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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2022 - Part 1


January 2022 - part 2 <--- February 2022 - part 1 ---> February 2022 - part 2


February 14, 2022


Top-class old grains whiskies (30-55 yo)

We do this every few months. I'd say when the wood is good, the grain is good, provided excessive coconuts and nail polishes are kept at a distance. Let's see what we have…

Girvan 30 yo 1991/2021 (53.6%, The Whisky Barrel, The Grand Tour, Viking 1, 1st fill palo cortado, cask #TWB1022, 162 bottles)

Girvan 30 yo 1991/2021 (53.6%, The Whisky Barrel, The Grand Tour, Viking 1, 1st fill palo cortado, cask #TWB1022, 162 bottles) Three stars and a half
We keep roaming space with The Whisky Barrel. Hope this wee Girvan isn't rocket fuel, having said that. Colour: gold. Nose: a soft vanilla, less varnish than expected, no acetone, rather some fresh brioche. It's a soft, light one. With water: a little chamomile, a touch of spearmint, then shoe polish and metal polish. Mouth (neat): a little coconut this time, some sweet grasses, touches of earth that would even impart a wee felling of malt whisky, then orange squash and jelly babies. A little roasted tea, possibly from the sherry cask (hochicha).With water: I'm reminded of some old bottles of Canadian Club that my father used to bring back from his travels. Finish: rather short, naturally, but not too thin. A little nutty/leafy sherriness. Comments: possibly one of the best Girvans I've ever tried, but I'm not a fan of Girvan generally speaking.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Girvan 30 yo 1991/2021 (52.6%, Oxhead Whisky, refill bourbon barrel, cask #54709, 134 bottles)

Girvan 30 yo 1991/2021 (52.6%, Oxhead Whisky, refill bourbon barrel, cask #54709, 134 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: I'm finding this one even more metallic, which, I insist, I enjoy. Penny book, aluminium can, then rather soft maize bread, sweet focaccia, teas… As usual it's a rather thinnish nose but I find it pretty charming and would understand that someone would use it as a proper component in a high-brow old blend. Some vanilla, a little coconut water. With water: some varnish coming out, and this time again a little shoe polish. Mouth (neat): really sweet and fruity. More orange squash, chamomile, ginger beer, also a little hibiscus syrup, perhaps… With water: a bizarre feeling of Southern Comfort and sugar eggs. Certainly not unpleasant and probably even quite funny. Finish: shortish, thinnish, with notes of chicory coffee this time. That's the oak. Comments: I liked it just the same. It's not impossible that 30 would be a minimum age for grain whiskies.
SGP:641 – 84 points.

To actual maize…

North British 30 yo 1991/2021 (47.6%, The Whisky Barrel, The Grand Tour, Viking 2, 1st fill palo cortado, cask #TWB1023, 159 bottles)

North British 30 yo 1991/2021 (47.6%, The Whisky Barrel, The Grand Tour, Viking 2, 1st fill palo cortado, cask #TWB1023, 159 bottles) Four stars
Let's hope this baby won't make us spaced out… Peace! Love! Remember, at least at that time, North British was distilling maize. Colour: gold. Nose: another one that's rather seductively metallic, but this time I'm also finding a little mustard, certainly some fino sherry, nocino liqueur (green walnut liqueur, you may check Silver Seal's), some burnt toasts, almonds, pistachios…Allt this is rather lovely and you would believe at times that this is malt whisky. Mouth: always this built-in thinness, but I'm certainly not against these sour teas (eglantine) or these sweeter tobaccos (from untipped Camels or Craven "A", remember?) A little coconut wine or liqueur, but no vulgarity. Finish: short, rather sweet and sour, with some coriander and coconut. Something Thai, I would say. Comments: thin not weak, with probably a little more action than in the Girvans.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

To the seminal Cambus (check the old ad up there)…

Cambus 30 yo 1991/2021 (53.3%, Cadenhead, Annual Shop Release 2021, oloroso sherry hogshead)

Cambus 30 yo 1991/2021 (53.3%, Cadenhead, Annual Shop Release 2021, oloroso sherry hogshead) Four stars and a half
Cambus, the seminal grain whisky! Colour: red amber. Nose: the superiority of an active oloroso cask is clearly displayed here. A large walnut cake, some chocolate and macchiato, some black nougat (or Spanish turon), also a feeling of old South-American rum. Perhaps from Colombia? Peru? There's even a little Maggi, lovage, soy sauce… Clearly a good cask that's done its job properly. Mouth: bingo, great work Cadenhead. Wonderful coffee liqueurs, roasted pecans, chestnut honey, then a little marmalade, some greasy umami-led bouillons, rum again… Well, this is almost malt whisky. Great cask. Finish: medium (so not short), nutty, meaty and coffee-y. Touch of glue and varnish in the aftertaste, which I find good and funny. Comments: great grain from a great cask. Quasi-malt (I know, I know).
SGP:562 - 88 points.

To Cameronbridge…

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.2%, Wu Dram Clan & Whizita, hogshead, 218 bottles)

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.2%, Wu Dram Clan & Whizita, hogshead, 218 bottles) Five stars
This is well cask strength, mind you. Probably a little fragility in there… Colour: straw. Incredibly pale at 46. Nose: hold on. Who poured a few bottles of 1960s Bowmore into this hogshead? Where do these mangos and pink bananas come from? And the sunflower oil? The marzipan? The viognier? The white asparagus? The wee pineapples? The lilac and the wisteria? All this is extremely soft, perhaps a little fragile indeed, but just wonderful. In the old days, some absent-minded tasters may have described this one as 'being a little feminine'. Mouth: phew! No excessive tea-ness, no sawdust, rather these tropical fruits once again (just the same ones) and a sumptuous floralness. Zucchini flowers and honeysuckle, rose petals, proper Turkish delights, flower beignets… Almost a liquid miracle, how did this one survive this beautifully? Finish: sure it isn't very long, but what a wonderful herbal and floral freshness. Mango syrup in the aftertaste! Comments: one of the most floral whiskies I've ever tried, chamber whisky as in chamber music. An utter miracle. So, tell me, who did pour the old Bowmores while no one was watching?
SGP:640 - 91 points.

To Invergordon…

Invergordon 48 yo 1972/2021 (44.1%, C. Dully Selection, barrel, cask #1088, 140 bottles)

Invergordon 48 yo 1972/2021 (44.1%, C. Dully Selection, barrel, cask #1088, 140 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: I'm reminded of some Very Old Fitzgerald bourbons this time. Big vanilla and fudge, with whiffs of cellulosic varnish, then rather various tobaccos. Scones, millionaire shortbread, dandelions, then a few wine gums, jellybeans, bubblegum… Some youth remaining in this very old grain. Some peanut butter too. Mouth: things are a little tough after the old Cameronbridge (Ca-me-ron-bridge!) that just stunned us. Old sherried Invergordons are well-known but even if this a tad simpler, give it a little attention and you'll find some wonderful pastries, custard, acacia honey, bubblegum, banana foam, perhaps a little agave syrup, barley syrup, orgeat… Strength and body are perfect. Finish: medium, rounded, on banana cake and heather honey. It's really very much alive. Comments: exquisitely banana-y and dangerously drinkable. Class cask.
SGP:640 - 88 points.

Invergordon 55 yo 1965/2021 (40%, Wu Dram Clan & Kirsch Import, barrel, 228 bottles)

Invergordon 55 yo 1965/2021 (40%, Wu Dram Clan & Kirsch Import, barrel, 228 bottles) Four stars and a half
This IS cask strength and most probably the oldest grain whisky ever bottled (ready to be proven wrong). These people are crazy. Colour: full gold. Nose: it needs to be said that the 1960s Invergordons do rule supreme over my 'grainy list' (which doesn't quite exist in real life but there). This is rather a kind of complex soup, with bits of artichoke, asparagus, leek or cauliflower, all that seasoned with whisky and triple-sec as well as a little miso and umami sauce. A little crushed overripe banana too, perhaps manioc, celeriac, parsnips… It's getting fractal, in fact, just wait and many tinier aromas will start to parade under your nostrils. Mouth: salty and slightly varnishy at first, with some bouillons, then rather on seasoned fruit juices. I was about to mention sweet guacamole. Perhaps not. Banana chutney, mango chutney, more bouillon… The body's obviously a notch thin(nish) but in no way does it become frustrating. Drops of banana wine, mullein syrup, woodruff syrup… Finish: short, naturally, but once again that isn't frustrating at all. Sweet teas, vanilla-ed rooibos, a tiny touch of liquorice wood, perhaps a few mirabelles… Once again a faint varnishy return in the aftertaste, which is typically 'grain whisky' in my book. Comments: I'll say it, I liked the Cameronbridge rather better, but I find it crazy that this imperilled masterpiece was still alive, and rather beautifully so. An ode to time.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

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


February 13, 2022


A few French brandies randomly

Sometimes we do only cognac, sometimes only armagnac, this time we may do both, let's see what we have… Starting with an apéritif…

Claude Thorin 'XO' (40%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2020)

Claude Thorin 'XO' (40%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2020) Three stars
From a well reputed estate located in Segonzac, capital city of Grande Champagne. Colour: deep gold. Nose: awesome, on apricot and peach tartes covered with caramel and honey. A little mocha as well, touches of tobacco, roasted raisins, roasted peanuts, chicory coffee… Awesome nose indeed, fresh and yet classic and even a tad rancioty, but at 40% vol. I fear for the palate… Dried litchis too, lovely too. Mouth: very good drop, rich, much honeyed and caramelly (in a good way), with many roasted nuts yet again, coffee liqueur, chocolate, rancio wine… It's just that it tends to lose tightness and coherence because of this low strength that gives a greater role to the tannicity and makes it lose balance and focus. Finish: happens all the time. Short, tea-ish, oaky and frustrating. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste and retro-olfaction. Comments: superb juice that doesn't quite stand this low strength. Not quite murder, but there…

SGP:451 - 80 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 50 yo L.71 (52%, OB, for Passion For Whisky, Grande Champagne, 2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 50 yo L.71 (52%, OB, for Passion For Whisky, Grande Champagne, 2021) Five stars
I already had the occasion to state what I think about the house Pasquet. Good things, not need to say. Colour: golden amber. Nose: stewed peaches and almonds at first, also old copper, old tools (grandma's old kettle and grandpa's old wrench), certainly some rancio and amontillado, roasted chestnuts, chestnut honey, black nougat, turon… Even a small maltiness hidden way in the back. With water: some tight green fruits and herbs. Sorrel reduction, green gooseberries, also a funny touch of pineau that would lead us back to those stewed peaches… Mouth (neat): some very tobacco-y oak, and we're talking menthol cigarettes. Bitter chocolate brittle (85% cocoa), Seville oranges, some bone-dry sherry (we've just tried a stunning PX seco that was displaying such notes)… With water: water bringing out the fruits, that's cool. Peaches and oranges covered with bitter chocolate, Jaffa cake and all that. Or what we call orangettes. Finish: long, as a well-steeped-high-quality-black-earl-grey. Comments: love all this chocolaty oak. Flirting with the limits at times, but should you enjoy proper chocolate, this is for you.
SGP:361 - 90 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 50 yo L.71 (51.9%, OB, for Spiritus, Half-Century Series, Grande Champagne, 150 bottles, 2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 50 yo L.71 (51.9%, OB, for Spiritus, Half-Century Series, Grande Champagne, 150 bottles, 2021) Five stars
I can't quite see how this would be very different. Colour: amber gold. Nose: extremely similar, as expected, but that's pretty good news. Perhaps is it a tad jammier, a tiny notch fresher too. A little more fresh peaches and small whiffs of broom. Very close, very awesome. With water: another tiny difference, wee touches of varnish and chen-pi here. Mouth (neat): once again, we're extremely close. Should we mention a tiny difference, we'd say that this one has got added notes of old calvados, beyond all the chocolate from the wood. With water: excellent and once more, totally close to the other one, even if we 'might' find more thin mints than Jaffa cakes. Finish: long, a tad more mentholy this time again. Some great black earl-grey with half a mint-leaf. Comments: not even really sure about all those 'very tiny differences', I may have overanalysed it. Typical.
SGP:361 - 90 points.

Louis Royer 'XO' (50.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Grande Champagne, #C3.1 'A Fragrant Ramble', 2021)

Louis Royer 'XO' (50.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Grande Champagne, #C3.1 'A Fragrant Ramble', 2021) Four stars
I believe it's going to be the first Cognac by the honourable SMWS that I'll ever have tasted. Now I've tried quite a few Louis Royer already. Colour: red amber. Nose: it's funny that I would find some pretty varnishy youngish calvados yet again in there, then rather 'whisky' notes, around vanilla and cakes. It's an intriguing, rather polite and gentle cognac this far. With water: it's not that I'm going to quote young bourbons… Probably the wood. Lovely oils, teak, leather polish, shoe polish, even a little tar. No wonder this has pleased whisky folks. Mouth  (neat): oh good, oily and creamy, feeling rather young and pretty exotic, with some cedarwood, a touch of mango jam, then mint and clove. A tad simple but goody good. With water: not that simple, but clearly on the sweeter side after the dry 1971s. Marmalade and apricot jam, plus cinnamon and a bit of that classic combo, mint plus eucalyptus. Finish: long, very good, on a lovely mango and apricot jam plus chocolate and mint combination. Comments: perhaps not the most complex cognac ever, but I'd happily sip a few glasses.

SGP:561 - 85 points.

Vallein-Tercinier 'Small Batch 41/43' (48.2%, OB for Kirsch Import, Bons Bois, 2021)

Vallein-Tercinier 'Small Batch 41/43' (48.2%, OB for Kirsch Import, Bons Bois, 2021) Five stars
I'll just say, because I fear no one, that I find it extraordinary, as an Alsatian, that I would be about to taste a cognac from the years 1941 to 1943 (cognac was in the free zone back then) that was selected by a German bottler eighty years later. As a convinced European, I'd bet this drop will reek of peace and friendship. Colour: deep gold. Nose: Vallein-Tercinier or Vallein Tercinier (you never know when or where to put that glittering hyphen) is a house that's about emotions, and that feels. I'm reminded of the 1965s. Astounding dried fruits just in every corner, also Spanish ham, walnuts, nougat, all flowers of the creation, a few small rooty touches (carrots) and some of those salty caramel sauces they have in Asia. They have many and I keep forgetting about the names. Mouth: this is a captivating conversation between the fruits and the wood. It is almost a precious blended herbal tea, in fact, with bits of everything, rather a lot of black bee's propolis (dry, extremely resinous), pipe tobacco (when a bit comes into your mouth through the stem), bits of dried fruits, etc. The great, great news is that those fruits would actually have the upper hand, which propels it into the higher quarters. Finish: very long, with some citrus chiming in. Old orange and tangerine liqueurs, plus cinnamon, cloves and hints of juniper. The aftertaste is incredibly fresh and curiously winey, we've known old Sauternes... Rather high-class coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: very good and very moving old Bons Bois. The quality is as high as it could have been and I'd even swear, after all those years, that the proverbial rusticity of the 'Bons Bois' is on full display here. Stunning – and indeed it reeks of peace and friendship.
SGP:661 - 93 points.

Time to have some armagnac, no? And please no small drop after that imposing V-T 41/43…

Armagnac 35 yo 1985-1963 (51%, Armagnac Sponge)

Armagnac 35 yo 1985-1963 (51%, Armagnac Sponge) Five stars
Let's just hope this drop will be faster than the 2CV on the label, and more elegant than that tartan beret. A tartan beret, really? Oh, yes, the proportions, that's 64% 1985 and 36% 1963. The address is Saintes, which lies in Cognac, which would suggest Grosperrin was involved. Pretty good news… Colour: amber. Nose: now I understand the tartan beret. A lot of fudge and butterscotch here, hazelnut liqueur, Nutella (apologies), amontillado, tarte tatin, milk chocolate, deep-fried Mars bars (not)… With water: same, with some added earthiness and a drop of miso. I find this extremely pleasant. Blueberry muffins, perhaps. Well, certainly. Malt whisky geeks should love this. Mouth (neat): this is a little meta, or 'world', with a varnishy side that makes you think of bourbon, certainly some nutty maltiness that makes you think of Scotch malt, and naturally, liquorice, raisins and prunes that remind you that this is armagnac. With water: same wonderful feeling of liquid metanoia. Zuckerberg is an amateur. Wonderful chocolates, may I suggest Jacques Genin in Paris? Finish: it holds. Black raisins, Gauloises (playing it 'touristy') and chocolate. Drop of plum sauce in the aftertaste, or 'vieille prune'. Totally armagnac now. Comments: more a trip than a drop. Très bon, Monsieur l'Eponge.

SGP:461 - 90 points.

Let's try to find another armagnac before we call this a tasting session…

Château de Ravignan 2003/2021 (44.7%, LMDW, Version Française, Bas-armagnac, 300 bottles)

Château de Ravignan 2003/2021 (44.7%, LMDW, Version Française, Bas-armagnac, 300 bottles) Four stars
LMDW the trailblazers. Never heard of Château de Ravignan before, but it looks like they would be located in the Landes, near Mont-de-Marsan. In rugby country, in other words. Colour: amber. Nose: rather resinous woods and varnishes at first, then a little charcoal and a rather phenolic side, between Barbour grease and Laphroaig. Don't get me wrong, we're extremely far from Laphroaig, Then stewed fruits including strawberries, ganaches, and a drop of benzine. This baby too should please any malt enthusiasts, it certainly does as far as this very one is concerned. Mouth: truly singular, with a little balsa wood, cough syrup, even toothpaste, plus blood oranges and juicy ripe nectarines. Some liquorice allsorts too, liquorice lozenges, then touches of pinewood. Good body, 44% vol. works very well. Finish: rather long, woodier and spicier as expected, and rather cinnamon-led. Good fun with the blood oranges that are back in the aftertaste. Comments: not a very common style; I find it excellent. Great fruity cinnamon.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

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


February 12, 2022


20 Descriptors

Trying what's inside our whiskies
while Angus is on parental leave

To each his references! (Thinking about you, Peter.)

When tasting whisky, or any other spirits, or wine, we often come up with descriptors that are actually other drinks, wines, beers, liqueurs, mezcals, whatever. But do we sometimes make sure that those are truly there? Is that 'violet liqueur' that we would find in, say a Bowmore 1985, violet liqueur indeed, or only vague, distant reminiscences of what may have been some kind of liqueur that we would have tried around 1990? There's only one way to find out… Have them!

Liqueur à la Violette (25%, Le Jardin d'Elen, France, +/-2021)

Liqueur à la Violette (25%, Le Jardin d'Elen, France, +/-2021)
This wee liqueur straight from Toulouse Airport (Blagnac), Toulouse being one the capital cities of violette/violet. They would recommend you drink this in a Kir Royal (1/10 liqueur, 9/10 champagne) or with ½ vodka, which I wouldn't do, really. Good, let's have it neat! Colour: almost blue. Nose: if I say Bowmore 1985 that won't be of great help. Violets, really, which is nicer than Parma Violets, but still a tad too aromatic. There's also that liqueur called parfait amour that contains a lot of violet, but it's also got geranium and orange, while this very one's 100% violet. All right, that feels… Mouth: where's champagne when you need it? A feeling of having wolfed down a whole family pack of assorted wine gums. A lot of sugar. Finish: medium, a tad cloying, extremely sugary. Comments: not meant to be drunk like this, I suppose. Or on a ton of ice.
SGP:910 - (no) points.

Next thing we sometimes find is woodruff…

Eau de Vie d'Aspérule Odorante (45%, Ecomusée d'Alsace, France, +/-2020)

Eau de Vie d'Aspérule Odorante (45%, Ecomusée d'Alsace, France, +/-2020) Four stars
Watch this, aspérule/woodruff can produce a magnificent spirit but it is a lot of work. Woodruff is a tiny white flower that you would find in the woods (Sherlock!) and that old people used to let dry and then smoke whenever they wanted to quit smoking tobacco. No, no hallucinogenic properties… Colour: white. Nose: sumptuous, on many tiny aromas, starting with bitter almonds, sesame oil, gentian and celeriac, going on with fennel and wild carrots, and ending up in honeyed territories (heather, manuka). The closest thing would be mullein eau-de-vie, another flower. Mouth: totally love this, even if it's a little rough and perhaps a little too spicy here and there. Perhaps a little soapy as well, otherwise we have bitter roots, green pu-her, caraway and juniper, cinchona, and something very earthy. A tough boy and guess what, it's absolutely not floral. Finish: long, grassy. Turnips perhaps, more celeriac, parsnips, pepper… Indeed, it's lovely but it's not easy. Comments: my kind of whacky spirit. Talisker from the high mountains.
SGP:273 - around 85 points.

Sometimes, we also find herbal liqueurs, such as…

Bénédictine D.O.M (40%, OB, France, +/-1970)

Bénédictine D.O.M (40%, OB, France, +/-1970) Four stars and a half
From a stash of the kinds of old bottles that anyone in France would have hidden in grandma's old Henri-II cupboard. Bénédictine is a very old herbal liqueur made in Fécamp, Normandy. These old bottles are fetching high monies at auctions these days, almost like Chartreuses. Think around 250€. Colour: straw. Nose: wow, now I understand why those 250€. Fantastic aniseed-led development on many herbs, woodruff (what, again?), fennel seeds, star anise, liquorice, cumin, with touches of green bananas, honeydew, bamboo shoots, gentian again and again, perhaps a drop of moutai… Wonderful nose, and I'm no liqueur guy. I may like this better than chartreuse. Mouth: perhaps a wee tad too much on the sweet side, but other than that, it is liquid liquorice, with some menthol, agave syrup, pine extracts, bitter oranges, and hundreds of small herbs from our woods and meadows. Don't monks make this? Finish: long, perhaps a wee tad soapy, as many herbal liqueurs can be in my book, but it is not cologne-y. A feeling of Gravenstein eau-de-vie. Comments: huge surprise here at Château Whiskyfun.
SGP:771 - probably around 88 points.

And so naturally…

Chartreuse V.E.P. (54%, OB, France, 2001)

Chartreuse V.E.P. (54%, OB, France, 2001)
From the same stash of old bottles. The back label indicates when it was bottled. V.E.P. means 'Veillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé', which means 'Aging Exceptionally Prolonged'. I have to say I'm surprised no Douglas Laing or other very distinguished Scottish marketing wizards have ever used that kind of acronym. You say they have? Colour: green, so this is a green chartreuse (very well done, S.) Nose: indeed I liked the Bénédictine rather better. This one's rather about herbs, mint and terpenes, and basta. Nothing wrong with that, and sure there are better cuvées of chartreuse, but it' also getting immensely piney. Got to enjoy that. With water: thyme oil and benzine. Not too sure. Mouth (neat): heavy, thick, rather cloying, extremely herbal and piney. A feeling of drinking a bottle of mouthwash. With water: hold on, pears? Quite some sugar too, and of course a lot of piney flavours. Finish: very long, killing anything that would come after this. Drinking balm. Comments: we've got many friends who are Chartreuse enthusiasts, and who would know about all the different Tarragones by heart, for example. Not this humble taster, I'm afraid, I may be missing that gene.
SGP:780 - around 65 points
(I'll have to watch my back in the coming months, on the other hand the makers completely ran out of VEP last year).

There's another very herbal thing that I sometimes mention, that would be…

Underberg (44%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2020)

Underberg (44%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2020) Two stars
A pretty bitter liqueur, sometimes said to be German on some websites but the one I've got stems from Dietlikon, around Zürich. Underberg is said to contain herbs from 43 different countries, which I find a little hard to fathom, but there. It is sold in tiny 2cl bottles and is supposed to be extremely postprandial. In short, you could have wolfed down a dozen T-bones and three kilos of foie gras, you'll remain fine. Colour: dark coffee. Nose: extremely medicinal indeed, that old Chartreuse was much lighter, almost Glenkinchie-light. Huge cumin and caraway, plus juniper and just tons of cloves. Hundreds of tons of cloves. Mouth: really an acquired taste. I suppose the main effect here is that you just couldn't eat anything after this. Postprandial indeed. Extreme cloves. Finish: more cloves, for eternity. And perhaps artichokes, bitter bark, pepper, and indeed a lot of caraway too in the aftertaste… Comments: there's only 2cl but I find even 1 single cl a little excessive. What's good is that it's dry and seem to contain very little sugar. We'll have a to make a long break before we could try any other drink, or even eat half an oatcake… Like, two hours, minimum.
SGP:281 – around 70 points.

Good, we're back… What we always mention too is mint, menthol, peppermint, or crème de menthe. One of the most famous drinks in that respect, in France, is Peppermint Get, a.k.a. Get 27.

Get 27 (27%, OB, France, +/-2000)

Get 27 (27%, OB, France, +/-2000) Two stars
Indeed, this an old bottle but it's in good shape, with no crystallisation. I believe the brand belongs to Bacardi. There is/was also a stronger version, branded Get 35. In the old days, we were always having some Get 27 or 35 before dancing 'collé-serré', but that was before techno… Colour: between turquoise and fir green. Nose: mint, mint lozenges, menthol, peppermint, toothpaste, mouthwash… And that's all. That was all the point anyway, not to have a funky breath like dead things. Mouth: mint syrup and alcohol, with some nice-ish honeyed notes that, I swear, weren't there when this bottle was produced. OBE in Get 27, wow! Finish: not long enough and that's why we used to quaff one glass after another. Some were downing whole bottles! Comments: the thing is, I love mint. First time I'm drinking Get 27 since around 1985… Oh by the way, I've just seen that they're using seven different kinds of mint. Really!
SGP:750 - around 75 points.

Another favourite of mine now, gentian! We've already published a few notes for gentians, but let's try another one…

Enzian (37.5%, OB, Seyringer SchlossBrände, Austria, +/-2019)

Enzian (37.5%, OB, Seyringer SchlossBrände, Austria, +/-2019) Four stars
Enzian means Gentian, right. I'm afraid this won't be a top-class gentian, given that they've bottled it at some lousy strength. Most certainly 'macerated' eau-de-vie, so not really eau-de-vie. Colour: white. Nose: no, it's pretty nice, very rooty and earthy, as gentian should be. If you've never tried gentian, imagine some cut celeriac to which you would have added a little aniseed, with a clear medicinal side. Very nice. Mouth: a tad brutal despite the lower strength, certainly less high-precision than on the nose, but there's also a saltiness while in my book, that always works. Oh yeah, when you distil gentian, you use the roots and neither the flowers nor the leaves or stems. Just in case you didn't know. Finish: long, with a little horseradish and mustard, on top of all these lovely earthy notes. Salty aftertaste. Comments: I was wrong, it's a good gentian, well done. Oh and they're located near Bregenz, not far at all from lovely Lake Constance.

SGP:363 - around 85 points.

Come on, don't tell me you didn't see this coming…

Jägermeister '56' (35%, OB, Germany, +/-2020)

Jägermeister '56' (35%, OB, Germany, +/-2020)
We quote the Master Hunter all the time, in my book it's one of the epitomes of herbalness but it is also the one that everybody knows. No, we don't do Jägerbombs or shooters. Colour: coffee. Nose: some kind of lighter and rounder Underberg, with a lot of liquorice, cinnamon extracts, cloves indeed, pine resin and cardamom, with some orange liqueur too. Well, this baby's not quite as herbal as I remembered it but let me be honest, I hadn't actually tried Jägermeister since a party on Majorca, ach, err, thirty years ago. I think it's good that we all try our main descriptors more often… Or change them! Mouth: more on mint and caraway this time, certainly more herbal than on the nose (phew) and, I would say, a tad unpleasant, cloying… Liquorice, pine resin, cloves, cardamom, aniseed, ginger… Finish: caraway! Comments: you would understand why people drink it either hot, or chilled. Room temperature may not be the right temperature.
SGP:771 - around 60 points.

That's eight, right… Caraway, he said…

Aalborg Akvavit (45%, OB, Denmark, +/-2018)

Aalborg Akvavit (45%, OB, Denmark, +/-2018) Two stars
I remember we had tried some Linie Aquavit a few years back, and thought it wasn't bad at all, as far as I can remember. This should be all about caraway… (which is basically a small cumin from the fields). Colour: very very pale white wine. Nose: caraway everywhere indeed. My old uncles used to drink this kind of schnapps after a meal. Caraway, a little soap, perhaps poppy seeds… It's not bad at all on the nose, it's just extremely narrow. Mouth: a thick spirit, peppery and just totally shock-full of caraway. Now I remember, my old uncles used to drink this kind of spirit with Munster cheese. Tough stuff. Finish: extremely long, with loads of caraway and touches of lemon zests, which would make it bizarrely refreshing. Comments: this should take ice nicely. May wreck your glass, though… Seriously, I rather like it, I'm just not used to these rather extreme flavours and aromas.
SGP:272 - around 75 points.

That's nine. Hold on, didn't we just mention lemon?… But of course, one of our #1 liquid descriptors would be…

Limoncello Luxardo (27%, OB, Italy, +/-2018)

Limoncello Luxardo (27%, OB, Italy, +/-2018)
They seem to be using various labels, are those different cuvées? Luxardo is a well-reputed small house, first founded in Croatia, then moved to Padova. They're very much into cherries, but indeed this is a lemon liqueur which, apparently, originated around Naples. I would say I must be using the descriptor 'limoncello' at least once every fifty spirits, if not more. In my experience, Limoncello is extremely hard to make yourself, you're soon to make it a little too 'chemical'. Believe me, I tried. Colour: fluo yellow. Nose: it's really about lemon juice and sugar, lemon balm, and more lemon balm, and more lemony stuff, lemon syrup… And zests… As we sometimes say, there's more lemon than in lemons, what's cool is that it doesn't smell like detergent… Mouth: nice, easy, fresh, too sweet for me of course but there, and really all on lemon and sugar. Finish: too sugary, I'm sorry. Extremely sugary, and just touches of zests in the aftertaste. Comments: are you really supposed to drink these Limoncellos at room temperature? But it's a good limoncello, we've tried some that had been much 'worse'.
SGP:830 - around 65 points.

Good those were the first ten, let's take a (very) long break…

We're back. Last time, we found out that many descriptors were better IN whisky than OUTSIDE whisky, although we had stumbled upon some wonderful woodruff eau-de-vie, old Bénédictine, and Austrian gentian/Enzian. Let's kick off this new session with something that I just adore, cherries…

Cherry Heering (OB, cherry brandy, Denmark, +/-1970)

Cherry Heering (OB, cherry brandy, Denmark, +/-1970) Four stars
'Try it chilled' is what they had added to the back label. Not quite a good sign… Now this is an old bottle indeed, this juice being now called simply Heering or, sometimes, Peter Heering. I have no explanations why but I haven't been looking for any. This one has no ABV statements but current offerings do state 24% vol. Colour: black. Nose: moist and heavy pipe tobacco! A lot of it, really, plus bigarreau cherries in Kirschwasser and Kriek beer. But the pipe tobacco is ultra-dominant. I remember some very black Dunhill… Mouth: sweet, very tobacco-y, full of cherries, and just excellent, in my opinion. I would suggest some good OBE's taken place as this is very complex, also full of gingerbread, Christmas pudding… I believe I'm going to buy a contemporary bottle and check what gives. Very intriguing but then again, I'm a sucker for anything 'cherry'. Finish: long, complex, you would almost believe someone's blended some old Chambertin with some old Port. Tsk-tsk. Comments: I'll really have to check it… or seek older bottles.
SGP:740 - around 85 points.

Hold on, we found a new bottle of Heering!

Heering (24%, OB, cherry brandy, Denmark, +/-2020)

Heering (24%, OB, cherry brandy, Denmark, +/-2020) Two stars
Let's do this quickly, this is not a cherry brandy session… Colour: purple mahogany or something. Nose: more on only cherries and no pipe tobacco this time. Pretty nice but you'd rather feel that it's better to pour this over vanilla cream… Mouth: is this thick! Indeed it is pure cherry liqueur, extremely sweet, and reminiscent of what we call guignolet here in France. It's good because I love cherry flavours, but I doubt you could actually quaff this like this, at room temperature. Finish: extremely sugary. Eating a very large bag of candied cherries. Comments: I suppose this was meant to be a 'component'. For a cherry spritzer? The old one was on another planet but then again, that may have been the mysterious wonders of OBE. That also explains why high-street mixologists and baristas have been so busy looking for old bottles of liqueurs for a good decade or two…
SGP:920 - around 70 points.

Good, since we're doing cherries, so to speak, let's switch to maraschino, another favourite descriptor of mine…

Maraschino Originale Luxardo (32%, OB, Italy, +/-2018)

Maraschino Originale Luxardo (32%, OB, Italy, +/-2018) Three stars
A liqueur made out of marasca cherries and, apparently, Luxardo's most famous product. As I understand it they would let those cherries macerate in neutral alcohol, then distil it all to a spirit, which they'll then bring down to 32% using sugared water. Colour: white. Nose: absolutely not only on cherries, rather herbal and earthy, with notes of bitter almonds and chestnut husk. Touches of fennel, salsify, turnips, caraway… Blind you would have said some herbal liqueur. Mouth: there, this is rounder and sweeter, and indeed a little more on cherries, but it's got nothing to do with the stuffy Heering. A little ginger, aniseed, fennel, liquorice… And perhaps aquavit. Sloe as well, prunella… I find it very nice; I'd have just preferred it with a little less sugar. As always. Finish: medium, rather clean, sugary, but pretty complex. Roots and almondy cherries. Comments: I would quaff this, really, preferably in a glass that had been quickly chilled in the freezer.
SGP:740 - around 80 points.

Each and every time we're trying to do some freewheeling session we end up with order and logic. I hate that, but let's get over it with some… Kirsch a.k.a. Kirschwasser.

Kirsch d'Alsace Bertrand (45%, OB, France, +/-2015)

Kirsch d'Alsace Bertrand (45%, OB, France, +/-2015) Four stars
A great distillery located in Uberach, in the north of Alsace. That's where our friends also make the whisky Uberach and their famous Bierski. Good stuff and great master distiller. Colour: white. Nose: some obvious parentage with the maraschino, with a similar almondy side and some rooty earthiness, while the cherries themselves have not been very aromatic. Better like this if you ask me, the spirit remains elegant and even distinguished. Good kirsch should never be a cherry bomb! Mouth: indeed, a very grassy, leafy Kirsch, not on the fruits at all, rather on tobacco, olives, almonds, and just various roots. There's even a little salty liquorice in the background. Finish: medium and even more on olives, which remains surprising. Lovely rooty aftertaste. Comments: a great Kirsch, just not for tourists, if you see what I mean. Great work, Bertrand.
SGP:362 - around 85 points.

Too bad no one's distilling olives, unless I'm wrong again; don't worry, we won't try olive oil… Oh wait, when there's a will there's way… rummage rummage… See what we've found!...

Olia del Garda Marzadro (40%, OB, Italy, +/-2019)

Olia del Garda Marzadro (40%, OB, Italy, +/-2019) Three stars
I had almost forgotten I had this! It is 'Liquore de Olive in Grappa', that is to say olives cold-infused in grappa, an old recipe from the Lago di Garda.  Colour: mahogany. Nose: I don't know, aniseed? Limoncello? Aquavit again? I'm not sure I'm finding the olives and neither am I finding the grappa, but it's most possibly not a drink to nose. Mouth: indeed it is a kind of herbal liqueur, in the style of Jägermeister, only a tad bitterer and grittier, which may come from those olives. No wait, the olives really come out after fifteen seconds, bringing even more bitterness. I would suppose you could season a great pizza using this instead of chilli oil. Finish: long and with even more notes of olives, so actually even more bitterness. It's basically become a bitter, I'm should it would work a treat in some Italia-style bitter cocktails. Notes of green walnuts in the aftertaste. Comments: this one really grew on me, too bad there's a little too much sugar. I'll have to drive to the Lago di Garda in the spring, it's not too far from Alsace! Took its time but a very good surprise.
SGP:680 - around 80 points.

What's next?... We've mentioned aniseed a few minutes ago, so let's have… anis.

Pontarlier-Anis Armand Guy (45%, OB, France, +/-2015)

Pontarlier-Anis Armand Guy (45%, OB, France, +/-2015) Four stars
Whenever anyone thinks pastis, it's Provence that springs to your mind, cicadas (kss-kss-kss-kss), the Mediterranean, Bardot (what?), Lambos, rosé, and pastis. Except that the original capital city of 'pastis' is located in Jura and is called Pontarlier. Not a city as sexy s St. Tropez indeed, but they've always been great distillers and liquorists down there, south of Alsace. Armand Guy, for example, is a great house and a favourite in the house (in swimming season). We'll have it neat but in theory, you should add water. They say only drunks drink pastis neat, but there, this is for the cause… Colour: light green yellow. Nose: you cannot not think of absinth. This has more aniseed than southern pastis, and probably less liquorice. Very bright, pure, almost refreshing on the nose. Oh by the way, it's said that this was originally absinth and that they just took wormwood out of the recipe when absinth got verboten, in the early 1920s. Mouth: it feels a little strange to drink this neat but it is good, without any obvious ethanol or cheapish alcohols, and rather more on mint and lemon, beyond all the aniseed. Lemongrass. Finish: long and to be honest, you would start to have the feeling of having just eaten a tube of toothpaste. Comments: right, you should rather add 10% water. Come on, 50%. No, 200%! But it is a very great 'anis', believe me.
SGP:580 - around 85 points.

Too much logic again…

Oyzo (40%, Greece, +/-2010)

Oyzo (40%, Greece, +/-2010) Two stars
One that I brought back from Athens quite a while ago. Basically and as I understand it, oyzo/ouzo is pastis made by civilised people. Should be drunk with water, but… you know, our common cause… Colour: white. Nose: much lighter than the Pontarlier, perhaps a little more on caraway beyond the aniseed, otherwise neat and fine, pleasant, with a little earth, cardamom… Mouth: closer to some traditional pastis, Pernod, Ricard and such. Good, simple, rather on liquorice indeed, with touches of peppermint. Feels like holidays… Finish: same. A tad ethanoly now. Comments: simple but very all right! Sir, may I order a moussaka?
SGP:370 - around 75 points.

Love aniseed but you cannot have too much, let's move on… Perhaps with something that's extremely uncommon in France and yet that we sometimes mention in our tasting notes?

Gold-Marillenbrand Bailoni (40%, OB, Austria, +/-2020)

Gold-Marillenbrand Bailoni (40%, OB, Austria, +/-2020) Three stars
From Wachau, home to many great rieslings! We don't make a lot of Marillen/apricot eau-de-vie in France because of all the prussic acid that's located in the stones, while if you distil apricots without their stones, you would get a pretty dull and perfume-like spirit. I suppose the trick is to keep only a part of the stones. Well, in theory… Colour: white. Nose: not an easy spirit, it's a tad sour and with whiffs of Brussels sprouts and quite a lot of varnish, but the fruits are there in the background. Wine gums, apricot jam… Those would then take over, which is just lovely. Love, love apricots! Mouth: an acquired taste at first because of the sour vegetables that are there again, and because of all the varnish that blends with some liquorice, but once again the apricots (preserved or as jam) would then come in and just take over. Funny two-step eau-de-vie. Finish: same. Loads of liquorice in the aftertaste, not too sure where that came from. From the stones? Comments: good fun. Many things from Wachau are; like, Pichler…
SGP:571 - 80 points.

Why not try to find something around that fabulous combo that would be oranges and chocolate? Like in those Jaffa cakes that I often mention… Or Sabra liqueur from Israel, why not…

Sabra Liqueur (30%, OB, Israel, +/-2010)

Sabra Liqueur (30%, OB, Israel, +/-2010)
An older bottle, I just cannot remember where it came from as I've never been to Israel, which I regret. Covid doesn't help. Some friends brought it, probably; hey and 'the bottle design is based on a 2,000-year-old Phoenician wine flask found in a Tel Aviv museum'. You always need stories. As for the name Sabra, it's a bit grim, really, but I would suppose they came up with this brand name way before those very sad events. Colour: deep coffee. Nose: bitter cocoa, coffee, sandalwood, eucalyptus, duck sausages (really) and tar. A little weird, I'm not finding any oranges. Mouth: bizarre but a little better than on the nose. A lot of chocolate (cold hot chocolate), and a whacky menthol and eucalyptus combo. Some kind of extreme cough syrup. Finish: pretty long, unexpectedly meaty, with something Mexican (mole). Ginger liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: another glass-wrecker, not quite my thing. Sure it's 'very different' but I'm not sure chocolate is easy to handle. Feels like medicinal chocolate. They have much better drinks in Israel, such as some wines and most certainly M&H's lovely whiskies. But please don't do a finishing in ex-Sabra casks!
SGP:770 - around 40 points.

Good, a last one, let's make it a funny one. We do mention honey all the time, don't we? But we won't try mead or chouchens or else, we'll try this…

St-Rémy Liqueur au Miel (30%, OB, France, +/-2018)

St-Rémy Liqueur au Miel (30%, OB, France, +/-2018)
Made with honey from Provence, they say. If they say so… Looks like this is made by Rémy-Cointreau, which would make sense according to the name. To be honest, the brand is virtually unknown in France, but it seems that it's big elsewhere. On Facebook they claim that 'St-Rémy is the world's favourite and most prestigious French brandy'. I say sorry, but nope. Colour: gold. Nose: fermenting honey, while that's a little uncommon as most honeys wouldn't ferment this easily. Otherwise honey sweets. Fine, but I would prefer HP's heather honeys, for example, or the honeys you would find in a good old '72 Speysider. Mouth: meady. A rather strange, uncertain, somewhat hot liqueur that's rather geared towards the cheapest of all Sauternes. Some sweetness. Better drink Sauternes. Finish: better drink Sauternes. Comments: better drink Sauternes. Love honey but this is disappointing and, what's more, a little vulgar. To think that Rémy also own those superb drinks named Hautes-Glaces, Bruichladdich, Westland or Mount Gay! But honey's extremely difficult to handle. I know, I've tried, I've still got the many bottles in my garage.
SGP:630 - around 30 points.

That's twenty, auf Wiedersehen.


February 11, 2022


Bastards and Chimeras

They might be good, but we don't know what they are. Beef or horsemeat?
Drawing of a chimera by Jacopo Ligozzi (circa 1600) ->

Compass Box 'Generosity' (51.9%, LMDW, blended grain, Artist #11 Pentalogy, 630 bottles)

Compass Box 'Generosity' (51.9%, LMDW, blended grain, Artist #11 Pentalogy, 630 bottles) Two stars
I mean, the label is stunning, but-they-have-blended-grain-whiskies! Remember grain is malt for vegans, as we sometimes say. Nothing against vegans, no need to add. Colour: light gold. Nose: touches of varnish, marshmallows, vodka, wiper fluid and that's it. Maize bread. With water: chamomile tea, sugarcane syrup, more sweet corn. Mouth (neat): no, sweet, thin, sugary. Not sure Haig Club is not bigger. With water: saccharose and stewed beets. Finish: short and ultra-thin. Comments: sure it is eminently drinkable and even kind of good, but so, our dearest friends in Paris and London decided to call this bottle 'Generosity'? Was it a late-Friday Zoom meeting? Not for 'Malt Maniacs', in any case, we pass this time, let's just remember that the others in this series are pretty splendid...
SGP:720 - 70 points.

A Speyside Distillery 12 yo 2008/2021 (55.2%, The Whisky Exchange, sherry hogshead, cask #4, 244 bottles)

A Speyside Distillery 12 yo 2008/2021 (55.2%, The Whisky Exchange, sherry hogshead, cask #4, 244 bottles) Five stars
Another very problematic bottling. Mind you, we've got boxes of whiskies labelled as either 'A Speyside Distillery' or 'Speyside Distillery'. That's all fine and well, but how could you be really sure? We haven't been trying any whiskies from the 'Speyside Distillery' for ages, just because of those uncertainties, but I promise we'll work on those issues. Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Colour: amber. Nose: fruit purée, coffee liqueur, caramel and toffee, glazed chestnuts, drop of Bovril, treacle, black raisins, chocolate… This is furiously 'GF' if you ask me. The sherry was perfect. With water: a little metal, polish, pipe tobacco, dried morels, truffles, black chocolate, espresso… Mouth (neat): extremely good, reminding me of the best old batches of the '105'. Salty, soupy sherry, salted prunes and umami sauce, things like that. Roasted raisins 'of course'. With water: perfect as long as you do not add too much H2O. Malt, coffee and chocolate. Finish: long, perfect. Liqueur-filled chocolates and malt extract. Comments: prototypical 'sherry monster'. Keep some bottles for around the year 2050.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Blended Scotch 11 yo (55.1%, Watt Whisky, for Whiskyrestaurant De Cluysenaer, 236 bottles, 2021)

Blended Scotch 11 yo (55.1%, Watt Whisky, for Whiskyrestaurant De Cluysenaer, 236 bottles, 2021) Four stars
A whisky restaurant? May we book a table for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights? Colour: light gold. Nose: impeccable oily blend, with rather a lot of grain, seemingly, but also with some good malts that are minding the shop here. Cakes, roasted nuts  toasted brioche, scones, pancakes, all that. Classic. With water: milk chocolate and whiffs of burning church candles. Hallelujah. Mouth (neat): hey, this is maltier and bitterer. Stouts and ales, gingerbread, orange wine, Jägermeister… With water: the best part, some tight bitter-orangey jams and cinnamon mints, plus Greek retsina wine. Some molasses 'honey' in the background. They call that honey in South America but it is not honey (I mean, honey made by bees – we love bees at Château WF, we even own hives!) Finish: long, on gingerbread and speculoos. Bitterer herbs in the aftertaste. Tarragon. Comments: a blend made with malts in mind. Lots happening in there.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Jura & Dailuaine 12 yo (46%, Douglas Laing, Double Barrel, +/-2020)

Jura & Dailuaine 12 yo (46%, Douglas Laing, Double Barrel, +/-2020) Four stars
Two casks from two different distilleries, fifty-fifty, a concept developed for D.L. around 20 or 25 years ago by a famous rather diminutive and very modest whisky expert. Sadly, we've never seen Lagavulin & Laphroaig, or Clynelish & Pulteney, or Springbank & Ben Nevis, or even Tobermory & Glenturret. Not to mention Dickel & Daniel's… So, tja, Jura & Dailuaine… Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty nice, in truth, very oily, waxy, a little buttery as well… Beeswax and dandelions with paraffin and mashed potatoes. At this point, I bow! Mouth: let's be honest, this is nice. The two pretty wacky malts seem to tango rather well, with a dry mustardy development that would lead us to walnuts and manzanilla. Almost very good. Finish: pretty long, salty, with even more walnuts and raw/farmy wholegrain bread. Comments: once more, I'm hoisted with my own petard, as I do enjoy this dry and bitter composition rather a lot. Hat off (yeah right).
SGP:362 - 85 points.

The Perspective Series 21 yo 'N°1' (43%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, blended Scotch, 6,300 bottles, 2019)

The Perspective Series 21 yo 'N°1' (43%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, blended Scotch, 6,300 bottles, 2019) Four stars
I'm glad we haven't tasted this one yet, that means that we can taste it now (wow, Epicure! We're all impressed, S.) Colour: gold. Nose: good chardonnay and cut flowers, custard, white chocolate (that's the grain, grrr) and chamomile tea (the other manzanilla). I'm reminded of an old Hankey Bannister that was just superb. Sorry, just a private comment. Mouth: I'd swear Glenlivet is leading the pack here. Great floral and honeyed unfolding, pastries in abundance, nougat, and a very minimal grain influence. Perhaps this popcorn? Finish: medium and much more on herbal teas, chamomile upfront, then verbena and just green tea. Comments: a little light, but as a consequence, you may drink more of it (but Serge, this is 2022!) Seriously, very very good and very fairly priced. A bottle for all our friends (when we don't feel like bringing out Clynelish 1972).
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Compass Box 'Magic Cask' (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 5538 bottles, 2020)

Compass Box 'Magic Cask' (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 5538 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Oh my, how cluttered was this label? In any case, the wording 'Magic Cask' surely reminds us of Dominique Laurent's works in Burgundy. Or of The Who, but that was 'The Magic Bus'. Oh and I believe the price was insane, given that it's just another no-age-stated blended malt. Colour: straw. Nose: I know this is Imperial-led, and indeed that feels, with a slightly waxier apple/orange combo, soft breads and puréed peaches and apples, beeswax and pollen, then some softer curries and a touch of pinewood. Are these the 'magic casks'? Mouth: I like the fresh 'naked' Imperials better, but this is very good too, for sure. Green apples and beeswax, bananas, heather honey, wee waxes, almost plasticine… It's the texture that's most impressive, but some green/grassy woodiness makes it all a little spicy/gritty. Finish: long, spicy and grassy indeed. Comments: great, great drop but if I may, and I sure don't know much about these issues, are we sure those casks were truly 'magic' indeed?
SGP:561 - 85 points.

February 10, 2022


More traveling around the world
What's rather incredible is not the sheer number of new distilleries that are starting production everywhere in the world, it's the fact that many make good, or even very good whisky. And guess what, they do not even all use 'Pedro's wood'! As usual, we'll start this new little trip from France. I almost wrote bonnie France.

Artesia 'Limited Edition Sherry' (45%, OB, T.O.S. Distillerie, France, LMDW Conquête, 1300 bottles)

Artesia 'Limited Edition Sherry' (45%, OB, T.O.S. Distillerie, France, LMDW Conquête, 1300 bottles) Four stars
This new wee distillery is located in the Pas-de-Calais, in the far north of France. It's the first time I'm trying their whisky. Rather funnily, they name it 'pur malt' whilst it's well a single, I suppose good old fashions keep working. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a few raisins, leaves, cherries and green walnuts at first, so a rather oloroso-y start, without any rubber (many ex-sherry new cats have a little rubber in my book, all over the world). Some flowers then, broom, a nice wee sucrosity (muscovado), some oranges, our friend the panettone, orange blossom, early grey, tarte tatin, milk chocolate… In short this works very well, it's pretty rounded, easy and well balanced. Mouth: very surprising, you would almost believe this is some 12-year-old Speysider. This time there is a wee touch of rubber beyond the leaves and herbal teas, but that's absolutely not a problem. Good marmalade, chouchous (roasted caramelised peanuts), sweet malt, manuka honey, pecan pie, praline… Finish: medium, sweet, with more muscovado sugar and roasted nuts. Comments: impeccable whisky, I can't wait to try their 'natural' expression. Oh and LMDW have always been tireless trailblazers, have they not.
SGP:551 – 85 points.

Let's take our favourite submarine and sail towards Dowmnunda…

Fleurieu 3 yo (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Australia, 260 bottles)

Fleurieu 3 yo (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Australia, 260 bottles) Four stars
Another distillery I had just never heard of before. I'm starting to get worried… This wee one is located on the Fleurieu Peninsula, in the south, not far from our good friend Craig's (who lives in Adelaide). Colour: deep gold. Nose: this is much more fermentary, slightly acetic, with some Swiss cheese and sour soups (miso and suchlike), all things that I enjoy a lot. I'm almost about to mention umami, also fermenting fruits (melon), cow stable, and just a box of cigars. In the background, the usual panettone, grazie mille. Mouth: the wood might be a tad too loud, but all the roasted pecans and sesame, as well as these glutamate-y, fermentary notes are just perfect, if you're not against modern whisky. Other than that, marmalade, caraway, juniper and liquorice. Finish: long, frankly spicy, peppery, perhaps going into overload. A little too much for me, loses a good two points here. Pepper, eggplant and rubber plus overcooked coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: loved it, despite the finish. Agreed, you could always have another sip right before the finish, but that's a dangerous practice.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

To Finland (I know, no logics here)…

Teerenpeli 'Aura' (43%, OB, Finland, Porter wood, 426 bottles, +/-2021)

Teerenpeli 'Aura' (43%, OB, Finland, Porter wood, 426 bottles, +/-2021) Three stars
Aren't we seeing more ex-porter beer casks these days? Any clues why? Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty dry, with some wholegrain bread and some wood tar, charcoal, then a few herbs such as lovage and sage. Caraway bread and lemon seeds. What I really enjoy is that there would be roasted pistachios and almonds in the background. Solid nose at 43% vol. Mouth: good, if a tad oaky here and there. All this breadiness manages to float, there are also touches of fir honey, honeydew, a wee hoppy side (is that the porter? I know zilch about beers, I'm not even sure they add hops to the porters.) Some bonbons too, pear drops… Finish: medium, dry, with notes of lime zest and juniper. The aftertaste is a little bitter but the aftertaste of the aftertaste has good fruit drops. Comments: rather more to my liking than I remembered from earlier 'flagship' Teerenpelis, but my staunch belief is that you cannot quite reduce this much whiskies that are pretty oak-driven, that would usually bring out cardboard and over-steeped tea. We'll have many more Teerenpelis in the near future, I've already taken tiny sips and several seem to be in a higher league. So, see you soon Teerenpeli.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Since we're in Finland…

Valamo Monastery Distillery 5 yo 2011/2016 (55.1%, OB, Finland, for VYS, 1st fill bourbon hogsheads, 725 bottles)

Valamo Monastery Distillery 5 yo 2011/2016 (55.1%, OB, Finland, for VYS, 1st fill bourbon hogsheads, 725 bottles) Three stars and a half
Another first on little WF. More holy whisky! This seems to be made by true orthodox monks but they seem to be making many other kinds of drinks, including… wine? I suppose that's not grape wine, is it? Mind you, the monastery is located a few hundred kilometres north of Helsinki.  Colour: white wine. Nose: nice, classic custard, butterscotch, shortbread and cappuccino. With water: few changes. Pancakes, chicory coffee, whiffs of beetroots… Mouth (neat): indeed, classic young malt whisky, well made, with a spicy backbone (caraway, nutmeg, paprika) behind a smoother, oily development on more custard, banana foam, williams pear liqueur (rather a lot – do our friends the monks make that too?) and just Stolle. The spices would tend to take over. With water: swims well, tends to become citrusy, tighter, also fresher. A few jelly babies and beans and bears and crocodiles. We even have jelly Jesuses down here, mind you. Finish: medium, clean, rather fresh. No excessive quercus. A piney touch in the aftertaste. Comments: if I ever find myself in the neighbourhood, I'll go say a few prayers – and check those intriguing wines.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

I insist, higher strengths always work better with these young whiskies. Let's try find another example in Finland…

Kyrö x VYS (56.3%, OB, Finland, for VYS, rye malt, 300 bottles, 2020)

Kyrö x VYS (56.3%, OB, Finland, for VYS, rye malt, 300 bottles, 2020) Four stars
'Packed with bold flavours and wild ideas', they say. We cannot not applaud that, but a vintage statement would be even wilder! VYS seems to be an acronym for 'Viskin Ystävien Seura', which seems to be some kind of entity that's all about whisky. We say bravo. Oh, almost forgot to say, we totally loved BB&R's Kyrö last year (WF 87). Colour: full gold. Nose: malted rye has become the Lamborghini of whisky, has it not. Fast, unlikely, often fragile, and ridiculously lovable. Breads and breads and breads, plus seeds and seeds and seeds. Poppy, caraway, fennel, sesame, pine nuts, pumpkin seed… Plus some new rubber, scuba suit, cheap new plastic items straight from Wish's (don't touch that)… Long story short, love, love, love this nose. With water: plus butterscotch. A fistful of Werther's Originals. Mouth (neat): a little LOL, in a good way. Pinewood dust, chewing new rubber bands, myrtle liqueur, cloves, masala, dried porcini… I believe this one will never let us alone. With water: cologne and lavender sweets, plus all what was already in there. Finish: long, spicier, with a wood that's starting to feel. Bitter oranges and curry in the aftertaste. Comments: right up my avenue, but the oak was a tad loud for me in the end, otherwise we would have gone even 'higher'. Crazy Finns.
SGP:372 - 87 points.

Arbutus 'Double Barrel Batch #1' (40%, OB, Canada, +/-2021)

Arbutus 'Double Barrel Batch #1' (40%, OB, Canada, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Indeed, we haven't quite changed latitude, but we have changed continent. This is said to be 3 yo, including a few months in charred virgin oak. They say that was 'char #4', and of course, we're in British Columbia, having said that I would say bottling at 40% vol. is a little bold. Colour: gold. Nose: mellow breads, soft spices, pumpernickel and all-grain breads, whiffs of leek, gingerbread and speculoos, some vanilla, some sourdough, some maize bread… Mouth: nasi or bami goreng, a little caramel, Thai basil, goulash, all that on a thinnish base. I believe these very young whiskies just cannot be bottled at 40% vol. This one is doing pretty well, but we're at the limits. A curious, and pleasant saltiness in the background. Finish: short to medium, on cinnamon rolls and some spicy sawdust. Comments: not my business of course, but I'm dead sure this would be structurally pretty brilliant at 45/46% vol.
SGP:361 - 79 points.

Lohin McKinnon 'Central City' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021)

Lohin McKinnon 'Central City' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021) Four stars
We're in B.C. once more, which we find very cool. Colour: white wine. Nose: soft and easy, on pancakes, a little maple syrup, prickly pear juice, bubblegum and just pear juice. This baby reminds me of earlier batches of Tyrconnell (which weren't single malts yet, if my memory serves me well). Mouth: simply very good, easy, soft, fruity, with an oily mouth feel, more marshmallows and bubblegum, candy floss, sunflower oil, some vanilla from the oak, tiny touches of grated coconut, macaroons (we called them Congolese cookies but that'll get cancelled soon, I'm sure - hey we'll call them British Columbians then!)… Finish: medium, easy, fruity, sweet, good. Touch of oak in the aftertaste. Comments: probably very young and certainly very smart. Is that you, Mr Mike?
SGP:641 - 85 points.

Lohin McKinnon 'Central City - Peated' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021)

Lohin McKinnon 'Central City - Peated' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: starts similarly, gets then funnily medicinal, with some kinds of smoked embrocations, Diesel oil, old boat on Islay (I suppose they have the same in British Columbia), coal tar and just 'an old British engine'. Some new rubber as well. We shall not mention new SM outfits, no we shan't. Mouth: no no no… It's not quite the same thing on the palate, we're rather reminded of the weaker Ardmores now. In other words, either there's too much peat/smoke, or there isn't enough. The 43%% vol. don't help either. Finish: kind of long, smoky and rubbery, with some sugar in the aftertaste, which doesn't quite help. Comments: don't get me wrong, it's a fine peater, but I prefer them with more oomph.
SGP:455 - 78 points.

Since we're there…

Lohin McKinnon 'Central City - Chocolate' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021)

Lohin McKinnon 'Central City - Chocolate' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021) Four stars
This one's made out of roasted chocolate malt and was matured in Sauternes wood. Have they really shipped empty Sauternes barriques to British Columbia? Via Panama or Suez? Colour: white wine. Nose: hold on, this is rather magnificent. Immensely fresh, with honeysuckle and fresh williams pears, then fennel and elderflowers. Emphasis on elderflowers! Perhaps jujubes, as well as acacia blossom. Love this nose. Mouth: I'm a fan, it's got cocoa, gentian, mezcal, beets, celeriac, tapioca, polenta and elderflower syrup again… A very unusual drop, extremely good, singular, unseen and pleasurable. Exactly what someone who's already tried a few hundred whiskies (over many years) needs. Finish: medium, perfect, earthy and rooty. I'll need to try to blend gentian and elderberry – and get the proportions right! And then find a name… Comments: superb drop, I wasn't expecting this.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

(Thank you very much, Henrik!)


February 9, 2022


Little Duos, today Scapa OB vs. semi-OB

Scapa is Pernod-Ricard's Orkney malt. I find that the name was a tad more prominent ten or twenty years ago, but that may just be a wrong impression.
Did you know that Sapa was also a fashion brand? Indeed, just like Brora (cashmeres).

Scapa 'Glansa' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Scapa 'Glansa' (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
With an NAS at 40% vol., we don't speak much. It seems that this is finished in ex-peaty-malt casks, which is just in-cask blending in our book. They should call these (many do that these days) blended malts, no? Colour: gold. Nose: there, naturally, this rather works, with a feeling of Ardmore and some rather lovely whiffs of meadow flowers and lighter compost. I'm even finding notes of fino sherry (that mineral smoke) and fermented plums. Oh and bandages and ointments in the background. Mouth: a blended malt, rather on smoked coffee, with some cigar ashes and, once again, a rather smoky kind of sherry. We're extremely far from Scapa's light honeyed floralness, but indeed it's a fine drop. Good blended malt. Finish: I'm also finding a little mustard in this fine blended malt. More fino, that's great. Comments: congrats to the blenders, very fine piece of work. At 46% vol., this well-crafted in-cask blended malt would be a killer. And then, again, who am I.
SGP:364 - 84 points.

And now, exactly the opposite…

Scapa 24 yo 1993/2018 (61.2%, La Distillerie Générale, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #963, 1164 bottles)

Scapa 24 yo 1993/2018 (61.2%, La Distillerie Générale, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #963, 1164 bottles) Five stars
These are wee 37.5cl bottles. La Distillerie Générale is Pernod, they also do cognacs within this range, for example, but always only their own makes. Not unlike what, for example, UD did with the Rare Malts. Yeah, right, there was no cognacs withing the Rare Malts range, but you get the picture, please stop quibbling ;-). Colour: amber. Nose: hold on, this is brilliant. Millionaire shortbread, Mars bars, plain caramel and Golden Grahams. Superb, even at 61% vol. With water: sultanas, dried jujubes, rambutans, figs, then concrete, fumes, engine oil, more Mars bars, chocolate, hoisin sauce… This is magnificent indeed. Mouth (neat): dazzling petroly sherry, with stunning miso and chicken stock. But then again, 61% vol…. With water: brilliant walnut wine, soups, stocks, ashes, paraffin and polishes, bouillons, some tar… Finish: long, with the same descriptors plus something both more medicinal and more on rancio. Comments: brilliant, but careful with your pipette and your H2O (and forget about spoons), it would drop out rather abruptly and become too dry and tea-ish. Otherwise, it's a real glorious old-school sherry monster and certainly my favourite Scapa from the last few years.
SGP:561 - 92 points.

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


February 8, 2022


More funny whiskies from the rest of the world
Aye. Funny ones only.

La Piautre 13 yo 2017/2021 (47%, Dumangin & Fils, France, ratafia champenois finish, batch 014, 345 bottles)

La Piautre 13 yo 2017/2021 (47%, Dumangin & Fils, France, ratafia champenois finish, batch 014, 345 bottles) Four stars
La Piautre are brewers in Maine-et-Loire, near the city of Angers, and have started making whisky too a few years ago. To me this is a first. As for Dumangin, we've already tried some very good Craigellachie, Bushmills and Cooley grain, all finished in ratafia casks by them. Colour: full gold. Nose: summer-season Comté cheese, proper Gruyère, Fribourg, or any such very awesome cheeses in their fruitiest versions. A little gunpowder too, metal polish, then sultanas and figs to calm this down, just before a floral side would appear, with gorse, dandelions, and just wisteria and jasmine. I would happily mention hops too but that could be just because I know this is a brewer's whisky. Gets extremely floral after five minutes. Mouth: no cheese this time, rather many roasted nuts, a little burnt cake and bread, plus a little sour yoghurt, with bits of oranges. What we sometimes call 'Greek yoghurt'. Ends up very dry and somewhat amontillado-y. Finish: long, on some kind of spiced marmalade and indeed, dry sherry or even Madeira. A little mustard in the aftertaste, as well as very green walnuts, bordering bitterness. . Comments: great fun here. I suppose I now have to try to put my hands on some 'La Piautre' whisky.
SGP:451 - 85 points.


Off to Wales…

Aber Falls 'Inaugural Release' (46%, OB, Wales, 2000 bottles, 2021)

Aber Falls 'Inaugural Release' (46%, OB, Wales, 2000 bottles, 2021) Three stars
We're now in Abergwyngregy, in an ancient margarine factory. It is a single malt. Colour: gold. Nose: a very soft, almost peat-like smokiness plus a whole teapot of earl grey, as well as orange blossom water and, naturalmente, panettone and its little brother fresh Alsatian kougelhopf. A little custard too, plus honeysuckle in full bloom. Springtime in your glass (I was about to write 'in your tulip glass'.) Mouth: closer to some American malts than to Scotch, but that may be the youth. A rye-like spiciness, some cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger from the wood, then leaves and a funny touch of radish and cress. It seems that some pretty active wood's been in use, it's even a little oxidative, not unlike a young oloroso. Finish: rather long, a little mustardy. More nutmeg as well. Comments: a pretty good start, I would say. Ready for the Six-Nation (the rugby version).
SGP:361 - 82 points.


Since we're in Abergwyngregy…

Aber Falls 'Autumn 2021 Release' (40%, OB, Wales)

Aber Falls 'Autumn 2021 Release' (40%, OB, Wales) Two stars and a half
Bottling this at 40% vol., that's a little bold. This baby matured in oloroso, Pedro Ximénez, bourbon, and virgin oak. As long as they don't call it 'Four Wood'…  Colour: gold. Nose: lighter but brighter, fresher, flowery and fruity, with some chamomile tea and indeed honeysuckle and orange blossom. Probably also elderflowers, then just pears. Lovely big fat ripe butter pears. Mouth: closer to that inaugural release but also fresher indeed, fruitier (apples, plums, also palm heart), just a tad thin indeed, especially given the wood regime. Finish: shortish, first on fudge and mirabelles, and then oak spices and oversteeped tea in the aftertaste. Comments: the nose won some points but the finish lost them all. I've often noticed that oak-boosted young whiskies weren't easy to reduce down to 40/43 or sometimes even 46, and would often get tea-ish and drying.
SGP:451 - 79 points.


To Sweden…

Mackmyra 'Grönt Te' (46.1%, OB, Sweden, 16,000 bottles, +/-2021)

Mackmyra 'Grönt Te' (46.1%, OB, Sweden, 16,000 bottles, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Imagine this has been finished for almost two years in ex-green tea liqueur casks! They've done it, gentian is near… (I hope). Colour: gold. Nose: good fun. Many sour berries and other small fruits, some curious touches of sake or even umeshu, some toasted bread with a cream-cheese spread, caraway, gingerbread, and, no… this is not possible… should be my mind playing tricks on me (yet again)… gentian! And celeriac eau-de-vie. An extremely intriguing sour/earthy nose. Mouth: a little on spicy oak, as we had expected, and rather on plum liqueur, instead of that 'green tea' side that's sometimes to be found in young ex-re-re-re-fill grassy Speysiders (looking at you, Cadenhead). Notes of prickly pears, apple peeling, green pears, chlorophyl… Well, we're all suffering from synaesthesia in some way, are we not. The word 'green/grönt' alone automatically leads to green descriptors if you're not careful. Why not pink grapefruits? Finish: medium, a tad drying and… teaish. Ooh my head. Comments: great fun there. It's not that green.
SGP:451 - 83 points.


To Israel…

Milk & Honey 2018/2021 (53.2%, OB, Israel, 7K Members Holy Dram, peated porter beer cask finish, cask #2018-0909, 234 bottles)

Milk & Honey 2018/2021 (53.2%, OB, Israel, 7K Members Holy Dram, peated porter beer cask finish, cask #2018-0909, 234 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: smoked bread! Someone's kept some white bread in the trunk of a rusty old Jaguar for a whole day. What's absolutely wonderful here are all the tiny herbs and berries that the treatment's generated (not the Jaguar, the porter cask). Mistletoe and myrtle, cactus, tomato leaves, fig leaves, gin/juniper, artichoke liqueur, Fernet-Branca… Once again, good fun. With water: it would become earthier, fresher as well, more citrusy too, with only a drop of fennel liqueur. Do you know fennel liqueur? Mouth (neat): punchy and tight, with some sweeter horseradish and yuzu, plus roots. Wild carrots and celeriac, shall we say, plus a little tar. The peat, I suppose. With water: more bitterness, more leafiness, more bitter marmalade, artichokes, and just a touch of bitter tobacco. I enjoy this kind of bitterness. Finish: long, very leafy. Eggplant and Brussels sprouts. Smoked meats in the aftertaste. Comments: this one's a wrestler, you won't tame it just like that. Forgot to mention broccoli (I am joking).
SGP:362 - 85 points.


Perhaps to Japan again?

Mars 2016/2021 'Tsunuki Shinshu Aging' (60%, OB, Japan, for LMDW, Conquête, first fill bourbon, cask #3496, 210 bottles)

Mars 2016/2021 'Tsunuki Shinshu Aging' (60%, OB, Japan, for LMDW, Conquête, first fill bourbon, cask #3496, 210 bottles) Five stars
I'll say it again, I understand just zilch about the classification and naming they're using at Mars's, all I know is that the whiskies are often superb. All right, all right, this was distilled at Tsunuki, then matured at Shinshu. And finally tasted in Turckheim, Alsace (pff…) Colour: white wine. Nose: purely on a fresh baguette around 5:30am. Millimetric, ultra-tight, high-precision eau-de-vie de barley aged in first-choice ex-bourbon wood. With water: grist, dough and chalk, plus granny smith. Mouth (neat): very minimal, this is almost barley on barley, as in Malevich's White on White. I imagine you can't quite make simpler, more perfect malt whisky. With water: citrus coming out. Only grapefruits, in fact, this baby remains very minimal. Finish: long, on barley, grapefruit, chalk and green apples. Comments: a sublime ultra-pure, minimal, almost binary malt whisky, with a lot of genuine Japanness.
SGP:451 - 90 points.


PX, new oak, ratafia, green tea, smoked beer… And pure ex-bourbon. Good fun indeed today.


February 7, 2022


Little Duos, today Balblair
medium-aged vs. old

Lovely Distillery, on the way to Brora (kind of). We've had some lovely time up there, especially when those stunning official 1966s and 1969 that they were having were still available for a price of, ach, well, £100. Lovely people, at that. We love to try Balblair.


Balblair 17 yo (46%, OB, travel retail, +/-2020)

Balblair 17 yo (46%, OB, travel retail, +/-2020) Four stars
This one was finished in ex-Spanish oak sherry wood, a rather Glendronachian set-up. Let's see if it hasn't lost a part of its usual fruity and floral brightness. Colour: gold, surprisingly pale given that it was sherried-up. Nose: walnuts and bitter almonds a bit in the way at first, but it's soon to go through to the pastry hall, with some nougat and macaroons (that almondy side again), plus really a lot of marzipan, turon and just sesame oil. Fruit Loops, also quite some beeswax. Awesome nose, I think. Mouth: a little bit on the spicy side this time, and that's possibly the Spanish oak. Moves towards speculoos and gingerbread liqueurs (indeed, some folks make ans sell gingerbread liqueur), with also good pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom powder, then we have zests and bitter orange marmalade. What you won't find and which was in those old Balblairs I was mentioning are tropical fruits. Or perhaps just banana skins? Finish: rather long, spicy and almondy. A tiny touch of rose jelly or Turkish delight in the aftertaste, but don't quote me on that. Comments: a slightly intermediate Balblair, which I find very good even if I would tend to like the brighter ones a little better.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Balblair 33 yo 1988/2021 (54.4%, OB for LMDW, bourbon, cask #2249, 102 bottles)

Balblair 33 yo 1988/2021 (54.4%, OB for LMDW, bourbon, cask #2249, 102 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: I could simply write 'Balblair' and call this a tasting note. Pink bananas, dandelions, beeswax, papayas, mirabelles and acacia honey. Caraway and fennel seeds are chiming in after a short while, also juniper, also some old resinous woods, thuja, 'old Buddhist temple'… Beautiful – and peaceful. With water: a wonderful wee sourness (morello cherry juice) plus almonds, fruit stones, dunnage, old hessian, earth and the largest bag of bananas ever. We're talking proper fruits, not sweets or gums. Mouth (neat): I'd swear I get echoes of Bertie Cummings' cask (Balblair afficionados ahoy). Bananas, honeys, peppermint liqueur, cedarwood, touches of mangos, cinnamon powder… With water: swims perfectly despite all the many grassy oak spices that are coming to the surface. More on fruit peel, perhaps. Maybe a touch of cardboard. On second thought, do not add any waters. Finish: medium, brighter again, almost citrusy. Peppery oranges. The aftertaste is more on Alpenöl, Ricola and 'stuff like that'. Verbena. Comments: absolutely superb, I'm just not totally sure water should be added. Should we ask the temperance league?
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Remember, as someone once said (can't remember whom, might be, err, your truly), 'If music is a way to decorate time, whisky is a way to celebrate it.' Right, not sure I was in full form on that very day.

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


February 6, 2022


  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!


Rums on the desk again

Looking for malternatives, as always. Let me insist once more, I'm tasting rum from the point of view of a whisky enthusiast and certainly not from that of a rum expert or anything like that. Cheers, let's see what we have…

Phraya 'Elements' (40%, OB, Thailand, +/-2021)

Phraya 'Elements' (40%, OB, Thailand, +/-2021) Two stars
It's true that we've tried both some excellent Thai rum (Issan, Chalong Bay) and some plainly putrid swill (earlier SangSom), so in truth and despite some slightly overdone packaging that's never really good news, we just don't know what to expect here. Well, except that we've just seen that Phraya was actually made by… SangSom. Let's fasten our seatbelts then… Colour: gold. Nose: not much, it's rather akin to many a very light rum such as Havana Club or Bacardi. Touches of coconut, vanilla, orange liqueur, light caramel, a little cane syrup. Very light and rather characterless, certainly not dangerous this far. Mouth: well, it's okay, really. First, no feeling of sugar, that's good. Then some coconut water, vanilla, Fanta and, while we're at it, Coca-Cola. In short, it's very light, with nothing actually repulsive or even marginally unpleasant, but it's probably destined to become a mixer. Finish: short, clean. Cane syrup and vanilla. Comments: I was afraid this would be a sugar bomb; it's not. Probably pleasant on a mountain of ice cubes, while waiting for your Pad Thai (S., this is not TripAdvisor!)
SGP:430 - 75 points.

Damoiseau 5 yo 'Rhum Vieux' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, bourbon barrel, +/-2021)

Damoiseau 5 yo 'Rhum Vieux' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, bourbon barrel, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Mixed feeling last time we tried a young Damoiseau from Bellevue on Grande-terre, but the potential was clearly there. Shall we find olives and lovely quasi-bacterial notes? Colour: gold. Nose: yes! olives and lovely quasi-bacterial notes, vesou, liquorice wood, then bamboo shoots and a little engine oil, liquorice allsorts (well, the orange ones) and then a lovely earthiness. I enjoy this nose rather a lot, it's pretty complex, nicely olivey, with awesome earthy/herbal notes. And salmiak! Mouth: 45 or 46% would have been welcome but other than that, this salty arrival is pretty perfect and the olives and artichoke cake are lovely too. Touch of tar and of course, liquorice. A shame that it would just be a tiny-wee-tad wishy-washy. Well, not quite but you get the drift. I suppose a 100proof version would sort it out… Wait, don't tell me that exists! Finish: a tad short, but very good, with touches of honeyed oranges with some olive oil. Perfect combo, that, orange-honey-olive. Comments: how do you score frustration?
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Rhum J.M 6 yo 2014/2020 (55.11%, OB for Rum Gallery, Martinique, agricole, fresh American oak, cask #140061, 270 bottles)

Rhum J.M 6 yo 2014/2020 (55.11%, OB for Rum Gallery, Martinique, agricole, fresh American oak, cask #140061, 270 bottles) Four stars
Colour: amber. Nose: the fresh oak feels a wee bit but as in some new modern malt whiskies, it's well integrated and would add herbal and soft spicy tones, so I'm fine with this oaky inflation. Otherwise some awesome cane juice, praline and garden peat, liquorice again, custard, fresh ginger, tiny whiffs of lilies… Curious to check what water will bring out, hope that won't be more oak spices. With water: we're safe, phew. Cedar wood and marmalade, touch of hibiscus syrup. Mouth (neat): may I call this modern rum? It's clearly spiced-up but they haven't added any spices, soups of juices, this is all the work of some very active oak. Nutmeg, ginger, cloves, caraway, juniper… And rather a lot of curaçao too. It's pretty sweet, did they not deep-char this barrel? With water: success, the spice inflation has been curbed and we're rather finding sweet roots. Beets? (takes the biscuit when in rum, ha). Finish: long and, well, a little sweet. Comments: extremely good, as many J.M.s are, but perhaps at the limit as far as oak is concerned. Whats more, the juice was not very heavy.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

JMH 29 yo 1992/2021 (57.7%, The Whisky Blues, Jamaica, barrel, 253 bottles)

JMH 29 yo 1992/2021 (57.7%, The Whisky Blues, Jamaica, barrel, 253 bottles) Five stars
I am afraid I don't know this marque, but then again, I'm the worst rum expert on this side of the Atlantic. Probably Hampden anyway. Colour: pale gold (hurray, at 29 years!) Nose: extremely pure, almost crystalline, on new electronics, olives and capers, bitter almonds, rotting bananas and new tyres. Yep I'm finding this 'crystalline'. With water: highest top dresser rum, just utterly stunning. 24,434,354 kinds of olives. Mouth (neat): amazing. Top spirit of this world. With these +/-30 yo  'Jamaicans' it's like when we were regularly stumbling upon these new Ardbegs single casks that used to get bottled circa 2000-2005. 1972-1976 vintages. Woo-hoo. Amazing brines, lemons, rubbers, seashells and resinous smokes. With water: that it would get even greater when reduced down to +/-45% is scandalous and outrageous. What a drop. Finish: long, sublimely salty. Rumporn alert. Only the aftertaste is a notch flabbier, with a little Szechuan pepper that may be slightly out of place. BS alert this time. Comments: glorious rum, clearly the 1972-1976 Ardbeg of rum. Hold on, do they have purifiers at Hampden? Are they functioning? I mean, were they functioning back in 1992? (trying to sound smart, you know).
SGP:463 - 92 points.

Hampden 2010/2020 'LROK' (62.5%, Velier for Navigate World Whisky, 250 bottles)

Hampden 2010/2020 'LROK' (62.5%, Velier for Navigate World Whisky, 250 bottles) Five stars
Comes with a white-chinned thrush on the label, which I had immediately recognised (yeah right). Other than that, a great Jamaican rum sourced and selected by a legendary Italian company for an engaging South-African firm, that totally makes sense doesn't it. LROK suggests this is lighter Hampden (am I right this time?) Colour: gold. Nose: you do feel the 'lighter' side, although this would never get classified as a 'light' rum. Perhaps a tad more on floral and banana-y smells, the rest being earthy and spicy, with the expected olives 'of course' and something of an agricole, not something I've never noticed in these 'low-marque' Hampdens. In short, extremely nice. With water: immense viscimetry. Garden pond (muck?) and carbon, anchovy paste, eucalyptus and cedar woods, turpentine and lovage… I'll say it again, 'woo-hoo'. Mouth (neat): lighter Hampden my hat. Smoked oranges, crushed olives and sardines, banana skin, riesling, carbolineum and salted liquorice. With water: a little lighter and rounder indeed, but the saltiness and the rounder tarriness are just terrific. Finish: long and salty. More anchovies. It would just never get 'lighter'. Comments: you cannot question these, even if they're a little less majestic than those early-landed 30 years old.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

We have time, let's push this session further…

Jamaican Rum 19 yo 2000 (55.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon barrel, #R7.3, 'Shiver me esters!', 185 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 19 yo 2000 (55.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon barrel, #R7.3, 'Shiver me esters!', 185 bottles) Five stars
Said to be Hampden. It's great that the SMWS would have many new rums, but the marque would be welcome here. Colour: gold. Nose: of course, more carbon, new electronics, liquorice and black olives, new plastics, rotting fruits, paint… With water: rainwater and tarmac, rubber, leaves… Mouth (neat): great drop, salty, varnishy, also rather fruitier than the other Hampdens (including the one we'll taste after this one), with some preserved peaches and plums. Vine peaches and liquorice allsorts. And I mean ALL sorts of allsorts this time. Superb drop in any case. With water: just tops. A good glass of petroly riesling is to be added. Finish: long, really salty, with kippers and oysters ala Caol Ila. Great fun. Comments: what can I say? If you like this style you'll love this bottle. I still believe the folks who come up with the names need to see a doctor (of course not, they're funny and good).
SGP:553 - 90 points.

C<>H 1993/2021 (57.8%, Salon du Rhum Belgique, Jamaica, 187 bottles)

C<>H 1993/2021 (57.8%, Salon du Rhum Belgique, Jamaica, 187 bottles) Four stars
The 1990 for Salon du Rhum blew us out of our rieslings the other day (WF 93). This is high-ester early-landed Hampden. I can't quite see what could go wrong here. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a little extreme, to tell you the truth, very 'burnt'. Burnt tyres, new shoes, Jerez vinegar, olives 'of course', big fat Sicilian capers, samphires, brake pad dust, fresh concrete, magazines, new Tesla, ammonia… With water: new polyester. An acquired taste ;-). Mouth (neat): very extreme indeed. Very green, ultra-grassy, salty, hugely acetic, acetone-y… I'm not too sure this time. With water: salty, vinegary, with some sage, sorrel, nettle soup and garlic butter. And plastics. All right then. Finish: long and on smoked vinegars and paraffins. Bone-dry. Comments: extremely spectacular, but probably more for Hampden exegetes than for this humble whisky lover. The stunning 1990 anytime, plus cash.
SGP:273 - 87 points.

A very last one, this is becoming a little hard…

Sample Seventeen (60.5%, The Whisky Mercenary & Kintra, Jamaica, +/-2020)

Sample Seventeen (60.5%, The Whisky Mercenary & Kintra, Jamaica, +/-2020) Four stars
This is a blend of various unaged marques of 'H'. Perfect easy landing, I would suppose… Colour: white. Nose: concrete dust, green bananas, ink, olives and capers. Good funk, as good as a white rum can be. Frankly, who needs oak? With water: chalk, benzine, olive oil and just turpentine. Mouth (neat: amazing big fat fermentary and bacterial arrival, you would almost believe this is some six-year-old Comté cheese. Then diesel oil, ink, plastics and sorrel. With water: just plain Hampden, it's to be wondered why oaked and time are needed. Magnificent distillate. Perhaps a wee bit on the lightish side, but between us, that's better for us. Excellent. Finish: Imagine the cocktails. Like this, plus wild mezcal, plus white Ardbeg, plus lime juice. All right, some fine tuning to be done, I agree – who's game? . Comments: extremely well done, Mr Mercenary. Oops, forgot to mention cane juice, you do feel the cane.
SGP:463 - 87 points.

Next week on Sunday, cognac again.

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


February 3, 2022


Around the world once more
They used to be very marginal twenty years ago, and we now do such 'world' sessions almost once a week. Let's take off from Charles-De-Gaulle. I know, I know…

Alfred Giraud 'Héritage' (45.9%, OB, France, 2021)

Alfred Giraud 'Héritage' (45.9%, OB, France, 2021) Four stars
They've blended there different French malt whiskies and further matured the end-result in some old cognac casks. We've already tried an handful of A. Girauds, all have been good or very good in my book. Extra-care has been given to the maturation, which is pretty 'Cognacqy'. It's true that we've often wondered why some Scots don't do it as the Cognaçais do. Colour: gold. Nose: really, really nice, fresh and floral, with stewed mirabelles and peaches, honeysuckle, sultanas and only a very tiny spiciness. A little custard. Pretty soft. Mouth: really good, malty and fruity, with excellent cakes, dandelions, raisin rolls, preserved peaches and apricots, then more breadiness and just touches of some rather liquoricy and earthy old oak. Finish: medium, with notes of tarte tatin, cinnamon and just a touch of sweet beer. After all, this is malt whisky. A small meaty touch in the aftertaste (ham). Comments: this one goes down extremely well. Smart maturation and a lovely decanter to boot. A lovely future single-flower vase.
SGP:451 - 87 points.


To Japan…

Miyagikyo 'Discovery Peated' (48%, OB, Japan, LMDW, bottles, 4812 bottles, 2021

Miyagikyo 'Discovery Peated' (48%, OB, Japan, LMDW, bottles, 4812 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
Its bro the Yoichi 'Discovery Non-Peated' had been relatively brilliant here the other day (WF 88). This is a peated Miyagikyo, not too sure that's very rare indeed as I believe we've already tried quite a bunch in the past. Anyway, let's try this unagestated new one… Colour: straw. Nose: do not expect Ardbeg Provenance, this is only lightly peated, although it would be a 'peaty whisky' for sure. Old cellars, teak and eucalyptus, thuja, macha (how very Japanese), then cedarwood, balsam, starfruits and green plums. An obvious (to me, at least) Japanness, which I find both refreshing and reassuring. Mouth: more, much more smoke, with rather huge notes of burnt rubber and thyme tea and honey, ashes, a little ink perhaps, certainly some edible roots (turnips and celeriac), then green spices and, drumroll, our descriptor of the week, gentian! Finish: long, rather on citrus and menthol, that combination that always wins it. Some tar and again a little rubber in the aftertaste. Comments: so, it appears that both are great, the Yoichi and the Miyagikyo. Now it remains a weird feeling to sip a great whisky without having the smallest clue about its age. Call me old-guard and I send you my Moldavian friends. Or, why not, some Yakuza.
SGP:554 - 88 points.


Why not overnight in Japan…

Komagate 2018/2021 (59%, OB, Kirsch Import, Japan, American virgin oak, cask #4047)

Komagate 2018/2021 (59%, OB, Kirsch Import, Japan, American virgin oak, cask #4047) Four stars
This from Shinshu. I'll have to confess that I keep forgetting about what's at stake here, between Mars, Komagate, Tsunuki, Shinshu, Hombo Shuzo, Yakushima… You'd need a Jodie-Foster-IQ to understand – and not forget – about everything. Colour: gold. Nose: bread, brioche, panettone, custard and kougelhopf. With water: amazing resinous-like oak. Once again I'm reminded of those wild woods they sometimes use in the cachaça business. Shh… Mouth (neat): high-class. I hate it that I would love such an earthshattering young whisky, I'm losing my self-esteem. Perfect sweet oaky/citrusy spices, papayas, bananas and quinces. East meets west, as they say. If it was doctored, the doctor was a master. Stunning. With water: don't add too much or you'll bring sawdust out. Other than that, at 50%, it's picture-perfect. Finish: medium and, don't dream too much, a little simple now. This is where the youth feels. Pinewood and banana skins. Comments: seriously, great stuff, it's just that you'd need a PhD in pipette-handling to get it exactly right 'til the end, I would think.
SGP:561 - 86 points.


Since we're at Kirsch's…

Westward 'Patrick Ahluwalia Barrel Pick' (62.5%, OB, USA, Kirsch Import, cask #568, 2021)

Westward 'Patrick Ahluwalia Barrel Pick' (62.5%, OB, USA, Kirsch Import, cask #568, 2021) Four stars
Virgin American Oak Char Level 2 and a Patrick Ahluwalia Barrel. I'm lost, I quit, I give up. I'm only half-joking, my friend; guess what, I'm not even going to try to find out about that Patrick-Ahluwalia guy who, I'm sure, is an entrancing individual. But boy is whisky getting complicated! Colour: gold. Nose: cellulosic varnish all over the place, then balsa, cedar and thuja woods. Spectacular woodworks. Green bananas and walnuts in ambush. With water: luminous minty and lemony woods. An evening at IKEA Ueber-Prestige. Except that IKEA Ueber-Prestige does not exist – yet? Cheques in Euros, please. Mouth (neat): just great. Heavy oaks, grapefruit skins, eucalyptus, epicea, verbena, lemon curd, cough medicine… With water: Oregon's about woods, is it not? Perhaps a tad 'too much' now. Very heavy black tea and a jar of peanut butter. Finish: long, dry, spicy. Rubbers, chlorophyl, nutmeg and juniper. Comments: who is Patrick Ahluwalia? The Manager? Kudos, great drop, but this one too we need to keep under control. Very extreme essential oils.
SGP:472 - 85 points.


Let's stay at Kirsch's and yet move to Ireland…

Knappogue Castle 27 yo 1994/2021 (51.1%, Ex Libris 'The Selfish Giant', Ireland, Kirsch Import, bourbon, cask #888142, 196 bottles)

Knappogue Castle 27 yo 1994/2021 (51.1%, Ex Libris 'The Selfish Giant', Ireland, Kirsch Import, bourbon, cask #888142, 196 bottles) Four stars and a half
A surprise Oscar-Wilde bottling after the three most lovely ones that LMDW was having back in September. Or October. Or November. Expect an utter Bushmills-like fruit bomb. Colour: light gold. Nose: naturally, williams pears, papayas, mangos, muscat grapes and blood oranges. This was to be expected. With water: gooseberries and greengages. It's not that it went more minimal, it's just that it went down to the core. Mouth (neat): these are so good. Magnificent grapefruits, apples, vine peaches and green liquorice. Sublime. With water: this time again, do not add too much water or you'll make it syrupy, like a free liqueur at a Chinese restaurant. I'm rather joking but no, be very careful with water. Swims like a brick, as they say in Glasgow. Finish: stunning when neat, vulgar with water. Litchis and cheap gewurz. Comments: yeah I know this was short, but there was no small talk to be done in the first place. A refreshing tightly fruity masterpiece, as long as this time again, you would be a pipette master.
SGP:641 - 89 points.


While we're in Ireland, a last one…

Teeling 29 yo 1991/2021 (52.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Ireland, rum cask, cask #10568)

Teeling 29 yo 1991/2021 (52.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Ireland, rum cask, cask #10568) Four stars and a half
Sure a rum cask stings the eyes in such circumstances, but let's remember that some of the most legendary old Springbanks were 'ex-rum'. Well, I believe there used to be two of them. By the way, I doubt this would be Cooley, but I'm pretty sure it was double-distilled. The plot thickens… Colour: gold. Nose: scones and fudge. Not quite a fruit bomb, rather a pastry bazooka. Mango jam, dried figs, butterscotch, millionaire shortbread, puréed chestnuts and blueberry muffins. I mean, precious (and wealthy) old ladies should love this. With water: gets narrower, on green teas. Mouth (neat): a lot of manuka honey, then late-harvest pinot gris and riesling, juicy golden sultanas, and a tighter, almost vegetable-like ending. Palm heart? A peaty side too, which comes totally unexpected. With water: swims very well but gets completely different. No smoke, rather cherries-in-kirsch and dates filled with marzipan. A little uncertain, actually. Finish: we've lost control. Do not add any waters, even glacier drops or Antarctic bottom water. Comments: stunning drop, it's just the lousiest swimmer ever. Think Boris Johnson (I am not about to drop the case, to think that that impaired human tardigrade is still the chief of Scotch, Welsh, Northern Irish and English whisky!)
SGP:541 - 89 points.


February 2, 2022


A trio of Auchentoshan

Not a make that we try very often, the magnificent old sherried ones are gone. Today we've got three recent ones on the desk, all indies, and shall see if the famous motto 'hard to say, easy to enjoy' (or something like that) remains true.

Auchentoshan 11 yo 2010/2021 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon)

Auchentoshan 11 yo 2010/2021 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: elementary if not rudimentary, rather all on banana foam, lemon drops and bubblegum, before a little more grass and green tea would come out, together with a drop of nail polish, and custard and vanilla cake afterwards. Actually nicer than it sounds, it's worth waiting for a few minutes so that it would open up. Quite curiously, I'm finding echoes of that other Lowlander named Daftmill. Mouth: really rudimentary now, the cake is gone and the grass has seized control. A very unexpected salty touch, otherwise some gritty sweet and bitter pastries (some mochis spring to my mind). In short, still good but indeed, a little rustic. Finish: medium, on heavily sweetened green tea, then lemon zests and kirschwasser. Comments: I'm rather a fan of the nose here. Give it some time…
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Auchentoshan 13 yo 2007/2021 (48%, LMDW, Artist Collective 5.0, first fill sherry finish, 1571 bottles)

Auchentoshan 13 yo 2007/2021 (48%, LMDW, Artist Collective 5.0, first fill sherry finish, 1571 bottles) Four stars
That's what I call having faith. What's more, all labels are fantastic in these series. Colour: red amber. Nose: indeed, sherry works well with Auchentoshan as no clashes are to be expected in the first place. Auchentoshan is not Laphroaig (see what comes from 'blogging' about whisky for 20 years!) The usual moist walnut cake, pipe tobacco, compost, Jaffa cake, black Smyrna raisins, fruitcake, cherry liqueur, Pedro (Ximenez)… Mouth: more further-fortified sherry, really. Walnuts, raisins and tobacco, oranges and cloves, Finish: medium, more on chocolate, liquorice and some dried leaves. Lime, perhaps? Some black tea for sure, as well as a little ginger and chestnut honey. Comments: the other side of the coin. Head side bourbon, back side sherry.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Auchentoshan 21 yo 2000/2021 (58.3%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, cask #800027, 163 bottles)

Auchentoshan 21 yo 2000/2021 (58.3%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, cask #800027, 163 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's raw, with a lot of varnish and even glue at first sniffs, then mercurochrome, fresh paint and putty… A little kiwi, lime and rhubarb juice in the background, so very green indeed, but not too sure. Well I'm sure water will take care of all this… With water: awesome fresh herbal complexity! Even more fresh putty but also a wonderful Sancerre-y chalkiness, a drop of benzine, a dab of shoe polish, and an endless citrusy development. Thank you Kronos, god of time. Mouth (neat): ho-ho, excellent, punchy, extremely Haribo-y but not dull or childish (see what I mean), with some superb citrus liqueurs. Once again, water should work wonders… With water: exactly what time would bring to malt whisky, namely complexity. A wide range of citrus, bergamots, kumquats, citrons, grapefruits… Then essences and oils, even a tiny pinhead of tar. Excellent, bright, luminous and rejoicing. Finish: medium, on 'waxed citrons', should that exist. A drop of tequila blanco in the aftertaste. Claro que si, really. Comments: an ode to proper aging (vs. faster flavouring with oak and wine). Thanks for this one, Signatory Vintage.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

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


February 1, 2022


More Bowmore

I believe we've used that headline around 24,357,321,358 times already. That's what happens with old 'blogs'…

Bowmore 2001/2021 (57.8%, Partners by LMDW, Navigate World Whisky, refill bourbon, cask #182, 180 bottles)

Bowmore 2001/2021 (57.8%, Partners by LMDW, Navigate World Whisky, refill bourbon, cask #182, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: oils (sunflower, grape pips) and fat seashells (whelks), on doughs and vanilla fudge, and brioche, croissants and stuff. Smoked almonds ruling the whole shebang. With water: ultra-classic Bowmore, reminding us of those times when they were rolling the barrels in the loch, from the distillery to the puffers. We always need a nice story. Mouth (neat): the nose was fat while this palate is tight, green, resinous and rather peppery. Lemon zests. Huge contrast. With water: indeed it's rather a resinous one, I'm reminded of bee propolis. Which, incidentally, raises your immunity, fights all variants of Covid, and even cures the worst tropical diseases. Prices on request (gee…). Finish: rather long, and indeed rather on propolis, pine resin, almonds, zests and all that. The everlasting salty and resinous aftertaste is fab. Comments: a little difficult at times, but just superb in my book. We like to chase the difficult ones.
SGP:366 - 88 points.

Bowmore 19 yo 2001/2021 (58%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions for HNWS Taiwan, hogshead, cask #17897, 227 bottles)

Bowmore 19 yo 2001/2021 (58%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions for HNWS Taiwan, hogshead, cask #17897, 227 bottles) Four stars
Isn't that Prince Charles on the label? Colour: straw. Nose: another immaculate one. In fact, this one's even more immaculate than the others. Fresh butter, sunflower oil, mercurochrome, wakame, new engine oil, fresh walnut paste. And, you're right, white asparagus (when are they coming out?) With water: salts and tar. Old-school embrocations and ointments, plus whiffs of fresh concrete and ink. Tiny-wee whiffs of chives and basil. Mouth (neat): a saltier one. Oysters as usual, kippers, tight green lemons and green bitter oranges, juniper, a little sage. Careful, this one cuts. With water: gets very green, almost rubbery. I think we'll mention propolis once more. Finish: rather long and much saltier yet. Even saltier than the official 9 that we tried yesterday. Comments: old folks in Bowmore tend to tell that they were adding a little water from Loch Indaal into the barrels. It's to be wondered if, for once, old folks aren't right. Another excellent one.
SGP:366 - 87 points.

A shame that some distillers would remain a little autistic and behave like this is the year 1980, or like if they've got a few things to hide. I prefer the 'like this is the year 1980' option. But indeed, no-need, no-care, we love them anyway.

Bowmore 24 yo 1997/2021 (43.20%, Oxhead Whisky Co., Dram-Addicts, hogshead, cask #156048, 121 bottles)

Bowmore 24 yo 1997/2021 (43.20%, Oxhead Whisky Co., Dram-Addicts, hogshead, cask #156048, 121 bottles) Three stars and a half
In theory… Colour: gold. Nose: oh, butter and lavender? Cloves and mouthwash? Chartreuse and caraway liqueur? Something may have happened with this cask… Mouth: very intriguing. A leaking old cask, perhaps, you would almost believe this was 1977 rather than 1997. Which would not obigatorily be a problem, mind you. It's really good, yet very intellectual. Various herbs and resins, meats (salted poultry and fish), inks and ointments, resins, paraffin, suet… Finish: rather long, a little tough, rather more on aromatic herbs that do not quite belong here. Once again, no problems. Pine oil in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely intriguing, most probably a cask that was 'unlike the others'. It escaped pretty much unharmed – and intellectual. Tough boy from those ever-entrancing people at that very lovely booze company called Beam-Suntory. Of course I mean it, why not?
SGP:375 - 84 points.

Bowmore 17 yo 2003/2021 (54.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, barrel, cask #93, 172 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 2003/2021 (54.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, barrel, cask #93, 172 bottles) Four stars and a half
You're right, we just tried sister cask #81 and though it was worth 88%. But I mean, Beam-Suntory, come on… Colour: white wine. Nose: fat and clean. Sunflower and hazelnut oils, fresh butter, smoked almonds, fresh croissants (yes I realise no one else is ever using that descriptor) and something that's not extremely Bowmore, green apples. With water: muddy herbs, chalks, doughs. Mouth (neat): yep, some tight grassy/citrusy elements at first, then rieslings and sauvignons blancs and Grüner Veltliners and stuff. With water: wow! Many zests and peelings, lees, pips, stems, leaves… That's hit-or-miss, rather hit in this case. Lemon skin then. Finish: very long, on grasses, bitter peel and skin… Not an easy one for sure.  Comments: something Russian. We're talking Russian literature. In fact, it's a little tough, but it's brilliant. Unsexy, though.
SGP:366 - 89 points.

Bowmore 17 yo 2003/2021 (58.3%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, Whisky Lovers Hong Kong, hogshead, cask #17898, 233 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 2003/2021 (58.3%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, Whisky Lovers Hong Kong, hogshead, cask #17898, 233 bottles) Four stars
This time again, they've put Prince Charles onto the label (let me remind you that I'm an unapologetic Frenchman). Colour: light gold. Nose: a slightly hotter Bowmore, with a little more varnish and butterscotch. Then whiffs of geranium and drawing gum, cut flowers… Calms down subito! With water: hay, meadows in the midst of august, pinot blanc... And then linseed oil, mint leaves and cellulosic varnish. Mouth (neat): salty, briny, tight, a tad earthier and rootier than the others, but perhaps a little more 'bitter and difficult' at this point. Let's see… With water: to be drunk with oysters. Very salty and in that sense, a little 'official' - minus the unnecessary works with lousy woods-that-everyone's-got-anyway. Finish: long, saltier. Huge saltiness indeed. The aftertaste is a little too peppery for me, though. Comments: sometimes easy and sometimes tough. In short, c'est la vie.
SGP:466 - 86 points.

Bowmore 30 yo 1990 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, Islay Giants #2, +/-2021)

Bowmore 30 yo 1990 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, Islay Giants #2, +/-2021) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: I remember well when the first early-1990s vintages were being launched, we were totally amazed by those pristine young Bowmores that were following a series of rather unlikely expressions (all the lavendered ones, the Darkest, Claret etc.) Thinks do not seem to have changed much since back then, if you don't take the weird ultra-botoxed ones into account. Right, except that the 1990-1995s have become much older.  I know. Anyhow, this is pristine indeed, salty as it should, full of oysters and seawater, with just a few additional spicy and herbal touches, fresh rhubarb (extremely vivacious here shall we say) as well as fresh peppermint, lemon zests, a tiny pinch of green curry powder, then the expected chalkiness, slate, clay, marl, all that. Awesome nose, as expected. Mouth: really rather huge despite the 'lower' strength – probably some reduction having been done. Long story short, this one too is extremely salty, almost thick, with some glutamate, umami sauce, juniper and cloves, more green curry, more green pepper, plus some really very tasty and salty seafood. Let's say sea urchins (cooked with saffron sauce, which is stunning, trust me). Finish: very very long, very salty, spicy. I may need to mention sea urchins cooked with saffron again. What to drink with that, well either this Bowmore or, alternatively, a white Hermitage from a good house. Comments: well done, I made myself hungry. Fantastic Bowmore from a fantastic vintage and a well-mannered cask. Unless I'm wrong, Frank McHardy selected this little beauty (but are we sure the 1990s have become 30 year old or more?)
SGP:366 - 91 points.

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
GlenDronach 50 yo 1971 (43.8%, OB, 198 bottles, 2022) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Tomatin 2015/2020 (50%, Skene, oloroso, 186 bottles)  - WF87

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
C<>H 1990/2021 (54.4%, Salon du Rhum Belgique, Jamaica, 228 bottles)  - WF93

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Heaven Hill 12 yo (64.9%, Cadenhead, USA, World Whiskies, barrel, 240 bottles, 2021)  - WF50

January 2022 - part 2 <--- February 2022 - part 1 ---> February 2022 - part 2




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Balblair 33 yo 1988/2021 (54.4%, OB for LMDW, bourbon, cask #2249, 102 bottles)

Bowmore 30 yo 1990 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, Islay Giants #2, +/-2021)

Scapa 24 yo 1993/2018 (61.2%, La Distillerie Générale, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #963, 1164 bottles)

A Speyside Distillery 12 yo 2008/2021 (55.2%, The Whisky Exchange, sherry hogshead, cask #4, 244 bottles)

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.2%, Wu Dram Clan & Whizita, hogshead, 218 bottles)

Mars 2016/2021 'Tsunuki Shinshu Aging' (60%, OB, Japan, for LMDW, Conquête, first fill bourbon, cask #3496, 210 bottles)

Hampden 2010/2020 'LROK' (62.5%, Velier for Navigate World Whisky, 250 bottles)

JMH 29 yo 1992/2021 (57.7%, The Whisky Blues, Jamaica, barrel, 253 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 19 yo 2000 (55.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon barrel, #R7.3, 'Shiver me esters!', 185 bottles)

Armagnac 35 yo 1985-1963 (51%, Armagnac Sponge)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 50 yo L.71 (52%, OB, for Passion For Whisky, Grande Champagne, 2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 50 yo L.71 (51.9%, OB, for Spiritus, Half-Century Series, Grande Champagne, 150 bottles, 2021)

Vallein-Tercinier 'Small Batch 41/43' (48.2%, OB for Kirsch Import, Bons Bois, 2021)