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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2020 - Part 1


January 2020 - part 2 <--- February 2020 - part 1 ---> February 2020 - part 2


February 13, 2020


... Sorry, we're on vacation



February 12, 2020


Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Longmorn 34 years apart

Not a name that’s constantly talked about. Sometimes everybody’s chatting about Chivas’s fruit bomb, and sometimes almost no one does, for reasons I cannot quite explain. Or is that just an impression? Or because the official bottlings aren’t really ‘pushed’? We’re expecting quite some orchard fruits today…

Longmorn 10 yo 2008/2019 (52.8%, Claxton’s, bourbon, cask # 1960-1223, 275 bottles)

Longmorn 10 yo 2008/2019 (52.8%, Claxton’s, bourbon, cask # 1960-1223, 275 bottles) Three stars
Claxton’s came with the new wave of British indie bottlers. The Ultravoxes of whisky, if you like. To each his references! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: raw, almost brutal, all on apples, plums, green pears and cider. Litres of cider, literally, as well as pear cider (e call that poire in France). With water: mud, grist, crushed barley, ale, and almost no fruits this time. Where did they go? Mouth (neat): total cider and apple juice, peppered with some crushed chalk and, well, some white pepper. You cannot not think of some young Calvados (they’re usually not sold in this state). Touch of salt. With water: nots of Gueuze, I would say. And again, a touch of salt. Finish: long, leafier, a little yeastier. Very gristy for sure. Comments: a raw baby that’s still in its infancy, I would say. Very good for documenting the evolution of malt whisky over time, which reminds me of Samaroli’s ‘Aging Monography’, remember? Except that this is not quite Springbank.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

So an older one… Maybe this that just came in a few days ago…

Longmorn 33 yo 1974/2007 (43.7%, Gordon & MacPhail for David Le Cornu, sherry butt, cask #007685)

Longmorn 33 yo 1974/2007 (43.7%, Gordon & MacPhail for David Le Cornu, sherry butt, cask #007685) Five stars
This one was bottled for Australian whisky pioneer David Le Cornu, of Earls of Zetland fame (and other fames). Colour: deep amber. Older connoisseurs would have written ‘Cognac’. Nose: fantastic, well in line with G&M’s other best sherried Longmorns of the ‘fresher’ category. There is a little cider once again, fresh almonds, moderate raisins and figs, this Calvadossy side yet again, then marmalade and touches of mango jam. In the background, wonderful notes of old amontillado – rather than just ‘sherry cask’. Was it a refill solera butt? In any case, it’s very elegant, civilised, and certainly not a sherry monster. Oh and hints of passion fruits. Oh and wait, also some old-school tobacco. Untipped Senior Service? Craven A? Mouth: I must be having something with Calvados today, since I’m finding Calvados again. Then a drop of Chartreuse and one of fig wine, raisins in appropriate amounts, perhaps roasted pecans or pistachios, plain dried figs, tarte Tatin, and then oranges as well as those mangos that are not always to be found in Longmorn, in my experience. Impeccable. Finish: medium, pretty fresh and lively given the age here. Some additional menthol and liquorice in the aftertaste, with a lovely – and unexpected – bitterness. Quinine wine, perhaps. Comments: a very elegant old Longmorn and a perfect bridge between G&M’s darker sherry monsters and some fresher, fruitier similarly aged ex-refill Longmorns by the same excellent house. Oh and did you like this one, Craig Daniels?
SGP:651 - 91 points.

(Many thanks Deni!)

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


February 11, 2020


Little duos, today young AnCnoc OB vs. IB

It’s been a long time since I last tried thLittle duos, today young AnCnoc OB vs. IBe official 12! We’ll also have a young Knocdhu by Cadenhead – as you know, AnCnoc, An Cnoc and Knockdhu are the same malt.

AnCnoc 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019)

AnCnoc 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
This fine malt scored WF 84 last time I tried it, but that was in 2011. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s really tight, rather on chalk and bread dough at first, then on white berries, gooseberries, green apples, stewed rhubarb… It’s only after a good thirty seconds that vanilla would come out, together with whiffs of shortbread from a freshly opened pack. Walker’s, naturally. A little bubblegum as well, jelly babies, marshmallows… Mouth: exactly the same flavours, word for word, with just a little more malt, and a little more Williams pear. Really fine, pleasantly malty, so close to the ingredients. Finish: medium, with the pears as the main flavour. Pear tarte and custard in the aftertaste. Comments: indeed, a fine, pretty ‘natural’ and very honest malt whisky. Of fair marketable quality, as they used to say.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Knockdhu 9 yo 2010/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 888 bottles)

Knockdhu 9 yo 2010/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 888 bottles) Three stars and a half
This baby from three bourbon hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re very close to the 12, except that this would be even tarter, almost acerbic for a while. More green apples, also lemons, while coconut and bananas would come out after one minute or two. Coconut balls, Malibu (ouch)… With water: sweet barley, vanilla fudge, meringue, cream gâteau… Mouth (neat): fine, malty, first on lemon cookies and gooseberry, then coconut again. And so, malted barley and Crème Egg (a new descriptor on WF, hurray!) With water: gets a notch grassier which is always welcome. Mezcal lollipops, prickly pear sweets…  Finish: medium, maltier. Lemon tarte with meringue, but no whipped cream. Comments: quite young but does the job!
SGP:551 - 84 points.

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


February 10, 2020


A session that won’t be too useful:
three Dallas Dhu

This after a wee discussion with some friends on Facebook. I know, I know… By the way, there’s always been rumours that Dallas Dhu would be restarted, and it seems that those rumours are a little rifer again these days. Any updates? I’m afraid these will be the only three Dallas Dhus I’m currently having in the library, all three thanks to François at the Golden Promise.

Dallas Dhu 29 yo 1974/2003 (46%, Murray McDavid, Mission, sherry, 498 bottles)

Dallas Dhu 29 yo 1974/2003 (46%, Murray McDavid, Mission, sherry, 498 bottles) Four stars
We’ve had a very good 1979 by MMcD quite some years ago – a high quality that rather surprised me since it had met some St Joseph (but that was some white St Jo, which is undoubtedly better than any red in these context and purpose). Anyway, this one should be all natural… Oh and I’ve completely forgotten about any characteristics of Dallas Dhu I’m afraid, and yet I’m not that old! Colour: golden amber. Nose: oh I seem to remember, toasted nuts and some sootiness, no? Roasted pecans, a touch of propolis and other high-character waxes, some soot indeed, perhaps some rusty old tools (at the distiller, haha), herbal teas (and patchouli), some grass smoke, old clothes in an old wardrobe (in an old attic), those kinds of things. Some old LPs, magazines, books… We’re almost in an antique shop. Mouth: a style that disappeared in the late 1980s, very globally. There are old nuts, some cardboard, touches of Bovril, some kind of salty honey (sauces), bitter oranges, chlorophyll, black tea… And shall we use the U-word? That’s right, umami? Finish: medium, salty, meaty, with a little coffee and some sappy honeydew. The aftertaste is almost all on chicken bouillon, with sweeter sauce. Something Thai? Comments: saying that this is unusual would be an understatement. In truth, the nearest contemporary malt would be sherried Benromach, I would say. Something a little, say fusty indeed, but certainly not in a bad way.
SGP:361 - 87 points.

Dallas Dhu 30 yo 1970/2000 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, Rare Reserve, sherry butt, cask #673, 378 bottles)

Dallas Dhu 30 yo 1970/2000 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, Rare Reserve, sherry butt, cask #673, 378 bottles) Five stars
This one used to come with a miniature but this is from the full bottle. I believe they were still using coal-firing in 1970, since the stills were only converted to steam heating in 1971. Having said that the malting floor had been closed in 1968 already. Oh and yeah, last distillation in 1983. Colour: gold. Nose: fat, very mineral, certainly much more ‘northern Highlands’ than Speyside, with oranges, honeys, and just a lot of beeswax. Some ham and some butterscotch holding it for a while, just before it would get much more camphory, sooty, and almost dirty (concrete dust, old cellar, abandoned house and all that). With water: eucalyptus, embrocations, linseed oil and camphor. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): it’s very mineral and citric, very close to Benromach indeed, and perhaps even to Springbank as far as these paraffiny touches are concerned. A lot of various oils, lamp, graphite, essential oils as well (mint, thyme)… Big stuff, really. With water: oh the good old days! Superb citrus, waxes, and just more oils of all sorts. Grape pips. Clay and chalk. Finish: rather long, perfectly waxy and mineral with, as almost always with great whiskies, some lovey citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: I have to say I’m surprised. We used to say that the Springbank of the East was Lochside but frankly, that could have been Dallas Dhu as well, or at least pre-1971 Dallas Dhu. But let’s not get too geeky, those names are long gone, most sadly.
SGP:552 - 91 points.

The last one had to be an official…

Dallas Dhu 21 yo 1975/1997 (61.9%, OB, Rare Malts)

Dallas Dhu 21 yo 1975/1997 (61.9%, OB, Rare Malts) Four stars and a half
As usual, very high strengths suggest proper refill when batches are large, which in turn should indicate a rather distillate-driven malt whisky. Colour: straw (there). Nose: chalk, lemon, grass. I repeat, chalk, lemon, grass. And aspirin tablets, plaster, and wee whiffs of chives or even fresh onions. But mind you, almost 62% vol. With water: it’s amazing what water does to it. Not that it changes the profile, but it rebalances everything and well, I shall dare, makes it rather akin to some Hazelburn. I know, I know. Mouth (neat): the high powers and the crude fatness of many a Rare Malts. Some used to call them ‘challenging’ for some reason. Grass, paraffin, lime, sauvignon blanc. With water: a little more sweetness, but that is all. Pink grapefruits, perhaps kiwis and gooseberries chalk, lemon… Finish: long, very good, with a little more menthol and liquorice, and an earthier aftertaste this time. Comments: the brain says 85, while the heart says 90. Some lovely waxes in there – you would be forgiven for thinking this was Ben Nevis. Or indeed, why not, Hazelburn.
SGP:452 - 88 points.

So, are they really going to restart Dallas Dhu?

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


February 9, 2020


A little bag of Cognac

I do hereby solemnly declare that this session has got strictly nothing to do with Brexit, neither has it got anything to do with rugby. Hoppla, let’s see what we have, perhaps some VSOPs?…

Jules Gautret ‘VSOP’ (40%, Cognac, blend, +/-2018)

Jules Gautret ‘VSOP’ (40%, Cognac, blend, +/-2018) Two stars
Jules Gautret is rather a brand name than a house, which belongs to the very large coopérative Océalia. Océalia also produce wine, cereals or cattle. All that does not mean that this little cognac should obligatorily be sup-par, mind you. Let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: it’s an easy one, with good freshness, raisins, dandelions, a little honey and preserved yellow peaches. All that combines well, with perfect balance and a je-ne-sais-quoi (indeed that’s post-Brexit English) of Glenmorangie. Mouth: rather on oranges and overripe apples, but sadly a tad bitter and ‘green’. Some honey and some tobacco over a rather rustic and greenish composition. I would say this is equivalent to some just above entry-level Scotch blend. Finish: medium, a tad sour and too grassy. Comments: rustic indeed. A shame because I really enjoyed the brightly fresh nose.
SGP:451 - 75 points.

Bache Gabrielsen ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, +/-2018)

Bache Gabrielsen ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A house that’s rather exported to Scandinavia, I believe, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any on French shelves. Which, granted, does not mean a thing. This expression’s said to mainly shelter Fins Bois. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather modern style, which I find is good. More on fresh fruits, flowers and honeys than on caramel, prunes and oak. This nose is actually very lovely – and lively – with touches of maraschino, fresh almonds, dandelions this time again, peaches, and juicy golden raisins. Quite some vanilla too, as well as a tiny touch of pine resins, which would actually add complexity. Let’s pray now… Mouth: way above the Gautret, even if this time again, the palate is not quite in the same league as that of the nose, which would happen with many a young Cognac in my book. Good quinces, touches of caramel this time, burnt sugar, apricot jam, light honey, then a touch of coffee and cloves, probably from the oak. Finish: medium, frankly more rustic this time. Grass, fruit peelings, over-infused tea… Loses points at this stage. Comments: as always, the devil’s in the finish, but I think this remains a rather fine VSOP nonetheless.
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Camus ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2019)

Camus ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2019) Three stars
This new expression is advertised as being ‘intensely aromatic’, not something we would be against. It’s said to stem from the Borderies part of the Cognac region, while the wood was only lightly toasted (chauffe française) to impart less oaky tones, while keeping the aging properties of the casks. Colour: amber. Nose: I wouldn’t say it is vastly different from the Bache, as we’re finding similar lightly resinous notes, almonds, fruit skins, but then certainly more citrus, especially blood oranges. Also small notes of prickly pears, and even poppy syrup, grenadine... That’s rather intriguing, I have to say. But will this one crash as well?... Mouth: well, it is a little whisky-y, would I say, less emphatically fruity than I had thought, and rather more on dry plums and herbal teas, hawthorn, chamomile, lime-blossom tea, vanilla, banana skin and a little cocoa making it a little drying. What’s sure is that it did not crash. Finish: medium, rather on chocolate and marmalade. Or there, Jaffa cakes. Some drying tea in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like this one – any whisky enthusiast would – but, if I may, the juice deserves two or three extra % ABV. 40 is a handicap here.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

More Camus then…

Camus 2005/2019 ‘Monbazillac Cask Finish’ (40%, OB, Cognac, 3000 bottles)

Camus 2005/2019 ‘Monbazillac Cask Finish’ (40%, OB, Cognac, 3000 bottles) Four stars
This one from vineyards in Dordogne, said to be the last that remain within the Cognac appellation. I’m not sure doing a finish in Monbazillac wood will preserve any terroir here, but there, let’s see what will come out of this very Glenmo-y bottle. Oh, in case you don’t now, Monbazillac is similar to Sauternes wine (but don’t tell the good people in both regions, many still own old rifles). Colour: deep gold. Nose: yes, sure, this works. After all, grapes on grapes, why wouldn’t that work? Ripe peaches, apricots, quinces, mountain honey, sultanas, butterscotch, and just a drop of linseed oil. Lovely, easy nose. Mouth: success. It’s bigger than expected, pretty tense despite a wee syrupy side that would last for fifteen seconds, and really full of quinces and apples. Then tiny mentholy herbs, woodruff, spearmint, some liquorice too, touches of muscovado sugar… It's not that it’s immensely complex, not at all, but balance has been found once again. Finish: medium, a little more on peels and leaves, but orange blossom honey is back in the aftertaste. Oriental pastry. Comments: the Monbazillac was very well-behaved. By the way, check Tirecul La Gravière, especially the Cuvée Madame if you can find it.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

We’re feeling good at Camus’, let’s try more…

Camus ‘Port Cask Finish’ (43.2%, OB, batch #VSFP2785, 2019)

Camus ‘Port Cask Finish’ (43.2%, OB, batch #VSFP2785, 2019) Two stars and a half
No vintage this time and an unexpected and pretty mysterious use of Tawny Port wood, but on the other hand, a higher strength (hourrah !) Colour: apricot. Nose: Port seems to work better with brandy than with whisky. There, I’ve said it. Perhaps is that a matter of grape and grain not mixing well or other antique sayings, but what’s sure is that all is well here, while we’re a bit in malt whisky territories as far as overall profiles are concerned (I know, all that is not very coherent, but that’s how it is). Cherry cake, raisins, butterscotch, dried figs, puréed chestnuts… And no red wine as such. Phew. Mouth: no complains, even if I tended to like the sleeker Monbazillac a little better. Red berries, strawberries, cakes, stem teas, grenadine bonbons, crystallised cherries… Well, it’s getting a little too sweet for me, I have to say, and too bonbony, but there aren’t the kinds of clashes that could happen between Port and malt whisky. Grape and grape! Finish: medium, really sweet now, a little too syrupy for me… Comments: it all started very well, and it is a very fine drop as a whole, but this growing sweetness was not for me. Not quite kid’s mouthwash though (or Toplexil).
SGP:741 - 78 points.

Shouldn’t we do a XO?...

Camus ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, 2019)

Camus ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, 2019) Three stars and a half
This one too is ‘intensely aromatic’, Borderies-driven, and was matured in lightly toasted small casks. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it is a fresh XO, not wham-bam, rather self-restrained for a good minute, before ripe and candied fruits would start to take the stage. I’m rather finding ripe melons and peaches at first, then honeydew and even a little mead, then lovely notes of camphor, menthol and pinesap, all proofs of proper aging. Perhaps small touches of sliced pineapples as well, even bananas… This, indeed, is rather intensely aromatic, should you not rush it. Mouth: pretty rich, and much more on raisins than all the other ones. There’s even a small feeling of PX at times, Rivesaltes, Sauternes, then peach skin and quite some green tea (tannins). Gets then frankly jammy (apricots, quinces). Finish: medium, sweet, almost a little bit sugary at times, but that’s no problemo. Stewed rhubarb and Demerara sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, but I have to say the relative sweetness came as a surprise. I think the 2005 Monbazillac remains my favourite – as always, that’s all from a malt whisky enthusiast’s point of view.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

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


February 8, 2020





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Newish Whiskies In Pairs
I have quite a few samples of new or recent bottlings piling up it would seem. Something I’m very happy about as I’m not always the best at keeping abreast of new releases. Anyway, without much further ado, let’s crack on…


Ben Nevis 14 yo 1996 (46%, Dram Mor, refill sherry)

Ben Nevis 14 yo 1996 (46%, Dram Mor, refill sherry)
Dram Mor are a new indy bottler based in Glasgow, apparently this one was from already bottled stock that hadn’t been released previously. Colour: bright gold. Nose: very buttery and rich, close to the other 1996s but just a little more lively and youthful. Quince, brown sugar, toffee apple, breads, ginger biscuits and a very lovely leafiness which adds a sense of forest freshness and damp earth. Mouth: great arrival, all on golden syrup, freshly baked brown bread, walnuts, white balsamic, olive oil, eucalyptus sweets - lots going on but there’s still strong sense of balance and cohesion. Also again getting rather gingery, spicy and warm. Finish: medium, bready, slightly nutty and getting rather salty with a little meatiness. Comments: very good Ben Nevis that feels rather bigger than its ABV would suggest. Extremely fat and guzzleable stuff!
SGP: 562 - 89 points.



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

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (52.2%, Thompson Bros. for The Amber Light, Royal Mile Whiskies, refill sherry, 497 bottles)
I believe Serge already posted notes for this one recently, but I’ll add my two pence on it to the WF database… Colour: gold. Nose: golden syrup on brown toast! This very easy and approachable profile that blends together waxes, chalk, putty, coal embers, dry cereals and olive oil with real aplomb. This kind of luscious juicy fruitiness in the background at all times. With water: gets greener and little lighter and grassier. Garden fruits, elderflower, pollen and various nectars. Mouth: clean, peppery, oily and very mineral with many impressions of oily rags, tool boxes, metal polish and soot. Raisins, camphor, hessian, more toasty and bready notes and this overall feeling of textural fatness that seems to be a modern era Ben Nevis hallmark. With water: again a little lighter with water, more floral accents, white flowers, stones, chalk, dried herbal qualities. But overall still dry, mineral and quite tautly structured. Finish: long, waxy, slightly sappy, earthy and peppery. Some herbal tea notes in the aftertaste. Comments: Classy, perfectly mature and super sexy Ben Nevis. I just love this distillate-forwards profile where the distillery character inhabits every part of the whisky with what feels like total confidence.
SGP: 562 - 91 points.



Ardmore 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.8%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #801661, barrel, 185 bottles)

Ardmore 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.8%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #801661, barrel, 185 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather austere one. Lots of crushed aspirin, newspaper ink, light ashy notes, seashells, sheep wool and canvass. Needs a little time to shake itself awake whereupon it begins to reveal a more easy and sweeter cereal profile. Still this rather typical Ardmore sootiness and slightly animalistic aspect. With water: still very drying and chalky with this almost dusty minerality. Close to the raw ingredients with this rather plain and unvarnished maltiness that verges on being mashy at times. Good but probably a bit challenging. Mouth: still quite austere on arrival. Chalky, flinty, very mineral, drying and with lots of plain cereal notes. Some touches of dried tarragon and turmeric. With water: now it moves towards sunflower oil, mustard powder, horseradish, straw and dry cereals. Less coastal and a bit more farmy. Finish: Medium but rather fat, oily, again very cereal and continuing these grassy, lightly medical and chalky qualities. Comments: I think it’s technically very good but it remains a rather intellectual and slightly challenging whisky with this resilient austere profile.
SGP: 362 - 84 points.



Ardmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (51.6%, The Auld Alliance & Three Rivers Tokyo, hogshead)

Ardmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (51.6%, The Auld Alliance & Three Rivers Tokyo, hogshead)
Colour: gold. Nose: much more expressive, honeyed, herbal and sweeter. Notes of pollens, dandelions, waxes - there’s something rather reminiscent of Ben Nevis from similar vintages in fact. Evolves with heather ales, putty, herbal cough medicines and chalk. Pretty superb actually. With water: gets a tad drier and evolves more towards canvass, dried flowers, camphor, lamp oil and with a few residual chalky tones. Mouth: there’s a shared DNA with the 1999 but this is globally richer, more playful, sweeter, more waxy and less austere. Porridge with honey, heather flowers, mead and a hint of apple crumble. With water: these more traditional Ardmore qualities of coal dust, anthracite embers, sheep wool, old shilling ales and brown toast all begin to come through now. Funnily enough it becomes a tad more austere with water. Some hints of mineral oil and petrol too. Finish: good length, very sooty, lightly herbal, some dry peat notes and wee waxy aspects. Comments: Top notch Ardmore. Rather changeable with water but overall very fun and pleasurable. Quite a difference from the 1999.
SGP: 463 - 88 points.



Speyside Single Malt 24 yo 1995/2019 (46.9%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 310 bottles)

Speyside Single Malt 24 yo 1995/2019 (46.9%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 310 bottles)
I have it on very good authority that this in fact hails from a certain very large and very famous Speyside distillery owned by Edrington where they’ve recently opened the world’s most expensive cafe. Colour: straw. Nose: very lovely, very classical. Pollens, soft waxes, honeys, breads, pastries, wild flowers. All top notch modern fruity Speyside single malt at a perfect maturity. There’s also some more direct fruit notes of melon, tangerine and apricot. Very lovely but perhaps a tad simple. Mouth: a little drier and more peppery than the nose suggested. Orange cocktail bitters, herbal teas, Cointreau, mint julep, heather honey and marjoram. Some nice crystallised exotic fruits beyond that as well as some slightly punchy spice from the wood. Finish: quite long and full of cereals, bitter lemon, fruity flapjack, sultana and barley sugars. Comments: It’s all very lovely and fine, and you do get a sense of the more sinewed Macallan distillate without the cloak of sherry, but it is also perhaps a tad generic at times too. Easy sipping and technically very good, but not the most memorable dram.
SGP: 551 -  87 points.



Speyside 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.4%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #31, hogshead, 177 bottles)

Speyside 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.4%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #31, hogshead, 177 bottles)
I have to admit, I had thought this was a ‘Speyside malt’ of some anonymous Burnside-esque origin, only once I had already begun this tasting did I notice it is actually from Speyside Distillery itself. Oh well, let’s see if Macallan can be defeated by it’s far more humble neighbour… Colour: straw. Nose: this is certainly a different profile altogether. Crisp, dry cereals, light chalky notes, lemon peel, quinine, white pepper and something like slightly underripe star fruit. Altogether leaner, more pithy, peppery and crisp. With water: we’re almost in bone dry white Burgundy territory with this slightly arid, buttery, cereal sharpness. Some zesty citrus and jangly minerals underneath. Mouth: clean and very cereal dominant but also slightly empty and verging on too drying. Hints of plain porridge and crushed oatcakes. Very raw and natural but also a tad boring I’m afraid to say. Not much fruit to speak of either. With water: improves nicely with water, it gets greener, lusher and fruitier. Notes of apples, pears, slightly acidic gooseberry and some hints of farmhouse cider. Unusual and a little all over the place. Finish: medium and back towards cereals, porridge, bitter citrus pith and plain brown toast. Comments: A bit of a funny one, Speyside Distillery remains one of these totally remote oddballs of contemporary Scotch whisky. Now, it’s a perfectly pleasant dram that will please many palates - it’s just a bit shy and curious.
SGP: 451 - 84 points.



Glenrothes 11 yo 2007/2019 (51.4%, North Star Spirits, sherry butt, 618 bottles)

Glenrothes 11 yo 2007/2019 (51.4%, North Star Spirits, sherry butt, 618 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: very good! Honeys, pollens, brioche, fruit cake. Feels older than 11 which is always no bad thing with such whiskies. Some olive oil cake, walnuts, cafélatte - all very elegant, well-structured and nicely integrated. With water: develops immediately towards fresh breads, cereals, caraway and a little green fruit. Who could be against this? Mouth: treacle, toffee sweets, millionaire shortbread, salted caramel, digestive biscuits. Rich and sweet but without tipping over into cloying. Still these nice notes of glazed pastry and brioche. With water: not quite as bready as on the nose with water, but here it’s more about biscuits, shortbread, caramel wafers, Biscoff and sweet tea. Finish: good length, on cloves, honey, dried mint and hints of youthful calvados and cinnamon. Comments: It’s to be wondered if Mr Croucher didn’t dilute this one down a bit from its original rocket fuel ABV - as many young Glenrothes seem to be at natural strength these days. Anyway, great selection and very pleasurable young Glenrothes.
SGP: 651 - 87 points.



Glenrothes 10 yo 2009/2019 (58%, Dram Mor, cask #5280, 348 bottles)

Glenrothes 10 yo 2009/2019 (58%, Dram Mor, cask #5280, 348 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: holy moly! What is this? Some kind of flamboyant cocktail composed of some well matured Sauternes and a dollop of 1972 Caperdonich. Seriously this is extremely honeyed and full of pollens, sultana, sweet pastries, olive oil cake, figs in syrup, cantaloup melon and some madeira sponge. More beautiful than it probably has a right to be. With water: drier, more leafy and lightly earthy with tobaccos, beeswax and a light camphor note. Lovely clean sherry profile coming through now. Mouth: a bit more ‘realisitc’ or arrival but this is still pretty excellent. Very rich, polished, lots of dried fruits, orange peel, chopped dates, walnuts, lemon curd, heather honey, pistachios. Quite simply, top notch young Glenrothes that balances natural sweetness and impressive complexity. With water: that dessert wine sweetness is back. Orange wine, sultanas, dried banana chips, lemon balm, mint tea, fennel and some dried herbal notes. Finish: long, herbal and full of bitter orange marmalade, sweet pastries, limoncello and more sultanas. Comments: I have to say, this was a real surprise. Aren’t some of these young Glenrothes far better than they have a right to be? And what a beauty of a nose. Not to forget, terrific selection by the folk at Dram Mor. We’re within a midge’s limp of the 90 mark here.
SGP: 661 - 89 points.



Kilchoman 2011/2019 (55.1%, OB for Shi Jian, cask #334, bourbon, 261 bottles)

Kilchoman 2011/2019 (55.1%, OB for Shi Jian, cask #334, bourbon, 261 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: if there were such a thing as smoked mineral water I suspect it would smell like this. A lovely mix of wet fabrics, chalk, beach pebbles, smoky wort, grist and pure seawater. Ink, iodine drops, lemon juice and that kind of pure, crystalline peat that’s so often to be found in contemporary Islay whiskies. With water: drier, more ashy and with rather a lot of kelp and a pretty brittle minerality. Mouth: surprisingly soft on arrival, lots of clean smoke, light wood ash notes, more lemon juice, raw shellfish, iodine, chives, parsley, coal smoke and wee petrol notes. With water: sharp, clean, raw lemon juice, sheep wool, antiseptic, lime juice, mercurochrome and brine. Finish: long, ashy, petrolic, blade-like, peaty and precise. Comments: An excellent and rather technical Kilchoman that nods quite pointedly at Caol Ila. I find this style extremely good but a tad lacking in soul. However, that’s a very personal take I would say. Still deserving of a good score.
SGP: 367 - 88 points.



Kilchoman 11 yo 2007/2019 (56.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #307, bourbon, 249 bottles)

Kilchoman 11 yo 2007/2019 (56.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #307, bourbon, 249 bottles)
It’s good that we are finally seeing some Kilchoman making past the 10 year mark; quite a few I’ve tried thus far have been generally excellent which bodes well for the distillery’s future I would say. Colour: straw. Nose: once again we’re in this ‘smoked mineral water’ zone. Although you can feel an extra depth and richness from the age. This is sootier, earthier and more on hay, clams, squid ink, seawater, sheep wool and some smoked root vegetables. Notes of umami broths and liquid seasonings as well as a rather peppery unctuousness. Very good! With water: lemon cough drops and once again this more crystalline pear profile. Ashy, herbal, sooty and slightly kippery. Mouth: surprisingly rooty and earthy and vegetal. An oilier, fattier and altogether more greasy kind of peat. Notes of petrol, smoked olive oil, smoked turnip, wood ash, anthracite and more pepper. Also quite a bit of iodine and TCP in the background. With water: kippers, black olives in brine, anchovy paste, pure smoked barley and hessian. Finish: long, sooty, deeply smoky, briny and getting towards this sharp and pure lemon juice profile once again. Comments: The difference here is that this feels like it’s own thing - like Kilchoman. The age evolves it away from just feeling technically very good and towards something a bit more idiosyncratic and soulful. Can’t wait to try these vintages at 15 years.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.





February 7, 2020


A wandering Benriach session

We don’t hear as much about Benriach as we used to just a few years ago, do we? Time to try a few, as they come out of the boxes…

Benriach 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.1%, Whisky Erlebnis, sherry)

Benriach 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.1%, Whisky Erlebnis, sherry) Three stars and a half
This one comes with a lovely pop label, hope it’ll be rather ‘wham!’ Colour: gold. Nose: truffles and walnuts, that’s the sherry singing. Touches of rubber and ink as well, marmalade, three used matches, then raisins and a feeling of rancio. With water: chocolate up, and so are soups and bouillons. Some ‘sherry smoke’ too – nope that’s not peat.  Mouth (neat): rather fat, better balanced than I had thought, with very little ‘S’ and rather all things oranges, marmalade, bitter cordials, cocoa… With water: good! Some kind of Indian spice mix, oranges and caraway, green curry, a little leather… Finish: rather long and rather more peppery. The kind of pepper that come from bespoke sherry casks. Bitter oranges and perhaps a wee bit of anchovy in the aftertaste. Comments: not my preferred style, but things seem to have remained under control and the end result is tasty.
SGP:362 - 83 points.

Another sherry please…

Benriach 16 yo 1999/2016 (59.3%, OB, for Sun Favourite, Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2102, 610 bottles)

Benriach 16 yo 1999/2016 (59.3%, OB, for Sun Favourite, Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2102, 610 bottles) Four stars and a half
I believe these ones are only finishings. Colour: amber. Nose: hey, this is fun! It’s rather on thin mints, pine resins, chocolate, menthol, Wulong tea (they’ve got some great ones in Taiwan), and loads of milk chocolate and fresh-sawn pinewood. The menthol brings a lot of freshness, which is welcome. Sauna oils. With water: oh, green oranges! Love green oranges and the perfumes made thereof. A pack of Kools. Mouth (neat): to tell you the truth, I find it a little mizunara-y, and frankly, I’d have said this is Japanese. Once again, loads of chocolate and menthol, pinesap, pinewood… Feels very ‘lab’, but I believe this utter madness (read tekh-noh-loh-gy) just worked. With water: spicy, resinous oak and oranges and menthol, plus chocolate. Finish: long and all on the same flavours. Comments: I should hate this, and yet I rather loved this technological, almost Frankensteinian concoction. What’s the damage, doc? Am I lost forever? To think that it’s a finish!
SGP:471 - 89 points.

Perhaps an easy hoggie for a change…

Benriach 2011/2019 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, hogshead, 453 bottles)

Benriach 2011/2019 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, hogshead, 453 bottles) Three stars
That’s what’s cool with low strengths, you may pull loads of bottles from one single cask – and keep the prices budgety. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: got to love this style, you can’t do any more natural, there are only wee touches of vanilla from an otherwise very shy cask, while all the rest is about barley eau-de-vie, with cakes, pastries, Ovaltine and sweet beers. This nature, my friend. Mouth: this are less easy on the palate, but this works, with overripe apples, barley, sour cakes, leaven, and a little butterscotch. Finish: a little short, with notes of pears and fudge. Comments: you could almost believe this was made by a new-born ‘craft’ distillery no one ‘s ever heard of. A promising one. Like the clean honesty in this.
SGP:441 - 82 points.

Back to heaviness after that short rest…

Benriach 9 yo 2010/2019 (62.1%, James Eadie, European Oak Pedro Ximenez Sherry Hogshead finish, cask #348035)

Benriach 9 yo 2010/2019 (62.1%, James Eadie, European Oak Pedro Ximenez Sherry Hogshead finish, cask #348035) Three stars and a half
Another one from a kitchen, as it appears, but beyond beliefs and hard statements, only your copita is right in the end of the day. All we need is to remain honest and open-minded. Phew… Colour: coffee. Nose: no quibbles this far, it’s so strong that not much comes through anyway. Brownies, sawdust and coffee liqueur? With water: chocolate malt, chocolate beer, earth, new plastics, brown sauce (the one they pour over sausage), Nutella, and Corinth currants. This is what I’d call a chocolaty malt. Mouth (neat): humpff! Bags of roasted chestnuts, more roasted chestnuts, and perhaps a dollop of chestnut purée from Ardèche, where they say they make the best in the world. Heavy stuff. With water: it’s the spicy oak that would come out this time, with a lot of caraway and cinnamon. I’m just wondering, do they char European oak? I’ve always wondered why wines and whiskies do not get the same flavours at all from European oak. Just a matter of toasting vs. charring? Finish: long and extremely chocolaty. Chocolate and roasted chestnuts. Crème de marron. Comments: this restless baby had a lot to tell us! Not really lace, but I  do take my hat off.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Back to the rather lighter ones, because you cannot quite have two monsters in a row…

Benriach 11 yo 2008/2019 (55.5%, Maltbarn, sherry, 156 bottles)

Benriach 11 yo 2008/2019 (55.5%, Maltbarn, sherry, 156 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: golden straw. Indeed that’s between ‘straw’ and ‘gold’. Nose: malt, barley, touches of earth, fruit peelings, a drop of beef bouillon. More a duo or a trio than the Berliner Philharmoniker so far… With water: sour cream, porridge, fresh bread. Mouth (neat): cold-distilled ale. The same drop of beef bouillon, some big maltiness, perhaps even a little Guinness, and just leaven bread. With water: gets a little softer. Scottish brioche. Will they make brioche in independent Scotland? Finish: pretty long but a little cardboardy. Flour, bread… Comments: this baby’s not very ‘Maltbarn’ in my opinion – I mean, perhaps it is literally – but there, it’s not a scandal at all. We’ve had better Maltbarns having said that – all of them, I would add (what?)
SGP:341 - 79 points.

Perhaps an old one, for a change?...

Benriach 28 yo (48.8%, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 106 bottles, 2018)

Benriach 28 yo (48.8%, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 106 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Hey I know I’m late once again, no need to rub salt in my wounds. Colour: gold. Nose: ah there, this is Benriach as we knew it after Billy Walker had revamped the distillery. Remember those 1976s? So a touch of nail polish, then fresh almond oil, then assorted tropical fruits including bananas, passion fruits and mangos. In the background, some fresh herbs, fresh-cut onions, asparagus, green tomatoes, and just broken branches. Very complex, very luminous, very beautiful. Mouth: there’s a little coconut in the arrival, but things are soon to improve, with tangerines, papayas, avocado juice, and a feeling of citrus-led IPA. There might be a little too much oak as well (white pepper) but we’re still very fine. Finish: this is where it loses a bit of steam, with some tannins and fruit peels slowly taking over. Comments: it’s not impossible that this was even better at 25, but why would we argue? Did we find a brilliant more recent Benriach? I think not!
SGP:651 - 87 points.

… But we are resourceful…

Benriach 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 107 bottles)

Benriach 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 107 bottles) Four stars
Will this be the same whisky? Colour: gold. Nose: yeah well, if they’re not the same, they’re extremely similar and almost more undistinguishable than the Kessler sisters. To be honest, any differences would only be a figment of my imagination. Better not go on, I agree. Mouth: shall I tell you that hackneyed joke about that chef that only cooks with whisky, and that sometimes even adds it to the food? Or the whisky turkey? Or the one about that stuttering stillman that never found the right cut and had a son called J-j-j-j-j-ock? I agree, let’s pull the plug. Finish: ditto. Comments: ditto.
SGP:651 – 87 points.

Benriach 1994/2016 (54.1%, OB for Independent Spirit, peated bourbon barrel, cask #240888, 273 bottles)

Benriach 1994/2016 (54.1%, OB for Independent Spirit, peated bourbon barrel, cask #240888, 273 bottles) Three stars
Another one that I had kept in the boxes for future tastings. The future is now. Colour: straw. Nose: never been a huge fan of peated Benriach, some young ones had even been a little vulgar shall we say, but this utter farminess is kind of spectacular. Mud, then old yard after a heavy shower, cracked pepper, spend grains, sour doughs, Calmac’s porridge… This is very austere indeed, and perhaps only for intellectualists. Not me. With water:  mud and porridge, with a little lime juice. Gotta love lime juice. Mouth (neat): the nose was forgettable, this is not. Huge peat, huge pepper, immense tar and bitterness, some lemon, and a bit of pain. This was probably pretty hot in the peat years, but by today’s standards, it’s simply too much. Or for these times’ Obersturmbannführers  only. With water: frankly better, that is to say with more lemons and drops of gherkin and olive brines. Finish: rather long, salty, dry. Cactus juice. Comments: seriously, many distilleries on the mainland have tried to mimic the Islays. I say they should drop peat, as whilst it was all pretty funny fifteen years ago, it’s all become boring and, in many cases, bad. Of course I’m not talking about Brora, but isn’t even Ardmore struggling? Who’s tried a brilliant new peated Ardmore? Or yeah, Benriach?  Having said that, we’ve had some excellent peated Benriach in the past (another sherried 1994 for Independent Spirit springs to mind), so let’s not generalise too much. Oh well…
SGP:367 - 80 points.

That, my friend, leaves us with a few Cadenheads that I’ve been accumulating within the last years. Let’s have a short selection while we’re at it, and we’ll be done. Figuratively, of course.


Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (57.6%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 546 bottles) Two stars
From two hogsheads. One official website, at time of writing, tell us that this is a 2000, but that cannot be. Colour: straw. Nose: mashed potatoes, mashed mushrooms, broken branches, turnips, and just grass. Reminds us of Pernod’s old official 10. Not much to see… With water: porridge sprinkled with pear juice. Mouth (neat): some raw kisrchy eau-de-vie, really raw, really very raw. With water: pears, pear cider, young pear calvados (they do not only use apples, mind you), dough, Tesco’s brown bread… Finish: rather long, unsexy, difficult, and rather boring. Comments: it does the job (warm you up) but that’s pretty all. I would have dumped these into cheaper blends – I know, not my business.
SGP:351 - 71 points.

What’s happening? Was that an accident?

Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 276 bottles) Two stars
Colour: straw. Nose: very mashy as well, and this wouldn’t be Robuchon’s purée de pommes de terre. You know, 50% small potatoes and 50% proper farm butter. Branches, artichokes, parsnips, potatoes… Now if you enjoy mashed potatoes as much as I do, you may love this. Mashed potatoes are an art! With water: old magazines and mashed carrots and turnips. Milk. Mouth (neat): we’re okay this time, this is acceptable, too beerish for sure, rustic, but acceptable. With water: this is better, for sure. Barley, pepper, wood, cinnamon, orange squash, sadly also quite a lot of sawdust. Finish: long and difficult. Plywood. The aftertaste, all on oranges, is nicer, but that’s too late. Comments: the authenticity is worth quite some points here, but other than that, it’s difficult malt whisky. Malt whisky for penitents?
SGP:351 - 73 points.

Welcome to the whisky masochists club!...

Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (58.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, hogshead, 564 bottles) one star and a half
How’s life, Brown-Forman? This from two hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: ooh, turnips and Jerusalem artichokes! Some chalk as well, plaster, old magazines, and just plain Breton artichokes. In truth, this could be better… With water: no. Dirt, Brussels sprouts, steamed cabbage… Mouth (neat): ah yes, it seems that we’re above the waterline, with nicer notes of apples. Barley syrup. Not nice, but kind of agreeable. With water: indeed, this won’t kill us and make us turn to gin, but frankly, Benriach! Finish: long and a little painful again. Bitter vegetables, mashes, stale pepper, cardboard… Comments: no, I think this is too hard.
SGP:351 - 69 points.

It's all going downwards, is it not? So go on? Well, where there's a will there's a way…

Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (56%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Madeira hogshead, 276 bottles) Two starsIndeed, one option would have been to give this to the fish. Apparently, the other one was to use Madeira. My take: Madeira’s saved a few stinkers already, so why Not? Colour: white wine. Nose: I don’t know what to say. Mashed vegetables. A feeling of solitude. With water: goodness gracious! Mouth (neat): it’s true that this is better on the palate. Mustards, peppers, wasabi and horseradish, green walnuts, whacky curries… With water: yup, we’re back to civilisation, with a proper whisky that you could actually drink when there’s strictly no other stuff by W.M. Cadenhead around. Still relatively poor whisky, though. Finish: rather long, drying, peppery. Very peppery aftertaste. Comments: I hope you will remember that this is all done for our common cause!
SGP:362 - 75 points.

Mee God, how many such young casks do/did they own? I think we’ll try to tackle older ones for a change…

Benriach-Glenlivet 20 yo 1996/2017 (44.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles) one star and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: it’s not that it’s any less mashy or turnipy (I know), but at least it’s got some depth. Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips… no, my oh my, this is becoming extremely difficult indeed. Too dry, too austere. With water: no. No way. Mouth (neat): fair, barley-y, peppery… no, sob, this is too hard. Some very dry whisky, extremely hard to enjoy, almost sadistic. This style rather reminds me of Cadenhead twenty years ago, so pretty post-Aberdeen. Hard stuff. With water: a little better, thanks to some friendly aldehydes. Sweet breads. Finish: rather long, bitter, mashy, difficult. Comments: not at all. I this some kind of malediction?
SGP:361 - 69 points.

No luck, really, no luck at all. We’ll go backwards to try to find redemption, but this is a last try. To think that we’ve got loads of Clynelish to taste… So, a very last try…

Benriach-Glenlivet 29 yo 1986/2015 (50.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrels, 360 bottles) Four stars
Could be that Benriach needs either good sherry, or fresh bourbon, and that it would be terrible spirit otherwise. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: sure it’s still a little mashy, but good ageing and additional notes of bananas and vanilla from bourbon wood do indeed lift it quite a bit. There’s some finer menthol too, many subtler notes of herbs and dried flowers (woodruff), and some grains and some breads. A proper breakfast around Bavaria and Austria. Almonds, walnuts… And Champagne! With water: pineapple yoghurt! I repeat, pineapple yoghurt! Mouth (neat): indeed, another galaxy, even if some rawish ginger tends to try to seize control. Nice tense barley and pepper, then stewed apples. Rather wonderful maltiness. With water: careful, do not add too much water, coz fresh bourbon not always swim well. If you do it well, you’ll find perfect notes of mangos, pineapples, and papayas. A little lavender honey too. Finish: medium, both on banana-y tropical fruits and on northern pastries. Danishes, scones… Comments: honestly, we were about to give up. Dear WM. Cadenhead, you’ve been playing with our nerves today!
SGP:651 - 87 points.

(Thank you Tom, you saved this session!)

Here's my advice, store these bottles for around 2 or 3 centuries in a cool dark place, and your offspring might get some quaffable whisky. If mankind survives… Seriously, I believe strictly all other recent offerings by Cadenhead have been and are very vastly superior.

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


February 6, 2020


Little duos, today Longrow
OB vs. quasi-OB

These will make for our monthly Springbanks, if you don’t mind. I suppose I don’t need to tell you that Longrow is, since 1973, some peated Springbank that’s twice instead of two and a half times distilled as is Springbank in itself. Longrow was also the name of an earlier distillery in Campbeltown, of which we’ve seen two or three lovely bottles… which were all fakes, naturally. I believe Springbank’s Longrow, just like Tobermory’s Ledaig or Clynelish’s Brora, have first been made because Islay whisky was in short supply after some severe drought in the late 1960s and because of the temporary closure of Caol Ila. So, we said an OB and half an OB…

Longrow 21 yo 1994/2016 (46%, OB, refill bourbon hogshead, 230 bottles)

Longrow 21 yo 1994/2016 (46%, OB, refill bourbon hogshead, 230 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: extreme plaster, bandages, crushed aspirin tablets, and almond oil at first nosing. Then a little more fish oil, engine oil, and a little saltpetre as well, but it remains extremely medicinal. They should pour this at hospitals whenever you break an arm or a leg. I agree, in that case more fine people would break legs and arms, so bad idea, please cancel. Mouth: it is extremely paraffiny, austere, with again a lot of aspirin and plaster, some kind of sour cream, some fish oil, green lemons rather than lime, sucking paper, also pencil lead while we are at it… You really need at least two minutes before you start to find gentler flavours such as grapefruits, tangerines, white pepper and ashes, but aspirin and paraffin keep running the show. Finish: long, a little rounder, with maybe a little vanilla, unsweetened apple compote, cod oil, and really a lot of paraffin again in the aftertaste. Plasticine as well as sour/sharp riesling. Mosel? Comments: hate to say this, but this is certainly not whisky for beginners. Not a style that one would find anywhere else, really, and it is a little ‘love or hate it’ at times. Naturally, I rather loved it.
SGP:373 - 90 points.

Longrow 11 yo 2007/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Port Cask, refill Port pipe, 708 bottles)

Longrow 11 yo 2007/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Port Cask, refill Port pipe, 708 bottles) Four stars and a half
They seem to like red wine at Cadenhead’s. We do too, but not always in our whiskies. But let’s not rant on. Colour: best of news, this isn’t pink, it’s not even apricotty, it’s just gold with the faintest hue of orange. Nose: phew, no blackcurrants and no black cherries in sight, rather the trademark sooty ashiness, engine oil, limestone and plaster, bandages, putty, carbolineum, creosote, all that. H.u.r.r.a.y. With water: huge viscimetry! Other than that, chalk, aspirin, lemons, bread dough, pinewood smoke, and perhaps two cherry stems. Make that one. Mouth (neat): with this kind of amount of wine influence, they could as well do a triple-merlot one-day finishing, I wouldn’t care. Perfect medicinal and chalky arrival, getting dry and waxy, then lemony, with some green pepper and there, perhaps, a tiny-wee touch of cabernet-sauvignon. No touriga nacional, mind you, and I may even be dreaming. With water: excellent, more on bitter oranges this time, and blood oranges, spritz, Schweppes… (do you know Philip Morrice’s old Schweppes Guide to Scotch? It’s excellent, you’ll easily find it for cheap at evilbay or dramazon.) Finish: bitter oranges and smoked salmon, chalk, white wine… Could be some Portuguese wine indeed, but rather alvarinho than Port. Quite some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: if only all red-wined whiskies would be like this…
SGP:564 - 88 points.

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


February 5, 2020


Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Balvenie

Including, as become customary, some independent undisclosed blended malts sold under the name ‘Burnside’.

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2019 (48.4%, The Taste of Whisky, Whisky Elements, refill bourbon, cask #7364, 204 bottles)

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2019 (48.4%, The Taste of Whisky, Whisky Elements, refill bourbon, cask #7364, 204 bottles) Four stars and a half
So this is officially a blended malt, a.k.a. teaspooned malt. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s more citric than any OBs, which may come from the fact that the cask was less active here. That leaves room for more white currants, lemons, gooseberries, apples and greengages, then a little menthol that goes so well within this kind of context. Granted, there is a little custard as well, but that works like, well, custard over chocolate mousse. A lovely fresh nose, very vibrant at 28. The wonders of proper refill wood with enough time… Mouth: it’s more ‘Balvenie’ now, that is to say more on mirabelles and other juicy sweet plums, apricots, white peaches… Tends to become sharper having said that, at times even a little acerbic, but that works extremely well here. Bags of cider apples and even more greengages. Very moderate vanilla. Finish: rather long, a tad creamier again. Custard over green apples and chasselas grapes. Comments: wonderful malt whisky au naturel, very fresh, even refreshing. But careful then…
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Let’s check if our theory about OBs being more cask-driven holds. Im-me-dia-te-ly!

Balvenie 15 yo 1998/2013 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #01620)

Balvenie 15 yo 1998/2013 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #01620) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, this has more tropical fruits, a little more vanilla and even coconut, as well as more butter, while the background is rather similar to that of the IB. Small berries, mirabelles, apples, touch of earl grey. Its rather fascinating to experience this feeling of just a layer of wood having been added over a malt whisky. You cannot not think of some Meursaults from the 2000s vintages (when oak was still fashionable). Or there, Parkerised wines. Mouth: much, much less differences on the palate, this time it’s almost the same whisky, with the same kind of tartness, plums, apricots, apples. But indeed there is a little vanilla cake. Very fine, just oakier – and yet it’s not oaky whisky at all. Finish: long and just as creamy as the IB. Coconut, vanilla and mirabelles., a little muscat and apples in the aftertaste.  Comments: I tend to like them as zesty as possible, but this one was absolutely excellent, for sure.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

And now back 30 years for today’s little oldie…

Balvenie 1969 (58%, R. Watson Aberdeen, +/-1980)

Balvenie 1969 (58%, R. Watson Aberdeen, +/-1980) Five stars
I believe R. Watson used to be connected to Cadenhead, but I’m not 100% sure. Or I may have forgotten (oops)… Colour: straw, with the very same shades and nuances. Nose: often the same story, you couldn’t quite tell about the origins of these additional flavours, is that bottle aging or a different distillate in the first place, or, granted, both. In this very case, we do have melons and mirabelles that smell pretty contemporary, but also a lot of moss, camphor, pine needles, well-aged tea (pu-ehr), embrocations, massage balm, sauna oils, and so on. This is simply ravishing. With water: just perfect. Flints, chalk, rhubarb, green oranges. Mouth (neat): utterly amazing, reminding me of an old Balvenie ‘As We Get It’ that we had tried quite some years ago. Fantastic grapefruits and lemons, with a pretty acidic arrival, while it’s then all razorblade-like, mineral, lemony, very tense, and pretty pungent. Cleans your palate, I can tell you. With water: huge citrus now. As juices, as sweets, as syrups and as liqueurs. Very impressive. Finish: long, ueber-clean, very citrusy and pretty chalky. Comments: it was a very punchy oldie, but as they used to say back in the days, there isn’t any hard whisky, only weak men. Stunning high-power lemony profile that hits right between your ears. That’s right, it punches your nose.
SGP:661 - 92 points.

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


February 3, 2020


Mixed bags

Whiskyfun's mixed bags
Stuff from Scotchland, part four aye

Coz the boxes had hidden compartments! So more undercover stuff, undisclosed matters and hidden things after a short break. With that we’re well set…

Cask Islay (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon casks, +/-2018)

Cask Islay (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon casks, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
A.D. Rattray! Glad to meet one of their recent bottlings, I had thought they were, well, gone. Or busy with the Outer-Mongolian market. We had an early batch of their Cask Islay in 2011, and thought it was pretty good (WF 83). Colour: white wine. Nose: reeks of young Caol Ila, which can’t be bad news. Apples, garden bonfire, seawater, whelks, oysters, fresh almonds, and lemons. There. Mouth: purrfekt, with some impeccable ashy smoke (very CI indeed) and more almonds, lemons, apples, and those tiny green crabs that people would rather throw into wild broths and soups. Oh and apples, naturally. Okay, I had mentioned apples before. Finish: rather long, very ashy, kippery, and with apples and lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: a great batch despite the youth and the (relative) simplicity. Not much depth, but all the rest is perfect. Welcome back, A.D. Rattray!
SGP:466 - 84 points.

Since we’ve met a peater…

Finlaggan 2007/2016 (53.8%, Vintage Malt Whisky Company, for Taiwan, Hot Malt Co., hogshead, cask #101, 300 bottles)

Finlaggan 2007/2016 (53.8%, Vintage Malt Whisky Company, for Taiwan, Hot Malt Co., hogshead, cask #101, 300 bottles) Four stars
You know what people will say, that this could be Lagavulin and so on…  Colour: straw. Nose: well, this could be Lagavulin, but it could be Caol Ila as well, since both malts tend to converge these days. No? Fresh roots, seaweed, touches of Demerara sugar, beach sand, smoked porridge… Mind you, this is only 9 or even 8. With water: brake fluid and used engine oil, that’s the real deal ;-). Mouth (neat): this sweetness is very Laga indeed. Laga is sweet, sweeter than the others in any case. Tangerines, pink grapefruits, pomegranates, smoked herbs, angelica , lapsang, gentian. With water: immaculate, perfect. Should anyone ever manage to peat lemon juice, this is what you’d get. With global warming they’ll soon grow lemons in Port Ellen anyway, so I’m sure that’ll happen sooner or later. Yeah I know, nitrosamines… Finish: long, ashy, herbal. Grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: simple of course, but rather sublime. So, who’s going to smoke lemons?
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Peat Reek 10 yo 2006/2017 (58.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry, cask #PR2017-4, 234 bottles)

Peat Reek 10 yo 2006/2017 (58.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry, cask #PR2017-4, 234 bottles) Four stars
In my short experience these Peat Reeks could rip your head off, so careful now… Colour: white wine. Nose: smoke and sweetness, with a few touches of iron and lime. Ammonia. Not too sure… With water: pure raw smoke, almonds, and graphite. Or something like that. Mouth (neat): raw power, you cannot not think of Iggy and the Stooges. Concentrated lemon juice and total smoke, all that blended with liquid glue (UHU) and pure acetone. All right then. With water: no civilisation in sight, rather the tartest lemons and other sharp citrus fruits. Finish: long, with salt chiming in. Huge smoke. Comments: whether these ueber-peaty juices will remain legal after Brexit or not remains to be seen. In the meantime, I remain ‘rather quite a fan’. Cough, cough…
SGP:368 - 85 points.

We need to change style. Peat is so 2000, after all…

Beathan 2010/2017 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #59-60, 1391 bottles)

Beathan 2010/2017 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #59-60, 1391 bottles) Two stars
Glad to have a Wilson & Morgan on WF, but what could this be? Beathan? I know that’s a first name over there in Scotchland, but it looks like it’s also a brand of pants by Björn Borg. Poor Björn Borg, how low the almighty has fallen! Colour: gold. Nose: peat and Swiss cheese, that’s not a common combination. Truffles, struck matches, gas and new sneakers, that’s not very common either. What the h*ll is this? With water: don’t! Guns and gas. Mouth (neat): holy featherless crow! Deep-burnt caramel, cactus, concentrated lime juice, just ink, and ueber-smoked fish. This is extremely unlikely, bitter, and both funky and… loco. Escobar would have enjoyed this, I suppose. As for what it is, could be some Tullibardine matured in white zinfandel and finished in an ex-Octomore cask. No?  With water: sulphur, lemons, and bitter almonds. Finish: rather long and pretty difficult. Bitter almonds and amaretti all over the place. Comments: artistic, pretty abstract whisky by our Italian friends, we’re almost thinking Pasolini. Or Berio? Fontana? Tough, challenging proposal, perhaps too philosophical for me. Besides, could be that I shouldn’t have added water. Pace!
SGP:265 - Score on hold (checking sample).

Peat Reek 8 yo ‘Embers’ (58%, Blackadder, sherry, cask #EMB7, 163 bottles, 2018)

Peat Reek 8 yo ‘Embers’ (58%, Blackadder, sherry, cask #EMB7, 163 bottles, 2018) Three stars
Looks like this is only a finish, but you never know with those crazy people at Blackadder’s. It’s said that this would rather be a peater from the mainland. Colour: light gold. Nose: sweet smoke, as we used to say, rather in the style of Ardmore, but with more smoke, more precision, and just more brine. Are we dead sure this is not some coastal malt? With water: it’s not. Garden smoke, sour soups, and just grist.  No more fruitiness, I’m afraid. Mouth (neat): smoked almonds, beer, peated grist, a kiln, and just peated malt. Huge ashes – looks like once again, you ate the ashtray! With water: smoked almonds and more ashes. Notes of cherries, where do those come from? Finish: rather long but a tad thin, very ashy. Eating ashes. Comments: it’s not easy when you haven’t got any crabs, oysters, or clams. Does peat need the sea? Discuss at will…
SGP:366 - 80 points.

A last one for the road, let’s gather our strength…

Peat Reek (60.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #PR2018-1, 338 bottles, 2018)

Peat Reek (60.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #PR2018-1, 338 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
This could be the deal, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: lemon juice, smoked salmon, and big fat oysters. Why always complexity and long notes? With water: precisely, why? Have you ever tried Alsatian riesling from the grand cru Frankstein? Mouth (neat): utterly perfect, taking no prisoners, and all on lemons, ultra-smoked green tea, and roots. Another one that hits you right between your eyes. Bang! With water: some immaculate, no-BS coastal smoke. Finish: yeeeaaah, sadly. Lemons and almonds. Comments: I know it’s impossible that this would be Port Ellen, but had I tried this 100% blind (and perhaps a little drunk, let’s be honest), I’d have said young ex-re-re-refill Port Ellen. Why be afraid? The world is your friend!
SGP:368 - 89 points.

PS: love you, Blackadder!


February 2, 2020


Five more rums on a Sunday

Rummaging now, if you have a minute or two... There...…

Latino 5 yo (40%, Compagnie des Indes, blend, +/-2018)

Latino 5 yo (40%, Compagnie des Indes, blend, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
The whole idea sounds a little fishy, but the company does not at all, so this is pretty intriguing. Latino style rum? Without any sugar? I’m game… Colour: straw. Nose: grasses and flowers, I would say. Raw tobacco leaves, mown lawn, hay, small berries (sorb, holly, elder)… This is all soft, complex and elegant. Exactly not what I was expecting, that is to say some boring molassy extravagance. I would add a wee feeling of Chablis. Mouth: right, this is thinner, and pretty sweet, honestly. But it is not horrendous, and there is some cane to talk to. But the feeling of Spanish orange liqueur isn’t quite my cup of tea. Mixed feelings, shall we say. Finish: medium, sugary, syrupy. Not the best part. Comments: rather loved the nose, but the palate was a little more difficult to this whisky drinker. We’re always having trouble with anything sugary, are we not? Unless poured over tons of crushed ice…
SGP: 730- 79 points.

Oh, perhaps this…

Havana Club ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2005)

Havana Club ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2005)
Not that we’re expecting much from this older baby (Santiago de Cuba over it anytime!) but there, we were having it in the stash and you just never know… Colour: gold. Nose: not much indeed, but at least it’s not pumped-up. Fine grasses, crushed canes (once the juice has been extracted), a little oil (sunflower?) and perhaps a little wax. Very humble, modest, and shy. But no one’s really nosing this, that would be just you and me ;-).  Mouth: oh this is not too bad. Some ethanol for sure, sour honeys (mead), proper honey, then rather cardboard and a feeling of, well, ethanol indeed. White spirit. Finish: virtually none, but as a consequence, there are no foul notes whatsoever. Comments: nothing much ‘especial’ here, it’s a humble, cheap spirit that does its job, more or less. The opposite of a French rail worker, if you will. Do not drink neat.
SGP:230 - 50 points.

O Reizinho ‘Gold’ (57%, Latitudes, Madeira, agricole, +/-2019)

O Reizinho ‘Gold’ (57%, Latitudes, Madeira, agricole, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
Indeed, Madeira’s got a proper appellation ‘agricole’. Well-deserved if you asked me, even if their rums are pretty different from the ‘mass’. Some anti-Don Papa, if you will. Colour: straw. Nose: got to love aniseed, fennel and wild carrots as much as I do, but then you’re in for a treat. Some funny bacterial notes too, something metallic, perhaps distant traces of durian, even something very faintly bretty, but other than that, it’s pretty perfect. Great personality. With water: mead, really, it’s artisanal mead flavoured with marijuana. Mouth (neat): love this. It’s got strictly nothing to do with Martiniquan agricoles, but anyone loving green oranges, aniseed, dried tropical fruits and the craziest meads in the world will love this. And perhaps sweet balsamic vinegar too. With water: wait, pisco? Really? Finish: long, whacky, fermentary, meady, with an aftertaste that’s a little more difficult. A tad dirty. Comments: crazy existential spirit, for old-school philosophers only. And us.
SGP:662 – 84 points.

Jamaican 12 yo 2007/2019 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel, 2019)

Jamaican 12 yo 2007/2019 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel, 2019) Four stars
This should work, even if Cadenhead usually rather have the lightest styles as far as Jamaican rums are concerned. Colour: gold. Nose: no quibblings, this works even if it’s no ester bomb. Gherkin brine, preserved pineapples, rotting guavas, liquorice, dried fish, fried small fish, and old magazines. Nah it’s pretty funky, in fact. Funky Monymusk? Mouth: ah yeah, this is good. Good funk, salt, olives, dried bananas, salted liquorice, and some unexpected raisins. Notes of cloves and turmeric, as well as a little peat. Indeed, some peatiness. Finish: long, dry, salty. Big fat olives in the aftertaste. Comments: aren’t they upping their game these days, as far as rums are concerned? Less Ardbeg, more Jamaican rum, not really sure we should complain. The price is ridiculously low. Like 40€. We never talk about prices since we find that rather vulgar and because we’re no buying guide, but in this case, we just couldn’t resist… 
SGP:462 - 87 points.

We do them by five, so we need a #5… Perhaps this?...

Secret Jamaican 3 yo 2016/2019 (54.2%, eSpirits for Liquid Treasures, barrel, 149 bottles)

Secret Jamaican 3 yo 2016/2019 (54.2%, eSpirits for Liquid Treasures, barrel, 149 bottles) Three stars and a half
Oh, no! We already had all these very boring secret Speysiders (or Highlanders, or Orkney, or Islay, or Tennessee, whatever…) and now what, secret Jamaicans? What’s next, secret gin? Hold my gun… And my god, 2016, but that was yesterday! Colour: dark gold. Nose: yeah well, that’s the thing, there are brilliant rums that are just unaged, while that just doesn’t exist with barley spirits. In a way, this is an Anejo. And it’s very fine, cake-y and salty, with walnuts, almonds, drops of diesel oil (what shall we do when we all own Teslas and other fine examples of massacre design?) and gherkins. With water:  indeed, gherkin brine. Mouth (neat): Worthy Park? With water: smoked anchovies in olive oil and lemon juice. Finish: long, but a little short s far as flavours are concerned. See what I mean? Comments: I’m wondering if they aren’t even better when just ‘white’, or ‘silver’ instead of aged for a short period of time. Yup, just like tequila. But don’t get me wrong, it’s great young rum.
SGP:462 - 84 points.

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2020

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Caol Ila 37 yo 1982/2019 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, butt, cask #700) - WF91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Caol Ila 16 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label, +/-1985) - WF93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, James Eadie, 1100 bottles) - WF87

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Port Mourant 13 yo 2005/2018 (48.5%, The Rum Mercenary) - WF90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Espero ‘Reserva Especial’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019) - WF67

February 1, 2020





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Liquid Brexit
A new dawn has broken, has it not? Behold the glorious freedom we have woken to here in these newly liberated British isles. Taste it! In fact, let’s do exactly that. Just as Serge bid farewell to us yesterday, so too must I shoulder the national responsibility of bidding farewell to Europe and hello to a Union Jack-tinged future. Resplendent, delicious, chill-filltered, 40%abv, caramel-infused, Trump-clutching, trouser-tightening, carbonated, crash-diluted nationalism. Crack open the English sparking wine! Pull another pint of old puddle water for Nigel. And gather round for a farewell dash on the Brexit tourbus before we set sail for the 1950s and all the extra NHS spending we can eat!


Calvados Daron 1968 / 2001 (40%, OB)

Calvados Daron 1968 / 2001 (40%, OB)
Just one of the many filthy French things we’ll be bidding farewell to… Colour: bright amber. Nose: lots of varnish and sharp apple notes. Concentrated apple peelings, cider apples, hardwood polish, raisins and various dark fruits all concentrated and soaked in… well, Calvados. Mouth: a tad cardboardy and dusty. Some sultanas, golden syrup, toffee apples and more towards pears and farmy perry. Some touches of olive oil and brown sugar, even hints of navy rum - in the way that many older spirits often converge. Some rather big tannins and still this background cardboard note. Finish: medium and slightly bitter and chocolatey, like apple pips and orange pith. Comments: Pow! Take that France! Who needs calvados when you’ve got Carling!
SGP: 640 - 74 points.



The English Patient (51.9%, The Regensburger Whisky & Wine Club)
Not sure about this one, seems appropriate to do it now, although there are rumours of some kind of Riesling and sherry wood combination being involved. Also, it would appear the Germans are laughing at us Brits! Be careful Germany, I hear Jacob Rees-Mogg is dusting off his Spitfire… Colour: deep gold. Nose: what is happening? This is some odd combination of sprayable furniture polish and plasticine. Some notes of Marmite on toast, young calvados (I’m using a fresh glass I promise) and buttery cereals. There’s also a touch of wood glue, feels like there’s some rather jumbled but active oak influences all tussling with each other - not unlike the internal struggles of the Tory party. Varnish and vanilla notes. With water: sour wood, glue, paste - you could use it to fashion a papier mâché bust of Boris Johnson. Mouth: Gah! A garish mix of pencil shavings, molten plasticine, hot varnish, rubber and vinyl. Definitely the whisky of Brexit! With water: seriously, this is not good. Sour, flat, milky, lightly acidic, stale beer, hints of mould. Finish: the wood is rather jagged and aggressive again, a bit all over the place and again these notes of sour beer and bread along with cardboard and something like mushy paper. Comments: An artificial Brexit whisky fashioned by treacherous remoaners it would seem! Anyway, haven’t you heard, Germany? Once climate change get’s a bit more steam on, only glorious pastoral England will be able to grow Riesling (you pay attention too, France!) This is a deeply misleading whisky, to taste it you might be given the impression that Brexit is a load of rubbish!
SGP: 631 - 68 points.

The English Patient (51.9%, The Regensburger Whisky & Wine Club)



Flower Of Scotland (40%, blended malt bottled 1998 for the 125th anniversary of Kirkcaldy football club)

Flower Of Scotland (40%, blended malt bottled 1998 for the 125th anniversary of Kirkcaldy football club)
It seems those cheeky Scots north of the border are dissatisfied with our Brexity goodness and have designs on their own independence.  Apparently ‘their’ nationalism is better than ours! Colour: straw. Nose: mashed potatoes, freshly cooked grains, Scotch broth, damp cereals, plain toast and wee touches of root veg and cardboard. Mouth: any initial promise on the nose falls rather flat here, indeed the whole is rather empty and drab. Some slightly artificial sweetness, more cardboard, stale porridge, stamp glue. Not much else to report. Finish: mercifully non-existent. Comments: Quite terrible. Once again this is a sample that was given to me by a German, what are they trying to say…?!
SGP: 330 - 57 points.



On the subject of Scottish independence…



Springbank 12 yo (53.2%, OB, bottled 2014)

Springbank 12 yo (53.2%, OB, bottled 2014)
Springbank are known for their pro-Scottish independence stance. This batch is apparently 70% sherry and 30% bourbon. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather dry and chiselled at first. Lots of pebbles, white pepper, newspaper ink, lightly ashy notes and sooty cereals. With a little time the more coastal, citric and waxy Springbank qualities begin to emerge. Putty, lemon cough drops, heather flowers - it’s all very lovely but a tad narrower than other batches and a bit more austere. With water: more easy now, more lemony, coastal, fresh, playful and with this chalky medical side.  Mouth: nice arrival, all on clay, metal polish, waxes and medical tinctures. Rather sharp lemon notes, salinity, crushed seashells and some slightly petrolic mineral qualities. The grumpy side of Springbank. With water: lemon and lime cordials, clay, soot, pebbles, seawater, light peppery peat and some citric zing. Finish: good length, rather dusty, sooty and cereal with more clay, ointments bandages and ink. Comments: Very good but at times rather austere - perhaps reflecting the public austerity that would be necessitated by Scottish independence? Don’t worry, if there’s any problems they can always push for Campbeltownian independence. Just remember, if in doubt, another border will always fix things!
SGP: 463 - 88 points.



Of course we should look to the future in other ways as well. And from this freshly Brexited angle the future is so bright it’s orange…



New York Distilling Co 2 yo Rye (47.7%, Boutique-y Rye Co, ‘Batch 3’, 461 bottles)

New York Distilling Co 2 yo Rye (47.7%, Boutique-y Rye Co, ‘Batch 3’, 461 bottles)
Colour: orangey (no kidding!) Nose: surprisingly syrupy and easy, the spice is there but it’s nicely bready and warming. Notes of orange cocktail bitters, fructose syrup and some kind of sweetened child’s medicine (the expensive, non-NHS kind). Gets increasingly jammy and a tad cloying with some caramelising brown sugar notes. Mouth: hotter, more peppery, red chilli, mustard powder, green pepper, spiced vanilla latte, orange curaçao, cocktail bitters, liquorice root and some more slightly artificial sweetness. Cherry throat sweets, eucalyptus tea and aniseed. Finish: rather long, slightly cloying, still rather peppery and with some fruit syrups and glazed pastries. Comments: A boisterous, orange toddler from New York. What a glorious future! Couldn’t find any chicken though…
SGP: 751 - 76 points.



Who else want’s a trade deal? Trade deals all round… Taiwan, would you like a trade deal…? Go on! Please do a trade deal!!!



Kavalan 7 yo 2011/2019 (57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, cask #M111104011A, rum, 151 bottles)
The guys at TWE are, as you might imagine, big fans of Brexit. Colour: gold. Nose: surprisingly lean, grassy and lightly herbal at first nosing. Not too much rum influence, which is a good thing in my book. Some light vanilla, golden syrup, a rather leafy greenery quality and light notes of menthol tobacco. The thing about these Kavalan’s is that they are very good but they do feel like extremely ‘technical’ whiskies. With water: a big improvement! Much more opulent, easy and with this rather bouncy, natural fruitiness. Lots of lemon peel, star fruit, gooseberry and a little pineapple. Mouth: rather hot and peppery, lots of white pepper dried mango, green tea with lemon, some toasted pistachio nuts, chamomile and various green fruits. Very nice. In time you get more of a sense of the rum with these kind of light tropical rum punch cocktail notes. With water: once again, water works really well. More syrupy in texture and more fruity. Fruit salad juices, white pepper, hints of jasmine and herbal teas. Finish: long, creamy and nodding again towards these rum punch qualities with coconut milk, passion fruit jelly and sugar syrups. Comments: Ok Taiwan, where do we sign…?
SGP: 641 - 86 points.

Kavalan 7 yo 2011/2019 (57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, cask #M111104011A, rum, 151 bottles)



Who else wants a trade deal? How about Australia? Loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen! We all know Australia is already a bit like visiting Britain in the 1970s so we’re half way to Brexit…



Starward 7 yo 2012/2019 (59%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, refill Australian Apera cask, 220 bottles)

Starward 7 yo 2012/2019 (59%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, refill Australian Apera cask, 220 bottles)
Apera is a fortified Australian wine not dissimilar to sherry, although I couldn’t tell you more about it than that. Colour: polished gold. Nose: there is indeed something ‘sherryish’ at first. Notes of orange water, ginger bread and some rather pollen-heavy lilies. Rather syrupy and nicely approachable considering the ABV. A few pencil shaving notes begin to emerge in time. With water: greener, more floral, crushed nettles, some light custard notes and more pollen once again. A curious elegance about proceedings now. Mouth: there’s a syrupy texture on arrival that keeps the alcohol well in check and pushes the fruit and floral aspects to the fore. Again more pollens, wildflowers, citrus oils and notes of dried exotic fruits: mango, papaya and guava in particular. There’s certainly a ‘hot climate’ vibe going on. As with the nose, in time some more wood-forward qualities begin to emerge with these wood shaving and green peppery notes. Although, it’s all very clean and precise. With water: a little broader and fatter with water; it certainly swims well this one. Again these notes of pollens, custard, fruit jellies, melon liqueur and pineapple syrup. Finish: good length and with a punchy, peppery heat, some nice bready qualities and more fruit syrups and natural sweetness. Comments: Good news Australia! You too are permitted to join the glorious free market post-Brexit trading bukkake!
SGP: 631 - 85 points.



But let’s try to remember where it all began: when we first made that historic misstep that led to a 47 year long travesty of ill-judgement and a tyrannical over-abundance of cheese! 1973: the year of national shame…



Glenlivet 45 yo 1973/2018 (43.1%, Signatory 30th Anniversary, cask #12/1, hogshead / sherry butt, 394 bottles)

Glenlivet 45 yo 1973/2018 (43.1%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #12/1, hogshead / sherry butt, 394 bottles)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: densely concentrated dried and crystallised fruits with earthy, aged dark teas, fruit loaf, aged mead, some rather luscious old Cognacs, leafy tobaccos and beautifully elegant dark chocolate. Superb and rather amazingly fresh. Wee hints of hessian, earth, rancio, porcini mushroom and old leather. Typically exquisite old whisky on the nose. However, the palate can often go astray with such age… Mouth: it is indeed tannic but in the sense of complex, beautifully earthy aged Pu Erh tea, bitter chocolate, game meats and then spicy rye bread. Wonderful balance and the fruits are still vivid and rich. Some herbal bitters, toffee apple, old madeira and hints of orange wine. Finish: long, leathery, full of cinnamon, nutmeg, lime leaf, old chartreuse and soft dark fruits. Unctuous, deep and highly seductive. Comments: It seems we did some things right in 1973 after all.
SGP: 661 - 91 points.



Gosh, all this Brexiting is going to our heads. Let’s remind ourselves what this is all about…



English Whisky Co 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star, cask #009, Burgundy wine finish, 330 bottles)

English Whisky Co 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star, cask #009, Burgundy wine finish, 330 bottles)
French wine? English whisky? This bottling goes to the very heart of Brexit. Colour: sunburned salmon. Nose: rose petals, Turkish delight, freshly baked brown bread, dried cranberries, some kind of mild salami. All manner of unusualness at play. It’s an out and out war: French wine Vs English whisky - the great battle of our times! Rather a lot of strawberry jam, cherry throat sweets and some slightly zingy fruit chutneys. Weird but not as terrifying as first appearances might suggest (who said ‘just like Brexit’? How very dare you!). Mouth: in no particular order: mint tea, milk chocolate, fruit scones, raspberry jam, rose cordial, maraschino cherry syrup, cornflakes dusted with icing sugar and hessian. I think this battle has reached stalemate. Finish: medium, slightly rubbery, earthy, muttony and with a kind of odd dirtiness rising to prominence in the aftertaste. Comments: If only Mr Croucher had bottled this back in 2016, it might have hastened Brexit by years! Just think, poor old Theresa May would be Empress of India by now and Mr J R-Mogg would be flogging oiks down an old velum mine in Dorset somewhere! (Apologies to literally everyone who isn’t getting this)
SGP: 572 - 76 points.



Let’s end this madness and get ourselves back to the cosy comfort blanked of the 1950s. Remember the 1950s and how great they were?



White Horse (70 proof, OB blend, bottled 1958)

White Horse (70 proof, OB blend, bottled 1958)
This one comes in the Brexit-appropriate format of a miniature. Or, if you’re Mark Francois, a Nebuchadnezzar. Colour: gold. Nose: if there is an aroma that utterly encapsulates Brexit, it’s OBE: ‘old bottle effect’. This pretty much epitomises that profile with lots of mashed vegetables, metal polish, soups, porridge and some rather punchy camphor and hessian tones. Copper coins, menthol rolling tobacco, caraway and hints of cardboard. Mouth: turnips rubbed with Brasso! Tin foil, copper coins, dried marjoram, mashed potatoes with grainy mustard, boiled ham and dry earthiness. Finish: short, metallic, drying and slightly oily. Comments: This might be hard to admit, but not everything was better in the 1950s.
SGP: 473 - 77 points.



Well, that got a bit silly didn’t it. Good day!




January 2020 - part 2 <--- February 2020 - part 1 ---> February 2020 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Balvenie 1969 (58%, R. Watson Aberdeen, +/-1980)

Dallas Dhu 30 yo 1970/2000 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, Rare Reserve, sherry butt, cask #673, 378 bottles)

Longmorn 33 yo 1974/2007 (43.7%, Gordon & MacPhail for David Le Cornu, sherry butt, cask #007685)

Longrow 21 yo 1994/2016 (46%, OB, refill bourbon hogshead, 230 bottles)