/2017 (50%, La Distillerie Générale, Cognac, Borderies, cask #COO20117335, 50cl, 1055 bottles)

Gallienne 27 yo 1990/2017 (50%, La Distillerie Générale, Cognac, Borderies, cask #COO20117335, 50cl, 1055 bottles) Two stars and a half
These good folks at La Distillerie Générale are brand new independent bottlers, although it seems that Pernod-Ricard’s behind them. They’ll soon propose various spirits, mezcal, whisky, gin (of course)… And two Cognacs, including this very one. Wonderful design by Castelbajac. As for Gallienne, they’re located in Javresac and belong to Martell, while Martell belong to… Pernod-Ricard. No small business here, it seems, but many large spirit companies seem to be trying to ‘become craftier’ these days… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a big fruity nose, rather on peaches and nectarines, then on mirabelles and just touches of tangerines, with hints of Demerara sugar and simply rhum agricole in the background. Feels rather younger than 27, but it’s very clean. With water: some hay and a little earth. Rather shy and self-restrained this time. Mouth (neat): rather gritty and herbal on the palate, with a lot of green tea, then lime, fruit leaves (cherry, peach), and a very wee touch of cork. I had expected a rounder, easier style. With water: more fruits at first (cider apples) as well as liquorice root, but the slightly bitterish leafy grassiness remains in the background. Finish: medium, rather harsh, with a green tannicity, although some nicer fruity tones would be back in the aftertaste. Cherry stems. Comments: I was expecting a little more, but hey, I’m no Cognac expert. At all.
SGP:361 - 78 points.

Petite Champagne 1973 (48.5%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, +/-2017)

Petite Champagne 1973 (48.5%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, +/-2017) Four stars and a half
These are true independent bottlers! Did you see the wonderful verticale of Gosperrin we did on January 7, 2018? Colour: full gold. Nose: another world. This one’s extremely elegant, it’s ridden with juicy mirabelles and damsons, it’s got something slightly Yquemy (must be the mirabelles), and some entrancing whiffs of mentholy ointments start to rise to your nostrils after thirty seconds, giving it something oriental. Nargileh and beedies smokes, perhaps, and maybe a little incense. Wonderful nose. Mouth: this one too is a tad rougher on the palate, but balance is preserved, with fruit peelings (peaches yet again), some green melon, a few raisins, and yet again a rather oriental development. Baklavas, pepper, cinnamon, orange blossom water, crystallised angelica, a wee touch of mango chutney… All is very well here. Finish: rather long, on oranges, mint, honeydew, and coriander. Great freshness. Comments: just the wee grittiness on the palate will prevent me from going up to 90, but we’re very close.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

A last one, let’s try to find a powerful Cognac…

Michel Forgeron ‘Barrique 1989’ (59%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, 2015)

Michel Forgeron ‘Barrique 1989’ (59%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, 2015) Three stars and a half
The 1988 had been quite beastly! Colour: amber. Nose: shall we call it rustic indeed? I’m getting a lot of hay and a hint of scented soap, then a lot of earth. In the background, touches of asparagus, perhaps. Certainly not an easy commercial Cognac. With water: tons of liquorice and sandalwood, while this baby’s getting very fragrant globally. Jasmine tea. Mouth (neat): Cognacs at this kind of natural strength are uncommon, and indeed this is unusual, with bags of roasted walnuts, some burnt cake, some burnt raisins, and quite some toffee. Very oily mouth feel. With water: there are still spikes and bumps, but I cannot not enjoy this citrusy unfolding. Say blood oranges, incense, and a feeling of mizunara (with apologies to whom this may concern). Finish: long, rather on marmalade, burnt dried fruits, and some ‘black’ tannins. Comments: pretty very good, just not an ‘immediate’ Cognac, and certainly not one for beginners (such as this humble taster).
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Salut à tous

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Cognac I've tasted so far


February 3, 2018




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Glen Garioch:
A Wee Vertical
I like Glen Garioch. Let’s have five of them in reverse order of vintage.


Glen Garioch 20 yo 1995/2016 (61.7%, Berry Bros, Hogshead, cask# 141) 
Glen Garioch 20 yo 1995/2016 (61.7%, Berry Bros, Hogshead, cask# 141)
Probably doesn’t make sense to kick off with the strongest one but hey ho... Colour: Light gold. Nose: Salted peanuts galore. And peanut brittle to boot. Goes on with trampled leaves, hay loft, trail mix and a nice touch of milk chocolate. An outdoorsy malt. A little golden syrup and fresh butter on toast. Excellent. With water: some marzipan, a drop of creme de menthe, coal dust and perhaps a few milk bottle sweeties. Mouth: Hot at first, understandably. Also quite stony and flinty with some notes of aspirin and ink before it eases into more of these straw and earthy notes not dissimilar to the nose. A few white flowers and a little light farmyard and wax. With water: becomes very nicely honeyed with water. Some light green fruits, cut grass, chalk and a little lime zest. Very nice. Finish: Good length, slightly meaty and with plenty fresh barley, barley sugar and lemon oil. Comments: A solid start. These early-mid 1990s Glen Gariochs were very characterful whiskies it seems. Many are real gems. SGP: 442 - 87 points.


Glen Garioch 20 yo 1993/2014 (58.2%, The First Editions, Refill Hogshead, 241 bottles)

Glen Garioch 20 yo 1993/2014 (58.2%, The First Editions, Refill Hogshead, 241 bottles)
From a series by Hunter Laing. Colour: Light gold. Nose: This one is a little more austere. Towards cooked asparagus and a dusty earthiness. But then a treacle note begins to emerge, along with soot and a light hessian quality. Also more of these quite distinctive hay loft or bailed hay aromas that seem to pervade these 1990s Glen Gariochs. An elegant, dry farminess I suppose. With water: Light garden fruits, flowers and runny honey. A bit more straightforward perhaps. Mouth: Some white fruit syrups, olive oil, white chocolate, green pepper, a little oaky spice and a savoury tea cake flavour. Gets slightly floral as well with time and there’s just a wink of parma violets in the background, although it’s a perfectly pleasant manifestation of that often tricksy characteristic. With water: becomes more buttery and more biscuity. A bit more white chocolate, shortbread, an oatcake or two and some muesli. Finish: Long, slightly minty, some white stone fruits, orange drops and a touch of cough medicine. Comments: Another solid example, although I preferred the Berry’s a notch more.
SGP: 332 - 85 points.



Glen Garioch 23 yo 1990/2014 (57.2%, Dewar Rattray for Alba Import Germany, cask# 7946)

Glen Garioch 23 yo 1990/2014 (57.2%, A.D. Rattray for Alba Import Germany, cask# 7946)
Colour: Light gold. Nose: This one is greener and more expressive. Tulips, grass, nectarines, a little cigar ash, hessian, lamp oil, light wax and coal hearths. It’s also a little more herbal than the others with notes of mint tea, sage and white pepper. With water: camphor, sunflower oil, minerals and lemon peel. Mouth: Beautifully elegant farmyness, soft waxes, tea tree oil, eucalyptus, hessian, camphor, tinned fruit syrups and a stony mineral aspect. Quite excellent! With water: a soft earthiness with green tea, lemon oil, soot and some orange bitters. A keen wood spice note as well. Finish: Long and again with this hay quality, dried grass, some rope and hessian, olive oil and a little twist of lemon keeping things fresh. Comments: Excellent! My favourite so far, it just has a little more character and complexity that the other two.
SGP: 442 - 89 points.



Glen Garioch 1973/1987 (57.5%, SMWS 19.2)

Glen Garioch 1973/1987 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.2)
Colour: Gold. Another galaxy! A whole farmyard, burning peat embers, layers of dense medicinal complexities, waxes, minerals, hessian, cow sheds, tool boxes... Gah! Stunning. All these more subtle aromas beneath of smoked cereals, flints, seed oils, wood ash, sheep wool and iodine. Totally mesmerising. It’s really a Brora on holiday; quite distinct from the style of the 1975s that followed a couple of years later. With water: attains a kind of medicinal purity with hospital corridors, gauze and mercurochrome. On top of a blade like peat and some citrons. Also beautifully, nervously salty. Mouth: I really should call the anti-maltoporn brigade for this one. Many types of wax, soot, hessian, barley sugar, peat oils, medicines... you name it! With water: It’s still Brora! Huge, dense, muscular, layered farmyard and peat aspects. Totally magnificent and certainly censored from here on out. Finish: Censored! Comments: I’m totally surprised. There were many old glories (Glen Glories?) from the peated Garioch era. This one is something of a masterpiece in my opinion.
SGP: 477 - 95 points.



Not sure it really makes much sense to continue, but what the hell...



Glen Garioch 21 yo 1970 (43%, OB)
Glen Garioch 21 yo 1970 (43%, OB)
I feel this may be unfair, even on this high pedigree wee baby... Colour: Gold. Nose: Understandably this is much lighter, rather oily and a little shy at first. A little honey, some wax and behind it something like smoked linen and also a touch of stale barley. Rather unlikely and slightly scary. Mouth: Gah! Soap (are we allowed to use crying emoticons on Whiskyfun Serge?) The blight of Glen Garioch has returned. We’re paying dearly for that 1973. Sour milk, fairy liquid, grit, molten plastic. Urgh. I can’t continue I’m afraid, soap in whisky is my ultimate kryptonite. Finish: Mercifully brief. Comments: What a shame. I wonder if it was my sample but, somehow I doubt it (although if anyone has different experiences with this bottling please let me know). I’ve had more than a few older Glen Gariochs that have exhibited the same soapiness. So interesting that the character was already appearing back in the peated era. I suppose a true Glen Garioch session wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the soap. Still, that 1973 though...!
SGP: 220 - 49 points.



February 1, 2018


Auchentoshan’s turn, part two

As I said yesterday…

Auchentoshan 24 yo 1992/2016 (53.2%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, cask #530, 226 bottles)

Auchentoshan 24 yo 1992/2016 (53.2%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, cask #530, 226 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little spirity at first, then we have orchard fruits covered with custard and light honey. Green apples, green bananas, green pears… Not sure it’s unleashed its full potential yet. So, with water: yes! Papayas, mangos, coconut water… Mouth (neat): creamy and very fruity – tropically fruity. Guavas aplenty, bananas alike, angelica, lemongrass, mint, pineapple drops… It’s hard to make malt even fruitier, and in truth one cannot not think of Redbreast here. With water: really lovely. Redbreast, get thee out! Finish: medium, light in style, and yet very expressive. Excellent, on more tropical fruits blended with barley water and custard. Comments: I don’t think it’s the first time we’ve encountered some Auchentoshan that was extremely Irish in the best sense of that word.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Just to be on the safe side…

Auchentoshan 1992/2017 (47.8%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #5428, 159 bottles)

Auchentoshan 1992/2017 (47.8%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #5428, 159 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah this is very different. Some nail polish remover at first, cellulose, white balsamico (heresy?), Swiss cheese, bandages… And only then some tropical fruits, rather towards whacky guavas and dried jojobas, with a pine-y, almost smoky side. A very funny nose, really curious about the palate… Mouth: please explain ;-). This can’t be only Auchentoshan, something else must have happened. Another Serendipity moment at the filling station? Wrong stencilling? Late Friday work? There’s some clear Auchentoshanness – so no wrong labelling – but also some smoke, something coastal, minerals ala Springbank, even ideas of tequila… And the whole’s very good for sure. Finish: rather long and more or less on lightly smoked sultanas – should that exist. Comments: my eternal consideration to anyone who’d recognise Auchentoshan when tasting this blind. Indeed, eternal. Oh and it’s excellent.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Perhaps a young one again?

Auchentoshan 10 yo 2001/2016 (54.6%, La Maison du Whisky, Artists #6, barrel, cask #800108)

Auchentoshan 10 yo 2001/2016 (54.6%, La Maison du Whisky, Artists #6, barrel, cask #800108) Four stars and a half
They’ve bottled another cask under the same label (800107). That one was great (WF 87). Oh and before anyone asks on Facebook, indeed they do round down the age statements, so 14 = 10. Excuse me? Yes, that’s legal – and funny, isn’t it? Colour: deep gold. Nose: Sweet Vishnu, this has depth and body! You’re nosing sesame oil, tar liqueur, real artisan chocolate, real hazelnut butter, mead, pipe tobacco, olive oil… So much for a light Lowlander… With water: metal polish and old camphory ointments. Mouth (neat): exceptionally Jamaican and Ardbeggian. Really. Smoked rum, agave syrup, Cuban aguardiente, lapsang souchong, early 1970s Glen Garioch… That’s the thing with these light malts, they work like sponges in refill wood. This is refill, right? Closer to some blended malt for sure. With water: gets a tad metallic, and that’s lovely. Finish: long, smoky, herbal. Crème de menthe and smoked meats. Comments: I’d love to share a dram or three with the gentleman who rinsed the cask out prior to filling. Yes dry martinis is okay too, no worries.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

This Auchentoshan session is getting weird, isn’t it, so maybe a very last one?

Auchentoshan 18 yo 1997/2015 (52.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #29009, 247 bottles)

Auchentoshan 18 yo 1997/2015 (52.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #29009, 247 bottles) Five stars
Ah yes, we’d said that we would quote Black Adder each and every time we’re tasting a whisky from this range. So, how about this one: “I couldn’t be more petrified if a wild Rhinoceros had just come home from a hard day at the swamp and found me wearing his pyjamas, smoking his cigars and in bed with his wife.” Shouldn’t we add “and quaffing his Auchentoshans?” Colour: gold. Nose: ah, normality! That is to say sunflower oil, custard, apple juice, white chocolate, gooseberries, barley, and a little orange juice. We’re falling in line. With water: small herbs and various berries, all in sync. Plus these excellent very small pineapples from the Caribbean. Mouth (neat): excellently citrusy, bright, perfectly balanced, and very tropical again. Maracujas, mangos, pink grapefruits. Do we need more? With water: totally perfect, even brilliant. An unexpected touch of salt. Finish: medium, tropical and indeed, a little salty. Barley water and all tropical fruits on could think of. Right, perhaps not durians. Comments: perfect and extremely close to the expected style. More points just because of that. One of the best Auchentoshans I’ve tried in recent years.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Auchentoshan I've tasted so far


Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Bowmore 15 yo 2001 (55.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #20117, 233 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Linkwood 22 yo 1972 (54.3%, OB, Rare Malts, +/-1995) - WF 91

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) - WF 89

Favourite malternative:
Grande Champagne 1835 (42.7%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) - WF 92

January 2018 - part 2 <--- February 2018 - part 1 ---> February 2018 - part 2



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Auchentoshan 18 yo 1997/2015 (52.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #29009, 247 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 2009/2017 (60.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st fill sherry hogsheads, casks # 323-325)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.5%, OB for 10th Anniversary Quaich Bar Singapore, oloroso, 332 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1989/2017 (42.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, 264 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 1987/2017 ‘The Viceroy’s Elixir’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 579 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1989/2017 (45.8%, Sansibar, bourbon, 233 bottles)

Caol Ila 2006/2017 (60.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butts, casks #306183, 306184, 306186, 306187)

Glen Grant 1972/2010 (48.3%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, refill sherry, cask #3886, 138 bottles)

Glen Grant 1961/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #6200)

Domaine de Charron 1987/2017 (46.6%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #53)