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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
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February 2024 - part 1 <--- February 2024 - part 2 ---> March 2024 - part 1

 

February 29, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today Auchentoshan

As usual, apéritif then older glory.

(Montrachet D.R.C. 2020, 10,000 to 13,000€ a bottle but in general, free shipping!)

Montrachet

Auchentoshan 12 yo 'Delicate and Layered' (40%, OB, +/-2023)

Auchentoshan 12 yo 'Delicate and Layered' (40%, OB, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
We've tried a slightly earlier expression one year ago but since we've got this newer batch too, why not have it. It's funny that more and more distillers would add descriptions right to the names of their bottlings, such as 'Delicate and Layered'. Cousins Bowmore do the same, with for example the 10 yo 'Dark and Intense'. Hope we'll soon stumble upon a Glen Garioch 12 yo 'Fast and Furious', after all they bottle that one at 48%. But back to this little Auchentoshan…  Colour: gold. Nose: a little dry sherry and a little sour wood at first, plus pencil shavings and green walnuts. That's a very pleasant combination. Peaches and pears chiming in then, whiffs of aspirin tablets and plaster, bread, orange blossom water… I think this is pretty nice, rather layered indeed, and good news, not that 'delicate'. Mouth: some oak feels, some sawdust, some slightly oversteeped tea, cinnamon, apple peel… But lemons and green apples are adding the much-needed fruitiness. Finish: medium, with some sawdust for sure, but once again citrus and apples do balance it. Comments: I have the feeling that they've made good progress. It's still a little oak-driven but much less so that most of their NAS expressions.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

A much older one please… There's this new Sponge that, I believe, came out in December, for example…

Auchentoshan 31 yo 1991/2023 (53.6%, Whisky Sponge, 2nd fill barrel, 179 bottles)

Auchentoshan 31 yo 1991/2023 (53.6%, Whisky Sponge, 2nd fill barrel, 179 bottles) Five stars
We've tried quite few 1991s already but all but one were much younger. Old age may have made it creamier and more on jams and crystallised tropical fruits, but on the other hand, this was a 2nd fill barrel, so rather a lot of freshness could have remained within the spirit. In other words, time rather than wood. Colour: light gold/chardonnay. Nose: chardonnay! Only half-joking mind you. Surely some 'white soil' as they have in Champagne or in Jerez, both very chalky, then many herbs, leaves, peelings and grasses, with something reminding me of high-end cachaças. A funny olive oil + aniseed tango, and again some fresh chalky Chardonnay (in refill American oak, ha). With water: awesome damp chalk, marl, and crushed slate. Just a little menthol. Mouth (neat): it really is an Auchentoshan that went beyond mangos and that became very complex, even if there is a feeling of oneness, like in a great white Bourgogne or even a proper Champagne blanc de blancs, both very floral. Is there a way of adding bubbles? With water: vine peaches, yellow peaches and white peaches in utter abundance. Finish: mirabelles and once again a mineral, chalky, slightly salty touch. But remember we ought to use the word 'salinity' rather than 'salt'. Comments: awesome Auchentoshan-Montrachet by the Sponge. Bizarrely, 1991 was not such a great vintage in Burgundy – but apparently, it was in the Lowlands.
SGP:662 - 91 points.

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2024

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Glenturret 35 yo 1988/2023 (51.2%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, bourbon hogshead, cask #537, 208 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
King William IV 'VOP' (40%, OB, John Gillon, France, blended Scotch, +/- 1970) - WF 89

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Glenallachie 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 9' (58.1%, OB, 2023)  - WF 88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
TDL 13 yo 2009/2023 (62.9%, The Whisky Jury, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #3, 259 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's thumbs up this month:
Hampden 1 yo 'The 8 Marks Collection' (52%, OB, La Maison & Velier, ex-bourbon, 8 x 20cl, 2024) - various scores

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Hawkins 8 yo 'Cognac Cask Finish' (40%, OB, blended whisky, Albania, +/-2023) - WF 40
 

February 28, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today Braeval again
(In the series 'the first shall be last')

We really want to make it to 100 different Braeval / Braes of Glenlivet before this little website explodes like a Space X rocket. Right, we're at 65. After all, we've had enough Ardbeg (500+), Macallan (350+), Bowmore (600+) or Highland Park (600), have we not.


(Dorothy Carse - geograph.org)

Braeval has been expanded two times, which goes to prove that the output is of good class – and needed. However, Pernod had mothballed it between 2002 and 2006. Oh and we know that Braeval takes good sherry like a champ, but we'll first have an ex-bourbon. Kind of…

 

 

Braeval 8 yo 2014/2023 (56.8%, Murray McDavid, Benchmark, bourbon cask finish, cask #9900254, 286 bottles) Three stars
A bourbon cask finish, that's funny, I suppose it was first fill bourbon. Colour: straw. Nose: it reminds of those mezcal-flavoured agave sweets that you can find in Mexico, they sometimes come with worms inside. Also very grassy, yeasty, gristy, with bags of green apples and, well, an extremely moderate bourbonness. Not much vanilla. Somewhat in the style of those crazy young Glendullans or Glen Speys that they were having at Cadenhead around the mid-1990s (a.k.a. dragster fuels). With water: some very noticeable saponification, plus fern and tomato bush. More yeast, while the soapiness fades away. Mouth (neat): very grassy and bitter lemon skin. Really extreme, I doubt the plan was to make us drink this neat. With water: now we're talking. Lime, fruit peel, lemon drops, matcha tea, and just some grass and green peppercorns. Raw but not unpleasant. Finish: long, ultra-grassy. Eating lemon peel – with the bitter white stuff, the name keeps escaping me. Right, google tells us it's 'albedo', not sure I'll remember that forever. Comments: rather insanely raw but it takes us back to 1995. Quite an elixir – as long as we do not need to listen to TLC.
SGP:371 - 80 points.

Please sherry…

Braeval 15 yo 2009/2024 (59.3%, Lady of the Glen, refill butt, cask #6764, 182 bottles)

Braeval 15 yo 2009/2024 (59.3%, Lady of the Glen, refill butt, cask #6764, 182 bottles) Four stars
I believe it is the first single cask bottled in 2024 that we're trying, let's celebrate and thank Hannah Whisky Merchants! And hope any bottle shock is gone. Colour: amber. Nose: say a blend of walnut liqueur, kirschwasser and raspberry eau-de-vie, plus touches of spritz and madeleines. An enormous bag of madeleines. With water: very nice marzipan, more raw kirschwasser yet, whiffs of dried rose petals, Turkish delights, IPA… Mouth (neat): very good tighter sherry, no 's******', some ginger and pepper, more kirschwasser, Seville oranges, sweet pepper (Timut-style)… With water: it gets really spicy. Ginger cookies, mustard, turmeric, fresh-cracked pepper, cinchona… Finish: it does have a tonic-water aspect – or oak-aged martini. Cinnamon and many other spices in the aftertaste. Comments: like this a lot, this really isn't a lazy whisky. Big boy.
SGP:661 - 85 points.

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

 

February 27, 2024


Whiskyfun

A Single Single Grain Whisky session (Invergordon)

What actually defines 'grain whisky' in Scotland is not, contrarily to popular belief, the fact that it's not made out of 100% malted barley, but the fact that it's not batch-distilled in pot stills. Which means that if you distill 100% malted barley in a column /continuous still, what you get is grain whisky. That is, for example, a variant that they do indeed produce at Loch Lomond Distillery (Loch Lomond Single Grain, 100% malted barley in Coffee Still).


Invergordon (Invergordon)

Nikka's rather famous 'Coffey Malt' would also be categorized as a grain whisky had it been made in Scotland. In any case, this little session will be, I believe, a first on WF, as we'll do a short verticale of only Whyte & Mackay's Invergordon, a fairly recent grain distillery in Roth-shire that was built between 1959 and 1961. In my book it is a top-grain-distillery, if not the very best. But first, the only blended grain we have at hand as the traditional apéro…

 

 

Blended Grain Scotch Whisky 35 yo 1987/2023 (55.1%, Hogshead Imports, second fill barrel, 268 bottles) Three stars
An astonishing and mysterious Scottish blended grain straight from the Netherlands. It could also be a 'teaspooned' single grain, you never know.  Colour: gold. Nose: very typical grain whisky, with a combination of medicinal alcohol, acetone, vanilla, coconut and limoncello. With water: smoother, with much less acetone and much more buttered cakes, shortbread… Mouth (neat): sweet, with really a lot of coconut wine, antique Malibu, sweet custard, also an unexpected feeling of sugarcane juice, bordering rumness. There's also a little halva (sesame, pistachio) and just buttered and caramelised popcorn, plus more and more old wood, which is normal. With water: rather more of that old wood, as well as some rather oaky new-world chardonnay. And perhaps a little viognier. Finish: medium, on similar flavours, coconut, chardonnay, varnish… Bits of lemon zest in the aftertaste, which works. Comments: it's really good, I think. You just have to enjoy coconut and vanilla.
SGP:640 - 82 points.

Invergordon 32 yo 1990/2022 (49.3%, Acla Selection, barrel, cask #3, 143 bottles)

Invergordon 32 yo 1990/2022 (49.3%, Acla Selection, barrel, cask #3, 143 bottles) Four stars
After the Dutch, the Swiss, all good friends of whisky. By the way, isn't Invergordon the northernmost Scottish grain distillery? Colour: gold. Nose: I've always thought Invergordon was 'a little closer to malt' than the other grain whiskies, it's to be wondered if they're not using more malted barley than the others. Remember there ought to be malted barley in Scottish grain, its enzymes are necessary and even required to transform the starch into sugar (long story short). Anyway, awesome nose here, deeper than that of the blend, fatter on the nose, with more well-defined fruits (melon, mango, lemon) and really not too much coconut and vanilla. We're really closer to malt whisky, say to the Lowlands. Mouth: excellent, sweet, fruity, with marshmallows, icing sugar, jelly babies, citrus drops and all-vitamin fruit juice (I take the opportunity to stock up on the much needed vitamin D, ha). Finish: medium, perhaps a tiny tad too sweet for me now, but it's still upper-echelon grain whisky in my book. Comments: this little barrel of 'pretty malty' grain whisky has been brought up very well.
SGP:740 - 86 points.

One must remember that not so long ago, precious malt fillings were not housed in new wood, nor even in first-fill barrels before these had been duly prepared with grain whisky. But times have certainly changed, as we have entered the era of wood-driven whiskies many moons ago.

Invergordon 35 yo 1988/2023 (55.4%, Dramfool's Middle Cut, bourbon barrel, cask #1481, 154 bottles)

Invergordon 35 yo 1988/2023 (55.4%, Dramfool's Middle Cut, bourbon barrel, cask #1481, 154 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: relatively light, rather lemony, with apples and dough, gresini, whiffs of yuzu, a pack of cream eggs, a small glass of coconut liqueur, a glass of sauvignon blanc… With water: it's becoming more complex, with some touches of old copper, leek, turnip and celeriac, green tea… Mouth (neat): sweet and citrusy. We often mention limoncello, well this is almost pure limoncello (aged in oak for thirty-five years, mind you). With water: Fruit Loops (do they still make them?) and Juicy Fruit (same question). Notes of light rum, only better (say Havana Club). Finish: medium, sweet, on liqueurs and fruit drops. Green tea putting it all straight in the aftertaste. Comments: well, unless matured in good sherry for a very long time, grain whisky will always be a little thin, but there's no unbearable lightness in these Invergordons, on the contrary.
SGP:750 - 85 points.

Invergordon 48 yo 1973/2022 (40.1%, Acla Selection, barrel, 119 bottles)

Invergordon 48 yo 1973/2022 (40.1%, Acla Selection, barrel, 119 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: shh, let's listen to this very old one… Distant whiffs of ripe passion fruits, garden mangos (obviously not from a garden in Alsace or in Switzerland, not yet), papayas, some superlative white Meursault (yes, that's chardonnay too, and yes, they also make red Meursault), those pink bananas that we keep mentioning… Well you would almost believe this is an old Bushmills or Littlemill, or even Lochside. It dazzles. But shh, only 40.1% vol. … Mouth: this is a confirmation. Same fruit combo, plus a small mocha-spoonful of manuka honey. Moderate vanilla, pineapple and coconut – so it's not exactly becoming pina-colada-y, and we are grateful to it for that. Finish: not very long 'of course' but never excessively, well, pina-colada-y. Comments: one of the best recent unsherried old grain whiskies, without a doubt. Shh…
SGP:730 - 90 points.

Let's push this to 50 (years of age), if you please…

Invergordon 50 yo 1972/2023 (41.5%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #106192, 60 bottles)

Invergordon 50 yo 1972/2023 (41.5%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #106192, 60 bottles) Five stars
Another micro-outturn for our close neighbours and friends in Switzerland. Colour: full gold. Nose: a little less emphatic, a little more delicate, closer to Italian pastries, amaretti, panettone, orange blossom, plus a pack of proper white nougat from Provence (not the ones you buy along the autoroute) and a touch of high-class pipe tobacco. Almost no one's smoking pipes anymore (except for a well-known Italian gentleman from Formigine) but I have fond memories of the smells inside the Dunhill shop, Jermyn Street, London. Another dazzling nose. Mouth: we're now extremely close to the 1973. To be honest they are hardly distinguishable, although this 1972 may display a few extra-notes of blood oranges. Finish: nougat à l'orange, vanilla cake, the expected coconut notes (but they behave) and this welcome green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: superb.
SGP:740 - 90 points.

(Merci Thijs)

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

 

February 26, 2024


Whiskyfun

Three rather positive Bowmore

Let's try one of the newest batches of Bowmore 15 years old. We have a fondness for Bowmore 15, especially following its revival after the challenging periods of the distillates from the 1980s (who fancies lavender soap?). And then, we'll have two intriguing independents. Well, it's only fair to admit it, the 15 was just an excuse...

 

 

Bowmore 15 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2023)

Bowmore 15 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2023) Three stars and a half
Colour: amber with reddish hues. Nose: rather a lot of musty and cardboardy sherry, burnt wood and bread, all that kind of fighting the maritime, smoky and somewhat medicinal notes, although that would have then generated pleasant whiffs of fresh oil paint, which I'll always cherish as my mother is a painter. I seem to be finding much less wild dung and crazy vinegars than in earlier batches that had been well, crazier, but some dissonances remain. Mouth: ah better, smoky and dry, with some salty chocolate and rather a lot of tobacco. I find it much more coherent on the palate, even more so since some grapefruit is kicking in after just a few seconds. It never stops becoming saltier then. Finish: rather long, between Maggi and miso, then seawater and just peat smoke. Menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: very good on the palate - after all it's only a sherry finish. 85 points next year?
SGP:456 - 84 points.

Bowmore 15 yo (48.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch #22, 316 bottles, 2021)

Bowmore 15 yo (48.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch #22, 316 bottles, 2021) Four stars
We're never too fast with these ones but it's always a joy to try them. Not too sure about the wood they've been using but the colour is elegantly pale, which would suggest X-fill and thus a distillate-driven bottling. Which is what works best with modern Bowmore, which is an awesome distillate in our book. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: it's just got what it needs, rocks and pebbles, ashes, new wool, new jumper, damp oatcakes and porridge, seawater, kelp and a somewhat civilized peat smoke. No tar, no rubber, no medicine. Mouth: I find it very ashy and very salty, somewhat harsh and rugged, certainly rustic, but that's also what we appreciate in these Bowmores. It feels a bit like drinking the ocean, with a few drops of lemon. Finish: these natural Bowmores often boast superb, intense, and spirited finishes, and that is certainly the case here. There's a strong presence of sea water, ash, and peat. Comments: either in your hipflask, or as a dressing on a salad. Or to enhance surimi (are you all right, S.?)
SGP:366 - 87 points.

Bowmore 25 yo 1996/2022 (53.3%, Douglas Laing, for China, Xtra Old Particular, black series, cask #15472, 276 bottles)

Bowmore 25 yo 1996/2022 (53.3%, Douglas Laing, for China, Xtra Old Particular, black series, cask #15472, 276 bottles) Five stars
At the moment, we prefer fine Scottish malt bottled for our friends in China to whisky distilled in China (of which we've only tasted a very small amount), but there's no doubt that they will improve. Colour: white wine. Nose: and there it is, it has begun to break down in a fractal way, moving away from the rustic and straightforward to now display a myriad of notes including all things fresh paint, all engine oils, all things almond, all citrus fruits, many cleaning products (preferably organic), all things waxes, all things seashells... How splendid it is! With water: reaching a point where all the taster has to say or write is 'old Bowmore'. Yet it's not even that old. Mouth (neat): just marvellous, please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade as soon as possible. Much more powerful than on the nose, very briny (as expected), almost a bit acetic on one side, and certainly with vast amounts of oils and waxes, be they natural or artificial. Plasticine, paraffin, polish... But the smoke retains a taut and refined character. With water: it almost completely changes direction, veering towards oysters, Tabasco, and white wine. I'm not even joking. Finish: long and really very salty. Some olives appearing, rosemary, even a touch of garlic (or say bear garlic if you prefer that), ashes, tiny ideas of agaves… Comments: quite masterful, everything is perfect while on the palate, it has retained that wild side we are so fond of. Well done Bowmore, well done Douglas Laing, and well done China.
SGP:466 - 92 points.

(Thank you, Edouard and Fuji)

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

 

February 25, 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!

 

Another bag of eleven random rums

What we sometimes call a solera session, we're adding new spirits whenever we can, usually just one. The end result would usually be a little 'looser', please don't hold that against us.


At Longueteau, Guadeloupe (Domaine Longueteau)

 

 

Arcane 'Délicatissime' (41%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2023)

Arcane 'Délicatissime' (41%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2023)
Pure cane juice. Arcane is made at Grays, whose owners seem to be also owning no less than 7,000 hectares of cane fields in Mauritius. We've already tried this cuvée around  eight years ago, it was rather pretty good back then (WF 79). Colour: gold. Nose: really on cane juice, with some dryness, in truth I was expecting something much more syrupy. Some hay, orange skins, candlewax… It's very light but it is pleasant. Mouth: some sugar for sure, pineapples… It does feel 'arranged'. Not quite a fan this time, but we're still way above Bumbu or Don Papa. Finish: short. Cane juice, cane syrup, Cointreau. Comments: not quite this time, it's probably very okay on ice, but at room temperature it is just rather uninteresting, after all. Sorry, Arcane.
SGP:730 - 64 points.

Mezan 'Chiriqui' (40%, Mezan, Panama, small batch, finished in moscatel cask, +/-2023)

Mezan 'Chiriqui' (40%, Mezan, Panama, small batch, finished in moscatel cask, +/-2023) one star and a half
They write 'unsweetened' and 'unadulterated' on the label here, which is just very cool, unless one believes that doing a finishing in moscatel  means precisely 'sweetening' and 'adulterating' you spirit. To be discussed… Having said that the house Mezan has got an excellent reputation and I sure have tasted some very good rums of theirs. Colour: light gold. Nose: no moscatel nightmare, rather some dry caneness, hay, a little wood smoke perhaps, and something Cuban. Fresh and very undemanding. Mouth: it's very okay, light, slightly sweet, otherwise herbal, without much body or texture. I'm finding the moscatel extremely well-mannered; in other words, simply absent. Finish: short, sweeter, that may be that elusive moscatel. A feeling of mosto, in fact. Comments: not one I'll remember forever. The one I'll remember forever is the first young Jamaican by Mezan I tried, quite some years ago.
SGP:520 - 69 points.

Hold on…

Mezan 'Jamaican Barrique XO' (40%, Mezan, Jamaica, +/-2023)

Mezan 'Jamaican Barrique XO' (40%, Mezan, Jamaica, +/-2023) Four stars
A blend of Monymusk, Long Pond et Worthy Park (some retailers say Mony Musk and Hampden, which shouldn't be right). This shouldn't be too bad.  Colour: white wine. Nose: as I remembered Mezan's first Jamaican, that is to say just perfect, utterly Jamaican, with everything it needs (engine oil, olives, tarmac, new tyres and rubber boots, anchovies, fresh paint…) Mouth: the low strength is not a problem. Pure petroly Jamaicanness, just easier than usual. Olives and carbon. Finish: not even short, lovely, salty, tarry. One litre of olive oil in the aftertaste, plus a few overripe bananas. Comments: I last tried this expression in 2013. Well, we haven't changed one iota (neither the rum, nor us, uh.)
SGP :552: - 86 points.

Rivière du Mât 'Royal Reserve' (42%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2023)

Rivière du Mât 'Royal Reserve' (42%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2023) Three stars
We had tried a 'Grande Réserve' by Rivière du Mât (WF 79) but never this 'Royal Reserve' that, in all logic, should be even superior. It's to be noted that almost all 'warm-climate' French islands are now making rum, Guadeloupe/Marie-Galante, Martinique, Réunion, Tahiti, Nouvelle-Calédonie, French Guyana (not an island, I know)… Colour: gold. Nose: pretty floral nose, with some vanilla, dandelions, acacia honey, plus roses and ylang-ylang, hints of pineapple and banana – in short, this is easy and very appealing. Mouth: very floral indeed, full of violets, lavender, jasmine, also liquorice bringing more structure, orange liqueur/triple-sec… Finish: medium, spicy, with even a feeling of rye here and there. Lavender sweets and a little pineapple liqueur. The aftertaste feels a little 'sweetened-up'. Comments: I could really drink this, on ice and in summer. Seriously, I find it very good 'for what it is'.
SGP:640 - 82 points.

Saint James 18 yo 2004/2023 (43%, OB, Martinique, 2000 bottles, 2023)

Saint James 18 yo 2004/2023 (43%, OB, Martinique, 2000 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
Proper appellation contrôlée Martinique, naturally, distilled at Saint James / J.Bally and fully matured on the island. It is agricole and actually matured in wood until 2022, then rested for one extra-year in a vat, which, I believe, doesn't count in the 'compte d'âge'. Huge respect for Saint James and the people behind 'the brand'. Colour: full gold. Nose: dazzlingly old-school, with first some encaustic, camphor, varnish, eucalyptus oil, perhaps even thyme oil… Then a charming wee – they don't say wee in Martinique – dusty earthiness. No damp earth this time. Then some more classic orange liqueur and blossom, mocha, cigar tobacco, black tea (close to dry old oak)… Mouth: very dry arrival, shock-full of wood extracts (from liquorice wood to pine resin), but many other flavours are then forcing their ways upon the taster, like flower jellies, cane juice, gritty old Ténarèze, bitter chocolate, damson plums and prunes, a feeling of orange oil and skin, a wee (again!) bit of banana… It's not that it is becoming any smoother but I find it, indeed, more welcoming.  Finish: rather long, on black tea and orange oils. A small black olive in the aftertaste. Comments: by the way, the casks were not topped-up or solera-ed (apologies for that new barbarism). It's really nice to see that a distinctly woody note can work very well. I just imagine that the aging process wasn't easy to monitor since we all know that there's really no going back when it comes to aging. Yeah, sadly.
SGP:271 - 89 points.

Canoubier 17 yo (40%, Distillerie des Moisans, Nicaragua, 1000 bottles, +/-2023)

Canoubier 17 yo (40%, Distillerie des Moisans, Nicaragua, 1000 bottles, +/-2023) Three stars
Finished in French oak barrels, does it say; they were actually cognac casks. Many people in France have started to use ex-cognac wood but Moisans are actual cognac makers and growers, located in Sireuil, east of Segonzac. But this is rum, most probably from the makers of Flor de Cana. The 40% feel a little, well, you see what I mean. Colour: deep gold. Nose: fine, with all expected aromas, vanilla, honey, light molasses, cappuccino, nougat, a little sweet maze (bourbon), a few raisins… It's all light but pleasant. Mouth: light and pleasant indeed. A little triple-sec, a little hay, cane/bagasse, touches of caramel, maple syrup… Pretty typical light rum from central America, rather less 'sweetened' than others. Finish: pretty short but clean, with similar flavours. Vanilla, sugarcane syrup… Nice caney signature, with perhaps a salty touch and some orange liqueur. Comments: very honest gentle Nicaraguan, it would probably beat the officials.
SGP:530 - 80 points.

Bellevue 24 yo 1998/2022 (51.5%, The Royal Cane Cask Company, Guadeloupe, cask #M080, 265 bottles)

Bellevue 24 yo 1998/2022 (51.5%, The Royal Cane Cask Company, Guadeloupe, cask #M080, 265 bottles) Five stars
This is rhum traditionnel, so ex-molasses from Bellevue, and not agricole. Aged for a few years on location, then exported to Liverpool for many more years of aging, let's see if it speaks like Sir Paul. Colour: deep gold. Nose: probably the most 'Jamaican' of all Guadeloupéens/Martiniquais. Awesome liquorice and diesel, carbolineum, seawater, black tapenade, touches of glue (Pattex but shh…), touches of rotting bananas and a tiny hint of cane vinegar… With water: pretty estery, still refreshing, extremely well balanced. A little more rubber now (new boots). Mouth (neat): yeah, extremely good. Salty and petroly arrival, then bags of liquorice, a curious gherkin + banana combination… I think this is splendid, right between two worlds. With water: more grass and varnish, it's as if water made it a notch harsher. Which is not unpleasant, by the way. Finish: rather long, saltier yet, with a little glue/varnish and a lot of liquorice again in the aftertaste. Comments: not sure water was mandatory here – well I'm sure it was not – it's great but no big surprise, after all, it is Bellevue 1998 (very well spotted, S., bravo).
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Longueteau 'Prélude' (49.8%, OB, Guadeloupe, Collection Harmonie, +/-2023)

Longueteau 'Prélude' (49.8%, OB, Guadeloupe, Collection Harmonie, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
This is a music -based series by Longueteau called Harmonie. This is the Prelude, but they also have 'Symphony' or 'Concerto', as well as 'Zouk Machine'. Not too sure about the latter. Colour: light gold. Nose: really rounded, with rather a lot of virgin oak, possibly deep-charred as it appears on the nose. Some sweet and soft curry, cinnamon liqueur, blancmange, a little nutmeg, puréed bananas, pear liqueur, probably some candied ginger… In short it feels pretty oak-driven but it's all pretty smooth and rounded. Modern, that's for sure. Mouth: new-era aged spirit, indeed oak and spice-driven, feeling a little 'spiced' while it is not, technically. Baking spices, cake, a little banana liqueur, sugarcane syrup, the sweetest form of turmeric… Finish: medium, a little syrupy, with rather a lot of caraway and nutmeg liqueur. Fresh oak in the aftertaste. Comments: good, let's have the Symphony…
SGP:641 - 83 points.

Longueteau 'Symphonie' (48.7%, OB, Guadeloupe, Collection Harmonie, +/-2023)

Longueteau 'Symphonie' (48.7%, OB, Guadeloupe, Collection Harmonie, +/-2023) Three stars
Aged in both new oak and ex-cognac. Said to be only three years old. Colour: full gold, Nose: rosewater, orange blossom, rather a lot of nougat and honey from the cognac (I suppose), some peach gums – very cognac indeed – then again some wood spices, cloves, nutmeg, pink pepper… Mouth: very creamy texture, that's the wood again, plus baking spices, a lot of cumin liqueur, cinnamon, vanillin, then liquorice-flavoured marshmallows that we could barbecue just as well, as brochettes. Finish: long, with really a good deal of oak spices. Comments: I tend to prefer my Longueteau when they're more on cane and all that, but this very modern offering remains really good. Why not quickly try the Concerto as well…
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Longueteau 'Concerto' (47.9%, OB, Guadeloupe, Collection Harmonie, +/-2023)

Longueteau 'Concerto' (47.9%, OB, Guadeloupe, Collection Harmonie, +/-2023) Four stars
Once more, this is ex-new oak and ex-cognac. Said to be 'more than six years old'. Colour: amber. Nose: more rum! Tarmac, liquorice, petrol, pipe tobacco, well, this works. Lovely whiffs of walnut cake straight from the oven, black nougat, hints of mango chutney, a little wood smoke… This is a whole different story. Mouth: very fond of this composition, with its blend of strong honeys (chestnut) and salted liquorice. A feeling of peated malt whisky (as if they had poured a bottle of 'beg from the airport into each cask) plus pear eau-de-vie. Sure there's rather a lot of ginger/cinnamon/turmeric from some pretty active oak, but this side is better integrated and surely not too dominant this time. Some nice caramel too. Finish: rather long, with some lovely bitterish caramel, liquorice, molasses and, well, a little peat. I'm serious! Comments: very good 'modern' concerto. The conductor was still some sweet wood here, but there's also a skilled orchestra. I think we're going to stop the cheap analogies.
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Let's just try to end this little session on an even higher note

Hampden 1 yo 'HLCF' (52%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, ex-bourbon, 20cl, 2024)

Hampden 1 yo 'HLCF' (52%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, ex-bourbon, 20cl, 2024) Four stars and a half
Following the extraordinary set of eight Hampden marques introduced as white rums at the end of 2022, here are the same eight marques, but now offered after a brief maturation period of one year in former bourbon casks. We shall not be tasting them one after another today; instead, we will concentrate on the marque that most impressed us in 2022, HLCF (Hampden Light Continental Flavoured). We shall undoubtedly taste them all together another time within one single session, but that will require concentration and serenity, somewhat like Michelangelo before he commenced painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (but of course, S., of course…) Remember, HLCF = 400 to 600 gr esters/HLPA. Colour: light gold. Nose: it is not a petroly, olive-y, tarry Hampden with just added layers of vanilla and coconut, not at all, everything's intermingled already. Reduction to 52% vol. may have help, having said that. So, petrol, olives, tar, seawater, acetone, touch of cider vinegar, varnish, oysters… In short, all is well. No massive glue as in higher marques. With water: it got rounder, as expected, but never loses its idiosyncrasies. New electronics, plastic, paraffin, tar, seawater, olives, brake dust, old car, leatherette… Mouth (neat): impeccable, very salty and tarry, briney, with some carbon, salted liquorice, ultra-ripe bananas and, once again, a feeling of acetone. Possibly a tad fruitier than its compatriots from other distilleries bearing similar ester counts. With water: awesomely fresh, still tarry and salty, but this time with touches of apples and pineapples. It also seems that the wood brought a few gritty ashes. Finish: long, with just more of all that. The barrel has been acting pretty swiftly too, which is a little more apparent in the aftertaste (white pepper). Comments: it's very well done; we're really maintaining a high standard, even if we're only benefiting here from the initial effects of cask ageing (I remind you, it firstly involves the addition of extra flavours, then filtration and removal of undesirable flavours, and finally ageing and maturation per se).

SGP:563 - 89 points.

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

 

February 24, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

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


Aultmore and Glenkinchie 

Two distilleries on the table today that I rarely try. Although, I have very fond memories of some excellent 1960s Glenkinchies, though I suspect the distillate has changed quite a bit since then. As for Aultmore, it's always been a bit of a low key malt on my radar, a distillery that I don't recall ever trying an example of that I found totally outstanding. 
Angus  

 

 

 

 

 

Glenkinchie 12 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2023)

Glenkinchie 12 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2023)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: malty, mashy, beery and easy. Very much as I think of Glenkinchie, which is rather light, grassy, a little buttery and with plenty cereal. Simple and easy to pigeonhole as 'lowland' I would say, which is no bad thing when your distillery is in the Lowlands. Mouth: same feeling. All on sweet cereals, some buttery toasty notes, a little marshmallow, wee grassy inclusions and more malty and beery backbone. Very simple, easy and 'nice'. Finish: a tad short here and with a slight grainy note which perhaps loses one or two points. Some feelings of cider apple and sweetened porridge. Comments: all fine and well. Simple, easy, inoffensive tumbler juice that probably isn't for diehard geeks like me, which is the case for most larger scale malt whiskies I suspect. I think we can safely revisit this bottling in around ten years time. 
SGP: 541 - 80 points. 

 

 

Glenkinchie 13 yo 1987/2000 (61.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #22.8)

Glenkinchie 13 yo 1987/2000 (61.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #22.8)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: dusty flowers, shoe polish, talcum powder and a general sense of cupboards, ironing water and linens. The kind of funny and slightly unusual profile that seems increasingly to have been isolated to the doldrum production years of the 1980s. A few wee honeyed and fruity glimmers underneath are rather nice over time though. With water: not much movement, perhaps a little greener with more chlorophyll and crushed flower stems. Mouth: rather sweeter than expected, a very nice combo of flower nectars, runny honey and fruit salad juices of the tinned variety. Easy and pleasant. With water: same story, only with some more baseline notes of plain breakfast cereals, condensed milk and malt syrup. Finish: medium, slightly bitter with citrus piths, more cereals and sweet mash water. Comments: I think you can pretty much forget the nose and go directly to sipping this one from a tumbler glass. Slightly boring, but perfectly easy, pleasing and harmless - probably could be Glenkinchie's motto? 
SGP: 541 - 83 points. 

 

 

Aultmore 11 yo 1986/1998 (57.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #73.4 'Long and warming…good for sore throats')

Aultmore 11 yo 1986/1998 (57.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #73.4 'Long and warming…good for sore throats')
Not sure this title has been NHS approved. Colour: pale straw. Nose: close your eyes, and you could be nosing a cave in a chalk cliff that had been varnished only one or two decades previously. That is to say: only vague hints of aroma are emerging. Plain distillate from plain wood with little to say. With water: hello in there…!? A stray feather duster perhaps? Mouth: there are no flaws at all, it's just that there isn't much in the way of character either. Plain, slightly milky, slightly sweetish and rather spiritous. With water: the flavour of alcohol mixed with rainwater. Comments: Good for sore throats, in the sense that you would not think twice about drowning this within in an inch of its life with lashings of hot water, lemon and honey. Hard to score because in some ways it is completely fine, but in others its absence of character is rather a flaw in and of itself. The SMWS really made some funny selections during this era - 'Aultbore' might have been a more suitable name. 
SGP: 341 - 75 points. 

 

 

Aultmore 1974/1988 (50%, Samaroli '20th Anniversary', 540 bottles)
Aultmore 1974/1988 (50%, Samaroli '20th Anniversary', 540 bottles)

Aultmore 1974/1988 (50%, Samaroli '20th Anniversary', 540 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: really on the raw ingredients, lots of breads, cereals, sweet grains and beers, with lovely hints of ripe green fruits in the background such as apple, kiwi and gooseberry. With a little time I find it gets fatter and waxier too, with some olive oil and putty. With water: flattens out a little, mashed banana, some vegetal notes and metal polish. Mouth: rather drying and with a warming mustardy and peppery aspect up front. Still a lot of cereals, breads and ales, perhaps not as luminous as any number of other Samaroli bottlings from this time though. Some dry and waxy qualities as well. With water: plain cereals with a touch of barley extract sweetness and some hints of cardboard and stale beer. Losing steam now quite a bit. Finish: a bit on the short side, similarly cereal and bread and wax dominated. Comments: I wonder if this is one of those whiskies that has just suffered as it has sat in glass, would be fascinating to try it freshly bottled by comparison - in know, a pointless notion. There are of course many, many much better bottlings by Samaroli. Now, it would seem that plenty of other whisky folk rate this much higher than I do, so please take this note with a bushel of salt. 
SGP: 351 - 79 points. 

 

 

 

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

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

 

February 23, 2024


Whiskyfun

A small trio of young indie Glen Ord

Very nice distillate, Glen Ord.

 

Glen Ord 8 yo 2014/2022 (57.9%, Chorlton Whisky, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, 252 bottles)

Glen Ord 8 yo 2014/2022 (57.9%, Chorlton Whisky, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, 252 bottles) Four stars
Have I ever told you that I think Chorlton's labels are the most beautiful in the world? And that the whiskies aren't bad either? Let's taste this possibly slightly boosted young Ord... Colour: amber. Nose: it's all there, roasted hazelnuts, stout, very dark potting soil, tobacco, walnut wine, dried fruits, gingerbread, pine bark, a little bit of varnish... With water: a few very ripe pears make an appearance. Also some notes of tomato leaf and fig tree, which are quite specific. Mouth (neat): very powerful, starting rather peppery and honeyed, then moving on to pipe tobacco and, again, wood varnish, before arriving at a huge orange studded with cloves. I mean, sort of. With water: the return of gingerbread, honey, sweet beer, a young rancio from Catalonia, a bit of chocolate and lots of raisins suggesting PX. But this is not PX. Finish: rather very long, very nicely syrupy, reminiscent of an old Malaga. Comments: it's rather perfect, it reminds me a bit of those old very sherried eight-year-olds from the old days.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glen Ord 10 yo 2012/2023 (52.3%, Acla Selection, Classic, barrel)

Glen Ord 10 yo 2012/2023 (52.3%, Acla Selection, Classic, barrel) Four stars and a half
We're in eastern Switzerland this time. Colour: white wine. Nose: more proof that Ord is a very nice distillate. A very pretty combination of paraffin and linseed oil with kumquats and tangerines, while a little elderberry and wild service tree eaux-de-vie, both somewhat earthy, add more uniqueness to the mix. Really a very nice distillate, I insist. With water: oh, some roots, celery, gentian, carrot... Mouth (neat): very, very good. A lemony and herbaceous waxiness that is reminiscent of a famous cousin distillery from Sutherland. With water: ah yes, really, there is just this more root-like side, which is also a bit more medicinal in this Glen Ord. And, conversely, there's less church candle. Amen. Finish: long, fresh, invigorating, lemony. There's a bit of celery in the aftertaste, which is amusing. Comments: some undeniable Glen Ord in its natural form, where the distillate expresses itself at 120%.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

Glen Ord 12 yo 2011/2023 (59.1%, James Eadie, refill hogshead, cask #305633, 313 bottles)

Glen Ord 12 yo 2011/2023 (59.1%, James Eadie, refill hogshead, cask #305633, 313 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: here we are amidst the ethers, barley spirit, barley sugar, and caramel, butterscotch, cappuccino, ale... With water: much the same, plus a bit of varnish and williams pear. Mouth (neat): very powerful and totally on barley spirit. It's like kirsch, but with barley replacing the cherries (I think they've got it, S.) With water: very good, a bit more herbaceous and more robust and rustic than the 2012. Finish: very long, on sweet herbs, if such a thing existed. Comments: we're a bit to the bone, so to speak, with a very natural and concentrated style. It remains superb, after all, it's Ord. And it's James Eadie.
SGP:661 - 85 points.

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

 

February 22, 2024


Whiskyfun

A trio of recent Macallan

We often joke about Macallan, as it's considered the epitome of the malt whisky that everyone desires, somewhat like Rolex in the world of watches or Porsche 911s in the automotive sector. It must be admitted that, all things considered, Macallan is less expensive than Rolex but, on the other hand, the quantities produced are on a different scale altogether. A new capacity of over 15 million LPA (litres of pure alcohol) per year, which is roughly 4% or just under the entire Scottish malt production capacity, places it as number three after Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, well ahead of the fourth, Glenmorangie. But everything we're recounting here isn't of great importance, of course we cherish each and every bottle of Macallan, from the simple current NAS to the magnificent antique 50-year-old 1928 that we tried last year. But let's see what we have that's relatively new at Château WF...

    Macallan

This isn't 19th-century African art, it's one of Macallan's famous promotional 'Sleeping Barrel' ice buckets, circa 1975. There were many versions, all highlighting the fact that every Macallan whisky first sleeps peacefully in its Spanish oak sherry cask, where it must never be disturbed. There were also television adverts on the same theme in certain countries, such as Italy.

 

 

Macallan 12 yo 'The Colour Collection' (40%, OB, 2023)

Macallan 12 yo 'The Colour Collection' (40%, OB, 2023) Three stars and a half
Around 150€ vs. around 70€ for the 12 yo 'Double Cask', there must be something happening. Pure golden promise? Proper sherry butts used in bodegas and not just seasoned? What's sure is that the label is beautiful. And the whisky, you may ask? Let's see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: reassuring, slightly fat given the low strength – which is good – with rather a lot of beeswax and many dandelion flowers, then some apricot and mirabelle jams, juicy fresh sultanas, fudge, acacia honey… It would then fade away a little bit, because of the bizarrely low strength. Are we still in 1995? Mouth: good presence, with the expected roasted nuts and toasted breads, but some burnt oak tends to feel in the background. Some chestnut honey, black Assam (remember we say Assam for any black tea, ha), black pepper, a wee bit of cardboard that, indeed, feels a little '1995'… And some fresh marmalade and more mirabelle jam lifting it a little bit. Finish: short, the 40% vol. really feel now. Or rather, they do not feel. Cardboard, sawdust, marmalade, dried apricots. Comments: it's rather simple, 84 points at 40% vol. and probably 85 at 43% vol., 86 at 46% and 87 at 50%. You bet!
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Macallan 'Litha' (40%, OB, for China, 1st fill sherry, 2023)

Macallan 'Litha' (40%, OB, for China, 1st fill sherry, 2023) Four stars
Only NAS and 40% vol. again, but 1st fill sherry (seasoning)! You cannot have everything, I suppose, even in China. The price is totally typo-y (meaning it can only be a typo at 300-400€). Apparently, Litha means 'light' in some kind of Celtic language – or is it Gaelic? Mandarin? Cantonese? Colour: dark gold/light amber. Nose: clearly something old-school Macallan, with a rather perfect sherry indeed, many roasted nuts, rather rose and jasmine this time, dark honeys, dried figs and dates, blueberry muffins, a fresh box of cigars, a little parsley and mint, some black earth (potting soil) and peanut butter… This really is an awesome nose, despite the strength. But low strengths rather feel on your palate… Mouth: not as 'peacocky' on the palate, but this was to be expected. Once again the wood feels a little bit, with more black tea and pepper, while the distillate would try to shoot dried fruits, marmalade and roasted nuts. Sadly, it remains a little weak and thin, which I find frustrating. Why 40% vol.! Finish: shortish, nuttier. Walnut cake and marmalade in the even shorter aftertaste. Comments: very light on your palate, indeed pretty 'Litha'. The nose was very adorable.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Macallan 18 yo 'The Colour Collection' (43%, OB, travel retail, 2023)

Macallan 18 yo 'The Colour Collection' (43%, OB, travel retail, 2023) Four stars
Ex-seasoned sherry oak, not sure if it was full-maturation or some 'enhancement', not sure that even matters (good mood mode activated here). Colour: dark gold. Nose: once again, it is rather 'old-school Macallan' while we're no longer too worried that the palate might be too light and too unbalanced by the wood since this baby has been bottled at 43% ABV. The difference is enormous between 40 and 43, we all know that. We find the usual dried and fresh figs, the apricots, some dried pears (slices), some high-end apple compote, various raisins, plum pudding, treacle toffee, kumquats and bergamots, some Demerara sugar, caramel and fudge… Nutshell: all is well. Mouth: there's much more happening in this one, the oak doesn't quite get in the way and the fruits in all their forms have plenty of room to express themselves. Kumquats, raisins, tangerines, figs, jujubes, apples, then honey, maple syrup and chocolate,  the latter becoming then a little bitter and drying, which comes from the oak I would suppose. No big deal, it's an excellent one. Also a little meatiness ala M**** (another 'M', a.k.a. the beast of Dufftown). Finish: still a little short and dry, but these peppered Seville oranges and these cloves do really work. Hints of honeysuckle. Comments: around 500-600€, apparently. No comments, except that to be honest, we would have preferred it to be a bit stronger, but it's still very good.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Macallan remains one of the rare examples of a product that is mass-produced and yet still sold at an extremely high price. In essence, the epitome of a Veblen good (*) (at time of writing).

(*) A Veblen good is a type of luxury good for which the demand increases as the price increases, in apparent contradiction of the law of demand, resulting in an upward-sloping demand curve. The higher prices of Veblen goods may make them desirable as a status symbol in the practices of conspicuous consumption and conspicuous leisure. - Wikipedia.

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

 

February 21, 2024


Whiskyfun

Three indie Tormore and a semi-official one

Some indie Tormore while we wait for some new official expressions by current owners Elixir Distillers.

Tormore
(Ronnie Leask, Geograph)

 

 

Tormore 12 yo 2010/2023 (61.5%, Dram Fool, Middle Cut, bourbon barrel, cask #801185, 168 bottles)

Tormore 12 yo 2010/2023 (61.5%, Dram Fool, Middle Cut, bourbon barrel, cask #801185, 168 bottles) Four stars and a half
Chivas/Pernod make, as they had bought the distillery in 2005, before selling it on to Elixir two years ago. Colour: straw. Nose: high-action malt whisky, fully on butterscotch, fresh-roasted coffee and carrot cake at first, but let's remember it was bottled at a lethal strength. Quick, with water: totally awesome 'pure' malt whisky, with just everything it needs. Roasted nuts (specifically peanuts), roasted malt, mocha, black nougat, butterscotch, then a little lemon and thyme oils. Mouth (neat): very punchy but you do get the high level, the lemons, the varnishes, the fudges, the skins and peelings… And the ethanol. With water: excellent, with creamy citrus liqueurs and syrups, tangerines, vanilla, a tiny hint of pineapple, limoncello and orange blossom water… Finish: long, still creamy and oily, fruity, wonderfully liqueury. Grapefruit and apricot liqueurs. Comments: I'm reminded of some much older official bottlings of Tormore. Everything is fine, they hadn't lost their touch in 2010, which only bodes well for the future of the distillery.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Tormore 23 yo 1999/2023 (54.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers for LMDW, New Vibrations, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #5174, 189 bottles)

Tormore 23 yo 1999/2023 (54.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers for LMDW, New Vibrations, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #5174, 189 bottles) Five stars
They heard us, here are the new owners! How would you call such a bottling, a prequel expression? Colour: straw. Nose: the wonders of time. Never let anyone tell you that in any aged spirits, time doesn't matter. As they say, never buy the agendas and always look for who benefits from a possible lie. So, if you enjoy peaches and the syrups and liqueurs they make out of the latter as much as I do, this is for you. I'm also finding a little rum baba, chamomile, potpourri, yuzu and various flowers, especially jasmine… With water: no actual changes. Maybe some barley syrup and some apple juice. Mouth (neat): dazzling well-aged fruitiness. Terrific mangos and papayas, with some chartreuse and some verbena (Verveine du Velay), genepy and even pastis (Pernod's influence, I would suppose, ha). It's got nothing to do with Clynelish but funnily enough, it does remind me of Clynelish. With water: fruit and awe. Szechuan pepper and pink grapefruits. Finish: long, a notch hotter and less precise, but we're splitting hairs now. Late-harvest riesling and Canadian iced apple wine. Comments: incredible Tormore, terrific fruitiness.
SGP:751 - 90 points.

Let's find an even older one…

Tormore 30 yo 1992/2022 (45.4%, The Whisky Blues, barrel, cask #101177, 259 bottles)

Tormore 30 yo 1992/2022 (45.4%, The Whisky Blues, barrel, cask #101177, 259 bottles) Five stars
Love this label with (apparently) Bach, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven in front of what appears to be Beijing's Forbidden City. I suppose this old Tormore will be music to our nose and palate… Colour: white wine. Nose: less extravagantly fruity than the 1999 and rather with more herbs and some kind of remote smokiness, not too sure where this is coming from. Some pastry dough, a little grass, some shoe polish, then mint and thyme, sage and sake. Really, it's very sake-like. Also some elderflower and honeysuckle, plus several overripe fruits, such as bananas for example. Mouth: sake, sardines, elderflower liqueur, a little umami, some saltiness, apple juice, roots, earth, gentian… This is all very complex and ultra-tertiary. Finish: rather long, saltier yet, you would almost believe this is some scallop carpaccio served with mango and passion fruit. And with a glass of good Junmai Daiginjo. Yes, that's sake. Comments: another dazzling one, if it was a tad more intellectual.
SGP:652 - 90 points.

Update: the building on the label is actually the Taiwan Nation Concert Hall. Yet another faux-pas at WF Towerz.

Let's check the boxes, we might find an older bottling that we've kept for quieter years that never occurred. Oh right…

Tormore 16 yo 1995/2011 (53.4%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #20213, 132 bottles)

Tormore 16 yo 1995/2011 (53.4%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #20213, 132 bottles) Four stars
From an excellent little German house, long time no see, hope they'll be in Limburg (and hope I'll make it this year). Colour: light gold. Nose: a simpler nose, but a pleasant one, with some apple juice, pears, preserved peaches, a little melon, an earthy touch, then greener plums… With water: some wool and some chalk. The barley speaking out. A bit of mango too… Mouth (neat): very good tight fruitiness, on lime and lemon as well as other acidic fruits, maybe starfruit, physalis, green apples… Quite some green pepper as well. This is one tight Tormore! With water: a pack of crocodile gums from the house Haribo, especially the yellow ones (lemon) and the oranges ones (well, orange). Finish: medium, with a tiny touch of salt(iness), not too sure where that's coming from. Comments: just super-goodly fruity.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

All high scores. In short, I can't wait…

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

 

February 20, 2024


Whiskyfun

Once again, the world at our feet
No unusual country like Albania last time, but perhaps that's for the best, isn't it. Starting this from France, as usual…

Lehmann 8 yo 'Elsass Whisky' (50%, OB, France, Alsace, single malt, Sauternes, +/-2023)

Lehmann 8 yo 'Elsass Whisky' (50%, OB, France, Alsace, single malt, Sauternes, +/-2023) Two stars and a half
The 7 yo 'Origine' had been very good last time but this one's more 'premium'. It's fully aged in Sauternes barriques, so hit-or-miss, let's see… Colour: full gold. Nose: I think I enjoyed the 7 better, this has more mushrooms, sulphur (stone or powder), vegetal earth, stems and leaves… Let's see if water changes anything. With water: same. Leather, brake dust… Mouth (neat): better on the palate, but there are dissonances here and there. Leather and raisins, apricot liqueur, flints, a chalky side, blood oranges… With water: better yet, with more ripe plums beyond the raisins and the leather, but I believe it could have been more precise. Finish: medium, sweet, with raisins, dirty-ish earth and cherry stem tea. Comments: we saw last time that their distillate held up well, even in a white Bordeaux barrel (WF 85). But this time the Sauternes has rather stirred things up, if I may say so.

SGP:561 - 78 points.

Another try…

Lehmann 'Rendez-Vous' (40%, OB, France, Alsace, +/-2023)

Lehmann 'Rendez-Vous' (40%, OB, France, Alsace, +/-2023) Four stars
Some lighter strength and some white Bordeaux again. Oh and some peat. Interestingly, 'Rendez-Vous' may mean either 'appointment' or 'surrender'. Hope it's surrender ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: fine, with a light smokiness, touches of coal, granny smith, greengages, mirabelles, a little hay, green pears… All good, nice fresh nose, it seems that these white Bordeaux casks are working very well. Mouth: very good! Peaches chiming in, plums, melon, a perfect light peat (really perfect), apples, a touch of honey, then grapefruits and a hint of coriander (seeds). Tiny touch of star anise and fennel. Finish: not even short despite the low strength, with a floral side. Ultra-clean and yet sweet honeyed aftertaste. Comments: one smart Alsatian. It's a change from our local politicians, ha.

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Galâad 'A la Table des Chefs' (47.1%, OB, France, Brittany, 1400 bottles, 2022)

Galâad 'A la Table des Chefs' (47.1%, OB, France, Brittany, 1400 bottles, 2022) Four stars
A good idea that's been seen elsewhere with wine and spirits, asking chefs to select barrels. Have you ever seen what it's like when a group of thirty thirsty chefs are together, all half in the bag? I have. Having said that, the Galâad 'Origin' has been superb the other day. Colour: gold. Nose: round and sweet, on raisin rolls, vanilla fudge and caramel cream. Quite some white chocolate too, also williams pear liqueur and light acacia honey. Mouth: more of that feeling of williams pear liqueur, triple-sec too, some oak, with a faint oak-bitterness, then a lot of vanilla custard and white chocolate. Very creamy mouthfeel. Finish: rather ex-bourbon, with some mango jam now, vanilla, orange liqueurs and touches of coconut. Comments: seriously, it's a little 'too sweet and rich' for me but it's still top-notch French whisky. It's just that I had liked the slightly more pedestrian 'Origin' better. In short, it's me. No, it's excellent, well-done, chefs.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

Let's sail to the other side…

Thompson 'Manuka Smoke' (53.9%, OB, Kirsch Import, New Zealand, cask #141, 284 bottles)

Thomson 'Manuka Smoke' (53.9%, OB, Kirsch Import, New Zealand, cask #141, 284 bottles) Three stars and a half
Well, it's ex-French Oak/Pinot Noir STR, so hold on tight. Now we had tried a 'Manuka Smoke Progress Report' and had thought it was excellent three or four years ago, so please let's not turn up our noses. Colour: deep gold. Nose: It's as if someone smoked sherry, added chunks of burnt tyre, ten litres of cold lapsang souchong, and a litre of smoked Chinese sauce in the style of hoisin but smoked. I also detect notes of rooibos and, coming from the pinot noir, and please excuse this very old but nevertheless authentic expression, 'smells of an old priest who doesn't take good care of himself'. Yes, I know, but we can't go against history. With water: juniper and clove. Mouth (neat): honestly, we've already tasted malts smoked with sheep and even elephant dung, so there's nothing left to risk (or so one thinks). It's still a bit odd, there's especially a tremendous amount of juniper notes at this stage. The pinot noir adds some notes of gamey hare. With water: it's like gin aged in a sweet wine cask. Finish: long, spicy, a tiny bit suffocating. Comments: crazy stuff. Not quite sure what to make of it, to be honest, but I say 'respect!'.
SGP:773 - 83 points.

Good, let's get serious…

Hellyers Road 19 yo 2003/2022 (62.7%, OB for HNWS Taiwan, Tasmania, ex-bourbon barrel, cask #3184.03, 120 bottles)

Hellyers Road 19 yo 2003/2022 (62.7%, OB for HNWS Taiwan, Tasmania, ex-bourbon barrel, cask #3184.03, 120 bottles) Five stars
In theory… Colour: full gold. Nose: one, oneness, unicity. Hard to decompose. Crushed ripe bananas, peaches, guava, this is all and that's enough for us. With water: not much else, perhaps moist fresh orange cake. Mouth (neat): very-high-impact banana, jasmine, mango and passion fruit. With water: sameish, with a faint earthiness. Finish: long, more citrusy, simple, even simplistic. Comments: binary malt whisky. Extraordinary quasi-abstract drop, totally un-complex. Stuff by Terry Riley, not the G-Song having said that. Forget about all that, just stupid drivel.

SGP:751 - 91 points.

Be careful, there are whiskies that can take you far. Let's return to more factual matters, with a clear-line (or clear-cut) whisky from Japan.

Shizuoka 5 yo 2018/2023 'W-still' (55.6%, OB for Asta Morris, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #734, 325 bottles)

Shizuoka 5 yo 2018/2023 'W-still' (55.6%, Asta Morris, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #734, 325 bottles) Five stars
We may focus on aesthetics here. Because there's nothing aesthetic about, say, a Macallan NAS, is there? Colour: gold. Nose: pure sweet dough, mango, vine peach, civilised yeast. With water: no changes, it is unflappable, so to speak. Mouth (neat): it's even more binary than the Hellyers Road. Pristine peach custard and hochicha tea. With water: apricot pie. Finish: medium, more on pastry, beer, doughs, bananas… Comments: this is another whisky that is a whole, which makes it somewhat difficult, even presumptuous, to want to break down using successive descriptors. In any case, it's very, very beautiful, very simple, quite obvious. It also demonstrates the clear superiority of a simple two-bit bourbon barrel, and why all these wine casks that are flooding the whisky kingdom right now are just *******. Yeah, say unaesthetic.

SGP:641 - 91 points.
 

February 19, 2024


Whiskyfun

A new little tour among the whiskies of the world
This time we will start from our beloved Alsace, specifically from Obernai, and perhaps we will even stay in France today, let's see where our steps and our tulip glass will take us...

Lehmann 7 yo 'Elsass Whisky Origine' (40%, OB, France, +/-2023)

Lehmann 7 yo 'Elsass Whisky Origine' (40%, OB, France, +/-2023) Four stars
Entirely aged in Bordeaux white wine barrels. You might remember that in Alsace, oak casks are very rarely used for white wines, except for very large tuns, so if one wants white wine barrels, one must look in other regions. In any case, this malt benefits from the Alsace Protected Geographical Indication (milling-mashing-fermentation-distillation-aging-reduction done in Alsace, malted barley only, no GMO, no added enzymes, pot still or column fitted with no more than 3 plates, no continuous distillation, no heating of the warehouses, oak for the first three years but other woods may then be used, no colouring, no age statement under 6 years). Phew. Colour: gold. Nose: these Alsatians have made very good progress over the years and it shows. Lovely notes of custard, shortbread, acacia and honeysuckle blossoms, a touch of aniseed (right, anis bredala), some williams pears and mirabelles… All is fine here, really. A touch of porridge – or some kind of Alsatian sourbread, what we call süweckla or subrot. No choucroute though. Mouth: I find it really good, despite an oaky side that may be a tad loud in this context of a lightish distillate reduced to 40% vol. But there's a very pleasant sweetness, while mirabelles and pears are back, with always a floral side, some acacia flower fritters (perhaps) and a touch of sweet hopped beer, IPA-style. A little fudge. No obvious wineyness at all. Finish: short but rather full, not too oaky, with some honey and two or three roasted peanuts. Comments: I have hardly touched some of the numerous Alsatian whiskies for a good fifteen years or only occasionally; it's true that the first ones were generally disappointing. But as I was saying, it seems that progress has been made, and perhaps does the GI deserve thanks for that, by the way. Hoppla.

SGP:541 - 85 points.

To the Charente… sort of…

Hawkins 8 yo 'Cognac Cask Finish' (40%, OB, blended whisky, Albania, +/-2023)

Hawkins 8 yo 'Cognac Cask Finish' (40%, OB, blended whisky, Albania, +/-2023)
Indeed, Albanian whisky made out of maize, wheat and 15% malted barley, then shipped, finished and bottled in the Charente, France, by cognac makers Famille Cabanne (we've had some stellar Cabanne recently). How funny is that? I believe it's the first time I'm trying any Albanian whisky. I mean, knowingly. Colour: light gold. Nose: a little medicinal alcohol, a few raisins, some bison vodka. Mouth: a little better but this remains virtually empty, ethanoly, with just some vanillin, sugar syrup and a small feeling of boisé. Finish: short, rather on sweet apples. Comments: we've seen and tasted much worse and it's still not as empty as the head of an employee of the French railway company (SNCF, currently on strike, of course), but I would say that there is as much difference between this little Hawkins and the superb Famille Cabanne Lot 68 Cognac for The Whisky Jury that we tasted in December as there is between a moderate hit by the Fast Food Rockers and a Bach oratorio conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

SGP:520 - 40 points.

InQuota 2019/2023 'Dolomiti Spruce Cask Finish' (47.6%, OB, Villa de Varda, Italy, 1678 bottles)

InQuota 2019/2023 'Dolomiti Spruce Cask Finish' (47.6%, OB, Villa de Varda, Italy, 1678 bottles) Three stars and a half
We're now in the Alpine region of Trentino Alto Adige, a place where they've always been distilling fruit, herbs and roots. This time it is malt whisky, finished in local spruce, which sure is unusual - and a no-no in Scotland. Colour: gold. Nose: a curious blend of custard and overripe apples with some rather delicate saps and resins, as well as various aromatic honeys such as thyme or chestnut. I have to confess that a me mi piace, it is absolutely not a resin bomb. Mouth: sweet, firm, creamy, with woody notes that rather remind me of amburana, and perhaps even of mizunara oak. It's been well controlled, with some almonds and quinces, then lemons and lime, probably a little eucalyptus (could de the spruce as well)… What is sure is that it is not 'totally weird', on the contrary. Finish: rather long, with an oily texture, indeed touches of fir bud liqueur, some verbena perhaps… Really nice. Comments: some true innovation by grappa makers here and at least it is all local.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Devoille (40%, OB, France, single malt, +/-2023)

Devoille (40%, OB, France, single malt, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
We're in Fougerolles this time, which one of the historic towns of French distilling. It is in the Haute-Marne, not that far from Alsace. Please note that this one had been finished in Williams pear eau-de-vie casks. Bah, there's no new whisky without a finishing anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: pears, verbena again, I was about to add spruce wood (no, different glass, don't worry) and then lorryloads of genepy and woodruff. Great fun, even if it wouldn't quite smell of malt whisky at this point. Mouth: same feeling, not exactly whisky, rather a blend of traditional liqueurs and cordials. Pine again, herbs, pears indeed, fresh mint, chartreuse… All that remains dry though, you do not feel any proper sugariness. Finish: medium, refreshing, mentholy, herbal. Comments: did they use spruce too? It's a lovely spirit, it's just not very 'whisky'.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Galâad 2018/2023 'Origin' (44.5%, OB, France, Brittany)

Galâad 2018/2023 'Origin' (44.5%, OB, France, Brittany) Four stars
This single malt stems from the Mine d'Or distillery, which is located on the edge of the Brocéliande forest in the heart of Brittany. It is a magnificent place inhabited by druids, lost knights and inebriated tourists. And now also by distillers. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's very pleasant to stumble upon a genuine malt whisky that's displaying bread, cake, barley, shortbread, nougat, apples and oranges, tarte tatin and cereals. No wine and no crazy woods, this is awesomely classic. Mouth: very good, starting rather citrusy, slightly salty (however far is the ocean), with some honey, cider and mead chiming in then, small candied lemons, apples of all kinds… Body and mouthfeel are perfect. Finish: good length, good orange cake, great lemons and a welcome tiny salty touch. Comments: I had never heard of Mine d'Or but in my view it's already close to the good Glann ar Mors or Armoriks. I need to find my helmet and my armour to go back for a stroll in Brittany, Sire Galahad.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

P&M 'Single Corn' (42%, OB, France, Corsica, +/-2023)

P&M 'Single Corn' (42%, OB, France, Corsica, +/-2023) Three stars
A new expression made out of organic maize. P&M means Pietra (brewers) & Mavela (distillers). The brand is already well-established; it's true that it has been a long while since we savoured our last P&M, but it has been equally long since we last went sunbathing in Corsica. Colour: gold. Nose: light, cakey, mellow, with some nougat and some sweet popcorn. Typical maize/corn whisky, well made here. Mouth: sweet, good, a tad woody, with a little coconut, marshmallows, corn syrup and vanilla cake. Finger biscuits (champagne biscuits). Finish: shortish but nicely sweet, with a cereally aftertaste, sadly a notch ethanoly in the end. Comments: I find it very good for maize. Did they use spinning barrels?

SGP:630 - 80 points.

Indeed some French winemakers are trying to use 'dancing' or 'spinning' barrels, which is supposed to let the wines mature and grow faster. But shh… do not tell our whisky-distilling friends about that.

Last one please…

Kornog 12 yo 2011/2023 'Une Île en Terre' (58.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex Libris, France, Brittany, 1st-fill bourbon)

Kornog 12 yo 2011/2023 'Une Île en Terre' (58.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex Libris, France, Brittany, 1st-fill bourbon) Five stars
More Yvon Le Men inspired whisky. The whisky is rather expensive and prestigiously rare. In some rare cases these things go together. Oh and yes, Brittany again, baby. The name of the distillery itself has changed from Glann ar Mor to Celtic Whisky Distillerie. Don't ask. Colour: gold. Nose: top of France if not top of Europe (together with DHG). Total camphor, burning eucalyptus, sea spray, rubber boots, green apples, peat smoke, yuzu… With water: a varnish factory, an old scuba diving suit, gherkins and samphires, some oysters, lemons... Mouth (neat): exceptional density and tightness. Cuts you into halves of exactly the same sizes, as we sometimes say (hey that wouldn't be halves if the sizes were different, S.) Grapefruit leading the pack, then all what you'd expect from a coastal peater. With water: let me first apologise pre-emptively, and then claim that you would believe this was some 30 yo Caol Ila. Finish: not excessively long but ueber-maritime, with a perfect peat + rubber + grapefruit combination. Comments: forgot to mention crabs and whelks. And perhaps manzanilla. Dazzling Kornog.

SGP:556 - 91 points.
 

February 18, 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!

Simply more rums

Because there's always more and we shan't complain about that.

Air France

 

 

Ariki 'Black Rhum' (40%, OB, France, Tahiti, +/-2022)

Ariki 'Black Rhum' (40%, OB, France, Tahiti, +/-2022) Three stars
This one's new to me. They're using a small column still and seem to produce both high-ester and lighter rums from local cane juice. I suppose you could call it agricole-style but not sure they have a colonne créole. I find the name typically French, neither Rhum Noir nor Black Rum. Colour: office coffee. Nose: very unusual, very hard to describe. Let's say overripe bananas plus stewed bell pepper and really a lot of cold tomato juice, then some liquorice and pineapple wine. I find these tomatoes absolutely charming, you could almost call this one rhum all arrabiata on the nose. Good fun! Mouth: a little too sweet at first, but liquorice, tomato, strawberry and ultra-ripe bananas do work. A feeling of sweetened pissaladière, some kind of vegetable tart they make in the city of Nice. Finish: not that short, more on pepper and liquorice. There must be some kind of endemic fruits and flowers too, but the names keep escaping me. Caraway. Comments: some extremely singular rum from the southern Pacific. As usual, we'll add that we would have preferred 43 or 46% vol. Extra-points for singularity.
SGP:651 – 82 points.

Conde de Cuba 7 yo (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2022)

Conde de Cuba 7 yo (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
We rather liked the 15 yo (WF 78) but in truth, these 38% vol. are a little scary, don't lower strengths always send a wrong message? Colour: gold. Nose: super-light but pretty pleasant, I'm even finding a bit of olive. A light petroly side too, some candy sugar, a little straw and hay… What's sure is that it isn't 'empty'. Mouth: light, a bit sweet, perhaps a little indistinct. Bananas flambéed and cane honey. Finish: short but clean, if a little sweet indeed. Comments: fair, loyal and honest Cuban rum. Same ballpark as that of the 15 yo.
SGP:530 – 78 points.

Nicaragua 16 yo 2004/2023 (61.9%, Colheitas, The Auld Alliance & Famille Ricci, bourbon)

Nicaragua 16 yo 2004/2023 (61.9%, Colheitas, The Auld Alliance & Famille Ricci, bourbon) Four stars
Most possibly Flor de Cana. Colour: dark amber. Nose: high varnish, putty, vanilla, coconut, lupins and prunes. It's not even that blocked. With water: a few metallic touches (copper) and an unexpected load of williams pears. Really a lot of poached williams pears. Mouth (neat): a little diesel oil, more varnish, gritty fruit peel (peach), perhaps melon liqueur… But boy is it hot. With water: the poached and stewed pears are back, together with some honey and cereal bars. Finish: medium, on similar flavours. Pears, caramel, a little puréed chestnuts. Comments: not a fat distillate but it's got some charming aspects. In any case, probably the best of what Nicaragua has to offer, as far as rum is concerned.
SGP:640 - 85 points.

TDL 13 yo 2009/2023 (62.9%, The Whisky Jury, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #3, 259 bottles)

TDL 13 yo 2009/2023 (62.9%, The Whisky Jury, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #3, 259 bottles) Five stars
So, Angostura's Trinidad Distillers Limited. We've had a brilliant one recently, one by… The Whisky Jury (a 2003, WF 91). Colour: deep gold. Nose: amazing, you cannot not think of lighter Caroni. Sublime mangos over a little liquorice, engine oil and aniseed. And 63% ethanol. With water: blazing camphor and dazzling liquorice. The small ripe mangos are still there too. Mouth (neat): totally, crazily superlative. There are more mangos and passion fruits than in a 50/50 blend of 1960s Bowmore and 1960s Laphroaig, honestly. With water: some salt and three olives to the rescue. Finish: long, this time with some peach liqueur. Totally insane. Olives as the signature. Comments: holy Suzy Quatro! (ooh that was useful, S.)
SGP:752 - 92 points.

Grenada 30 yo 1993/2023 (57.7%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, cask #3, 252 bottles)

Grenada 30 yo 1993/2023 (57.7%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, cask #3, 252 bottles) Four stars
This should be Westerhall. It aged for 15 years on location, then in Bonnie Scotland. I have to say I've never tried such an old Westerhall. Colour: gold. Nose: a soft tropical fruit salad, with bananas, papayas, guavas, pineapples… some minuscule metallic touches and the tiniest hints of rubber in the background. With water: no actual changes. Lightish and charming. Mouth (neat): a lighter body indeed but some very nice fudge and banana. A few leaves, some oranges, some sweet peaches. Say flat peaches. Water is needed. With water: more flat peaches yet, bananas, some mead, a little apple juice… Finish: medium, fruity, between Europe and the Caribbean as far as fruits are concerned. Candy sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, just not extremely characterful. Some kind of old Glenfiddich or Glenlivet of rum.

SGP:651 - 85 points.

Diamond 22 yo 2001/2023 (45.2%, Precious Liquors, Guyana, 100 Aspects of The Moon Tsuki Hyakushi Series)

Diamond 22 yo 2001/2023 (45.2%, Precious Liquors, Guyana, 100 Aspects of The Moon Tsuki Hyakushi Series) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: was this distilled by British Petroleum? And did they throw olives, bananas and carbon dust into the still? And williams pears again? And a handful of salted liquorice lozenges? Well, that worked a treat. Mouth: a little strange, in the best acceptance of that word. Some curious waxes mingled with some peach/pear sirup, then a few things from the sea (sardines, anchovies, mussels) and this salty liquorice. Finish: rather long, very salty, as if we just had seawater. Comments: it somewhat reminds us of an old malt that has started to scatter a bit in its cask, losing a bit of coherence but also becoming very distinctive and almost unique, which is priceless and, in fact, beautiful.

SGP:562 – 90 points.

Diamond (Port Mourant) 10 yo 2013/2023 (53%, Rock & Rhum, Guyana, 120 bottles)

Diamond (Port Mourant) 10 yo 2013/2023 (53%, Rock & Rhum, Guyana, 120 bottles) Four stars and a half
So the double wooden pot still and full continental aging, but not too sure whether that was in the UK or in the Netherlands – or elsewhere indeed. By the way isn't it funny that the UK would be seen as 'continental' as long as rum maturation is concerned?  There are islands and there are islands. Colour: white wine. Nose: chiselled, ultra-precise, on carbon dust, new rubber boots, liquorice wood, elastoplasts, black olives and anchovies. With water: perhaps more elastoplasts and even whiffs of warm plastics, new stereo that's been working for hours, brand new trainers, then our friends the olives putting it all straight. Mouth (neat): typical salted olives plus touches of overripe bananas and fresh shellfish. With water: similar, a little bit sweeter, otherwise all on salted liquorice after a minute or two. Finish: long, 'kind of relatively gentler'. More salted liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: superb, it's probably an excellent introduction to higher-ester rums if you've got friends who rather go for either the silent ones (no names) or Bumbu/Don Papa.
SGP:553 - 88 points.

Caroni 2000/2019/2023 (68.5%, Velier, Paradise #5, Trinidad, cask #4053, 215 bottles)

Caroni 2000/2019/2023 (68.5%, Velier, Paradise #5, Trinidad, cask #4053, 215 bottles) Four stars and a half
This pretty expensive baby first spent nineteen years on location and was then transferred to Cognac where, oh utter extravagant glory! it was not remorselessly dumped into ex-cognac wood, just into a beautiful demijohn (#1). So, it is, technically a 19 yo or even an 18 yo, as 'glass no counts'. Colour: full amber. Nose: it is 'too' strong, too much on bourbon, varnish, vanilla, 'a Saturday morning at IKEA' (minus the meatballs), sawn plywood… and yet we have hope. With water: I'm am not finding it immensely Caroni-y (oil slick in your glass), rather medicinal instead, with litres of eucalyptus syrup and myrtle liqueur, over bandages and gauze. There clearly is a strong old bourbon character too (Pappy and stuff). Mouth (neat): lethal strength. Fresh paint, varnish, insanity. With water: same feeling, it is somehow a bourbon from Trinidad, becoming then more medicinal again. Notes of tamarind, a little glue, banana liqueur, drop of seawater, varnish. No heavy fuel this time. Finish: long, saltier, with a touch of turpentine over the ripe bananas and the liquorice. A feeling of having licked concrete and pebbles in the aftertaste. Comments: I found this baby pretty difficult to handle – me I guess - but naturally, it's a spitzendrop. I thought Caroni Paradise #4 was even superior earlier in January (WF 92).

SGP:563 - 89 points.

Good, this is Hampden time:

Hampden 10 yo 2013/2023 '<>H' (66.8%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, Jamaica, cask #434968, 213 bottles)

Hampden 10 yo 2013/2023 '<>H' (66.8%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, Jamaica, cask #434968, 213 bottles) Five stars
Very high ester count here, <>H meaning around 1,000 g/hlpa and medium amounts of cane juice vinegar. Colour: gold. Nose: greatest of news, your brand new Pirellis have arrived! ß- this and only this. With water: all kinds of glues, Pattex, UHU, Loctite and compadres. Benzine. Mouth (neat): utter love for this. Dazzling mentholated caraway, loads of rubber and liquorice, some tarragon, salt, carbolineum, things reminiscent of 'that abandoned old petrol station', white balsamico (our Italian friends say that's not proper balsamico)… With water: we tamed it. It loves water. Seawater and drain oil. Finish: very long. Dazzling salted liquorice. Comments: I don't think there's much you can do against these 'chemical monsters' that are so close, in spirit, to the early Ardbegs. I mean, stuffs that we were not really supposed to drink in their unblended forms. Aren't we real rebels?
SGP:464 - 91 points.

Please another diamond-H…

Hampden 9 yo 2014/2023 '<>H' (67.3%, Wu Dram Clan, Jamaican, bourbon barrel, 232 bottles)

Hampden 9 yo 2014/2023 '<>H' (67.3%, Wu Dram Clan, Jamaican, bourbon barrel, 232 bottles) Five stars
Matured like 50% tropical and 50% continental. Reminds me of Kid Creole and The Coconuts in that respect. Colour: gold. Nose: a notch gentler and better polished despite the extreme strength. Softer glues, lighter varnishes, more ultra-ripe bananas, seawater from a gentler sea… But, or rather and, it is awesome, curiously approachable despite it being a HEH (High-Ester-count-Hampden – some personal appellation, don't worry). With water: funny whiffs of ristretto, then perfect glue, new tyres (Pirelli, if you want), and another Saturday morning at IKEA (IKEA, where's the cheque?) Joking aside, it is (very) relatively gentle. Mouth (neat): tears you apart a wee bit, I suppose that wasn't the idea in the first place. Liquorice, tyres and seawater are good. With water: not that tarry, but very salty and varnishy, that's what I would say. It's a bit like if they had used more cane vinegar for this one. Finish: long, salty, with more concentrated lime and lemon this time. Green olives in the aftertaste. Comments: actually a little lighter than the 2013, but just as brilliant in my book.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Gracias, peace and see you.

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

 

February 17, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

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


Triple Bunnahabhain

Always enjoy tasting Bunnahabhain, it's rarely ever boring, and frequently excellent. Indeed, many younger recent examples seem to show an excellent and robust character. My spot for this distillery remains thoroughly soft!
Angus  

 

 

 

 

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2010/2022 (55.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #554983, sherry butt with PX sherry finish, 320 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2010/2022 (55.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #554983, sherry butt with PX sherry finish, 320 bottles)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: beef jerky and game pie - good meaty fun in other words! There's also bouillon, coffee grounds, bitter dark chocolate and herbal cocktail bitters. Punchy and potent stuff, but there's also a nice saltines about the sherry which feels very suitably Bunnahabhain. With water: jammier, sweeter, rounder and with a nice touch of earthiness. Mouth: modern sherry, but pretty good within that style. Rather jammy, herbal, meaty and even slightly medicinal, some notes of Bovril, black tea, pink peppercorn and serrano ham. With water: some fruity muesli with a few chunks of Chorizo dropped into it. It's better than that sounds though. Finish: medium, slightly sooty, on black pepper, dates and paprika. Comments: modern sherry casks can still make rather snazzy and fun whisky when they're clean like this one.
SGP: 461 - 85 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 17 yo 2005/2023 (50.6%, Art In The Eyes Of An Artist, PX sherry hogshead, 139 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 17 yo 2005/2023 (50.6%, Art In The Eyes Of An Artist, PX sherry hogshead, 139 bottles)
A rather lovely series by Chinese bottler Edward Zeng, which features images of antique furniture and artworks on the labels. Colour: pale amber. Nose: oh, it's a peaty one! Lots of BBQ embers and dry roast peanuts, all wrapped up in mercurochrome and tar extract. Also salted liquorice, bacon jam, Tabasco and charred mutton. Really a big and muscular profile. With water: German rauchbier, ham hock, wholegrain mustard and pickled mussels. A whole meal in a glass! Mouth: again on tar, medicine, soot, cooking oils infused with chilli, iodine and camphor. This impression of tarred hessian, clove and yet more bacon jam and salted liquorice. With water: very heavy combo of peat and modern sherry, going towards roof pitch, kerosene and peppered mackerel! Still on this chilli and BBQ sauce vibe too. Finish: long, very salty, on ramen broth, umami seasonings, tar, celery salt and iodine. Comments: the deli counter meets the BBQ! One of those 'slap in the face' drams that should awaken you from the deepest and darkest of mid-afternoon naps.
SGP: 476 - 87 points.