Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo






Whisky Tasting

 

Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
2
4

 

 

 

Ad-free
Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2024 - Part 1
 
 

January 2024 - part 2 <--- February 2024 - part 1 ---> February 2024 - part 2

 

February 14, 2024


Whiskyfun

A trio from Glenturret for Valentine's ;-)

Glenturret, since its acquisition by the owners of Lalique, has regained the affection of enthusiasts, after decades that had been somewhat, let's say 'soapy'. My God, there have indeed been some pretty odd bottles in the past! That said, there's a new little problem arising from the coexistence of natural Glenturrets and peated Glenturrets, somewhat akin to what happened at Bunnahabhain. This requires us, especially for the independent Glenturrets like the ones we will be tasting today, to be vigilant and to monitor the presence, or absence, of the word 'peated' on the labels. Or of the term 'Ruadh Maor', here is an example…

 

 

Glenturret 2013/2023 'Ruad Maor' (57.5%, The National Choice, cask #158, 324 bottles)

Glenturret 2013/2023 'Ruad Maor' (57.5%, The National Choice, cask #158, 324 bottles) Three stars
Here then is a peated version of Glenturret, likely with an extra dose of soot and charcoal. Colour: amber. Nose: indeed, it's full of soot and ashes, slag, burnt pine wood, along with quite a bit of umami, mustard, leather, salty toothpaste, and even hints of grilled garlic here and there. We're clearly not on Islay. With water: let's say we're a bit more on Islay, but it's still very rustic, wild, with a meaty and sulphurous side to the distillate. Mutton suet. Mouth (neat): again this salty and mustardy aspect, with a sort of violence, let's say. Very herbaceous smoke and notes of burnt rubber. It's no joke when it's undiluted. With water: a lot of leather, salt, thyme oil and rosemary, mustard, vinegar... Finish: really very long in all dilutions. Harsh, mustardy, saline, powerful, brutal, smoky. Lots of smoked ham and ash, as well as bitter orange. Comments: it's not really here to entertain, it's a real fighter! Tough boy not for the faint-hearted.

SGP:467 - 81 points.

Glenturret 9 yo 2013/2022 (58%, The Cooper's Choice, bourbon cask, cask #59, 360 bottles)

Glenturret 9 yo 2013/2022 (58%, The Cooper's Choice, bourbon cask, cask #59, 360 bottles) Four stars
Logic would suggest that this time again, we're dealing with something a little brutal... Colour: white wine. Nose: it's much fresher, tighter, more 'Caol Ila' if you catch my drift. Very pretty lemon, oyster shells, eucalyptus, lanolin, green apple liqueur… And perhaps, indeed, a very tiny hint of wasabi. So, it was the cask to blame in the previous one! With water: more wood extracts, camphor, essential oil of thyme... Mouth (neat): wait, it's still about mustard. Mustard, horseradish, and lemon juice. With water: purer again, lemony, still quite harsh and very peaty. Finish: very long, with much more pepper. The aftertaste is healthier again. Comments: we are, after all, more civilized here. Still a battle, but more like a duel with blunted foils.
SGP:567 - 85 points.

Glenturret 35 yo 1988/2023 (51.2%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, bourbon hogshead, cask #537, 208 bottles)

Glenturret 35 yo 1988/2023 (51.2%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, bourbon hogshead, cask #537, 208 bottles) Five stars
With Angus, we've already tasted several very good Glenturrets distilled at the end of the 1980s and offered by Signatory. Colour: golden. Nose: oh, it's really quite special, not peaty this time (phew) and primarily based on fir honey, wax polish, beeswax, lanolin, a bit of turpentine, old yellow chartreuse, castor oil, and finally, mirabelle plums so ripe that they're on the verge of fermenting. All this is quite sublime, in fact. With a little water: hardly any change, but should one complain? Mouth (neat): fantastic, you could even make the decision to call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade now. Honeys of all kinds, precious woods, gentle herbal teas and dried fruits, waxes, small citrus fruits... With water: once again, the water doesn't change much. There might be a bit more candied citrus, especially some very sublime bergamots. Finish: medium length, indeed on waxes, honeys and citrus. It's only at the very end that a tiny bit of woodiness appears, almost tiptoeing in. Comments: a very great old Glenturret on wax and honey which, in reality, hardly needs any water at all. This is what we call an anniversary bottling.

SGP:651 - 92 points.

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

 

February 13, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

WF's Little Duos, today Hazelburn

So unpeated, triple-distilled Springbank. We're always a little late with our Hazelburns, is this some curse straight from the Wee Toon?…

This old 'Hazelburn' was part of a whole series of fake malts labeled Thorne & Sons that flooded the market in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Some bottles still seem to appear here and there, so new collectors must be very careful and adhere to the golden rule 'if it seems too good to be true, it is'.

Hazelburn

 

 

Hazelburn 10 yo (46%, OB, 2020)

Hazelburn 10 yo (46%, OB, 2020) Four stars
I have to say I loved Hazelburn 10 last time I formally tried it, in 2016 (the 2014 edition, WF 90). It was still sporting its round silver label, but things seem to have now been simplified, if not cheapened. Not talking about the content, naturally, let's check it out… Colour: white wine. Nose: fully on raw wool, porridge, chalk and mud, crushed slate, apple peel, mown lawn and broken branches. Absolutely not the softer, fruitier, easier character of other triple-distilled malts such as Auchentoshan or, say some Irish. Mouth: frankly good, with sour fruits, white wines, doughs and lemons. Several kinds of apples, then a little menthol, liquorice and aniseed. Finish: medium, sweet and fruity. Riesling, lemon and green apples, oak and vanilla in the aftertaste. Comments: still an awesome dram, but I'm not sure it's still got that incredible presence. It seems Hazelburn 10 has fallen into line a little bit, in a manner of speaking. It was still sporting some smokiness last time, but not this time.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Hazelburn 16 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, oloroso hogshead, 240 bottles)

Hazelburn 16 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, oloroso hogshead, 240 bottles) Four stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: bits of eggplant and cabbage at first, then green walnuts and just damp black earth plus pumpernickel. The jury's still out. With water: a lot of damp cardboard, old newspapers, rainwater, supermarket sandwich… Mouth (neat): bizarre but pleasant. Sulphur, rose jelly, lavender and violet syrup, blood oranges, tinned sardines, Cherry Coke, Red Bull… Something else, really. With water: raspberry liqueur, where does it come from? Timut pepper too, pink grapefruits, juicy fruit, putty… Finish: medium, with damp paper, something a tad stale… Comments: a strange Hazelburn, with these touches of sulphur that you could find in young Springbanks twenty years ago. Some other sides are brilliant, though.
SGP:642 - 85 points.

See you in a few years for more Hazelburn.

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

 

February 12, 2024


Whiskyfun

Heading North Once More

It's been a few years now that Scandinavia has managed to create a real style of malt whisky that's quite coherent, more coherent in any case than anything you can find elsewhere in the world, apart maybe in Scotland. Of course, there are a very large number of new whisky countries, but we do not find, for the moment, a real uniqueness, nor even a unity of style, including in Japan which seems to be continuing to source elsewhere a part of its 'Japanese whiskies'.

Finland

 

 

Teerenpeli 8 yo 'ÄES' (43%, OB, Finland, Distiller's Choice, rum finish, 693 bottles, 2013)

Teerenpeli 8 yo 'ÄES' (43%, OB, Finland, Distiller's Choice, rum finish, 693 bottles, 2013) Two stars and a half
A rather older bottle. We've already had some very good Teerenpeli, some funny ones too I have to add. Colour: straw. Nose: some pinewood smoke at first, some truffles, artichoke and cabbage, then new plastics and some kind of smoked porridge. A little bizarre but pretty funny indeed. Shoe polish and vanilla. Mouth: sweeter, less extreme, but no less on porridge and funny smokes. A few bitter herbs, a little cardboard, some kind of salty sawdust, myrtle, turmeric… Finish: pretty long, saltier, a little dusty and oaky. Perhaps a little rum indeed in the aftertaste. Comments: rather fine but dry and not really the easiest baby in my book, I think we'll try another Teerenpeli immediately.

SGP:362 - 79 points.,

Teerenpeli 2016/2021 (50.7%, OB, for Sydspetsens Malt Whisky Sällskap, oloroso sherry cask, cask #01/16, 64 litres)

Teerenpeli 2016/2021 (50.7%, OB, for Sydspetsens Malt Whisky Sällskap, oloroso sherry cask, cask #01/16, 64 litres) Three stars and a half
Colour: copper amber. Nose: a little artichoke and black truffle this time again, but the sherry's walnuts and autumn leaves are making it rather straighter. There's a fino-y side too, which takes the biscuit as this is oloroso. A feeling of veil/flor and just baker's yeast and leaven. With water: more of the same, plus a little chalky earth. Old cellar, dunnage… Mouth (neat): ah good sherry indeed, full of walnuts in all their guises, especially as liqueur and wine. More truffle as well, aubergine, perhaps a thin slice of carrot cake… With water: walnut cake and lapsang souchong, perfect for 5 o'clock. Finish: long, a notch leafy and leathery, beyond all these fresh and old walnuts. Comments: a lot of action in this one.
SGP:362 - 84 points.

More Finnish oloroso…

Kyrö 'Malted Rye Oloroso' (47.2%, OB, +/-2023)

Kyrö 'Malted Rye Oloroso' (47.2%, OB, +/-2023) Four stars
We've recently tried some excellent Kyrö Wood Smoke and Peat Smoke (WF 87 – 85). Colour: gold. Nose: so different, so idiosyncratic, so much on broken branches and crushed leaves, tomato bush, walnut skins, rye bread, peppermint, lavender (only small touches)… Mouth (neat): excellent sweet and bready rye, with a perfect sourness, cider apples, lavender indeed, riesling, then rather a lot of new oak, apparently, leaves, cinnamon, mead, Campari, nots of raw agave wine… Finish: long, full of rye and sour apples, then pineapple liqueur (new oak, possibly). Grittier aftertaste. Comments: not some classic Nordic and it's probably a little controversial, but when you taste a lot of whiskies, you're always game for more differences.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Myken 5 yo (53.8%, OB, Norway, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, casks #16/024 + 17/017, 2023)

Myken 5 yo (53.8%, OB, Norway, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, casks #16/024 + 17/017, 2023) Four stars
This one for the famous Dr Jekyll's Pub in Oslo. It's a vatting of an ex-Pineau cask and a first fill sherry. Remember, Pineau is aged grape must muted with cognac, so it is not exactly wine. Colour: gold. Nose: fully on custard, tarte tatin and crème brûlée, plus a little triple-sec and maraschino. There, you have it, it's truly international. With water: touch of new wool, new jumper, even new trainers, and rather a lot of dough. The sherry and the Pineau did not totally get over the pretty bready spirit. Mouth (neat): very good, firm, with more triple-sec over breads, cakes and oak. I do think I'm getting the Pineau. With water: its gained complexity and… raisins. Always quite a lot of Cointreau or Grand-Marnier (or any other brands you fancy). Finish: medium. Raisin rolls with rather a lot of icing sugar and cinnamon. More straight oak in the aftertaste, which was to be expected. Comments: very excellent, even if the Pineau probably made it rather extra-sweet. Good fun that Pineau casks no one had ever heard of before have now managed to invade whiskydom, up to the north of Norway. Having said, that, there's always been a lot of trade along the coasts, from Portugal, Spain and France up to Bergen and further north.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Smögen 10 yo 2013/2023 (55.7%, OB, Sweden, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, virgin Swedish oak and oloroso hogshead, 448 bottles)

Smögen 10 yo 2013/2023 (55.7%, OB, Sweden, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, virgin Swedish oak and oloroso hogshead, 448 bottles) Four stars and a half
Smögen, one of the few kings of the continent. Colour: full gold. Nose: another funny one, with notes of juniper wood (ala early Mackmyra, ha) and sauna oils first, then tyre smoke and brand new shoes. And litres of raw porridge, young Ardbeg (yep) and new engine oil. With water: wonderful raw wool and proper bread (or pizza) dough. Mouth (neat): very smart cask-bill. A lot of lemon zest, pinewood, lemongrass, grapefruit, pine needles. To be honest I just couldn't recognise Swedish oak even if I tried hard – in fact I used to believe they had cut all the old oak trees to build ships – but indeed this is awesome. Pine smoke and lemon. With water:  it's become more medicinal, more towards eucalyptus. Could be that Swedish oak would be closer to eucalyptus (than French of American oaks are). But sessile or pedunculate? (oh S., please). Finish: long, smoky, lemony and resinous. Comments: my favourites remain the bourbons, but there's no denying that this is rather great too.
SGP:566 - 89 points.

Mosgaard 5 yo 2018/2023 (59.3%, OB, Denmark, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, Port cask, cask # 501801, 120 bottles)

Mosgaard 5 yo 2018/2023 (59.3%, OB, Denmark, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, Port cask, cask # 501801, 120 bottles) Three stars and a half
First ever Mosgaard on little WF, thank you Dr Jekyll! We're near Odense, not too far from Copenhagen. Colour: dark amber/honey. Nose: prunes, plum wine, umeshu, potting soil, blackberry jam, coffee and wild pinot noir. I'm rather reminded of some early Lark from the other side of the world. Those in local 'Port', naturally. With water: it's become a pack of… Mars bars. Mouth (neat): between heavy Port and heavy PX, I would say. Very heavy wineyness, some black pepper too, I suppose, or say hope water will unlock the grapey fortress… With water: indeed, some blood oranges are kicking in, bay leaves, hoisin sauce, red grape juice, a little cassis liqueur… But we're still rather a little closer to fortified wine than to malt whisky. Finish: long, grapey and very peppery. Comments: rather for Port lovers, I would say. Rather perfect technically, but I wouldn't claim I've learned much about Mosgaard's distillate. Next time, I suppose.  
SGP:661 - 83 points.

Mosgaard 5 yo 2018/2023 'Peat & Port' (59%, OB, Denmark, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, cask #301807, 120 bottles)

Mosgaard 5 yo 2018/2023 'Peat & Port' (59%, OB, Denmark, Dr Jekyll's Nordic Series, cask #301807, 120 bottles) Four stars
I've called my mother and my children, updated my last will and testament, so I've got a peaceful soul and I think I'm ready for this one now. Colour: deep gold. Nose: used fireworks and umeshu indeed. Diesel fumes too, brake dust, blood oranges, a little ginger liqueur, rainwater, garden pit… With water: more rainwater. A little street in Singapore after a downpour. Mouth (neat): there's some connection happening, I'm almost liking this… a lot. Even if it's totally unbalanced and ruthless. I mean, crème de cassis and coal tar, what the fudge? With water: fudge indeed! And pink pepper, cassis, sweet tomato sauce, mint syrup, elderberry liqueur (St. Germain)…  Finish: long, smoky, thicker but better balanced as well. Raisins, ginger, Szechuan pepper… Comments: I would suppose you could make some nice spritzer out of this one. Like this + Dom-Pé + Perrier.

SGP:664 - 87 points.

(Danke sehr, Henrik)

 

February 11, 2024


Whiskyfun

  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!

 

 

Time for some older high-class armagnacs

We've had some excellent younger ones last week and stopped in the year 2000, let's have some of their ancestors this time. We'll most probably do another session in February.

Alambic armagnacais at Domaine de la Tuilerie, Ortès 1949 model (Domaine de la Tuilerie)

Tuilerie

 

 

Domaine de Danis 1999/2022 (46%, OB, armagnac, folle blanche, pièce #11)

Domaine de Danis 1999/2022 (46%, OB, armagnac, folle blanche, pièce #11) Four stars
From a fairly large estate in Castelnau d'Auzan, in the Gers, near the Landes. They also produce Côtes de Gascogne wines. We had tried a very good Danis  armagnac 2002 two years ago (WF 85). Colour: deep gold. Nose: juicy and fruity, full of juicy sultanas, with lovely touches of praline and black nougat, then all-flower honey, tarte tatin, honeysuckle and preserved peaches. Extremely classic, awesome folle blanche and something a little cognacqy (no offence meant). Mouth: indeed it is really very sweet, with bags of raisins and what you would call 'some rancio', some fudge, dried pear slices, a little liquorice, a very tiny touch of rubber, some orange blossom water… It is, indeed, a very pretty 'folle blanche' but I find it rather less rustic than others in their neighbourhood. Finish: medium, sweet, rounded. Very pleasant liquorice and stewed apples and pears in the aftertaste. Comments: they tell us that sadly, there's no armagnac 2022 at Danis because of some heavy episodes of hail. Well, this fairly easy folle blanche 1999 was exquisite.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Domaine Lous Pibous 27 yo 1995/2023 (52.3%, L'Encantada, Collection Renaissance, Bas-armagnac, folle blanche, cask #140, 310 bottles)

Domaine Lous Pibous 27 yo 1995/2023 (52.3%, L'Encantada, Collection Renaissance, Bas-armagnac, folle blanche, cask #140, 310 bottles) Five stars
I have the impression that Lous Pibous became rather a star domaine, thanks to those smart people at L'Encantada. Colour: copper. Nose: rather a lot of varnish at first, with a 'Pappy VW' side perhaps, then fresh paint, then putty, oranges, beeswax and honeys, then just quince jelly and a little pipe tobacco. I'm afraid this is a perfect development. With water: old woods coming out, old wine cellar, soot, saltpetre, mushrooms, some old apples, old cans of paint sitting in a corner, old books and magazines in another corner… Mouth (neat): high-powerz leaves and stems, fruit stones, gritty almonds, lemon peel, turmeric… Is this rustic this time! With water (and a good 15 minutes): towards herbal teas, cinnamon, dark tobacco (Gauloise of course), black tea… There's something 'authentic' about this one.  Finish: long, with rather a lot of very-well-integrated oak, which would lead to raw chocolate and coffee beans. Comments: I believe this is the kind of armagnac that the people down there like most. While when in Rome… Just one thing, only add drops of water.

SGP:561 - 90 points.

Domaine de Laballe 1991/2023 (45.2%, Kirsch Import, Journal des Kirsch #4, Bas-armagnac, 136 bottles)

Domaine de Laballe 1991/2023 (45.2%, Kirsch Import, Journal des Kirsch #4, Bas-armagnac, 136 bottles) Five stars
Once again, we're more or less on the border between Gers and Landes, on the famous fauve sands. As for these Journaux des Kirsch, the three first ones, all cognacs if I remember well, rather startled the gallery last year. Colour: copper gold. Nose: pinot noir! Seriously, you would almost believe you're nosing a fresh pinot noir from one of the best parts of Burgundy. What we call 'old floorcloth', aromas that we just cherish. It's then geared towards varnishy calvados, with also whiffs of black truffle and morels, as well as a little miso soup. Let me double-check the label… Good, indeed this is armagnac. Incredible. Mouth: this time it's rather old pinot noir, with mushrooms and some old cherry cordial, some saltiness, some bone-dry black coffee, and then the craziest ripe guavas, while we know guavas can get really crazy. Overripe bananas too, which would almost impart some kind of 'armagnac agricole' side to it. Finish: long, very fruity now, almost extravagantly so. Comments: epic and splendid, some easy 91 points for this restless little '91.

SGP:652 - 91 points.

Ferme de Bacoge 33 yo 1990/2023 (50.3%, ROW Spirits, Bas-armagnac, sister casks #54 & 4, 676 bottles)

Ferme de Bacoge 33 yo 1990/2023 (50.3%, ROW Spirits, Bas-armagnac, sister casks #54 & 4, 676 bottles) Five stars
100% baco. I find it amusing that they would grow baco at the Bacoge farm. Let's see if this one will be a good as the Ladevèze by ROW Spirits that we tried last week (WF 89). Colour: copper. Nose: 90+. Seriously, anyone will only need one sniff to sort things out here. Dried figs, tobacco, beeswax, dried meats (beef jerky), potting soil, preserved peaches, one prune, a drop of cellulosic varnish, a cup of old pu-her tea, old bits of leather, some menthol embrocations… With a tiny drop of water: sublime. Old books, horse saddle, box of cigars, beeswax, camphor… Mouth (neat): more rustic on the palate, somewhat gritty (teas, nut skins), but extremely pleasant. Tiny touches of glue from the wood. With that tiny drop of water: the fruits chiming in, sultanas, figs, oranges, peaches… Finish: medium, rather on all things oranges and clementines. A little turmeric and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: the nose was utterly grand, the palate very, very good. Had the palate matched the nose, this would have been a pure legend of armagnacdom, in my humblest opinion..

SGP:562 - 90 points.

Perhaps a Ténarèze…

Rounagle 36 yo 1986/2023 (51.3%, Grape of The Art, Ténarèze, cask #78)

Rounagle 36 yo 1986/2023 (51.3%, Grape of The Art, Ténarèze, cask #78) Four stars and a half
Pure ugni blanc from the region of Condom. First time I'm hearing of Rounagle, while as it appears, they've also started making whisky. Colour: amber. Nose: peaches, nougat, maple syrup, drops of sweet manseng (grand and petit) and just sugarcane syrup and roasted peanuts. This is all extremely civilised, easy, consensual, extremely well crafted. With water: touch of varnish and paint, then cakes, tarte tatin, crème brulée, rum… Mouth (neat): rather cognac-style. Candy sugar, tinned peaches, marmalade, sultanas, soft wood spices, triple-sec, all that over a creamy, almost heavy texture. Heavy-ish. With water: small herbs kicking in, mint, a little basil, coriander leaves, more raisins too. Finish: medium, with some floral tones and the impression of having gulped down a large slice of pecan tart. Fruit peel in the aftertaste, especially peach. Plus mint and mocha. Comments: exactly what we call a more than perfect allrounder.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Domaine de la Tuilerie 39 yo 1984/2023 (44.5%, Amateur Spirit, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de la Tuilerie 39 yo 1984/2023 (44.5%, Amateur Spirit, Bas-armagnac) Four stars and a half
100% baco this time and the famed fauve sands again. Colour: copper amber. Nose: intriguing nose, rather delicate, with both some damp black earth and flowers, wisteria, proper geranium, some spearmint rubbed between your fingers… Then prunes and roses, turron, roasted pecans, humidor, cedarwood, teas… Well, it's just that it is a little slow. Mouth: a little oak-driven but in this kind of context, that just works. Mint tea, black Assam (not sure that's black Assam but we've decided to use that term once and for all), very dark chocolate, thin mints, blackberry juice, sloe, earthier damson plums… What's amusing here is that the old wood expresses itself as black tea rather than as typical wood spices, cloves, cinnamon and so on. Finish: long, with a little juniper, more black Assam (right), cocoa, coffee, some grittier slivovitz, Solidarnosc plums in chocolate (of course that exists)… Comments: completely different but same ballpark as that of the more sophisticated Rounagle as far as scores are concerned. A true son of the soil and of the cask.
SGP:561 – 89 points.

Domaine Séailles 1986/2021 (57%, OB for armagnac.de, Ténarèze, cask #4)

Domaine Séailles 1986/2021 (57%, OB for armagnac.de, Ténarèze, cask #4) Four stars and a half
That's also what's funny, in general, cask numbers in whisky go like #715694275B… whereas in Armagnac, that's more like 'cask #4' indeed. Anyway, we're in the Gers once more, in Mouchan to be precise, north of Vic-Fezensac. Colour: rich gold. Nose: ea-sy. Peach syrup, touch of vanilla, sultanas, dried apricots, dandelions, meadow honey, apple pie, raisin rolls, a little wood dust (no prob). With water: not much change, perhaps more oranges. Mouth (neat): exceptional maltiness (but yes), some minerality, oranges and triple-sec, lemon cake, wine gums… It's true that old armagnacs bottled at 100 UK proof are pretty uncommon. With water: splendid. Eucalyptus, camphor, liquorice, grape juice and compadres, plus indeed triple-sec. Say Cointreau. Finish: long, more on black tea and chocolate, with grape pips and leaves leading to orange zests in the slightly drying aftertaste. Comments: I get the impression that Armagnac producers leave their spirits in wood longer than the Cognaçais, which can give their spirits, beyond a certain age, an absolutely charming but also sometimes slightly tiring roughness. Feeling as though you've swallowed an untipped Gauloise isn't necessarily extremely pleasant, even if you appreciate the concept.

SGP:661 - 89 points.

A fine collective effort today, showing great consistency in terms of quality if not in style. But that was to be expected, as we are mainly seeking proper malternatives while carefully avoiding the small fry. A small fry that, in any case, seldom comes our way. They're not fools.

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

 

February 10, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

Angus

I'm utterly delighted to celebrate Angus's 2,000th tasting note for Whiskyfun today. Angus has been and continues to be an incredible resource for this humble little website, in terms of knowledge, tasting skills, writing talent, and simply for friendship and thorough camaraderie. Two thousand thanks, Angus! - Serge

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland


Let's Ledaig!

With apologies to all those who firmly believe that distillery names should not be deployed as verbs.
Angus  

 

Today we'll focus on Ledaig, with a wee Tobermory aperitif to kick things off. Now, the tricky part here is whether we should go backwards by age/vintage as we would usually do, or whether we should go in order of theoretical peat level. After all, most 90s Ledaigs were not particularly peaty, whereas from the latter end of that decade they seem to abruptly skyrocket into the phenolsphere. Let's begin backwards for a change…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tobermory 27 yo 1994/2021 (43.5%, The Single Cask, cask #5118, sherry butt, 258 bottles)

Tobermory 27 yo 1994/2021 (43.5%, The Single Cask, cask #5118, sherry butt, 258 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: light, elegant and leafy sherry, with some gingery notes, rolling tobacco, earths, mushroom powder and very nice gamey touches. Who could be against such things, charmingly old school, clean and easy. Mouth: same feeling, the modest cask strength makes this rather deadly as it sort of cries out to be sipped from a tumbler with minimal overthinking. Again it's a clean and leafy style of sherry, with sultanas, tobacco notes, a little chocolate and some nicely gamey and rancio touches. Uncomplicated, direct and very pleasurable. Probably would have been even better with one less year in cask and two or three more degrees of alcohol but these aren't really quibbles. Finish: medium, with a slightly salty edge that feels very 'Island' and after all, isn't Tobermory on an island? (world's most pointless whisky note award incoming!) Comments: in the right circumstances you'd could be forgiven for thinking you'd been handed a glass on an old Macallan 18yo.
SGP: 551 - 88 points.

 

 

Ledaig 29 yo 1993/2022 (44%, The Single Cask, cask #249, barrel, 84 bottles)

Ledaig 29 yo 1993/2022 (44%, The Single Cask, cask #249, barrel, 84 bottles)
Not too sure we should expect any peat here…? Colour: pale gold. Nose: a funny one, immediately throwing off these rather funky notes of plasticine, clay, ointments and even something that strays towards chemical. Milk bottle sweets, brand new trainers and chamois leather. It was all kicking off on Mull in 1993! Not sure how to feel about this nose. Mouth: a real medley of waxes, clays, ointments and some kind of explosion with a chemistry set. Plasticine, bubblegum, hessian, some rather punchy medicinal herbs and various types of cooking oil. Nothing that I would call soapy, but some of these flavours are rather… extreme. I would also say it feels a bit younger and more punchy than 29yo. Finish: medium, still strongly on plasticine impressions, dry waxes, peppery notes, a little dusty cereal note too. Comments: what can you say about such a potion, I can imagine that some people would adore this, while others would run immediately for the first CalMac  Ferry off Mull. Depends on what your definition of a flaw is I suppose. Personally, I find this very entertaining but a bit extreme and challenging. Philosophical whisky that you should pour blind to your friends and enjoy the ensuing agitation and guesswork. Please take my score with all the salt in Loch Linnhe.
SGP: 471 - 80ish points…?

 

 

Two more of these visiting Ledaigs from another planet to go. Sleeves up…

 

 

Ledaig 29 yo 1993/2022 (44.9%, The Single Cask, cask #247, hogshead, 239 bottles)

Ledaig 29 yo 1993/2022 (44.9%, The Single Cask, cask #247, hogshead, 239 bottles)
Colour: yellowish straw. Nose: much more typical, although again the immediate impression is of a younger profile than the age would suggest. On raw ingredients, freshly kilned barley, grist, yeasty bread starter, mature Champagne and the slightest glimmer of cut grass and crushed parsley. I like it, but perhaps I'm breathing a slight sigh of relief after the previous one? Mouth: very pure and naked, mature malt whisky. Full of raw cereals, cooking oils, mash water, limestone, putty and soft waxes. A tiny hint of white stone fruit and buttery cereal. But this is almost entirely about the raw ingredients, what strikes very clearly though is that it is much cleaner and more classical than its sibling. Finish: medium in length and with a very pleasing and gentle sandalwood and cereal combination. Comments: this is a much more 'technically' safe and direct proposition. So, in one sense it's much easier to score and the pleasures of this style - of mature, naked malt whisky without any wood slapped on - are evident. On the other hand, those are also its limitations as it feels like it misses something extra and deeper that many other malts of similar age and pedigree usually display: greater waxiness, a little more fruit, or more expressive coastal character for example. Now, we are once again in danger of philosophising, let's not get too bogged down, this is a lovely dram.
SGP: 461 - 85 points.

 

 

Ledaig 29 yo 1993/2022 (46.1%, The Single Cask, cask #253, hogshead, 229 bottles)

Ledaig 29 yo 1993/2022 (46.1%, The Single Cask, cask #253, hogshead, 229 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: an impression of more brightness and sweetness up front. Still rather a lot of cereals, raw ingredient vibes, yeasty notes, pebbles, clay, chalk and minerals etc, but the overall feeling of greater richness works very well. Some subtle notes of shoe leather and olive oil too. I would also say this one noses 'fresher' with a more suggestive coastal side. Mouth: definitely the best of the bunch, still rather naked and dominated by barley, cereals, grains, sheep wool oils, waxes and delicate medicinal notes, but the overall impression is of a more cohesive and robust whisky. I also think this one feels more aligned with its age statement. Some nice notes of grassy rapeseed oil and herbal cough medicine too. Finish: good length, with an elegant dryness, some costal, waxy and peppery notes and more wee cooking oil impressions too. Comments: easily the best of the three in my wee book. Enjoyed the balance and greater sense of cohesion in this one.
SGP: 461 - 87 points.

 

 

Now we'll wade into the peat bog, the trouble is, what order do we do them in. ABV, age? This is a bit of a tricky session.

 

 

Ledaig 18 yo 'First Murderer' (50.5%, Elixir Distiller's 'Macbeth', 2100 bottles)

Ledaig 18 yo 'First Murderer' (50.5%, Elixir Distiller's 'Macbeth', 2100 bottles)
I once played Donaldbain in a local amateur production of Macbeth. Fact. Colour: white wine. Nose: coal smoke, tar, charred lemons on a BBQ, this very particular heavy and rather greasy, mechanical peaty profile that I find very typical for modern era Ledaig. Add to that some creel nets, malt vinegar and shellfish broiling in salty water. Evocative stuff! With water: anchovy, green peppercorns in brine, antiseptic. Very coastal and fresh. Mouth: pure, fatty and creamy peat smoke, loads of tar, peppery notes, mercurochrome and this increasingly blade-like, pure and pin-sharp lemon juice note. Really one of those whiskies that could be consumed with seafood, or just guzzled on a west highland shoreline to dull the torment of the midgies. With water: reveals this greasy Ledaig undercarriage, feels like bits of it are becoming stuck in my teeth… Finish: long, fatty, salty, very tarry and with some feelings of bacon frazzles and pork scratchings to go along with all this shellfish! Comments: could be 8yo or 18yo in some ways, it's very much a bottling about distillery character and personality. I like that the clever Elixir wizards have managed to make a batch bottling of over 2000 units taste like a single cask. Smart and very good whisky bottling in my view.
SGP: 367 - 88 points.

 

 

Ledaig 20 yo 2001/2022 (58.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #285, refill sherry butt, 498 bottles)

Ledaig 20 yo 2001/2022 (58.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #285, refill sherry butt, 498 bottles)
Colour: bright amber. Nose: very tarry and a sense of coiled peat, ready to spring! This mix of refill sherry and peat together creates some wonderful aromas that recall resinous fir woods, smoked teas, game meats and tarred rope. Also more playful things like coal syrup, glazed ham, iodine and cough syrups. With water: becomes more herbal and develops more towards aged herbal liqueurs, cough syrups, natural tar extracts and some wee notes of root beer and salted liquorice. Mouth: superb tarry and sweet peat concentration. The sherry works really well here and does some very clever, back seat driving. Many thick medicinal and ointment vibes, cough syrup, herbal throat lozenges and a drop of green Chartreuse. Then iodine and TCP as well, with another thick slice of glazed ham for good measure! With water: superbly rich and savoury, big notes of game meats, Maggi, umami paste, strong herbal teas with nippy tannins, iodine, camphor and classical, dry earthy peat smoke. Finish: long, deeply tarry, salty, back on umami and savoury notes, game salami and smoked paprika. Comments: terrific cask captured at a perfect age. One to stick in a cool, dark cupboard for 20+ years.
SGP: 477 - 90 points.

 

 

Ledaig 17 yo 2005/2022 (65.2%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #900040, refill sherry butt, 460 bottles)

Ledaig 17 yo 2005/2022 (65.2%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #900040, refill sherry butt, 460 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather narrow and pure, which is probably due in large part to the hefty ABV, on sharp peat smoke, seawater, pickling juices and shucked oysters. A little wood smoke too. Very precise and powerful, but I feel it needs water to rouse it further… With water: much broader and becoming altogether fattier, taking in bacon jam, frying pancetta, dry roast peanuts, iodine and further notes of malt vinegar and pure tar. Mouth: very syrupy and tarry at full strength, and also impressively accessible. Superbly peaty, peppery, kippery, oily and with some surprisingly subtle notes of sandalwood, dried seaweed and mercurochrome. With water: excellent, oily mouthfeel with a huge mix of kippers, smoked olive oil, herbal teas, iodine, charcoal and olive brine. Huge whisky! Finish: long, densely tarry and with a compact, almost crystalline peat smoke. Getting greasier and brinier in the aftertaste, picking up dirty martini and green olive vibes - extremely Ledaig! Comments: one of those whiskies that can hypnotise you for hours, provided you are suitably armed with a pipette and plenty water.
SGP: 467 - 88 points.

 

 

Ledaig 25 yo 1997/2023 (57.2%, Douglas Laing XOP for The Whisky Exchange, cask #DL16830, refill hogshead, 171 bottles)

Ledaig 25 yo 1997/2023 (57.2%, Douglas Laing XOP for The Whisky Exchange, cask #DL16830, refill hogshead, 171 bottles)
Not too sure it's sensible to place this one at the end, but I at least know it's a peaty one… Colour: gold. Nose: a peat smoke that simultaneously manages to be thick and creamy, while also showing this brittle, crystalline and extremely sharp aspect as well. Love it! Add to that coal smoke, sheep wool, farmyard funk, pure tar, creel net and kelp! Also there's an almost mentholated edge to the smokiness that makes you think of things like eucalyptus and tea tree oil. With water: pine sap, beach bonfire smoke, olive tapenades, preserved lemon - gathers complexity and beauty superbly! Mouth: superb arrival, all on mature, syrupy fusions of thick peat smoke, seawater, medicinal embrocations, iodine, wee sooty notes, camphor and things like pickles and Dijon mustard. Sitting somewhere between aged Caol Ila and mid-teens Ardbeg. With water: stunningly fatty, thick and textural in the mouth now. Medicinal, beautifully mentholated and developing some preserved citrus fruits, olive brine and big, extremely salty and umami notes. Those lovely anchovies drenched in Maggi are back! Finish: very long, pristinely smoky and peat, deeply tarry, peppery and holds onto this wonderful sense of maturity while simultaneously being perfectly coastal and fresh to the last. Comments: a great cask, absolutely love this more mature expression. Was 1997 when Ledaig and Tobermory started to get properly separated into peated and unpeated? Anyway, love this one.
SGP: 467 - 91 points.

 

 

Ok, I think I'm starting to hallucinate. That's enough Ledaig for about eight months I would say.

 

 

 

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

 

February 9, 2024


Whiskyfun

Giraffes and Long Neck Whiskies

Girafe

A herd of giraffes spotted in Tain. Did you know that Glenmorangie
also funds the protection of real giraffes through a partnership
with NGOs and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland?

 

La Girafe Chic 25 yo 1997/2023 (51.5%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, Margaux wine cask finish, 459 bottles)

La Girafe Chic 25 yo 1997/2023 (51.5%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, Margaux wine cask finish, 459 bottles) Three stars
Indeed that's 'Girafe' in French (nod to LVMH), which takes only one 'f'. Giraffe neck, tall stills, understand? It's a tad sad that they would have finished it in a Bordeaux cask, but you never know, it could still work. After all, one of the most famous - not one of the best – official Glenmos was finished in ex-Margaux casks too, like 25 years ago. Oh and by the way, 'Margaux' and 'Château Margaux' are two different things. All Château Margaux are Margaux, but very few Margaux are Château Margaux. Colour: dark gold. Nose: cake, raisin bread, then bay leaves, a bit of red pepper, crème brûlée, a touch of masala, peonies… It's all a bit of a jumble, but it's okay. With water: well, more green spices, pepper, foliage, dry spices… Perhaps not the most pleasant nose ever. Mouth (neat): it really feels like a mixture, with pepper and capsicum, burnt cake, more bay leaves, burnt wood, ginger… With water: I don't think that Glenmorangie, or any good quality malt whisky, could withstand a confrontation with a Médoc wine without the end result seeming a little unbalanced and, above all, a tad pointless. Finish: quite long, not immensely pleasant. Comments: I've already tasted these vintages of Glenmorangie neat, they've always been nice, even if they've never made us totally ecstatic. Here, we are in the realm of why/why not, even if it could have been much worse. I find that there are many new MMcDs that are much, much superior at the moment.

SGP:551 - 80 points.

Westport 17 yo 2006/2023 (55%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 129 bottles)

Westport 17 yo 2006/2023 (55%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 129 bottles) Four stars
You can always count on the Sponge. It's amusing, there's a giraffe on the label, making one think that this placid animal has become one of the symbols of the famed Sutherland distillery. Oh, of course, Westport, that's Glenmorangie. Drop any notion of micro-blending or the use of teaspoons, that's all just for folklore and the lawyers. Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh and sweet. A load of vanilla sugar and sugar cane syrup. It's quite spectacularly simple in that sense, but I'm sure water will change everything. With water: not everything, but acacia honey comes out and a bit of syrupy peach and honeysuckle too. That's pretty. Mouth (neat): even more vanilla sugar, lemon candies, lemon balm water, granny smith... The tension only grows, for a good cause. With water: all is very well, it becomes nicely lemony, with herbal teas in the background. Finish: medium length. Lemon, honey, maple syrup, lemon balm. Comments: but honestly, an ex-Margaux cask, what sense does that make? I mean in the previous one of course, this one is very good all around.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

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

 

February 8, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today Craigellachie again

As the big names are no longer widely available from the independents, which I think is a serious strategic error on the part of the owners (but let's move on, son) we are seeing more and more second-tier offerings coming through. Many are excellent, but not all; there's also a bit of anything and everything, like pure ethanol aged in STR casks, or prepared with red wine. Here you go again. Anyway, let's take a look at these little Craigs'…

 

Craigellachie 14 yo 2009/2023 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills of Scotland, hogshead, 346 bottles)

Craigellachie 14 yo 2009/2023 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills of Scotland, hogshead, 346 bottles) Four stars
It's good to see, on the label, that someone's approved this bottling. Indeed you see that on almost all bottles of whisky, ha. That said, the Jean Boyer company was our friend Jean Marie Kovacs', who had previously been at the helm of Auxil whose legendary bottles from the 1980s we keep tasting rather regularly. RIP Jean Marie, but very happy to see the Jean Boyer house continue to supply the French market with its very, very pretty spirits. Colour: white wine. Nose: very much in the spirit of the house, meaning more obsessed with the distillate than the casks. In this case, it's apple juice, pear and cherry, with just a small slice of fresh brioche. And that's very good. Mouth: what much pleasure, this barley spirit goes down all by itself, leaving traces of apple, acacia honey, pear, coffee cream and cinnamon roll along the way. Also a hint of ginger, but without any vulgarity. Finish: medium length, on apple cookies and a touch of salted butter caramel. A very nice lemon as a signature. Comments: nothing else to say, except that it's the kind of bottle that usually lasts only a week. A tribute to Craigellachie's distillate (I mean the Craigellachie distillery). Under these conditions, 43% vol. works very well.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Craigellachie 20 yo 2003/2023 (53.4%, WhiskySponge for Kensington Wine Market, refill barrel, 186 bottles)

Craigellachie 20 yo 2003/2023 (53.4%, WhiskySponge for Kensington Wine Market, refill barrel, 186 bottles) Five stars
The Kensington Wine Market is located in Calgary, Canada. They're well-known all over the world (or quite) and if I ever manage to go pester the Calgarians, I'll make sure to go pester the good people at the Kensington Wine Market too, if Justin T. lets me do it. Colour: straw. Nose: Craigellachie is really a very pretty distillate, always close to a rather fatty, oily barley in terms of smells, and marked by apples of all kinds. All this remains simple, but compelling, we are at the heart of the heart of malt whisky. With water: some precious or less precious herbal teas. And apples and barley syrup. Mouth (neat): it's really fatty, but also lemony, with a beautiful bitterness and this typical waxy side that reflects the natural sulphur of the distillate. We are not talking at all about the sulphur that comes from casks in which candles or wicks have burned. With water: but how good it is! Finish: quite long, you just have to avoid adding too much water which can unbalance it a bit at this stage. Yes, that's what we did, we are sometimes really silly at WF. Comments: well, I totally love this Canadian Craigellachie, which I find has a perfect aromatic honesty. I know what I mean.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

Craigellachie is clearly a malt on the rise, but I believe it rather hates wine casks, like that somewhat terrifying Portified Cadenhead we tasted on January 12th. The two versions we tasted today were in another world. Clean is cleaner.

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

 

February 6, 2024


Whiskyfun

A little bag of indie Glen Moray

Glen Moray is another distillery that I like to taste often. There is never any thunderous marketing, the distillate is elegant and extremely balanced, there are numerous finishings but they're never presented as the innovation of the century... In short, a highly respectable and, above all, friendly malt. And each time, I think of Stuart Thompson who managed the distillery before relaunching Ardbeg, at the time of Glenmorangie plc.

 

Glen Moray 12 yo 2011/2023 (52.5%, Dalgety, refill hogshead, cask # #1610000001-02)

Glen Moray 12 yo 2011/2023 (52.5%, Dalgety, refill hogshead, cask # #1610000001-02) Four stars
A range from Hannah Whisky Merchants. A simple refill hogshead such as this one should be perfect. Colour: white wine. Nose: one is reminded of icing sugar, lime zest, broken tree branches, cactus, green apple... All of this, we like. With water: damp chalk and raw wool stand out, along with a bit of porridge, grist, damp peat with also a hint of eucalyptus... Nothing to fault, it's really perfect, of great purity. Mouth (neat): very citrusy and on green apple, extremely lively, with a bit of green pepper and a hint of fruit candy, like lemon and grapefruit. Perfect tension, very refreshing. With water: and there you have it, the texture thickens, there's limoncello, pink pepper, crème de menthe, anise, and a tiny touch of chilli. Finish: long, fresh, lemony, and minty. Comments: when people speak of desert island drams they mention old Lagavulins or Laphroaigs from the 1960s. In reality, it's this kind of Glen Moray that would be more appropriate. But in a double-magnum.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Let's try a bourbon barrel...

Glen Moray 14 yo 2007/2021 (55.6%, Fruitful Spirits, bourbon barrel, cask #6223, 192 bottles)

Glen Moray 14 yo 2007/2021 (55.6%, Fruitful Spirits, bourbon barrel, cask #6223, 192 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it's really quite interesting to note the impact of a barrel here, that is to say a bit more vanilla and coconut, but all with elegance. In short, if one wanted to be lazy, one might say it's the 2011 with vanilla and coconut, plus a touch of passion fruit. That's quite nice too. With water: it comes much closer to the excellent 2011, with perhaps something a little more medicinal. New bandages, maybe. Mouth (neat): ultra-sharp, almost too aggressive despite an alcohol content that's not that high. It's a bit challenging but we love this style, it may require a bit of analysis (not of the whisky, of myself). With water: again the two converge, this one just has more pepper, this time. It's a bit more brutal. Finish: long, herbal, a bit more robust. One would almost say that this one is the youngest. Comments: it's just very good. There are many young Speysides that are excellent in this state, but one also understands that there may not be a market for millions of barrels of this fresh and natural style.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

Glen Moray 14 yo 2007/2022 (58.4%, Blackadder Raw Cask for HNWS Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #5693, 201 bottles)

Glen Moray 14 yo 2007/2022 (58.4%, Blackadder Raw Cask for HNWS Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #5693, 201 bottles) Four stars and a half
This time, we might be even quicker, as in theory we are going to be very close to the previous one. Colour: gold. Nose: more active cask impact, vanilla, banana, shredded coconut, but also lemon balm and camphor. All this works extremely well, even if there's this impression of "sniffing the board". With water: a lot of oolong tea... from Taiwan! How about that... Mouth (neat): perfect lemon, fresh grass, chalky, green apple. Taut as a bowstring. With water: masterful. Oolong with lemon (apologies to our Taiwanese friends) and just a little agave syrup. Finish: very long, ultra-precise, lemony. A bit of turmeric and ginger in the end – apparently, this baby should be good for our health. I must stop with these jokes, I'll end up in jail. Comments: here, I even forgot to mention Black Adder, which really speaks volumes.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

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

 

February 5, 2024


Whiskyfun

Glenallachie, indie and new batches

I thought that we could have two or three young Glenallachies offered without the intervention of too many hyperactive casks. I'm joking a bit, we love Glenallachie and all the people behind the brand (who are hyperactive themselves).

 

Glenallachie 14 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Discovery, bourbon cask, +/-2023)

Glenallachie 14 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Discovery, bourbon cask, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
It's interesting that G&M have been maturing Glenallachie for their more regular ranges for fourteen years. At that time, Glenallachie was not The Macallan (no kidding, S.) Colour: white wine. Nose: pine needles, resin, orange peel, then an enormous bag of apples of all kinds and a very slight metallic touch. Silverware, let's say. Mouth: it's sweet, sugary, on dried fruits, with a faintly woody and very mild spice profile. The texture is quite creamy and features a succession of liqueurs, triple sec, parfait amour, sweet amaros... There is, indeed, a pleasant sweet bitterness. Finish: medium length, sweet, malty. It almost feels like a bit of liqueur has been added, which is of course impossible. And even if it were possible, G&M wouldn't do it. Comments: all the sweetness of barley and apples. It goes down almost by itself.

SGP:641 - 83 points.

Glenallachie 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 9' (58.1%, OB, 2023)

Glenallachie 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 9' (58.1%, OB, 2023) Four stars and a half
We had stopped at Batch 4, which we absolutely a-do-red (WF 88). To be honest, they've been using a plethora of different casks (PX, oloroso, virgin, Rioja – yep) but last time, it wasn't too noticeable. Rioja, can you imagine! Colour: amber. Nose: one almost gets the impression that all these more or less strange casks cancelled each other out a bit and have instead generated massive notes of artisanal chocolate and prunes. We're really in the territory of 105 or A'bunadh, or even old Mac 10 C/S, which is rather good news, right? With water: very nice fudge, caramel, chocolate, and praline. Mouth (neat): yes, very good, quite A'bunadh-like in a way. I know it's not too cool to mention other brands in a tasting note, but the thing is, I'm not a pro, I'm poorly brought up, and I do exactly as I please. Toffee. With water: it's really very good, with more pepper this time. There are also minuscule notes of fresh fruit, raspberries... Could it be the Rioja? Finish: long, powerful but balanced, curiously fresh. Comments: you know what the Italians say, there are two things you should never watch being made, mortadella and the law. Perhaps we could add certain malt whiskies to the list, caro mio. Score unchanged, no reason to change it, even if there's a little more fruitiness here.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Good, the next one just to show that for once, WF isn't too far behind…

Glenallachie 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 10' (58.6%, OB, 2023)

Glenallachie 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 10' (58.6%, OB, 2023) Four stars
They say 'red wine' instead of 'Rioja'. Don't tell me I'm going to miss the presence of a Rioja in my malt whisky, sweet Vishnu! Colour: dark reddish apricot. There, the red wine is evident. Nose: more vinous, fruitier, more on small red and black berries, with a Burgundy side represented by touches of black cherries. There's definitely a cherry liqueur aspect, but water could change everything. With water: well no, it seems like if they've added guignolet while no one was watching. It's not bad, far from it, but it may be to Speyside malt what Kriek is to Belgian beer, if you see what I mean. For now… Mouth (neat): not bad at all but below Batch 9. Much more cherry jam, and a lot more pepper and ginger. With water: it's very good, it just tastes rather more 'flavoured' than batch 9, which was firmly established in the category of... Let's not repeat those brand names, please. Finish: long, sweet, with a lot of cherry. Comments: on the one hand, I love cherries in general, but on the other hand, the rather superlative Batch 9 had more class and... malt. Well, we'll see what Batch 11 is like, I hope it's not out yet, is it? Are we late once more?  

SGP:651 – 86 points.

I do hope they'll offer some nice refills one of these days. After all, whisky is also a matter of whisky, right?

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

 

February 4, 2024


Whiskyfun

Brandy, dis-moi oui!

Taulet

At Ferme de Taulet (ROW Spirits)

 

Well, I must already apologise for this truly cheesy headline, but the opportunity was just too good to miss. It's supposed to be a play on words with a song by a somewhat iconic French band from the 1980s, Rita Mitsouko, which Angus has recently taken a liking to. Anyway, let's move on... We'll try to do this vertically. Oh, and do you know what's great about armagnacs? They are not affected by the epidemic of using unlikely wine casks to enhance whiskies and, increasingly, rums. In short, no cosmetic surgery, no botox, no hyaluronic acid, no fake bottoms in armagnac. Even if some are currently pushing the use of extra-new wood a bit, we're not yet at the point of bourbonisation of armagnac. Aside from that, and generally speaking, the spirits business doesn't really do anything to fight deforestation, but does it have to? It's true that in France and in Europe, forest areas have never been as extensive since the Middle Ages and continue to grow every year. They've even doubled in France since the mid 19th century, with the replacement of charcoal by, well, coal and oil, but everyone thinks otherwise.

 

 

Domaine Artigaux 7 yo 2015/2023 'Bogosse' (57.6%, L'Encantada, Bas-armagnac, 2,000 bottles, 2023)

Domaine Artigaux 7 yo 2015/2023 'Bogosse' (57.6%, L'Encantada, Bas-armagnac, 2,000 bottles, 2023) Four stars
An interesting double-maturation in pedunculate oak and sessile oak from France. This is pure ugni blanc (a.k.a. trebbiano) so possibly towards cognac… Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts pretty acetic and acidic, solventy, closer to some extreme malt whisky perhaps. Some glue, then green apples, then rounder notes, tarte tatin, cider, then liquorice cream… I'm not certain I've ever found as much varnish and apple in an armagnac. And perhaps pears too. With water: it's vanilla that unfolds, shortbread, fudge, tarte tatin indeed... Mouth (neat): it's very strong and it's very good, despite a kind of aggressiveness, this time close to that of a very young bourbon. Again, a lot of varnish, wood glue, nutmeg, as well as applejack... This brutal side has something fascinating about it, as the French Canadians would say (hey?). With water: a pure crème caramel accompanied by green tea. Finish: long and powerful with or without water. A hint of rye and even more new wood in the aftertaste. Comments: a real wrestler that will go up against very young malts and raw bourbons straight from the cask without any complex. Very modern.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

Arton 2013/2022 'La Flamme' (49.5%, OB, Haut-armagnac)

Arton 2013/2022 'La Flamme' (49.5%, OB, Haut-armagnac) Four stars
Pure ugni blanc once more. We found the 2011 excellent (WF 86). La Flamme d'Arton is promoted as the second cru of Château Arton, which is a very funny concept in spirits. Young vines? Young armagnacs? Refill wood? Colour: amber. Nose: quite gentle, but once again, there's something modern, almost closer to grain than to grape. I mean, 'almost'. Plenty of fudge, crème brûlée, even flambéed banana, then very ripe apple and orange cake. It's rather fresh and lively on the nose. Mouth: more powerful, also more rustic, quite peppery with some unexpected touches of rose liqueur. A slightly oriental side in this young Haut-Armagnac, a seemingly seldom-used appellation. Turkish delights and mandarins. Finish: of very nice length and now really very fruity, always with that oriental side. We're almost on the banks of the Bosphorus. Comments: one could almost smoke a nargileh while tasting this young Arton. Don't we all have nargilehs in our basements, brought back from a trip to the middle-east and just never used since. No?
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Ferme de Taulet 14 yo 2009/2023 (47. 85%, ROW Spirits, Ténarèze, cask #7, 585 bottles)

Ferme de Taulet 14 yo 2009/2023 (47. 85%, ROW Spirits, Ténarèze, cask #7, 585 bottles) Four stars
Pure ugni blanc once more, this time from Larressingle, a magnificent village in the north of the Gers. Colour: pure gold. Nose: this one's fruitier and more floral, in a way easier, which is certainly not a flaw. Oranges, dandelions, wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle flowers, tangerines, pink bananas, williams pears, rosewater… You're almost already drinking this one while you're only nosing it, if you see what I mean. Mouth: a real sin, I wonder if I'm going to have to go to confession after finishing my glass. Lots of citrus (but not sour citrus) and an avalanche of all kinds of plums. It's only after a minute or two that the more rustic side of a Ténarèze comes through, with a bit of glue and putty, some wood juice (but of course, there's no woodiness in there), fairly acidic coffee beans... it's amusing, this two-stage aspect. Finish: long, rustic, still with a bit of glue and varnish. That suits it very well. Fruit kernels in the aftertaste, a bit of kirsch... Comments: you can picture it. A Ténarèze to be savoured with a beret on your head (one day we'll create a shop of such essential artefacts on WF).

SGP:652 - 87 points.

Domaine Cutxan 17 yo 2005/2023 (50.2%, L'Encantada, Bas-armagnac, cask #33, 425 bottles)

Domaine Cutxan 17 yo 2005/2023 (50.2%, L'Encantada, Bas-armagnac, cask #33, 425 bottles) Four stars
A very small domaine near Margestau that's never quite been available under this name, as far as I can tell. Colour: full gold. Nose: kougelhopf! I know, that's not very Gersois or Landais, but we're really all on some perfect brioche dough, plus raisins and roasted almonds. Extremely straightforward, compact, lovely. With water: touches of menthol, hay, dried flowers… Mouth (neat): classic fruity armagnac this time. Peaches, mangos, almonds, plums, teas and nuts coated with honey. With water: another sin. Easy (again, that's an asset), with rather many ripe pears and peaches. Finish: of good length, with some maple syrup and some honey, then more bitterish, leafy notes in the aftertaste. Comments: Just pure pleasure here.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Ladevèze 19 yo 2004/2023 (54%, ROW Spirits, Ténarèze, cask #31, 57 bottles)

Ladevèze 19 yo 2004/2023 (54%, ROW Spirits, Ténarèze, cask #31, 57 bottles) Four stars and a half
Some very rare grape varietal here, 'plant de graisse'. I have to confess I had never heard of 'plant de graisse' before, it's also called simply 'graisse' (fat). Colour: pure gold. Nose: and pure Ténarèze, as far as I can tell. It's amusing, and we know the brain works with images, but now I find oil and fat, especially from sunflower and peanut. In the background, peaches and oranges, as well as a few rose petals and white nougat. I must say, I find this quite superb. With water: incredible viscosity, could this be that famous grease? Otherwise, there's cut hay, prairie honey, and very ripe apples. Mouth (neat): very powerful with a very aromatic side, focusing on flowers (jellies and jams) and exotic fruits. This one has the most mango so far. Oh, what we wouldn't do for mango! With water: once again, it moves a bit towards a young Cognac, but we won't complain. Peach and honey in all their glory. Finish: long, perfectly balanced. A small, appropriate herbaceous tension in the aftertaste, as often (grape skin). Comments: excellent, it's a pity there are so few bottles.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Aurian 20 yo 2003/2023 (47.6%, Maltbarn, armagnac, barrique #38)

Aurian 20 yo 2003/2023 (47.6%, Maltbarn, armagnac, barrique #38) Five stars
A merchant's release with rather scant details, but in any case, here's the most beautiful label in a long while. They should exhibit them at contemporary art fairs and sell signed bottles for tens of thousands of Euros. After all, it is said that art is not meant to be useful but is intended for contemplation rather than action. Consequently, we're not going to taste this armagnac. I'm jesting, right. Colour: gold. Nose: a few notes of flint to start, even a tiny bit of smoke, then peaches and pears at the bottom of the rim of the glass, even rose and lychee, and a bit of varnish and foliage at the top of the same glass. Indeed, I would remind you that all spirits or even wine don't smell the same depending on whether you place your nose at the top or bottom of the rim, it's a matter of lighter or heavier molecules. Mouth: it's almost terrifying how fruity it is. Mango is back, peach of course, but also papaya, normally ripened pineapple and blood orange. All this is topped off with juicy sultanas and orange blossom honey. Finish: not immensely long but wonderfully fruity. Bitterness in the aftertaste: close to zero. Comments: I would be curious to know if there is a blend behind this magnificent baby, or if it's a 'constant' single cask from somewhere.

SGP:751 - 90 points.

Domaine d'Espérance 2001/2022 (49%, OB, Bas-armagnac, folle blanche, cask #71)

Domaine d'Espérance 2001/2022 (49%, OB, Bas-armagnac, folle blanche, cask #71) Five stars
This, you understand, was produced by the Count and Countess de Montesquiou-Fezensac d'Artagnan, in Mauvezin d'Armagnac. Dieu pour guide et l'épée pour compagne! Colour: rich gold. Nose: nothing warlike here, this is an armagnac in all gentleness, with numerous honeys (which is very different from a multifloral honey), honeysuckle, orange blossom, fresh panettone, a few drops of agave syrup, and even cane... It's very, very beautiful and devoid of any rusticity, with even a slightly muscat-like edge. Nothing like the highly acidic white grapes that have actually been used. Mouth: everything is perfect here, the aromatic profile of the nose is found again, plus a slight toasted aspect and more coffee. It's a bit less lively than the Aurian, but on the same high level for me. Finish: rather long, on honey, orange, and tobacco. I had tasted, a long time ago, a tobacco ice cream that had been sublime, this armagnac somewhat reminds me of that. Comments: different styles but the same very high quality as that of Maltbarn. Also a bit of bitter orange.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Well, that concludes the first part of our vertical, with only young armagnacs distilled after the year 2000. If all goes well, we'll have much older ones next time.

(Merci à armagnac.de)

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

 

February 2, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today
Deanston de la Muerte

We're big fans of Deanston; it's one of the distilleries that, in my opinion, has managed to make the most of 'unusual' casks to offer a broad range of amusing and sometimes quite successful variants, despite the rather 'flavoured' aspect of some offerings. But this time, we're going to push the envelope further than usual, so hold on tight…

If some tinker with our whiskies, we can tinker with our illustrations too, right? (Scotsman with sombrero, AI)

Sombrero

 

Deanston 10 yo 'Bordeaux Red Wine Finish' (46,3%, OB, 2018)

Deanston 10 yo 'Bordeaux Red Wine Finish' (46,3%, OB, 2018) Three stars
Indeed, it took us some time to decide to taste this cabernet-flavoured beast. Honestly, I already struggle with 'Bordeaux Blends' made all over the world with pseudo-French place names (clos, château, domaine etc.), so you can imagine, Scottish whiskies with 'Bordeaux' in big bold letters… Do that with 'Champagne' and the same day you'll have a black Mercedes 500 parked outside your door, with four burly men over 6'2" inside. Now it's probably very good, let's see, but the 'single' designation is starting to seem a bit overstretched for all these single malts whiskies. Colour: pale gold. No rosé. Nose: a bit of soap and curry at the start, then it turns to paraffin and porridge with syrups of raspberry and cherry. Then we get blood orange, pink pepper, overripe figs and nutmeg. I must admit it's not bad. Mouth: it's very odd, with pepper and strawberry (just missing the... champagne) then gingerbread. The good news is that everything then falls into place, with more chocolate, cinnamon, and cherry stems. Finish: rather long, spicy and on raspberry. Hints of bell pepper, must be the cabernet. Comments: I never drink whisky to find hints of raspberry, I much prefer raspberry brandy for that. That said, I was bracing for much worse, it's actually not bad at all for one of the unapologetic Doritos of malt whisky.

SGP:561 - 82 points.

Deanston 15 yo 'Tequila Cask Finish' (52.5%, OB, 2023)

Deanston 15 yo 'Tequila Cask Finish' (52.5%, OB, 2023) Three stars
Yes, this one is recent. And of course, tequila casks are 'traditional' in Scotland, there are loads mentioned in the 'Bond Books' of all distilleries from the 19th and 20th centuries. Come on, what's this joke? Lagavulin already made us smirk with their Special Release flavoured with tequila – which is very good, I must say – so what do you think. But one must have a bit of a laugh. Colour: pale gold. Nose: they should at least give the name of the tequila or even the 'NOM code' of the distillery. I hope these aren't tequila casks made in Clackmannanshire or elsewhere. Otherwise, there's lemon, rhubarb, candied ginger, and cake batter. Quite nice, hombre. With water: more on bread and tequila, but it still feels like 'whisky'. Mouth (neat): I'm not sure, it starts to veer off in different directions, with some spices not extremely well integrated. Notes of salt and gherkin. With water: it gets better, but this rose water and this lavender are unusual. Finish: medium length with more lavender. Comments: I don't feel very legitimate commenting on this kind of bottle which I would never buy anyway. I even think that shops should start separating on the shelves the 'traditional' whiskies from those flavoured like this. I also wonder if Mexican whisky enthusiasts buy these things. It's not that it's bad, not at all, on the contrary, but all these finishes are starting to bug, in my opinion.

SGP:551 - 81 points.

Update, so we will have already tasted Deanston flavoured in casks of:
Bordeaux
Cognac
Fino
Kentucky wood
Madeira
Sauternes
Stout
Tequila
Virgin oak
That makes nine, excepting traditional woods. At ten, we pop open the... champagne.

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

 

February 1, 2024


Whiskyfun

Blended Scotch as in an old bag

This means haphazardly and without any logic, other than the fact that they are all blends of malt whisky and grain whisky. We might start with one or two aperitifs.

Black Ferguson

 

 

King William IV 'VOP' (40%, OB, John Gillon, France, blended Scotch, +/- 1970)

King William IV 'VOP' (40%, OB, John Gillon, France, blended Scotch, +/- 1970) Four stars and a half
John Gillon was Ainslie & Heilbron's cousin company. They were leased Glenury Royal distillery (mothballed 1985) which was probably providing a good proportion of the malt side in this blend. It is the first time we're formally tasting King William IV. Colour: gold. Nose: quite a lot of menthol and camphor, definitely the effect of aging in the bottle, along with vegetable soups enhanced with sage and parsley. Also old beeswax, wax polish, sandalwood, but also fruits that have stood the test of time very well, like peach. It seems fresher and more vibrant than its cousin Royal Edinburgh from the same era (Ainslie - Clynelish). Mouth: quite superb to be honest, with a magnificent blend of mint, liquorice, aged Cointreau, and aromatic herbs, which could be summarised as 'old chartreuse'. A superb salty edge. Finish: almost long, always balanced, fruity, mentholated, with this old side that's neither worn nor dominating. Hardly any dust, almost! Comments: well then, bravo, we're starting too high again, by Zeus. Honestly, I wasn't expecting this.

SGP:562 - 89 points.

Good, why not do a little more archaeology while we're at it…

Black & Ferguson 'Adelphi Aberdeen Liqueur' (OB, +/-1900)

Black & Ferguson 'Adelphi Aberdeen Liqueur' (OB, +/-1900) Four stars
From a sealed bottle with an intact foil but no paper labels left. Not too sure about any relations between this baby and Glasgow's Adelphi Distillery, which was closed by new owners the DCL in 1907. Now the house Black & Ferguson, whisky distributors, were located in Aberdeen's Adelphi indeed, so I doubt this would be some real single Adelphi. Too bad as it could have been a self-blend, as Adelphi were operating both pot stills and a Coffey still. Pff… Colour: straw. Nose: more of a variety of syrups, cough syrup, then balms, oils, lanolin, and then a bit of damp earth and even barley. Imagine, barley from nearly a hundred and thirty years ago. In short, it's smooth, elegant, rather light but not at all fragile or too diluted, if you see what I mean. But as we know, the devil is in the details... or rather, on the palate. Mouth: it is more fragile, a bit cardboard-like and too earthy, as one might expect, but honey and old sweet wines create a nice binding. Then it evolves towards chicken broth and salty notes, with also an old cognac side. But as is always said, old spirits converge, even in the bottle (but much more slowly than in the cask). Finish: fairly short but pleasant, never drying or bitter. A little umami. Comments: it has held up really well. You can tell it's definitely a blend, the texture remains lighter than that of a malt, even after all these years. Here's a real score that never takes into account rarity, price, or age, I must remind you.

SGP:441 - 86 points.

Further down in time…

Scotch Whiskey 1885/1890 'Imported via London' (M.E. Bellows' Son, New York)

Scotch Whiskey 1885/1890 'Imported via London' (M.E. Bellows' Son, New York) Four stars and a half
Very interesting and pretty well-known bottle. Youtubers beware, you will have noticed the use of the name 'whiskey', while so many Irish are/were using 'whisky'. We've seen several other bottles of Scotch sporting 'whiskey', not only American imports. You will have noticed the young age too, as well as the mention of a vintage and year of bottling (or import). This awesome page will tell you more about M.E. Bellows' Son and their work as early independent bottlers (kind of). You'll see one of their own-label Glenlivets, for example. Colour: full gold. Nose: totally flabbergasting and a little bit in the style of some old bourbons, such as the Very Old Fitzgeralds that have made such a big impression on me that I keep citing them. Sublime walnut and honey cakes, beeswax, raisin bread, oriental pastries, ointments and bitters in the background... This time there's absolutely no sign of fatigue, and yet there's no doubt that it's a very old whisky, even if it doesn't seem extremely 'Scotch' – but that could be due to the use of a rather large proportion of grain whisky. There's even a bit of coconut. Mouth: almost no fatigue here either, but definitely more mint and camphor, as well as grain, coconut, marshmallows... But the slight cardboard notes are typical of a very old whisky. The mouthfeel remains a bit light, like that of a young bourbon at 40%. It remains excellent and over time it increasingly moves towards rum, this time in the style of an old Cuban bottle, like a Bacardi from well before you-know-what. Finish: a bit short but that's entirely normal. Roasted nuts, camphor, paraffin. Aniseed as a signature. Comments: one can envision chic New Yorkers savouring this gentle little gem in an upscale Manhattan bar around 1890, perhaps while listening to the brand new operetta by Robert Planquette... 'Rip Van Winkle'. Well, now we're mixing everything up.

SGP:631 - 88 points.

Right, those were supposed to be little apéritifs, so let's move on… and let's take it easy...

Enigma 25 yo (41.4%, Cadenhead, blended Scotch, refill sherry butts, 2023)

Enigma 25 yo (41.4%, Cadenhead, blended Scotch, refill sherry butts, 2023) Three stars and a half
A fine age for a blend. The alcohol level, if natural, could indicate (pure speculation) that some older casks, perhaps having fallen below the fateful 40% mark, have been added, as has been done in the past, notably at Springbank I believe. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed pretty touches of old wood, chamomile, old walnuts, a bit of sea water, sweet mustard. The grain isn't very present, if there's a good proportion of it. Maybe those slight notes of cellulose varnish? Mouth: the woodiness is more pronounced on the palate, the old nuts even more so, the raisins very dry, the herbal teas quite dry, then we have black tea, and perhaps notes of some old Malibu that was sitting, long abandoned, at the back of the cupboard. That might be the grain whisky. Finish: short and quite drying. The bottom of the teapot... Touches of kumquats improve things in the aftertaste. Comments: very nice but the woodiness is marked. Nothing to complain about, the price is or was mild, I believe.

SGP:461 - 83 points.

Turntable 'Collaboration Drop #1' (46%, OB x Starward, blended whisky, 2023)

Turntable 'Collaboration Drop #1' (46%, OB x Starward, blended whisky, 2023) Four stars
But this isn't Scottish! I mean not fully Scottish. Is a part of it Scottish? Ah yes, it's been published, I've just seen it. 39% Starward from Australia, 29% Inchgower, 22% North British, 10% Caol Ila. I'm not sure that the North British part really has a say in this cheerful blend. Colour: slightly rosé gold (apricot). Nose: but yes! There's bubblegum, candy apples, quince jelly, raspberry, nail polish... But it's true that the Starward part was ex-red wine, so this fruity varnish doesn't necessarily come from the grain. Maybe from both. Mouth: I prefer this palate, with the peat balancing the red wine, notes of bay leaf, cranberry juice, black tea but fresher than in the Cadenhead (more top of the teapot, ha), then juniper and coriander seeds, lastly clove and cumin. Finish: medium, on chocolate, strawberry jam, bay leaves, and lapsang souchong. In short, perfect breakfast. Comments: I really like this amusingly globalized one that doesn't lose you, despite the unusual recipe. Long live the world!

SGP:663 - 85 points.

Fruitful Spirits 21 yo (45.4%, Blended Scotch, sherry butt, 520 bottles, 2023)

Fruitful Spirits 21 yo (45.4%, Blended Scotch, sherry butt, 520 bottles, 2023) Four stars
A blend of Edrington stocks further married in a single butt for four years. Let's see if it is very 'Glenrothy'. Colour: gold. Nose: it does what it says, it is pretty fruity but rather on various dried ones. Raisins, dried bananas, dried pears, then cassata and panettone… Lovely focus here, I also enjoy these notes of mint tea that start to come out after a minute or two. Mouth: very easy, going down well, with a few metallic and smoky touches that may stem from HP. No? It's then becoming more tea-ish, with also faint notes of sour fruits (cider apples). Finish: medium, with hints of bitter and, perhaps, a drop of gin. Comments: very good blend, wonderful compact nose.
SGP:552 - 85 points.

The Deacon (40%, Blended Scotch, +/-2023)

The Deacon (40%, OB, Blended Scotch, +/-2023) Three stars
Ouch, 'a premium blended Scotch Whisky made from hand-selected whiskies' bearing a plague doctor on the label. Typically a Covid-time idea, if I may… What's more, the brand belongs to the same company as the dreadful Bumbu 'rum', which is almost as frightening as a plague doctor. Having said that, some are making both Don Papa and Clynelish, so others may also make both terrible 'rum' and an excellent blended Scotch. Why not. Colour: gold. Nose: fine indeed, rather bready, malty, with whiffs of pilsner and several herbal teas, as well as sultanas, orange zests, scones and a little smokiness. No problemo. Mouth: much more grassy smoke, menthol, thyme tea, and just salty peat. I don't know why, I'm reminded of Ailsa Bay. Finish: oranges are back. Comments: much nicer than I had thought, actually one of the best simple high-vol blends I've tried recently. Probably good for making nice smoky cocktails, all you have to do is stick a Stop All Wars sticker over that frightening plague doctor, to not frighten your guests.
SGP:454 – 80 points (that's 65 points above Bumbu, seriously).

Last one please, let's make it a recent old one rather than an ancient young one.

The King of Scots 50 yo (46%, Douglas Laing, 75th Anniversary, blended Scotch, 2023)

The King of Scots 50 yo (46%, Douglas Laing, 75th Anniversary, blended Scotch, 2023) Five stars
Kudos to Douglas Laing for their 75th Anniversary (I repeat myself), kudos for composing a 50-year-old, and kudos for bottling it at 46% instead of 40%, as others might have done for a blend. Moreover, this brand is the first of the company and was launched in 1948! It remains to be seen which King of Scotland it was, perhaps the nose of this glorious old whisky will tell us (yeah, right...) By the way, the price is really decent for a 50-year-old, even for a blend (£625). Colour: gold. Nose: one cannot help but think of those old Invergordons, and perhaps Garnheath, or Strathclyde... In short, old grains that have finally become superb after many years in the cask. Some very nice old coconut liqueur, overripe apples, vanilla, then we move on to aged Sauternes, vanilla fudge, shortbread from Mr. Walker's, pistachio nougat... What we really don't find is malt, but in this context, it might not even be necessary. Maybe we'll find it on the palate? Mouth: oh this is pretty! Between old grain and old bourbon, with touches of varnish, a dry fruitiness, lots of nuts of all kinds, bitter orange, a touch of brandy (Armenian style), a well-controlled woodiness, a bit of bitter coffee, strands of tobacco... Finish: it becomes more bitter but that's the fate of all very old whiskies. Walnut wine, cocoa, tobacco, and finally, that famous old coconut liqueur that seals it all. And bitter orange liqueur. Comments: yes, of course, under these conditions, I love grain whisky. I didn't see the malt passing by, but I'm sure it was there, lurking in the shadows.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

(Thank you Joe H, Morten, The Auction Centre and the Thompson Bros.)

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2024

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Brora 45 yo 1977/2022 (48.2%, OB, Prima & Ultima, refill American oak hogshead, 794 bottles, 2023) - WF 93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Burke's Fine Old Irish Whiskey 'Three Star' (45%, OB, +/-1930s) - WF 92

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
None

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Bielle 20 yo 2002/2022 (49.4%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM029, 57 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's thumbs up this month:
Ardnamurchan 2017/2023 (59.7%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, The Pioneers, Single Malt, sherry hogshead, cask #374) - WF 90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
El Ron Prohibido 15 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Mexico, +/-2023)  - WF 25

January 2024 - part 2 <--- February 2024 - part 1 ---> February 2024 - part 2


 

 
   
 


Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Craigellachie 20 yo 2003/2023 (53.4%, WhiskySponge for Kensington Wine Market, refill barrel, 186 bottles)

Glenturret 35 yo 1988/2023 (51.2%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, bourbon hogshead, cask #537, 208 bottles)

The King of Scots 50 yo (46%, Douglas Laing, 75th Anniversary, blended Scotch, 2023)

Aurian 20 yo 2003/2023 (47.6%, Maltbarn, armagnac, barrique #38)

Domaine d'Espérance 2001/2022 (49%, OB, Bas-armagnac, folle blanche, cask #71)

Domaine de Laballe 1991/2023 (45.2%, Kirsch Import, Journal des Kirsch #4, Bas-armagnac, 136 bottles)

Domaine Lous Pibous 27 yo 1995/2023 (52.3%, L'Encantada, Collection Renaissance, Bas-armagnac, folle blanche, cask #140, 310 bottles)

Ferme de Bacoge 33 yo 1990/2023 (50.3%, ROW Spirits, Bas-armagnac, sister casks #54 & 4, 676 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
@