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Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2021 - Part 2


February 2021 - part 1 <--- February 2021 - part 2 ---> March 2021 - part 1


February 26, 2021


A few more bastards and blends

Just a short aimless selection of what we have. So either single malt whiskies with no demonstrable origins, or improbable branded vattings. You know, Victorian typesets and QR codes, and all that jazz. Let's do that randomly…

Chivas Regal 18 yo (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2020)

Chivas Regal 18 yo (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Tsk tsk, I can hear you. We whisky bloggers need to calibrate our sensors every once in a while and taste the large-volume blends, I believe that's crucial, even if it's true that we prefer malts. The industry, including embedded bloggers and influencers, keep shouting that blends are the deal - and that age is just a number while they're at it – but that's just an unnecessary mantra. Remember in the (not so) old days, the better blends were advertised as containing a higher proportion of malt. Malt is the deal. Anyway, rant over, let's taste this sadly-under-proofed deluxe baby, I'm sure it's good. Colour: gold. Nose: it is an high-malt-proportion blend indeed, even if it's really very soft to any malt aficionado – or, yeah, maniac. Overripe apples, drops of mead, a wee Cognacqy side, so raisins, a little oak, earl grey, a tiny meaty side (bouillon), perhaps some nuts, probably some tobacco… But it is really very light, if not weak. I understand why fine folks in Asia are quaffing this with their meals, it is not much bigger than wine. Mouth: good, just a little indefinite and kind of blurred. I know master blenders are second only to Mick Jagger, but when you try to do a little painting, you soon learn that if you blend too many colours, what you get is… grey. So this is a nice grey, but it is a grey. I'd add that the raisins and the vanillin in the back are very pedestrian. Finish: very short and too spirity. Comments: you could have two bottles of Glenlivet 12 for the price of one bottle of Chivas 18. A no brainer. I had found an earlier Chivas 18, back in 2013, much better (WF 83).
SGP:341 - 77 points.

That's sorted, let's go on…

MacNair's 12 'Lum Reek'(46%, OB, Glenallachie Distillers, blended malt, 2020)

MacNair's 12 'Lum Reek' (46%, OB, , blended malt, 2020) Two stars and a half
Victorian is dead, Dickensian is up, apparently. This is a young peated blended malt, as they all do now. Hope they'll never shut down Caol Ila! Colour: light gold. Nose: soft vanilla and gentle smoke, some apple peelings, fresh hazelnuts, a little cardboard, white chocolate, nougat… So a simple, easy, pleasant nose. One to sip at parties instead of Mai Tais, except that we don't do parties these days. And Mai Tais are out, aren't they? Mouth: not too sure. Some peppery smoke, rather a lot of bitterness, then sugar cane syrup, which makes it do the slits, so to speak. Not bad but not very well integrated, perhaps. There's some lemon but it feels a bit 'added'. Am I not being too harsh? Finish: medium, spirity, a little rough. Comments: I'm wondering if it's not made out of peaters from the mainland. They're good but they often lack depth, balance and integration. In my humble opinion.
SGP:455 - 78 points.

Peat & Bourbon (60.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, Canada exclusive, 2020)

Peat & Bourbon Barrel (60.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, Canada exclusive, 2020) Five stars
With these guys you don't ask questions, you just try to taste the many juices they put out, as long as you can keep up. So this is for Canada, so I suppose they've dumped maple syrup into the bourbon barrels, have they not? Colour: white wine. Nose: sharp peat smoke at a strength that reminds me of the first Port Ellen I have bought, that Rare Malt. But why am I telling you this? Walnut skin, kelp, gasoline, hessian, kippers, concrete, raw chocolate, soy sauce (unusual in unsherried drams), lovage… Hold on there must be a secret weapon in this, and that cannot be maple syrup. With water: carbon paper, perhaps? But who's still got carbon paper? Mouth (neat): yeah roots, brine, gentian, capers. With water: mezcal? Did they add mezcal? Big salt too, olives… Better and better. Finish: long, earthy, rooty, smoky, salty. Incredible touches of tequila/mezcal. Comments: grows on you, just like… let's try to find something Canadian… Say dear Joni Mitchell? Score will be high and justified. Fantastic work.
SGP:367 - 90 points.

Right, I should try other 'Elements' now but we've said this would be varied, have we not?

Scarabus 10 yo (46%, Hunter Laing, +/-2020)

Scarabus 10 yo (46%, Hunter Laing, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
Building brands. This is an Islay single malt, let's see if it's just Caol Ila under another name. What? Why would the label be overdone? Of course it isn't! But it's the juice that counts anyway… Oh and I seem to remember Scarabus is also the lovely place where our very dear friend Martine Nouet, queen of all stills, has got her house on Islay. But shh… (hugs, Martine) Colour: white wine. Nose: precise, millimetric, on olive brine, oysters, lime juice, and sea breeze. No more, no less. Mouth: high-definition smoke, seawater, green olives, and lemon. An unexpected touch of thyme honey, which will cure your throat as sure as 1+1=2. Finish: long, wonderfully briny, salty, you'd almost believe you could quaff this with razorfish stewed in garlic and butter sauce, Barcelona-style. Crikey, I'm hungry again. Comments: let's be serious, the name Scarabus obviously suggests the Rhinns of Islay, it just cannot stem from the other side, can it? So either Port Charlotte, or Kilchoman. Not too sure… Let's move on… Great tight juice in any case.
SGP:367 - 88 points.

Isn't this getting all about young peat? That wasn't our goal in the first place but anyway, since we're here, let's do a last one…

Vital Spark 12 yo 'Batch 002' (50.2%, Meadowside Blending, 1280 bottles, +/-2020)

Vital Spark 12 yo 'Batch 002' (50.2%, Meadowside Blending, 1280 bottles, +/-2020) Three stars
Are all designers in Scotland on acid these days? Or did they hire the very last veterans of the Light Brigade to do these ueber-retro labels? This one was only finished in oloroso sherry, so in theory, it should be taken down a notch, but not too sure. Colour: gold. Nose: of course it's nice, the sherry's perfectly nutty, the tobaccos are well in place, the smoke's very noticeable yet smooth, the strength is perfect, and these complex notes of late-summer rainwater and cigarillo tobacco work very well. No quibbles. With water: chocolate and pipe tobacco, with some glutamate. Mouth (neat): more fun and wackiness here. Ham and mustard, loads of caraway, even more juniper and clove, nutmeg on steroids, concentrated walnut wine, dry Madeira at its most extreme… May we have a chat with the chef? With water: but this is goulash! Finish: long, on walnut wine. Extreme cardamom in the aftertaste, nutmeg in the after-aftertaste. Comments: whether this spark is vital or not, I don't know, what's sure is that it's rather of-the-wall. The palate is really spicy and the cardamom loud in the aftertaste. Yet I rather like it.
SGP:373 - 81 points.

February 25, 2021


A trio of Glencadam

Let's see what we have…

Glencadam 13 yo 2007/2020 (40%, OB, Whisky Journey Singapore, 1st fill bourbon, cask #27, 368 bottles)

Glencadam 13 yo 2007/2020 (40%, OB, Whisky Journey Singapore, 1st fill bourbon, cask #27, 368 bottles) Four stars
Glencadam's new livery here, and a strength that's curiously low. Now low-strength whiskies do make for appropriate apéritifs, don't they… Colour: straw. Nose: ho-ho, the strength might be low, but the profile is perfect, you'd really believe you're nosing some young Montrachet ex-new oak. Wonderful vanilla, crushed bananas, honeysuckle, acacia flowers, sunflower oil, and a few sweets, jellybeans perhaps, a tiny drop of cherry coke (remember?) All that is rather brilliant and the 40% got by without a hitch. This far… Mouth: understood! I believe they've been looking for high drinkability and that worked. Same feeling of high-class chardonnay, sweets, ripe bananas, herbal teas, earl grey, a drop of triple-sec, oats and sesame, lime tea… It's really very good and for once you feel any extra-degrees would have been rather superfluous. Well done. Finish: sure it's a little short but the barley is back. Comments: really very good but you'd rather buy jeroboams. Goes down as if it was… a Montrachet.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Good, after that ueber-gentle dram, let's have rocket fuel…

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (63.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, barrel, cask #800015, 249 bottles)

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (63.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, barrel, cask #800015, 249 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: earth after a first rain, cellulosic varnish, white asparagus, granny smith, nail polish remover, marshmallow brochettes (a hit when we were boy scouts), Spanish green apple liqueur… And a feeling of wood smoke that sometimes comes with high-strength whiskies. With water: the smoke's still there! All the rest consists in various herbal teas and small citrus. Yuzu, lemon caviar, also lemon sherbet. Mouth (neat): tremble, mere mortal… Juicy fruits, marshmallows, bubblegum, all kinds of raspberry sweets and candies and gums… Orange eau-de-vie (maceration). With water: a whole basket of fresh orchard fruits plus big juicy oranges and all the fruits drops we could hope for. Finish: same. Good length. Sherbety, as they say in St. Tropez. Comments: liquid sweets. Super good, with a distillate that's got a little more texture than others, which works well with this style.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Look, those 63.9% were nothing…

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (64.6%, Signatory Vintage, for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #800144, 178 bottles)

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (64.6%, Signatory Vintage, for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #800144, 178 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: almost the same whisky, pretty obviously, as it is a sister cask. Perhaps a tad fatter, with a little more vanilla from a barrel that was probably a little more active. A little more chlorophyll and herbs, perhaps. With water: a few lactic tones, other than that it is, indeed, the same whisky as the TSMOS. Mouth (neat): even closer. Excellent – perhaps just a little lethal. With water: same. Ish. Finish: long and similar. A little grassier this time. Grapefruits, lemon sherbet, acid drops. Comments: very good drops, these young fruity Glencadams!
SGP:651 - 86 points

(Merci Benjamin)

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


February 24, 2021


Some more Glenrothes

There's really a lot of Glenrothes. Huge distillery, one of the first we visited together with the Malt Maniacs, around twenty years ago. Good times.

Glenrothes 31 yo 1989/2020 (44.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 268 bottles)

Glenrothes 31 yo 1989/2020 (44.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 268 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: an all-natural nose, relatively light, with whiffs of tree resins, some light mead and pear cider, apple pie covered with cinnamon powder, and a growing floral side. Rather honeysuckle I would say, elderflowers… Marzipan… So it is a pretty delicate and subtle old Glenrothes, rather lovely. Mouth: lovely indeed, rather on ripe fruits, more cider, almond milk, touches of agave syrup and even cane juice, mead and lighter honeys (acacia), chamomile tea, touches of pistachio nougat (or halva)… And lastly, earl grey tea. Finish: not too long but fresh and well balanced. A little more resinous, perhaps. An unexpected salty aftertaste, with a wee feeling of smoked salmon. Comments: super good. I'm wondering if we couldn't quaff this with smoked salmon indeed. Remember, it's not always a great idea to have very coastal whiskies with seafood, gentler Speysiders often work better. My tuppence.
SGP:451 - 88 points.

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #6369)

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #6369) Three stars and a half
One of those Ibisco decanters that do let the colours of our favourite whiskies fully express themselves. Wonderful - when no caramel was involved, which should be the case here. Colour: light gold. Nose: rather a lot of burnt wood at first, burning pinecones, coconut shells… Then rather chocolate, Mars bars, then a little chicken bouillon, brown sauce, sesame oil… I would say we're pretty close to some officials here, not only because of the lighter strength. Mouth: really good, really on malt (Ovaltine) and chocolate, with some gingerbread and some drops of gentian liqueur (Suze or Avèze). Perhaps elderberry eau-de-vie, holly, sorb… Why perhaps? No, certainly! Finish: medium, rather more on some earthier chocolate. Almonds. Comments: its sometimes really a blessing not to have to deal with any waters. Just me and my whisky, as some old ads would have said.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 23 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon and sherry, 2020)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 23 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon and sherry, 2020) Three stars and a half
This is 60% sherry and 40% bourbon. No, wait, the other way 'round. Colour: light gold. Nose: same ballpark. Nuts and leaves and teas, rather milk chocolate, quite a lot of marzipan this time, dried coconuts and bananas, dried papayas, you know these mixes we have with our apéritifs (like Bowmore Bouquet or Laphroaig 1967 – I'm joking). A gristiness too. Mouth: all-natural gentle malt whisky from Speyside, rather in the style of Glenlivet indeed, even of this one's a tad more lactic. Butter cream, overripe apples, tealeaves, perhaps a touch of fresh mushroom. Nothing bad to say, quite the contrary. Drops of orange squash. Finish: medium, fresh, pleasant, not much to add. Apple pie and butterscotch. Comments: works very well and goes down even better.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenrothes 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.8%, Or Sileis, 'The Emperor', hogshead, cask #17999, 242 bottles)

Glenrothes 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.8%, Or Sileis, 'The Emperor', hogshead, cask #17999, 242 bottles) Four stars
The lady on the label reminds of a tour guide they were having at the distillery, a long time ago. Of course I am joking, no offence meant! Colour: straw. Nose: we're not too far from the TWA here, with subtle hive-y aromas, waxes and honeys, mead, pollen, yellow flowers, dandelions, orange cake, champagne biscuits… Oh and indeed, some rather buttery, toasted, fatter champagne. A style that's a tad out of fashion, but I'm sure it'll be back. Yes we're talking champagne. Mouth: very very very good, with a lovely maltiness, some flawless teas, then herbs and roots. A touch of turmeric (cures anything), ginseng (ditto), and absinth (nope). A pinhead of horseradish. Finish: rather long, clean, fresh, rather herbal. Earthier aftertaste, this just always works. White pepper. Comments: excellent. So, who's this lady? An emperor? Were they having emperors in Rothes? Empresses?
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 9 yo 2009/2019 (54.6%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #4923204, 293 bottles)

Glenrothes 9 yo 2009/2019 (54.6%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #4923204, 293 bottles) Three stars
I think we're expecting some average malty whisky here, not that there's anything wrong with that, on the contrary. Colour: straw. Nose: sponge cake, brioche, shortbread, praline, nougat, sunflower oil. Nothing to throw away, this is cool young barley-forward malt whisky. With water: I seem to find white asparagus (green ones are rather for our old friends in Brittania). Mouth (neat): yes, love this! Pure raw barley, white pepper, vanilla, branches, kougelhopf, scones, café latte, pear spirit. With water: same plus more sour peary notes. Gets a tad too sour for me, but no quibbling. Finish: medium, with some sour woods beyond the fresh malt. Comments: very good young Glenrothes that does the job. We sometimes call them ueber-blends.
SGP:351 - 82 points.

Glenrothes 13 yo 2006/2020 (61.8%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill butt, cask #9683, 329 bottles)

Glenrothes 13 yo 2006/2020 (61.8%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill butt, cask #9683, 329 bottles) Four stars
What a lovely medieval label! Colour: light gold. Nose: modern. Popcorn, nougat, vanilla, butterscotch, butter cream. Go beat this. With water: same. Lactones and fats galore. Mouth (neat): too good. Apple pie, touch of varnish from the strength, gueuze, woodruff, elderflower syrup, orgeat, bark, walnut peelings, softer bitters. With water: very good. Barley, butterscotch, marmalade, praline, sesame oil, peanut butter. You do not beat this, even if that's regrettable. Finish: long, nutty and caky. Toasted oak, roasted peanuts, stuff. Comments: you cannot fight these modern concoctions. Let it go, life's too short.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

A last one please…

Glenrothes 12 yo 2006/2019 (57%, The Whisky Baron, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #6147)

Glenrothes 12 yo 2006/2019 (57%, The Whisky Baron, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #6147) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little leafy, leathery and metallic, as some ex-sherry seasoned malts can sometimes be, but gears towards black cherries and chocolate, with notes of fresh battelman and really a lot of chestnut honey. Tends to become more and more chocolaty. Mousse! With water: wee whiffs of natural rubber, then a few meaty touches (pâté, foie gras - really) and an old copper kettle. Other than that, chocolate. Mouth (neat): really bold, starting with a lot of bitterer marmalade and chocolate as well as quite some pepper and ginger (tonic), while the chocolate would take over after five seconds. Quite some green pepper too. With water: wouldn't change that much. Dry and spicy. Finish: rather long, a little rough and leafy, but we're very fine. Comments: a dry one that didn't spend much on fruits. Pretty pretty good!
SGP:361 - 84 points.

(Thank you Tim)

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


February 23, 2021


Rosebank, new old and old young

I haven't tried the new 'old' 30 by current owners Ian Macleod, and maybe I will, but we shall now try another 30 that's most appealing. And naturally, a proper sparring partner…

Rosebank  30 yo 1989/2019 (55.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, Author's Series, refill hogshead, cask #HL17438, 192 bottles)

Rosebank  30 yo 1989/2019 (55.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, Author's Series, refill hogshead, cask #HL17438, 192 bottles) Five stars
The author here is the Franco-British writer and cartoonist George du Maurier who seems to be much more famous in the UK than he is in France. The French! Colour: gold. Nose: a bag of 25 kilograms of lemon drops. The question is, do we enjoy lemon drops? We sure do. Also lemon tarte, limoncello, and these wonderful citrons with their very thick skins. So, the profile is narrow, but it is totally perfect, in my opinion. Indeed, you could think of a great chenin blanc too. With water: myriads of tiny mineral aromas, chalk, flints, cement, some hessian too, all that over this bright, almost luminous lemonness. Mouth (neat): good, imagine ¾ chenin blanc (say Savennières) and ¼ manzanilla. Add a little chalk and a little grass (or leaves) and there, you have it. Isn't life wonderful when it's simple? With water: more of all that. Yellow jelly beans (or crocodiles, or babies, or bears…) Finish: medium, a tad fatter but extraordinarily pure and still vertical. Say rather chenin 'moelleux' in the aftertaste. Some waxy fatness in the aftertaste. Comments: fully the work of time, totally irresistible and integrally 'pure' Rosebank. We'll see, around 2050, if the 'new' Rosebank will be similar when it's 30. The right age!
SGP:651 - 91 points.

This rare oldie just came in…

Rosebank 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt, cask #2467) Rosebank 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt, cask #2467)

Rosebank 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt, cask #2467) Four stars and a half
Rosebank could be stunning when young too. I remember an 8 by Aldelphi that was just implacable. Or was it a 9? Rosebank was still working when Cadenhead's subsidiary Eaglesome did bottle this baby, I also remember a sister cask in CAD's 150th Anniversary collection. Colour: amber. Nose: oh wow, amazing wax polish, cellulosic varnish, crushed pine needles, camphor, embrocations, sage and dill, grapefruits, touches of acetone, butterscotch, pistachio halva, sesame oil… Oh wow indeed, this is totally glorious. The cask was quite a beast for sure. With water: oh, mangos and papayas popping out! Late harvest riesling and just a touch of Bakelite. Mouth (neat): oh! Huge pine-iness and varnishes, but it's really strong and hard to swallow, literally. Well in the style of those rocket fuels that Cadenhead were bottling in the 1990s. With water: varnishes would never go away. Gets a little rough, I would say, even a weed tad rubbery and too fat(tish) here and there. Now the core remains splendid, with all the citrus you would need. Finish: long, waxy, lemony and salty, with this faint rubbery side remaining in the background. The aftertaste is unexpectedly salty. Comments: the nose here was just amazing, the palate just a little rough and rubbery in my opinion. Very faint touches of glue, I would say. High-class nonetheless.
SGP:662 - 88 points.

(Merci KC!)

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


February 22, 2021


A bag of old grains

As they come. No orders, no laws, no logics, total freedom! Except that will all be +/-30 or more…

Fine Single Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.7%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead)

Fine Single Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.7%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead) Four stars
Good, as it appears, even grains can't tell you their names these days. Now, does that really matter? There's a clear difference between, say Auchentoshan and Clynelish, but is there really any between, say Girvan and Invergordon? Same age same wood? Colour: gold. Nose: it's one of these old grains from gentle oak that, over the many years, have started to resemble rum. A wee metallic side, surely some nougat and popcorn, clear whiffs of cane juice, and frankly, well, I'd swear I'm nosing an old bottle of Havana Club. You not shoot please. Mouth: ah rather lovely. Coconut wine and vanilla, plus zucchini flowers and elderberries. All this is rather complex, clearly some kind of 'magic of the cask' after more than forty years, and surely something that you just couldn't replicate, even if 'when there's a will there's a way' (BS motto as we all know). No, despite the light body that makes most grains taste like J&B anyway, this is a better one. Finish: short but clean and sweet. Frappuccino (apologies) and vanilla fudge. Comments: an excellent grain. You can't do much better without any sherry anyway, can you.
SGP:640 - 85 points.

I suppose you wouldn't be against a little maize…

North British 30 yo 1989 (Dramfool, bourbon hogshead, 182 bottles)

North British 30 yo 1989 (Dramfool, bourbon hogshead, 182 bottles) Three stars
Indeed it was all maize for sure in 1989, I know because a friend used to supply them. Remember North British is today a joint venture company between Diageo and Edrington. Colour: straw. Nose: totally on nail polish remover and jelly babies at first sniffs, while the acetone would then dissolve (bravo), leaving room for the much expected vanilla and coconut, as well as, guess what, popcorn. I told you, maize… Mouth: very sweet, on loads of white chocolate and marshmallows at first, then lemon sherbets and perhaps praline brittle. Typical rather thin body, not unpleasant having said that. Finish: a little short, with some candyfloss, more marshmallows, and just a minimal oaky touch towards the end, with some tea and some pepper. Comments: the thinness of these grains is always very surprising when you're used to malt whisky, but I won't deny that this one was particularly worth our attention.
SGP:630 - 82 points.

Cambus 27 yo 1991/2019 (58%, Hotmalt Taiwan, Richard's Choice, sherry, cask #61970, 205 bottles)

Cambus 27 yo 1991/2019 (58%, Hotmalt Taiwan, Richard's Choice, sherry, cask #61970, 205 bottles) Three stars
With grain whisky, sherry usually helps, in my experience. Colour: straw. Nose: that's the thing with sherry on grain, we're not just having a line-up with marshmallows, varnish, coconut and vanillin. Not that there isn't any, and indeed there is some acetone, for example, but these tiny earthy touches may well rather come from the sherry. A light sherry. Some marzipan too. With water: butter cream, nougat, brioche, biscuits. This should work well for enhancing a bad Champagne. Mouth (neat): mirabelle eau de vie, chocolate, praline, nougat, triple sec. Pleasant combo, but the very high strength doesn't help too much and imparts, as almost always with high-voltage grains, a feeling of quaffing antifreeze. This marzipan is better. Quite. With water: a little pine resin and mint, I would say. Finish: medium. Comments: thicker but also a little harsher than the North British. A good grain. These bottles are good for making your own high-end blend at home, just add twenty measures of Clynelish to one measure of old grain, et voilà, you too are a master blender.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Off to Port Dundas…

Port Dundas 31 yo 1988/2020 (51.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead)

Port Dundas 31 yo 1988/2020 (51.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: we've tried these batches several time already, at various ages and under several liveries. It's really all about amaretti, vanilla, marzipan and pistachio halva. No complains! With water: Clint Eastwood's own shaving lotion! A curious mix of pineapple juice with menthol and a little gunpowder. Mouth (neat): always this lightness but this time there's a curious earthiness, with even something distantly reminiscent of ammonia. A lot of roasted peanuts too, and Vishnu knows that I love roasted peanuts, especially when they're coated with caramel – we call them 'chouchous' then over here in F. With water: total nougat and popcorn. Finish: rather short, ultra-sweet this time. Various fruit wines and more pineapple juice. Comments: another one that's very pleasant. This one wouldn't hurt a fly when reduced.
SGP:730 - 83 points.

Invergordon 45 yo 1974/2019 (46.9%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon barrel, cask # 7844000025, 194 bottles)

Invergordon 45 yo 1974/2019 (46.9%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon barrel, cask # 7844000025, 194 bottles) Four stars
Have they really produced 7844000025 casks or more at Invergordon, back in 1974? Now it's true that it's a rather huge plant. Grain distilleries aren't very romantic, in general. Colour: gold. Nose: some consider that really old Invergordons are the best grains we could put our paws on (if we wanted to do so), and I would agree. Nice cakes, Jaffa cakes, old orange cordials, almond paste, barley wine, a touch of rose (petals), baklavas and Turkish delights, orange blossom… This one's clearly in another category, with its middle-oriental side. Mouth: indeed, it's rather subtler than the others, at time reminiscent of some bourbons, with rather pastries and sweet breads, touches of lavender and violet sweets (but no Bowmore '85), and oranges in all their forms, including as syrups. Finish: its only at this point that it would lose steam, getting thinner, and reminding you that this is only grain whisky. The aftertaste is a little sugary. Comments: great old grain.
SGP:640 - 86 points.

Girvan 30 yo 1989/2020 (51.8% The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, Artificial Intelligence)

Girvan 30 yo 1989/2020 (51.8% The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, Artificial Intelligence) Three stars and a half
Can artificial intelligence be intelligent? I've read that the most advanced AI will recognise a cat without any doubts after having seen/recorded 1,000 of them, while a baby human will need only two or three. Anyway… Colour: gold. Nose: this one reminds me of the Port Dundas. Coconut wine, vanilla, varnish, turon, touches of mushrooms and metal… With water: oh, anti-rust and metal polish. That's certainly not ex-Girvan, Girvan being a very empty spirit. Mouth (neat): rather good, with a background that would suggest this has encountered some peater-seasoned wood in its life. Like if it had been finished in an ex-Ardmore cask or something  - how artificially intelligent would that have been? With water: smoked almonds, some light lapsang souchong, some coconut wine… Finish: short. Marzipan, coconut and a little chlorophyl. Comments: it seems that someone tried to do something on this little Girvan. Dr Girvanstein? Seriously, I find this rather very good, some kind of in-cask blend.
SGP:550 - 84 points.

A last old grain…

Invergordon 32 yo 1987/2020 (52.7%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #88799)

Invergordon 32 yo 1987/2020 (52.7%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #88799) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: the usual acetone, some grass juice, fruit peeling, a few fresh mushrooms, and a lot of Chinese green tea made gung-fu style. Whiffs of glucose too. With water: metal polish, where have we already seen that? Mouth (neat): rather a bolder grain, and this time again the attentive taster will notice some bolder flavours that do not quite belong to grain whisky. Such as a lemony peatiness. With water: lol, this is totally some in-cask blend. Nice notes of green peppercorns, I'd almost dare mention  stir-fried Thai garlic pepper prawns, served with citronade. Finish: medium, rather smoky, lemony, and not quite Invergordony. Comments: mutant whisky, good fun here, this is even very blameless. In-cask blending made by an AI?
SGP:652 - 85 points.

I believe that's enough grain already.

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


February 21, 2021


Cognac's turn again

It's getting a little tough with the US tariffs, so let's support all French brandies. Granted, the larger brands are still pretty autistic, more so than the large Scottish brands (with all due respect to all people suffering from autism), but things are changing and some start to understand that they're just boozemakers and certainly not worthy of a Nobel Prize. A little more humility will do them much good.

Drouet et Fils 'Réserve de Jean' (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2020)

Drouet et Fils 'Réserve de Jean' (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2020) Four stars
Rather an entry-level cognac, but better entry-level cognac from good makers – single estate here – than inflated 'prestige' blends from larger brands. Well that's a personal opinion. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a fresh style that will please malt drinkers, with these very lovely ripe peaches at first, gorse (vanilla), then some very soft liquorice and marzipan, then a few raisins and 'distant evocations of mangos'. Lovely fresh nose I pretty much agree with. Well done Drouet. Mouth: no real problems with the low strength and wonderful notes of soft liquorice (allsorts) upfront, peaches and raisins stewed in honey sauce, kougelhopf glacé, cassata, some earthy tones (superb here) and some black nougat, with just a tiny touch of mint. Perfect. Finish: a little short but very refreshing, with a perfect honey + raisins + peaches + liquorice combination. Comments: danger zone! Very drinkable and moreish. And the price is right. See what I mean?
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Michel Forgeron 2008 'Folle Blanche' (47%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2019)

Michel Forgeron 2008 'Folle Blanche' (47%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2019) Four stars
A very well reputed house from Segonzac, capital city of Grande Champagne, and a pure folle blanche that's more or less ten years old. Remember folle blanche is the original varietal in Cognac, which had been eradicated by phylloxera vastatrix in the second part of the XIXth century. We now have 'the Chinese virus', phylloxera was 'the American bug'. Some estates have been replanting folle blanche for a few decades, which is just very cool. Colour: gold. Nose: splendid! Much less 'sexy' than the Drouet, so more austere, grassier, more on peelings, melon skin, even vegetables, eucalyptus, then more floral notes, rose petals, getting a little musky too, whiffs of plants of the woods, lilies of the valley, woodruff… It is all pretty subtle, with an awesome herbalness that may remind us of chartreuse, in a way… Mouth: same feelings, this is some pretty rustic cognac, and yet it's showing great fruity balance, with peaches and oranges, raisins, dried pineapples, also tobacco and mushrooms, with lovely touches that would be reminiscent of a deep Vosgian forest. A little fir resin. Finish: rather long, still warming, fruitier and jammier. Fir honey and stewed apricots and peaches. Something camphory and slightly medicinal in the aftertaste, as in some Sauternes. Can't quite beat this. Comments: same very high level as that of the Drouet, we may have started this session too fastly. Right.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Since we were in 2008…

Hermitage Chez Richon 2008 (45%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2020)

Hermitage Chez Richon 2008 (45%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2020) Four stars
In truth this brand is a little mysterious, but Forgeron's address in Segonzac is 'Chez Richon', so ties may exist… or not. This is a blend of ugni blanc (the vast majority I suppose) and folle blanche. Colour: gold. Nose: another rather fresh, and rather grassier cognac, with more earth and grasses. Mushrooms for sure, stewed peaches, liquorice and honey, apricots, touches of musk again, and a growing meatiness that was not to be encountered in the others. Around cured ham, and a tiny drop of Kikkoman soy sauce. Mouth: excellent, rather punchy, with more citrus this time, some lovely sourer fruits, some clear notes of wine (pinot noir, perfect in this context), cherries, moss, fir, honey, liquorice, pipe tobacco, touches of demerara sugar – or rather rum, more earth, crunching pine needles… It's actually even more rustic than the Forgeron, with some sort of armagnacness that may stem from the folle blanche. Just wild guesses. Finish: long, firm. Gingerbread and liquorice. Comments: oh well, we sure weren't too far from Forgeron's folle blanche. Cognac from the land.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

A older one by Hermitage please…

Hermitage 50 yo (44%, OB, cognac, Petite Champagne, +/2015)

Hermitage 50 yo (44%, OB, cognac, Petite Champagne, +/2015) Five stars
Pure ugni blanc this time. Not too sure when this was bottled, what's more I've seen it at various strengths. Age-statement cognacs are pretty uncommon anyway. Colour: amber. Nose: ueber-classic perfect old cognac, with more rancio, stewed fruits, honeys and whatnot. I'm finding this nose extraordinary, to think that you'd have to shell out twenty times more money to find a similarly aged whisky that, besides, won't be as fresh. A feeling of old Yquem, apricots, broom, vetiver, ylang-ylang, damp earth, dried figs, Jaffa cakes, heather honey, and prunes! Love prunes in my brandies, when in moderation. Mouth: yes. Pink grapefruits, raisins, tobacco, cinnamon rolls, touches of pecans, yellow peaches, fir liqueur, verbena (Verveine du Velay), aniseed, dill… There are some green tannins in the background (over-infused green tea), but they would behave, thank you. Finish: rather long, a tad drying and slightly too grassy, perhaps, but remember this is 50 yo. Mint, lemon marmalade and just a touch of cardboard in the aftertaste. Comments: the empty glass would let you believe you've just had an old Sauternes.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62 La Corbeille de Fruits' (40.1%, Malternatives Belgium, 200 bottles, 2020)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62 La Corbeille de Fruits' (40.1%, Malternatives Belgium, 200 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
This baby that reeks of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones is a sister cask of the 1962 Through The Grapevine by LMDW. It may be a little fragile given the strength… Colour: reddish amber. Nose: what a nose! Peonies, stewed red peaches, tamarind, red apricots, muscat, redder papayas, mangos… Well if this was whisky it would be Benriach 1968. Does that ring a bell? Amazing, amazing fruity nose, with an incredible freshness. Fantastico. Mouth: perfect arrival that just continues the nose, with all those wonderful fruits, plus pink bananas and litchis, but the tea-ish oakiness would then slowly take over. Oh we just won't care, since the overture was perfect. Finish: medium, tea-ish. Comments: a stunning cognac to nose. The palate is almost superfluous, just pour it back into your bottle, the nose alone is worth twice the price. To think that the French used to quaff only 2.2% of all cognac that was produced BT (before Trump).
SGP:771 - 88 points.

(Merci Aurélien)

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


February 20, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Strathmill and Jura
I think I already did a Strathmill tasting this decade. What does it say about today's whisky world that we're doubling our Strathmill tasting note output? As always, apologies to Strathmill fans around the world. We'll also have a couple of Jura as well, for no other reason than because they happened to be within easy reach. No effort spared here at Whiskyfun!


Strathmill 21 yo 'Batch 6' (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 401 bottles)

Strathmill 21 yo 'Batch 6' (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 401 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: it's actually rather nice, all on barley, fresh breads, simple beers, putty, sunflower oil, hand lotion. Easy, simple, honest malt whisky that is extremely close to the raw ingredients. Some greener notes of vase water and chlorophyl as well. Mouth: good richness, cereals, cooking oils, a touch of dried mint, yellow fruits, turmeric. Some rather new worldy, bready and even slightly rye-spicy aspects as well. Finish: medium, oily, bready, cereal and with various mashed vegetables and cooked grains. Comments: Quite unusual and in many ways characterful spirit. It's not exactly 1945 Glen Grant, but if you like rather firmer, grainier and chewy malt whisky then this humble and harmless we Strathmill has plenty charm.
SGP: 461 - 83 points.



Strathmill 27 yo 1991/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles)

Strathmill 27 yo 1991/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles)
Colour:  pale straw. Nose: it's very much the same style of distillate, except here there's even less wood influence. This feels bare, sparse and brittle. Bare bones whisky with naked aromas of crushed malt, barley water, malt extract, toasted brown bread and then this growing and rather unusual aroma of glue, putty, vase water and once again this impression of chlorophyl. I find it very good but extremely idiosyncratic and unusual. A few notes of vegetable and sunflower oils as well. Mouth: good, rather chewy texture on arrival. Once again it's really dominated by malt extract, breads, dough, scone mix, Bakelite, sunflower oil, putty and rye spice. It's really a rather challenging style of whisky in fact I would say. Some firmer notes of canvass and an impression of rather brittle, drying waxiness emerge over time. Finish: good length, getting really quite spicy and peppery now. Rapeseed oil, grass, hay, raw cereals, mashed vegetables and ink. Comments: I'm sorry, but these Strathmills are somewhat strange little whiskies if you ask me. Very close to the raw ingredients but also with a rather strange, almost mechanical aspect as well. One of the more peculiar wee corners of Scotch Whisky if you ask me. A point lower as I find it a bit more difficult overall than the Boutique-y.
SGP: 361 - 82 points.



Isle Of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (41.2%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #1857, bourbon barrel, 187 bottles)

Isle Of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (41.2%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #1857, bourbon barrel, 187 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: superbly fruity! Really on things like tropical bubblegum and fruit salad juices at first nosing. Runny honey, melon, guava and tinned pineapple in syrup. There's also a little coastal freshness lingering at the back which provides balance, and I think overall it feels a little fuller than the ABV suggests, which is always a good sign. Mouth: a little lacking in oomph, but lots of coastal-tinged waxy qualities, grassy olive oil, camphor, lanolin, bitter citrus peels, grapefruit, tangerine and more exotic fruit syrups too. The length in the mouth is actually quite surprising and once again confounds this expectation around the ABV. Finish: medium, nicely bitter, peppery, coastal, something like salted honey, heather ale and rye bread. Comments: these batches of early 1990s Juras that have appeared in the past year are generally superb in my opinion. I think this one suffers ever so slightly from the low ABV in the mouth, but the nose is 91 point material for sure. Extremely lovely whisky that's well worth trying if it crosses your path.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.



Isle Of Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.4%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Find, refill hogshead, 163 bottles)

Isle Of Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.4%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Find, refill hogshead, 163 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: not as fruity as the 92, this is more on seashore, wet rocks, mineral salts, freshly baked breads, heather flowers, waxes, lemon rind and flower honey. Also these rather firm notes of expensive olive oil, soda bread and lanolin. I find it extremely attractive and elegant malt whisky, and really quite old style. In time some slightly green fruity tones emerge like underripe banana and some crushed nettle leaf. Mouth: firm, rich and bready. Resinous in texture, quite saline, peppery, grassy and with a lot of flints, pebbles and mineral oils. Sheep wool, dried tarragon and this impression of salted mead. A lot more mechanical-tinged, Jura unusualness on display here, but it really works and feels very 'island', which is always great. I find more fruitiness over time with some pineapple, more banana and a tiny sweet glimmer of dessert wine. Finish: long, grassy, mineral, oily, perfectly bitter, peppery and with a gingery, salty warmth. Comments: Jura is a distillate that just needs time I think, and to not be juggled around into every cask type under the sun. Anyway, old school, deeply charismatic and complex malt whisky that needs attention.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.



Thanks to Dirk.





February 19, 2021


A little duet of Miltonduff 2008

It's to be remembered that old OBs bottled in the 1970s and 1980s had been splendid and of obvious 'grand cru' quality. I don't quite know why the name got so much more discreet since back then, probably a matter of priorities within the booze konzerns.

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles) Four stars
As they often did, there's also a 'Small Batch' version of the same age and vintage. A good one (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: punchy, very grassy, austere, full of stones and chalk, with no fruits in sight at this point. Pure grass juice when undiluted, but I'd bet that some citrus, for example, will come out after H2Oisation. With water: not that much fruitiness, or only green rhubarb and gooseberries, as well as cider apples. Not that I dislike this style, on the contrary! Some lovely sour notes too, citrons… Mouth: various apples, from the softer goldens to the tartiest granny smiths, plus grass and chalk. Just touches of custard and biscuits on top of all that greenness. With water: similar, just a notch earthier, which happens very often. It takes water well. Finish: medium, with tiny notes of mint and aniseed. Or there, absinth. Comments: surely of the same high quality as the Small Batch, the latter having been fruitier having said that.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Miltonduff 11 yo 2008/2020 (62.7%, Double V, PX hogshead, cask #180612, 323 bottles)

Miltonduff 11 yo 2008/2020 (62.7%, Double V, PX hogshead, cask #180612, 323 bottles) Three stars and a half
A new Belgian indie bottler, it's true that our Belgian friends usually bring great care to anything they would eventually quaff. Not just Chausse-trappe and Couilles-de-singe (a real thing)! Colour: gold. Nose: first a feeling of vin doux naturel and sweet mustard sauce, then rather pink peppers (Timut) and orange bitter, then curious mixtures such as Marmite, in minimal proportions. The whole works well, without the heady notes that are sometimes to be found in PXed whiskies. Let's see how it swims… With water: sour wines (vin jaune, fino) and affiliated walnuts rather than pure PXness, which is good news. Mouth (neat): fun! Gingerbread liqueur (liqueur de pain d'épices) and even more orange bitter, many spices from some pretty active oak (perhaps European), cloves, big nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom aplenty… I would not call this 'distillate-driven'. With water: nice, a little lovage, soy sauce, green walnuts, teas… Finish: rather long and pretty dry. Comments: the exact opposite of the Cadenhead, which was almost fully spirit-driven, which is a style that I usually prefer. Now for a PX extravaganza, it's not too extravagant and was well coopered. High score for a PX.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

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


February 17, 2021


World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Fifteen (and more real Japan)

Quite logically, we'll start from France once again, as I am French (proof, I wear berets and stripy tops, swear all the time, and eat five baguettes a day).

Armorik 7 yo 'Batch 1' (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, France, 2020)

Armorik 7 yo 'Batch 1' (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, France, 2020) Three stars
Looks like this Breton whisky was matured in a Breton oak cask. I had thought they had used all the oak trees to build warships. Seriously, Warenghem/Armorik are at the top of their game and are now playing with the big boys, only their latest peated effort didn't quite convince me. Colour: amber. Nose: ah, a highly extractive one. We'll see what happens once water's been added, but for now, I'm finding some burning linoleum, roasted chestnuts, Guinness sauce (or carbonnade flamande), really a lot of metal polish, old kettle, and leather and cigars. Is that the Breton oak? With water: pinecone fire! And an old gun. Mouth (neat): there's some smoke, some kind of mint sauce, oloroso-y notes (walnuts), loads and loads of tobacco, and a spice mix with cumin, cloves and juniper berries. Pepper heating up. With water: spicy herbs, curry, and lorryloads of nutmeg. That's the Breton oak, I presume. Finish: similar. Comments: I've tried a few Armoriks and I don't think I ever came across this heavily extractive style. Very intriguing and pretty good, just a tad Breton-oak-heavy. Kenavo!
SGP:373 - 82 points.

Off to post-Donald America…

Golden Moon 15 yo 'Gun Fighter' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, for Hotmalt, Whisky Fair Takao, 2019)

Golden Moon 15 yo 'Gun Fighter' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, for Hotmalt, Whisky Fair Takao, 2019) Four stars
The 13 has been rather brilliant the other week. Golden Moon is yet another worthy distillery on my map. Tennessee, right? The funny drawing reminds me of Giacomo Agostini – not the bike, though. Colour: deep gold. Nose: soft spices all around, paprika, goulash, cinnamon rolls, nutmeg, then tapioca, touch of camphor, pinewood, cones, nuts, rye, lavender… With water: a little varnish - as always and rather more vanilla – as always.  Mouth (neat): like this a lot, it is so clearly American, so full of pancake sauce and rye bread, praline, minty honey, roasted peanuts, popcorn, vanilla… This one really wears its origins on its forehead. With water: yeah, perfect, a cologne-y touch that always works well within this style, rye, spicy sawdust, lavender, muscovado sugar, geranium syrup (ever tried that?) Finish: long, spicier, perfect within this style. Spicy fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: I'll really have to dig deeper into Golden Moon Distillery. Even the name is lovely, isn't it.
SGP:351 - 87 points.

And now, off to… Eenie meenie… Sweden!

Smögen 8 yo (59.8%, OB, Sweden, 2020)

Smögen 8 yo (59.8%, OB, Sweden, 2020) Four stars
Oh wow, I can read from the back label that them too are having 'wave-lashed smooth granite (smooth granite?), high winds and fresh air in abundance'? That bodes well for the rest… This batch from 7 first fill barrels and 1 sherry hoggie. Let's see if we find the sherry… Colour: white wine. Nose: citrusy and coastal smoke, touches of baked French beans and peas, smoked ham, leather, cigarettes, whelks… I think water's needed, as we're very close to L. this far. Starts with Laph, ends with roaig, any clues? With water: classic iodine, creosote, hessian, oysters, seaweed, and olives. Olives represent the main part. Mouth (neat): a high-precision peater, which is all we like. Loads of lemon and yellow melon, some grassy smoke, and some burnt olives on a pizza. Drop the pizza. With water: a little sweeter, with a little more green spices too, even lemon drops. We're rather going towards Port Askaig now. Finish: long, with a chiselled citrus and some peppery greenness. Prawns stewed in green pepper sauce. Comments: yet another lovely Swede and I haven't even mentioned surströmming. Everything's going to hell.
SGP:476 - 87 points.

Shall we say real Japan? Indeed we keep celebrating the new 'Japan Whisky Act'... (see yesterday)

Saburomaru 2017/2020 'The Fool D' (48%, OB, Wakatsuru Distillery, Japan, 2000 bottles) 2

Saburomaru 2017/2020 'The Fool 0' (48%, OB, Wakatsuru Distillery, Japan, 2000 bottles) Four stars
Some new real crazy sexy authentic heavily peated Japanese whisky by some real Japanese people, how it feels good! It's said that the distillery's active since 1952, but that they're making this peated malt only since 2017. They only do peat by the way, just like… hold on, Lagavulin? Colour: straw. Nose: tin boxes and old coins, sake (really), buckwheat, Weissbier, fresh sourdough, mash… Well this baby sure has an obvious quality (to me), it is very fermentary. Love that. The smoke's there as well, but it's pretty self-restrained. Perhaps wee whiffs of rose petals? I'm a fan already. Mouth: okay, good, this works. I may notice a little too much pepper and other sharpish oak spices, but all the rest is perfect. Celeriac, sourdough, polenta, beets, and indeed perhaps a little sake (how do you control your mind?) Finish: long, rooty, smoky, fermentary, with a bitterish aftertaste, and yet some custard. No quibbling. Comments: the future of Japan whisky is real Japan whisky indeed. This is a great example.
SGP:566 - 87 points.

Fifth and last… Back to Europe? Italy?

Puni 'Gold' (43%, OB, Italy, +/-2020)

Puni 'Gold' (43%, OB, Italy, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Not the first Puni I've tried and to be honest, I've always found them very 'Italian', which means 'design first'. Ever driven a Lamborghini? All this with profound hugs to all our Italian friends… Colour: white wine. Nose: there, I'm lost already. Starts with artisanal mead (sour honey) and a lot of custard, then we have vanilla and some kind of aniseed-flavoured biscuits. In Alsace we call them anis bredala, I believe they have them in Trentino a.k.a. South Tyrol too. Feels a bit light but let's go on… Mouth: good, if a little too much oak-forward. Woods, fresh herbs, vanilla, wormwood… All good, it's just that the spirit might be a little light to stand such oakiness. Would work with Springbank, maybe not with a light fruity make. Finish: a little short and rather too oaky for me. A matter of balance. Comments: very honest malt whisky, no problems, with a chassis that's very good but an engine that's perhaps too fragile. Haven't we seen that before?
SGP:351 - 78 points.

(Thank you Boris)


February 16, 2021


World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Fourteen - and breaking news wrt Japan Whisky

There's now so much interesting whisky in the world. And duds too, naturally, but I believe those tend to slowly become a minority… we shall take off from France, naturally…

Brenne 'Cuvée Spéciale' (40%, OB, France, +/-2020)

Brenne 'Cuvée Spéciale' (40%, OB, France, +/-2020)
Cuvée spéciale means Special cuvée, would you have guessed that? So, not much, it's to be put into the same box as 'réserve', 'deluxe' or 'premium'. Last time I tried Cognac's Brenne whisky, in 2015, I thought it was okayish (WF 70) but pretty thin and sweet. Still no age statement after all those years… Sure age is just a number, but NAS is no number at all. Colour: straw. Nose: perhaps has it improved, as I'm rather finding a lot of white currant at first nosing, some nice notes of kiwis and guavas, then touches of fennel and caraway (clear notes of caraway liqueur). What it hasn't quite got is barley, or malt, or bread, or anything like that. Mouth: extremely sweet, with syrups and a lot of vanilla liqueur. Feels like very light 'arranged' rum, or Bacardi Vanila. Very thin body. Finish: short, sweet, with a feeling of having quaffed sugarcane syrup. Sugary aftertaste. Comments: I don't think it has improved, and it surely feels sweetened-up. A little thing, I'm afraid, some kind of Don Papa of malt whisky? I would have loved to like it, really. I would hope no one in the world would believe this is how French whisky tastes in general.
SGP:730 - 50 points.

Good, let's forget about that one and move straight to Taiwan…

Nantou 4 yo 'Batch 1' (49%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Taiwan, bourbon, 342 bottles)

Nantou 4 yo 'Batch 1' (49%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Taiwan, bourbon, 342 bottles) Four stars
I believe this was bottled last year. Nantou/Omar are doing it right, we do know that. Colour: straw. Nose: much more body, much more fatness, and yet it's not a very aromatic whisky, but that was probably not the game. A little fresh oak, some crushed bananas, overripe apples, muesli, bread, poppy seeds, butter pears, plantain… Sunflower oil too. I'm a fan of this pretty self-restrained style. Mouth: very good, on oranges, croissants, more bananas, sweet barley, touches of lime, muesli again… It is really all natural and since we're travelling now, it could have been a blend of young ex-bourbon Arran and Yamazaki. And why not? We're free to travel as long as we don't (eh?) Finish: medium, rather on the same notes, perhaps with a little more peaches and lemons, and a liquoricy, almost balsamic at times signature. Some warming spices too (cinnamon, perhaps a pinprick of curry). Comments: unquestionably very good. Great quality/age ratio.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Perhaps an easy 'Japanese'…

Now this to celebrate the fact that the  Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association have just announced a kind of Japanese Whisky Act that does regulate the labelling of Japanese Whisky. For example, saccharification and distillation will have to take place integrally in the country. This should be the end of 'false' Japanese malts. Kudos to the members of the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association (here's the act translated into English)...


Nikka 'Session' (43%, OB, Japan, world blend, 2020)

Nikka 'Session' (43%, OB, Japan, world blend, 2020) Four stars
All right, this is not quite Japanese, it's Nikka's recent answer to Suntory in the 'world blend' category. In short, our Japanese friend keep blending whiskies sourced from other countries, but this time they tell us about that and wont label it as 'Japanese Whisky'. Thank you Nikka. A lot of Ben Nevis in this, I'd bet, and certainly some Miyagikyo and Yoichi… Colour: straw. Nose: to be honest, I like this, it's pretty light yet not thin on the nose, with touches of pineapples and pears, the same bananas as in the Nantou, and only a moderate vanilla. What's a little troubling I that I do not get much Ben-Nevisness this far, perhaps on the palate?... A little apricot too. Tends to lose steam, don't nose too deeply. Mouth: there, ben Nevis, most probably! Rotting vegetables, engine oil, good sulphur, artichokes, rapeseed oil, bitter herbs… Nothing to throw! All that over a gentler, banana-y and brioche-y foundation, and even touches of mangos and papayas. Finish: medium, fruitier again. Green melons. Comments: liked it, they should even do a cask strength version. Very solid body and oomph at only 43% vol., while I wasn't expecting much. Isn't whisky always better when it's they're being transparent?
SGP:552 – 85 points.

Let's do a U-turn, to Israel… I really need to publish notes for Milk & Honey's Classic, by far my favourite, and I shall do that soon. In the meantime…

Milk & Honey 3 yo 2017/2020 (61.6%, OB, for Holydram, Israel, ex-Islay, 223 bottles)

Milk & Honey 3 yo 2017/2020 (61.6%, OB, for Holydram, Israel, ex-Islay, 223 bottles) Four stars and a half
I usually call these set-ups 'in-cask vattings', as the cask's former content, here Ardbeg it seems (many do Laphroaig instead),will most certainly change the nature of any new filling and consequently, of the mature malt. But that's only gratuitous literature, let's try the beast… Colour: straw. Nose: not too many burnt tyres, we're fine. What I don't know is if the newmake was peated in the first place; if it wasn't, the impact of the Islay cask is totally massive. Many smoked herbs and vegetables, a feeling of wood-smoked asparagus (perhaps), burning pinewood, garden bonfire… Now once your olfactory bulb has filtered out all this smoke, some rounder, cakier notes of malt bread and puréed chickpeas start to have the upper hand. But all that may change once water's been added… With water: coal, cigar ashes, menthol, broken branches… All that works really well.  Mouth (neat): Ardmore! Seems that it was a peaty whisky in the first place. Lovely notes of fried parsley on top of the rather massive peat. Lemons. With water: there, yes, aha, it worked, compliments. No feeling of 'unjustified flavouring' whatsoever here, this is just a fresh young peater from some solid active wood, with mentholated oranges in the background. Smart. Finish: long, tight, fresh. Perfect aftertaste. Comments: hey hey! I really wasn't sure about the concept, and I still not sure they should tell us about it, but the end result is unquestionably superb. And only 3 – I would be proud to be 3 (we're looking at you, NAS).
SGP:456 - 88 points.

Let's fly afar for our fifth and last dram toady…

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2004/2020 'Slightly Peated' (59.4%, OB, for Taiwan, Australia, cask #4113.11)

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2004/2020 'Slightly Peated' (59.4%, OB, for Taiwan, Australia, cask #4113.11) Five stars
These Tasmanians are great, that's all. They've flabbergasted yours truly in December and January already. Colour: light gold. Nose: boy is this nice. Leatherette, old Volkswagen, banana pie, antifreeze, lanoline, leather polish, butter pears, marzipan… All that is extremely coherent. No, seriously. With water: superb. Old magazines, Bakelite, new electronics, not-too-ripe bananas, hand cream, cleansing milk… Very coherent again. Mouth (neat): but yes! Could you smoke masala? In truth I'm instantly reminded of those Indonesian cigarettes, Gudang Garam, that have tips that taste like sweet clove. Actually, they do add clove to the tobacco, so when you smoke them it can happen that they suddenly 'burst' when the burn reaches a clove. Oh well, why am I telling you this, we're in Tasmania, not in Jakarta… With water: lemons are up, cloves disappear. The peat here kind of reminds me of old Caol Ila (G&M, pre-1970) even if it hasn't quite got its complexity. Finish: very long, with more liquorice, chlorophyl, and smoked almonds. Lemons and eucalyptus in the aftertaste. Comments: more proof that age does much. By golly, Hellyers Road!
SGP:466 - 90 points.

Sure the Brenne didn't belong here, but I'm happy about his session. You always need a steppingstone anyway.

(Thank you Chris and Gal)


February 15, 2021


Long time no Springbank

Well, quite, but still, I'd say it's time to remedy the situation. Let's see what we have in the box that sits on the shelves at Château WF…

Springbank 18 yo (46%, OB, 2020)

Springbank 18 yo (46%, OB, 2020) Four stars
This is the latest edition, ex-sherry and ex-bourbon. Always with this wonderful purple colour that Janis Joplin herself would have just adored. And Jimi Hendrix too, naturally… Colour: straw. Nose: I believe it was no first fill sherry and it's just better like this. Having said that I find it pretty gentle, especially after the 10 that I like so much and that I sipped a few cls of just yesterday. These wee metallic touches, this damps chalk, these touches of used engine oil, these sour herbs (tarragon), these rusty old tools, these clear notes of fino sherry, with seawater, curry, mustard and green walnuts, perhaps suet, surely soot (nice, S.!) … Just everything is to be cherished here and I find this nose vastly superior to those of earlier batches (circa 2015 and such). Now… Mouth: not quite the same class I would say, with more dry bitterness, this feeling of eating charcoal ashes or clay, and fewer coastal, waxy and smoky notes than in younger expressions. But don't get me wrong, it still beautiful whisky, it's just curiously thin – although I wouldn't say it is thin whisky as such, of course. Are you following me? Finish: rather long, a tad bitter, acrid, but the saltier aftertaste is most pleasant. Comments: excellent whisky, it's just that there are Springbanks, including contemporary ones, that I like much better. Starting with the 10…
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, Open Day 2018, 534 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, Open Day 2018, 534 bottles) Three stars and a half
From the Campbeltown Festival, naturally. It's a blend of ex-Madeira and ex-sherry hogsheads, married together in a first fill Madeira butt. So, careful now… Colour: gold with orange hues. Nose: rather typical of the early 1990s juices, with these obvious sulphury smells at first, then loads of roasted walnuts, bags of 'curious raisins', five kilograms of Jaffa cakes, bags of dried goji berries, and just litres of sweet malmsey/Malvasia. A little burnt mint. This is very fine at this point, but these noses may lead to very unbalanced palates, in my short experience. Only one way to find out… Mouth: wah! Smoked walnut wine, salted brandy, blueberry mustard, ashes, cloves, chocolate sauce (mole), roasted sesame oil (love that), then a growing tarry bitterness. Over-infused lapsang souchong. Loads of cardamom seeds too. Well I wouldn't call this baby 'Mr Balance'. Finish: long, bitter, peppery and all on very bitter chocolate then. Like 99% cocoa. Comments: I'd say it's a devilishly chocolaty Springbank for crazy Springbank fans who've already got all the others, including the various versions of the 1919. Quite. But there, it's still Springbank and whats more, the sulphur pulled back very politely.
SGP:462 - 84 points.

Springbank 23 yo 1997/2020 (54.6%, The Whisky Baron, fresh sherry butt, cask #289, 553 bottles)

Springbank 23 yo 1997/2020 (54.6%, The Whisky Baron, fresh sherry butt, cask #289, 553 bottles) Five stars
We've already tried some beautiful malts by The Whisky Baron, so expectations are high here. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: amazing, and what contrast! It's difficult to explain but this is probably as thick and even heady at times as the 'Open Day', but this time there is no faulty notes, no sulphur, rather this majestic engine-y fruit combo, with all oils and waxes any human beings could think of, plus anything you could find in an old English garage. With a lot of engine oil on the floor ;-). Cements, paraffin, touch of grilled garlic perhaps, glutamate, miso, walnuts… So, this is beautiful. With water: rusty tools and old copper coins. Touch of camphor and eucalyptus. As expected. Mouth (neat): absolutely fantastic, if a little on cheese and sour old wines. Balsamico, gruyere, manzanilla, green walnuts and bitter almonds, crazy extreme manzanilla, miso soup, many fermented things… Well this is some rather bacterial, I mean funky whisky! With water: swims like a champ while getting greener, mossy, with some artichokes and eggplants. Old digestive herbal liqueur. Finish: very long and mostly on green walnuts, with a leathery touch in the aftertaste and a lot of dryness. Comments: bone-dry, like a very old oloroso from a good house.
SGP:372 - 90 points.

Springbank 1994/2020 (48.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 270 bottles)

Springbank 1994/2020 (48.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 270 bottles) Five stars
Angus already tried it so we're a little late. Let's focus on the highlights… Colour: white wine (great news!) Nose: oh, pure carrot juice! I am not joking, carrot juice! Rooty, herbal, earthy, slightly spicy, fresh, lively… No, really, this is carrot juice! Made out of the best carrots on this planet, naturally. Adorable nose. Mouth: oh. Marrow, paraffin, almond oil, sunflower oil, salt, winkles (I swear to Vishnu), sesame, salt, caviar, lemon… Finish: rather the same for a rather a long time. Grapefruits rather than lemons. Very coastal aftertaste. Salt and peppered winkles. Comments: yeah, sure, obviously. This is like watching an uninjured Roger Federer play, there's something 'obvious'. Have I mentioned caviar?
SGP:463 - 93 points.

Bonus: just a few drops remaining from an high-end online tasting session we did with Whisky Live Paris and the Golden Promise whisky bar last year…

Springbank 12 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for Samaroli, early 1980s, 2400 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for Samaroli, early 1980s, 2400 bottles) Five stars
The last time I wrote some proper tasting note for this one that was in… 2004. My God, sixteen years. But I've tried it several times since back then, naturally. Top Five whisky. We'll try to keep this short and sweet… Colour: amber. Nose: starts with anything from a beehive. This always floors you. We're talking around ten various honeys (chestnut, lavender, lime tree, orange blossom, fir, thyme…) plus some sublime beeswax, pollens, this very waxy substance called propolis that bees harvest from resinous trees, plus a very wide assortment of dried fruits (figs and dates first), plus myriads of mentholy and lemony herbs. We could go on for hours and hours but I suppose you've got better things to do. No water needed, for once – how could it become any more complex? Mouth (neat): incredible. Tars, waxes, honeys, herbs, medicinal substances, dried fruits (longans are very obvious), and things only known to gods, including minerals, herbs, and various organic substances, some not even identified and recorded by Man yet. Yeah yeah. Finish: sadly. Comments: after all, we don't change, do we? Huge whisky that needs time and patience. Sixteen years. Top five indeed.
SGP:562 - 98 points.

(Merci François, Ryan)

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

February 2021 - part 1 <--- February 2021 - part 2 ---> March 2021 - part 1




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Rosebank  30 yo 1989/2019 (55.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, Author's Series, refill hogshead, cask #HL17438, 192 bottles)

Springbank 23 yo 1997/2020 (54.6%, The Whisky Baron, fresh sherry butt, cask #289, 553 bottles) 

Springbank 1994/2020 (48.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 270 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for Samaroli, early 1980s, 2400 bottles)

Peat & Bourbon Barrel (60.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, Canada exclusive, 2020)

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2004/2020 'Slightly Peated' (59.4%, OB, for Taiwan, Australia, cask #4113.11)

Hermitage 50 yo (44%, OB, cognac, Petite Champagne, +/2015)