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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2017 - Part 2



January 2017 - part 1 <--- January 2017 - part 2 ---> February 2017 - part 1


January 31, 2017


Port Charlotte, PC or not?

Now that many of the ‘private’ casks that were sold around 2001/2002 are being bottled, there are many new ‘old’ PCs around. Seriously, it’s impossible to try them all, so let’s taste two or three of them. At random… but first, the usual apéritif…

Port Charlotte 6 yo 2008 (46%, Nadi Fiori, Private Reserve, +/-2015) Port Charlotte 6 yo 2008 (46%, Nadi Fiori, Private Reserve, +/-2015)

Port Charlotte 6 yo 2008 (46%, Nadi Fiori, Private Reserve, +/-2015) Four starsNadi Fiori, of Intertrade fame, is one of the Italian pioneers of malt whisky. Now, may I ask why dear Giorgio’s in black and white on the label, while Jim and Nadi are in colours? A secret vengeance? A code? Contemporary Italian design? Colour: straw. Nose: elementary, I’d say. Brine, seawater, kippers, cider apples, unripe kiwis. Mouth: when simplicy is an asset. Grapefruits and citrons, smoked olives and oysters, plus those unripe kiwis again. Plus a lot of smokiness. It’s funny that while the peated barley came from the mainland and not from the PE Maltings, this remains forever and ever ‘Islay’. Finish: long, more complex than expected, rather on waxed citrus and mentholy smoke. Smoked salmon. Comments: I know why some Italian gentlemen were still in black and white on the label. They hadn’t tried this excellent cask yet when the photograph was taken. SGP:458 - 87 points.

Port Charlotte 2001/2016 (62.2%, Archives, refill bourbon, cask #276, 210 bottles)

Port Charlotte 2001/2016 (62.2%, Archives, refill bourbon, cask #276, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half A very fishy bottling! Apologies, I’m a little tired these days… Well, not really… Colour: white wine. Nose: more refill than this, you can’t make. This could have been distilled right this morning. Exaggerating a little, just a little. Sharp coal and peat smoke, saltpetre, ashes, and lapsang souchong. A very austere one, for sure, you’re almost nosing an old officer’s stove. Hints of gentian roots, which is obviously very great. With water: oh perfect, oysters, whelks, crabs, hessian, kelp… Mouth (neat): maximum powah. Smokey diesel oil or something. Don’t try this at home! With water: it’ll take a lot of water before it gets a little smoother. What’s surprising is the huge lemony spiciness. Something Thai, I’d say, but I’m jot expert. Finish: long, with notes of Thai basil, radish sprouts, and of course a lot of smoked lemon juice. Comments: it’s brutal! Heavy stuff indeed, but the spirit is immaculate. SGP:368 - 89 points.

Port Charlotte 15 yo 2001/2016 (50%, OB, private cask, Martine Nouet, bourbon barrel, 223 bottles)

Port Charlotte 15 yo 2001/2016 (50%, OB, private cask, Martine Nouet, bourbon barrel, 223 bottles) Four stars and a half It may have been a good idea to reduce this baby to 50% vol. Monsters are great, but they can get a little tiring. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re midway, and we’re good. I mean, between the Archives’ brutality, and the softer side of some OBs. I’m getting some very lovely pine-y whiffs, certainly some moss and fern, and touches of green tropical fruits, around green bananas and melons. Perhaps even a little chartreuse, mind you. With water: back to the basics, hessian, smoked barley, tarry seaweed… Mouth (neat): more power, more salt, more eucalyptus, and more green bananas. Some kind of herbal/pine-y smokiness. With water: it’s getting fatter, oilier, and more medicinal. More olives too, which is always enjoyed in this house. Finish: long, always pine-y, plasticine-y, olive-y, and of course smoky. Love the barley-y signature, as well as the peppery grapefruits in the aftertaste. There’s a little vanilla too. Comments: a fairly gentler Port Charlotte that, rather unsurprisingly, is as fresh and engaging as its owner. Softer tones, very well done, dear Martine! SGP:457 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Port Charlotte I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: David S. Ware. Track: African Drums. Please visit his website and buy his music...

January 30, 2017


Arran, five 1996s and one 2000

Time to have more Arrans, especially since more older ones are starting to appear here and there on the market. And many less unlikely finishings… Phew!

Arran 15 yo 2000/2015 (52.7%, OB for independentspirit.de, sherry hogshead, cask #2000/256, 307 bottles)

Arran 15 yo 2000/2015 (52.7%, OB for independentspirit.de, sherry hogshead, cask #2000/256, 307 bottles) Four starsColour: gold. Nose: creamy and cake-y, with a lot of butterscotch, biscuits, maple syrup, apple crumble, and then a little moist pipe tobacco and humus. That is very nice. With water: a tiny wee touch of sulphur that is soon to vanish in the air, then an unexpected medicinal side, ala Laphroaig. Drops of antiseptic? Very nice and quite fresh. Mouth (neat): all very perfect, this is almost a Linzertorte, but let’s not forget all the vanilla, peach jam, and panettone. Faint leafiness in the background. With water: rather perfect, with many cereals and many jams, plus this wee Laphroaigness again. Where does that come from? Finish: medium, very fine, slightly mentholy. Verbena and a little earth in the aftertaste. Comments: super good and rather intriguing, as they say in brochures. SGP:552 - 86 points.

Arran 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.7%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #879, 138 bottles)

Arran 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.7%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #879, 138 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: ah yes, herbs! Verbena, wormwood, rosemary, parsley, and even watercress, which I just adore. Gets then more ‘regular’, with a little leather and tobacco, as well as hints of dried ginger on top of a bed of vanilla. All fine. With water: grapefruits and limes! Nice margarita, I say. Mouth (neat): really super, easy, yet firm, with a creamy mouth feel. Same feeling of herbs as in the nose, then more ginger, nutmeg and white pepper from the oak, then bitter oranges. With water: it swims like Mark Spitz. No dope needed. Finish: medium, clean, lemony, and very fresh. Always an asset. Comments: really love these very fresh batches, my favourite Arrans. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Arran 19 yo 1996/2016 (54%, Cadenhead, fino sherry, 258 bottles)

Arran 19 yo 1996/2016 (54%, Cadenhead, fino sherry, 258 bottles) Four stars and a half From the Wood range, that usually shelters both princes and beggars. Colour: white wine. Nose: hurray! I don’t know if that’s the fino, but what we’ve got is a bright herbal side akin to that of the Chapter 7, plus walnuts, cigars, and soft mustard. It’s a winning combo, all we’d also need is a little Bellota. With water: becomes muddy. Not visually though. Tadpole pond bordered by herbs, especially mint. Mouth (neat): very lovely, citrusy, zesty, tense, and rather sherbetty. Tends to become peppery and bitter, having said that. Fresh walnuts, a true fino thing. With water: the citrus strikes back. Grapefruits and more green walnuts. Sharpish. Finish: medium, on the same flavours. A leathery touch in the aftertaste. Comments: another superb Arran 1996, but where’s that bellota? SGP:561 - 89 points.

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11345, 287 bottles)

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11345, 287 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes, further down the mentholy route! Pink grapefruits and crushed mint leaves, then a little damp earth (mud, really), then maple syrup and ultra-fresh sponge cake. I have no quarrel with this. With water: lemon tea. Mouth (neat): some very good toasted lemon brioche and various pastries, café latte, lemon curd, and a spoonful of Ovaltine. With water: perfect zesty and herbal maltiness. Finish: medium, malty and cake-y, with a lemony backbone. Comments: I remember in the early 2000s, everybody used to wonder why Arran didn’t go all-peated. This may be an answer. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Phew, three 89-ers in a row. Let’s try a little harder…

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, North Star Spirits, 234 bottles)

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, North Star Spirits, 234 bottles) Four stars It seems that this baby did first mature in a bourbon hogshead, and was then finished in Madeira. By the way, I think we should, collectively, ask our beloved distillers and bottlers to be more precise, since there are several kinds of Madeiras (it’s just like sherry), from bone dry to totally sweet. Anyway… Colour: gold. Nose: there is a wine-iness indeed, around stems and buds (peonies?), as well as an earthy fruitiness. It’s funny that we’re rather feeling red wine (90% of the red wine finishings don’t work IMHO, but 10% do). Mulled wine, earthy fruits... With water: rather more natural – that is to say maltier. Mouth (neat): crikey, another one that’s pretty good! A spicy and peppery arrival, then plenty of walnuts, which suggests that this was a dry Madeira. Bitter oranges and leather. With water: excellent balance. Grapefruits, ginger, and walnuts. Finish: pretty long, on the same notes. Thyme in the aftertaste? Comments: rather less my preferred style, but I won’t deny that the execution is perfect. SGP:451 - 86 points.

Arran 1996/2016 (54.8%, OB for Limburg Whisky Fair, sherry hogshead, cask #654, 280 bottles)

Arran 1996/2016 (54.8%, OB for Limburg Whisky Fair, sherry hogshead, cask #654, 280 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: peppered peonies and blackcurrants, bubblegum, gingered leather, leek, and bags of dried mint leaves, then chalk and fresh concrete. This is different… With water: mint tea in the Sahara! Gorgeous, really, this baby really loves water. Mouth (neat): pretty good. A biscuity and malty/spicy arrival, then more tobacco and Moroccan spice mix. Stuff that would resuscitate a dead camel. With water: some candied notes, praline, candy sugar, gingerbread, speculoos… In short, from Morocco to Belgium. Finish: the spices are striking back. I think they’re calling this ras el hanout. Comments: once again, not exactly my preferred style, but the execution is perfect. SGP:451 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Arran I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Steve Slagle. Track: A.M.. Please visit his website and buy his music...

January 29, 2017


Tequila Anejo, malternative or not?

Since apparently, tequila sales are rising faster than Scotch’s  these days, well, let’s have some tequila. Yeah I know I did say we’d do a verticale of Appleton, but I’m not quite in the mood for that just now. There’s that 50yo and I feel I need to be in top form. Like 120%! Oh and our Mexican friends seem to have a wall to pay for in the future, so let’s support them. Ha!

Don Fulano ‘Añejo’ (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Don Fulano ‘Añejo’ (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Four starsFrom an older bottle indeed. These Don Fulanos age in French oak for more or less three years. Colour: straw. Nose: excuse me but wow, this is some fresh and floral spirit! Awesomely floral and citrusy at first nosing, it would unfold on notes of vetiver, green oranges, cinchona, and elderberry flowers. I find this very elegant and refined, and much nicer (and fresher) than Don Fulano’s 5yo ‘Imperial Añejo’. In tequila too, vanilla can kill. Mouth: same lovely freshness, with touches of green olives, citrons, dill, lime grass, and of course agaves. Brilliantly fresh and elegant, I could really sip this superbly chiselled tequila. Finish: medium, fresh, zesty, with a little brine. Comments: this session starts very well, doesn’t it. High-class tequila for sure, a great alternative to the rougher mezcals. SGP:452 – 86 points.

Tristan ‘Añejo’ (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2015)

Tristan ‘Añejo’ (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2015) Two stars This wee one comes from the city of Tepatitlán, which is located in the Jalisco region, home to the best tequilas. Colour: white wine. Nose: well well well, the Don Fulano just kills it. This baby’s much shier, in fact it doesn’t talk to you at all. Hello? Perhaps lemon syrup in 95% water. Very humble and fragile… Mouth: better, but it’s still suffering from the comparison. Touches of agave syrup, candy sugar, vanilla cream, lemon cream… It’s really all right, just a little weak and fragile. Oranges, but few olives and little brine, while we’re totally into olives and brine. Finish: short, sweet, with notes of marshmallows. Nice rooty touches in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m sure it’s very good, but we’re certainly not in malternative country. Shy and easy good-level tequila. SGP:431 - 75 points.

Centinela ‘Añejo’ (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2014)

Centinela ‘Añejo’ (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2014) Two stars and a half A little less than three years in wood, apparently. The Sergio-Leone style packaging is trying a little hard, not always a good sign with any spirits, as we all very well know. But let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: you know what, I shouldn’t have started with the Don Fulano. That was like starting a whisky session with Brora ’72, my bad. Anyway, this is shy indeed, although I do seem to find more agave-y, grassy, and olive-y notes to it. And geranium flowers, as well as autumn leaves and lavender-scented soap. Which can be nice, eh! Mouth: ho-ho, it does kick you despite the lower strength, the only problem being that the wood already imparted too much vanilla to it, which will make just any spirit more vulgarly commercial. A shame, one can feel that the distillate was rather first class, with hints of gherkins and green liquorice. Finish: a little short, but not really too vanilla-ed. Oranges. No aftertaste though, it vanishes without a trace. Comments: a shy spirit, not quite for malt drinkers, but it’s still way above average as far as tequilas are concerned. SGP:531 - 78 points.

Mejor ‘Añejo’ (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2016)

Mejor ‘Añejo’ (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2016) Two stars Mejor are the makers of one of those ugly pink tequilas, a very bad record if you ask me. Mind you, this is not Ibiza. Colour: white wine. Nose: shy. Lavender soap, ultra-sweet gherkins (what we call cornichons extra-doux in France, which would apply to many a politician as well), and touches of vanilla. Let’s not cry foul. Mouth: it’s very okay, actually, pretty fresh, citrusy, slightly olive-y and gherkiny indeed (gherkiny? S., you need holidays), perhaps just a tad too vanilla-ed. Always the problem with the anejos, the spirit must be big or it won’t quite stand the vanilla treatment. Finish: short, but very okay. Some oak tannins in the aftertaste though, that’s no good. Comments: another very soft tequila, easy to drink, but sadly, the oak comes through towards the finish. You know what? I liked their pink tequila better. And this is no joke. SGP:451 - 70 points.

Jose Cuervo 'Reserva de la Familia 2014' (38%, OB, tequila, añejo)

Jose Cuervo 'Reserva de la Familia 2014' (38%, OB, tequila, añejo) Two stars Top notch tequila, in theory. Not too sure it’s still a Diageo brand, but what’s sure is that 38% vol. do not sound very premium. In truth, that sounds cheap. Colour: gold. Nose: well, it’s tequila that’s got whisky/cognac attributes, with less agave-y things, and more leafy/oaky stuff. Are you following me? So indeed leaves, moss, mushrooms, cedar wood, then green oranges (as in Hermes’ nice perfume), various teas, a little tobacco… All that is most elegant, just a little, well, flat. Mouth: it is complex, leafy, grassy, spicy… But it’s also drying, and fairly… well, how should I put it? Dead, perhaps? What’s more, the oak seems to have taken over. Menthol, over-infused green tea… It’s really lacking brightness and knack. Finish: shortish, drying, mentholy, tea-ish. Artichokes in the aftertaste, not always a good sign. Comments: I don’t know, I remember earlier versions of the 'Reserva de la Familia’ had been much brighter. This one is just pretty… unnoticeable, and too green and drying. Getting in line, perhaps? SGP:361 - 76 points.

Seriously, it’s been frustrating. Next time we’re trying tequilas – or mezcals for that matter – we’ll try to go blanco. B****y vanilla.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Tequilas I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Oliver Lake steel quartet. Track: Stolen Moments. Please visit his website and buy his music...

January 27, 2017


Young and old Strathisla

Both by G&M, naturally, as they’re also the best Strathisla specialists. While the owners don’t seem to be willing to do much out of Strathisla – which might be good news given what they’ve just done with (to) Longmorn, that is to say instantly kill any goodwill towards the brand by pathetically trying to price a new 23 years old at around 1,300€ (lol lol lol), and by raising the price of the humble 16 yo by around 60% or even more. Pure Mortlachian drunk marketing if you ask me, they should go back to cocaine, if it all goes on like this there will soon be one single Scottish brand that won't be 'luxury', The Claymore. But back to those fairly priced Strathislas that are much worthier of our respect and empathy…

Strathisla 2005/2015 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling)

Strathisla 2005/2015 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Three stars and a half Isn’t it refreshing that they would still use the same old – and lovely – label? It’s true that since everybody else is going retro or fake retro, there’s no need to change anything. Well done! Colour: white wine. Nose: oh perfect. Cut apples, dandelions, colza honey, white cherries, marshmallows, wee bits of chalk, and a few drops of lemonade. Mouth: good sweet malt whisky, starting with quite some café latte and custard, and going on with a spoonful of Ovaltine, as well as a handful of jelly babies, Haribo style. Finish: quite long, with even more café latte. I’d even say Nescafé, or even chicory. Comments: a bit simple, but extremely good. Love this funny feeling of instant coffee. SGP:541 - 84 points.

Down 52 years…

Strathisla 1953/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speyside Collection, cask #1614, first fill sherry butt, 258 bottles)

Strathisla 1953/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speyside Collection, cask #1614, first fill sherry butt, 258 bottles) Four stars I can’t wait, let’s try it… Colour: amber. Nose: we’re visiting an antique shop, with these whiffs of furniture polish, precious woods (rose, teak, snakewood – yes made that one up), old curtains, turpentine, linseed oil, carbolinium, opening an old wardrobe that had remained closed for decades… Oops, almost forgot to mention the obligatory fruitcake. A little parsley too, marrow soup… The whole remains quite dry all along. Mouth: I think it was bottled at the right time, just before the oak would have taken over. It’s rather chocolate-dominated, with really a lot of cinnamon and black tea, but a few fruits keep singing high and clear, especially oranges and plums. I’m also finding quite a lot of herbal teas, rosehip, thyme… Finish: medium, dry, and a little drying. As when you left the teabag in the teapot for a little too long. Comments: I think I liked this rare old glory almost just the same. SGP:471 - 85 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Strathisla I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Takuya Kuroda. Track: Piri Piri. Please visit his website and buy his music...

January 26, 2017


Youngish official Tomatin

Tomatin used to be one of those ‘brands’ (apologies) that have been a bit under the radar for quite some years, but just like, say Benromach, they recently managed to pull and gather much more attention and goodwill from the malt-thirsty masses. All well deserved if you ask me, congrats to them. Let’s have a few recent ones to celebrate…

Tomatin 9 yo 2007/2016 ‘Caribbean Rum’ (46%, OB, 6600 bottles)

Tomatin 9 yo 2007/2016 ‘Caribbean Rum’ (46%, OB, 6600 bottles) Three stars and a half Watch this one, it’s not a quick finishing, the whisky spent all its (okay, short) life in ex-rum wood. Colour: white wine. Nose: no high-esters Jamaican here, it was probably a gentle rum. What is sure is that this is really a ‘whole’, delicately fruity, only mildly tropical, with some green bananas dancing with cut apples and gooseberries, over a bed of custard and golden syrup. Sugarcane syrup, of course. It’s still got notes of sweet barley, mind you, all for the good. Mouth: creamy, yet rather nervous, very fruity, citrusy, with indeed, this time, some notes of rum (was it agricole?) as well as quite some ‘active’ oak. Vanilla, coconut, cinnamon… It’s still a little beerish and ale-y, so there is some youth to this, but it’s pleasantly bright. Finish: medium, fruity, with drops of both banana and pineapple liqueurs. Comments: not the most complex malt ever, but it’s coherent and rather sexy. And the price is very fair, as I’ve just seen. One for our next summer… SGP:741 - 84 points.

Tomatin 15 yo ‘American Oak Cask’ (46%, OB, travel retail)

Tomatin 15 yo ‘American Oak Cask’ (46%, OB, travel retail) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s very soft, very gentle, sweet, all on pastries and syrups. Maple syrup, sponge cake, vanilla, and whiffs of lilac. It’s really a ‘golden’ nose, more or less that of some ueber-blend. Mouth: very gentle, polished, syrupy in a good way, less fat and big than the Caribbean (which wasn’t very fat and big mind you), with some pancakes covered with maple syrup, butterscotch, and the most delicate acacia honey. All that is very soft indeed, and tends to become more and more custardy. One of the easiest malt whiskies out there. Finish: medium, rather fruitier and more bonbony. Orange drops? Comments: some parts remind me of contemporary Balblair. Not bad news, uh! Pretty much the same high level as that of its Caribbean sibling. SGP:541 - 83 points.

Tomatin 1995/2016 ‘Oloroso Sherry’ (46%, OB, 1912 bottles)

Tomatin 1995/2016 ‘Oloroso Sherry’ (46%, OB, 1912 bottles) Four stars This baby was transferred to sherry-treated hogsheads in 2013, so it’s been a rather long finishing. No flash aromatisation here. Colour: deep gold. Nose: success! When you get shoe polish and walnut cakes, plus many herbal teas and tobaccos, that’s always good news. I think Tomatin makes for a perfect base for careful and smart proper finishings. In other words, no fights and no dissonances to be experienced here. Lovely lovely nose. Mouth: love this. Tobacco, walnut cake, bitter oranges, Werther’s Originals, bergamots, and dry raisins. Perfect strength, perfect balance. Finish: medium, and very cake-y. Café latte. Nice sappy/leafy touch in the aftertaste. Comments: this one reminds me of one of Glenmorangie’s earlier finishings, I just can’t remember which one. Perhaps was it the Sherry Wood, after all… SGP:551 - 85 points.

Tomatin ‘Cù Bocan’ 2005/2016 (50%, OB, 11400 bottles)

Tomatin ‘Cù Bocan’ 2005/2016 (50%, OB, 11400 bottles) Three starsReally not too sure about the death-doom-metal-Judas-Priest-approved packaging, but I remember I had quite loved their much older Cù Bocan 1988 (WF 86). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s soft peat, nothing doom and nothing deadly. I would mention some wood-smoked apple pie, some Seville oranges, and some mildly smoked lapsang souchong into which you would have poured some orange blossom honey. Very soft, and totally not brutal. Subtle! Mouth: starts rather viscous, with good honey and syrup, and gets then both ashy and peppery, while even more honey comes out. Same feeling of orange blossom honey. Now the oak might be a little loud(ish), I’m getting more and more ginger and even a little wasabi, but that works pretty well with the oranges. The oak’s rather peppery, though. Finish: long to very long, bready, peppery, and gingery, with a honeyed and orangey foundation. Not a lot of peat. Comments: it may need a little more ‘integration’, but otherwise I find it super-nice. SGP:564 - 82 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Tomatin I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Art Farmer. Track: Green Witch. Please buy his music...

January 24, 2017


Canadian vs American High Rye

So Koval and that Crown Royal, head to head, because you see, we had to. As you’ll notice, we did not select a big, emphatic American rye since we did not want to stack the deck against the Canadian…

Koval ‘Single Barrel Rye’ (40%, OB, USA, +/-2016)

Koval ‘Single Barrel Rye’ (40%, OB, USA, +/-2016) Three stars This is 100% organic rye matured in American oak from Minnesota. I have to say I already found Koval’s bourbon pretty impressive (WF 87). But that one was bottled at 47% vol., while these 40% sound a little… well, diminutive. Something diminutive from Chicago? Colour: gold. Nose: it does start a little oaky, with sawdust and oak shavings, and then quite some nutmeg and cinnamon, but it tends to shift very progressively towards ginger, thyme, and some kind of dry cologne (which is nice in this context), and the, indeed, a rather bready and brioche-y ryeness. The whole remains soft and easily approachable. Mouth: a little more punch would have been an asset indeed, but it isn’t weak. Spicy mulled wine, curry, bitter oranges, candy sugar, and toasted wholegrain bread. Loses a bit of steam after a few seconds, I really think 45% vol. would have worked better. Finish: medium, a little more oak-forward, with a spicy and slightly drying aftertaste. Celeriac. Comments: the opposite of a creamy whisky, it’s the oak and the rye’s spiciness that seem to be doing the work. Very enjoyable nonetheless, but I still like Koval’s bourbon much better. SGP:461 - 81 points.

Crown Royal ‘Northern Harvest Rye’ (45%, OB, Canada, blended, +/-2015)

Crown Royal ‘Northern Harvest Rye’ (45%, OB, Canada, blended, +/-2015) Two stars and a half90% rye in this one, which is notorious for having been someone’s World Whisky of the Year in 2016, although many other commentators have stated since back then that it actually wouldn’t win the Nobel Prize of Whisky (talking about the rye). It’s distilled in Manitoba. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s much rounder and softer than the Koval, for sure, and much fruitier as well. Notes of ripe bananas, ripe gooseberries, perhaps white currants, then the usual vanilla, with very soft spices and a wee leafiness. Almond skins, hints of vetiver... Certainly not unpleasant, and certainly much less bready/rye-y than the Koval. In short, easier. Mouth: creamy, soft, but less smooth than I had expected, with a peppery and slightly lavendery start, then notes of Southern Comfort and Cointreau, while the oak remains noticeable. Peppered bread, nutmeg, and mulled white wine. The body remains a tad thin, the lighter Koval had rather more substance. Finish: nice notes of bitter oranges. Comments: easy, rather well made, and certainly pretty acceptable. Rather unchallenging, I’d add. Oh and my old auntie would love the bottle. SGP:541 - 79 points.

(And merci Gael!)



Block Today: FUSION. Performer: Alphonse Mouzon. Track: Snow Bound. Please visit his website and buy his music...

January 23, 2017


A few Glengoyne from various eras

The famous totally unpeated malt whisky from the extreme south of the Highlands. We’ve already had some very great ones and what’s more, Glengoyne usually takes sherry extremely well in my humble opinion. Let’s double-check all that (again!) But first, the usual apéritif…

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, Italwell, 75cl, +/-1985)

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, Italwell, 75cl, +/-1985) Three stars Colour: straw/white wine. Nose: little sherry, and a rather porridge-y start that would also involve menthol and autumn leaves. Also liquorice and various leaves, then more beer, around ale and bitter. There might be some Old Bottle Effect taking place, but the palate will tell us more… Mouth: yes indeed, a little OBE, towards metal polish and plasticine, but other than that there’s a wonderful development on cider apples and citrons, very lively, very juicy, with a good cut. Orange blossom water. Finish: rather long given the strength, orange-y, tart… Comments: a very fresh, almost sherry-less older expression. A better batch than other old 12s in my opinion, some used to be a little weak. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Glengoyne 1994/2008 ‘Manzanilla Cask Finish’ (50%, OB)

Glengoyne 1994/2008 ‘Manzanilla Cask Finish’ (50%, OB) Four stars Ha-ha, manzanilla! Some green walnuts to be expected, I suppose… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s really very earthy, and at times you’d thing it was rather Madeira. The walnuts are well there, roasted nuts, leather, cigarettes, a little saltpetre… But no sea air so far. With water: wait, I seem to get a little sea air, but that may be my mind playing tricks. You know, self-suggestion. Mouth (neat): it’s really rich, and indeed it’s got a lot of walnuts (in a cake as well), some mustard, a touch of salt indeed, bitter oranges (Seville marmalade), and more tobacco again. The bitterness in the background does indeed remind us of the biggest manzanillas or finos. With water: if you manage to go down to approx 15-16% vol., you’re almost getting manzanilla! Serious! Finish: medium, rather on lemon curd and peppered cake. Comments: really very good. I’ll have to fly back to Sanlúcar de Barrameda one of these days. Drink manzanilla and eat langoustines! SGP:451 - 85 points.

Glengoyne 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL11212, 245 bottles)

Glengoyne 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL11212, 245 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s another rather leafy one, and it even tends to become really grassy. Rocket salad and moist oatcakes, then straight barley. With water: barley and maple syrups plus vanilla cream and various cereals. Pretty breakfasty. Mouth (neat): the same thing that happened with the old 12, a much fruitier palate, rather with gooseberries this time. And oranges! With water: excellent, fruity and sweet, and gorgeously orchardy. Acacia and orange blossom honeys. Finish: medium, fresh, and very cake-y. Apple cake covered with honey or something… Comments: and yet another one that’s dangerously downable. Lovely sweet barley-y profile. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Glengoyne 'The Teapot Dram Batch 3' (59.4%, OB, 3484 bottles, 2014)

Glengoyne 'The Teapot Dram Batch 3' (59.4%, OB, 3484 bottles, 2014) Four stars One of the fully-sherried Glengoynes. The teapot doesn’t mean this is for old ladies, mind you (with apologies to our British friends). Colour: dark amber. Nose: a rather stone-y sherry at first, with a little gunpowder and flints, but it would rather develop on truckloads of raisins and prunes, with this meaty background that’s always so lovable, between chicken soup and sweet soy sauce. And there’s some pipe tobacco. With water: a little oak popping out. Some soup made out of prune juice and pencil shavings – and that works. Mouth (neat): big, very chewy, prune-y, raisiny, and shock-full of toffee. It’s really thick, and goes a bit towards those feelings of fur tongue. With water: we tamed it. Some mint coming through, as well as a faint charcoaly feeling. Direr raisins. Finish: quite long, on… some millionaire shortbread! Comments: more or less in the same league as that of the A’bunadhs and GF 105… In other words, it does not quite do things by half. Like! SGP:651 - 85 points.

Good, we could try to find one of those legendary old 1972s and then put an end to this little session. What do you think?...

Glengoyne 37 yo 1972/2010 (51.8%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon)

Glengoyne 37 yo 1972/2010 (51.8%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon) Five stars The distinguished German bottlers used to have these casks a few years ago, and I’ve tried some by the Whisky Agency or by Malts of Scotland that have been totally flabbergasting! That’s good timing, The Whisky Cask are a German bottler too. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re in the midst of summer and you just opened a beehive (while wearing a beekeeper’s outfit, gloves, mask, hat…) Stunning whiffs of beeswax, pollen, nectar, warm pinewood, and of course honey. Enough said. With water: perhaps the finest artisan pear cider out there. Mouth (neat): Gainsbourg used to sing that ’69 was an erotic year, but with malt whisky, that was ’72, as we all more or less know. No exception here, it’s a gorgeous blend of all things honeyed with many ripe fruits. Was that short enough? With water: ooh the tiny herbs, the mint, lemongrass, blue green tea, the wee bits of mushroom… Brilliant. Finish: medium, on exactly the same flavours. Comments: there were even greater ones, but this one’s awesome too. Starting to wonder if the distillers haven’t pour honey into their hoggies in 1972, for any obscure reasons. Honey overproduction in Bonnie Scotland? SGP:651 - 91 points.

(Thank you Benjamin, Greg, and Paul)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glengoyne I've tasted so far



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January 22, 2017


More rums on Sunday

I know we’ve said we’d do a verticale of Appleton today, but that’ll happen next time, not enough time for that just know. So let’s rather do another freewheeling rum session, that’s much less time-consuming!...

Plantation Trinidad 2001 (42%, Plantation, Trinidad, +/-2014)

Plantation Trinidad 2001 (42%, Plantation, Trinidad, +/-2014) Two stars and a half I find what Plantation and their owners Cognac Ferrand are so successfully doing quite fantastic, but I’m not a sucker for most of their rums – and that’s just my own taste – because they are adding a little too much sugar for me. I insist, if you like your rum sweet(ened) go for them! Oh and I love to know about distilleries… By the way the label mentions a ‘grand cru’ but I suppose that’s a fantasy appellation. Colour: gold. Nose: literally bursts with pineapples and honey. Mango chutney, a little cinnamon, and a few tarry notes flying around. Very pleasant nose, but problems usually only occur on our palate… Mouth: sweeter than necessary, but not too sweet or too cloying, so I think balance has been preserved. More candied tropical fruits (pineapples first) and a little more molasses and oak. Walnut cake. Finish: rather short, but clean. Cracked pepper on pineapple jam. Comments: it’s not heavy Caroni, but this goes down nicely. No treachery here despite the obvious doctoring, but you’ll still feel the need to brush your teeth, even after half an hour. SGP:730 - 78 points.

Matugga ‘Golden Rum’ (42%, OB, UK, +/-2016)

Matugga ‘Golden Rum’ (42%, OB, UK, +/-2016) Three stars and a half It’s supposed to be ‘Expertly Crafted Premium Rum’, and it’s distilled in pot stills in the UK, from imported East-African molasses. I say why not! Colour: gold. Nose: hey hey, this is nice! Totally English-style rum, that is to say rather petroly and phenolic, with everything we love in these English rums, that is to say olives, brine, oils, bakelite, tar… In short, this is quite Jamaican. Does the distillery lie in Brixton? Mouth: yes, good, albeit pretty ‘different’, both rounded/sweet and petroly/olive-y. Really good, well done! Like the notes of tarry pineapples. Finish: medium, a tad fruitier and easier. A lot of liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: really, this is very good English-style rum. Beats most El Dorados if you ask me. Surprise surprise. SGP:533 - 83 points.

Don Q ‘Gran Anejo’ (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2015)

Don Q ‘Gran Anejo’ (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2015) Two starsPuerto Rico is not exactly my favourite rum-producing place in the world (often too weak or too industrial), but you never know… This is supposed to be quite old, but again, you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: hello? Anybody in there? It’s extremely light and even diaphanous, the youngest Havana Clubs pack more punch. Perhaps hints of pineapples? Mouth: definitely Cuban-style. Light, a little spirity, without much depth. Some candy sugar. Finish: short, drier than expected, despite the vanilla. Comments: really very soft and light. What’s better I that they do not seem to have added much sugar or other additives. But it’s totally not a malternative – rather in the J&B category, in other words. SGP:430 - 70 points.

Rum, let’s talk…

South Pacific Distillery 10 yo 2003/2013 (54.8%, Fiji, Duncan Taylor, cask #18, 284 bottles)

South Pacific Distillery 10 yo 2003/2013 (54.8%, Fiji, Duncan Taylor, cask #18, 284 bottles) Three stars We haven’t tried many, but these Fijians have been surprisingly excellent. Let’s check this one… Colour: straw. Nose: starts extremely well, quite tarry and petroly again, and brine-y at that, but quite bizarrely, it tends to lose steam and to fall on… tinned pineapples. With water: more bizarre behaviours, water makes it much shier and almost voiceless. Granted, not as voiceless as our Puerto-Rican friend, but still… Mouth (neat): seriously, this is very good, right between some tropical agricoles and some more phenolic Jamaicans. Tangerines, tar, liquorice, grapefruits… All good, all very good. With water: not sure it likes water much. A cat-rum, in other words. Gets a little dirty, but not quite dunder-dirty. Rotting pineapples? Finish: rather long, still a bit between both worlds. Comments: please do not get me wrong, this is excellent rum – certainly better than 99% of the world production. It’s just that we were expecting even more. SGP:542 - 82 points.

Jamaïque 2010 (63.4%, Ferroni, bourbon and rye, +/-2016)

Jamaïque 2010 (63.4%, Ferroni, bourbon and rye, +/-2016) Three stars and a half A very interesting bottle by some very friendly people in Marseilles. First matured in bourbon wood, this anonymous Jamaican was then finished in ex-rye casks. In France, I suppose. Colour: gold. Nose: really unusual, and yet not totally un-classic. What strikes first is the wood, with shavings and sawdust, but the spirit is big enough to stand that and to complement the oak, creating unexpected aromas of aromatic herbs and flowers. Chartreuse in rum? In fact this seems to work. With water: as often, the oak comes out more. Tarry sawdust. Mouth (neat): extremely punchy, but that’s normal. The distillate’s also really got the upper hand here, and it’s very salty, tarry, and liquoricy. Flower jelly. With water: gotcha! At around 45% it becomes almost perfect, superbly fruity, admirably tarry/phenolic, and absolutely not oaky. Finish: long, and it reminds me of some old sweets by Krema we still have in France, called ‘Batna’. That’s not, mind you, a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, it’s some soft gum flavoured with both caramel and liquorice. Still love those… Comments: really super good – even if I may have liked the untouched spirit even better. Whether Worthy Park or not. SGP:542 - 83 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far



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January 20, 2017


Strathmill and Strathmill, Inc.

What could I tell you about Strathmill? Perhaps that the number of Strathmills we’ve already tasted on this ridiculous website remains shamefully low, with only twenty six different expressions so far. That’s less than two a year. Boooh! Let’s try to remedy the situation…

Strathmill 19 yo 1995/2015 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles)

Strathmill 19 yo 1995/2015 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles) Two stars and a halfColour: white wine. Nose: sugar syrup, with wee whiffs of fresh mint and aniseed. Or wild carrots. That’s all, folks. Mouth: it’s hard to say anything else than ‘pretty good’. Sweet beer, sugar syrup, apple juice, sweet and sour ice creams and smoothies… Well it’s well and good, you just won’t remember it forever. Finish: same, medium, sugary, sugary, sugary… Did I tell you it was sugary? Perhaps touches of white rhum agricole in the aftertaste. And supermarket strawberry sweets (yeah, I imagine). And perhaps lemon drops. Comments: it’s actually pretty pretty good, as Larry David would have said. And he would have added this: ‘I enjoyed it. It was interesting. It was such a perfect length.’ SGP:631 - 78 points.

Strathmill 22 yo 1992/2014 (46%, Jack Wiebers, The Steam Ship Line, cask #9549)

Strathmill 22 yo 1992/2014 (46%, Jack Wiebers, The Steam Ship Line, cask #9549) Three stars It’s becoming an obsession with Jack Wiebers and means of transport. Next, The Moped Line? Or, like Ardbeg have done after having spent £2Mio (my guess) in marketing, The Space Station Line? Colour: straw. Nose: same-ish, with a little more oak, a little more tea, a little more depth. Sweet barley galore. Mouth: nah, it’s fine. Nice leafy profile, barley, fresh walnuts, sunflower oil, sugarcane syrup, and repeat. Nice leafy profile, barley, fresh walnuts, sunflower oil, sugarca… (pleas excuse me). Finish: medium, on barley, fresh walnuts, sunflower oil… And sweet grass. Comments: in fact, it was very good. Just not mindboggling, just not very interesting, just not very unforgettable. But good. Really good. What’s on TV tonight?  SGP:651 - 80 points.

Strathmill 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château Lafitte)

Strathmill 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château Lafitte) Two stars This baby spent the last 6 years in the wine cask. Yes that would be Lafite with one t. Colour: apricot/salmon/copper. Nose: not too sure. Dusty cellar, raspberries, hay… No too sure, really. With water: really bizarre. Tesco’s strawberry yoghurt, more hay… But the barley comes out eventually, which represents an improvement. A little Demerara sugar. Mouth (neat): not too sure. Salted strawberries? A little rubber as well. With water: stewed turnips and grass juice, plus always these salted strawberries. A feeling of anchovies in brine? Finish: rather long, leafier. Cheery stem tea. Comments: not much luck with Strathmill today. Must be me, these things happen. And it’s true that I’m not a fan of whisky finished in red wine, be it Lafitte, Mouton, Latour, Haut-Brion, or any of the greatest Pomerols and Saint-Emilions. Also, as these châteaux never refill their barrels – or only for their second wines - and provided they’re genuine château barriques, it’s not impossible that the French oak was still too active. Unless they got re-charred, which I doubt. SGP:361 - 70 points.

Little luck with Strathmill (and Cadenhead) today... Perhaps another go? After all, where there's a will there's a way...

Strathmill 23 yo 1992/2015 (47.2%, Cadenhead, small batch, bourbon)

Strathmill 23 yo 1992/2015 (47.2%, Cadenhead, small batch, bourbon) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, this is nicer. The wonders of small batches, I guess. We’re between a fine middle-aged Tomatin and a no-less fine Irish whiskey, with peaches and some tropicalness. Bananas and apples, I would say. A nice maltiness beyond those fruits. Mouth: good apples and plums with a funny saltiness. A tiny bit of anchovie in the cask? Had one of the casks been shipped from Rotterdam? But that makes this baby much more interesting, this time I rather applaud. Or wait wait wait, ex-Jamaican rum cask or something? Finish: medium, a wee bit petroly. Always these anchovies, or perhaps are they sardines? Comments: I’m not sure they would tell, but I’m really wondering if this little Strathmill wasn’t enhanced using drops Hampden or Worthy Park. Nah, I’m probably dreaming, but at least we’ve found a pretty excellent Strathmill. Hurray. SGP:452 - 85 points.

Next Strathmill session, late 2017. If the god of whisky lets me live.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Strathmill I've tasted so far



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January 19, 2017


Two Aberfeldy at drinking strength

A short and probably easy little session today. We expect barley and garden fruits!

Aberfeldy 1999/2015 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Aberfeldy 1999/2015 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Three stars A blend of 1st fill sherry hogsheads and refill bourbon barrels, according to the back label. Colour: straw. Nose: you’ll notice the rather leafy sherry in this Aberfeldy that’s more powerful than expected. Also overripe apples, touches of earth and cardboard dust, mashed potatoes, and perhaps mashed Jerusalem artichokes. More fresh barley after that, and hints of ale. Mouth: fresher and fruitier, even zesty, slightly fizzy perhaps, with orange and blackcurrant sweets, then rather cornflakes and oatcakes. Raisin buns straight from the oven. Good body and mouth feel. Finish: medium, still rather on oranges, but with a little green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a very fine and very sippable Aberfeldy. In short, it’s very ‘Aberfeldy’. SGP:441 - 82 points.

Aberfeldy 1994/2015 ‘Banquet of Fruits’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 220 bottles)

Aberfeldy 1994/2015 ‘Banquet of Fruits’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 220 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: totally similar, just a little leafier yet, and with rather more Jerusalem artichokes. Various mashes and ales (something Belgian, in other words), barnyard, and wild yellow peaches. Rather dry peaches. Mouth: ah excellent! Honeydew and rather lemons and tangerines this time, bags of quince jelly, and a growing honeyness. Perhaps heather and orange blossom. This is a lovely palate, even if it’s maybe not totally transcendental. Finish: medium, and a little more mineral. Apple compote mixed with bits of grapefruit. Comments: perhaps not exactly a nosing whisky, but the palate really delivers. SGP:541 - 84 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Aberfeldy I've tasted so far



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January 18, 2017


A bag of crazy Bruichladdich
at high strength, part 2

Good, we’ve recovered…

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2005/2016 (59.2%, Svenska Eldvatten, fresh sherry, cask #452, 264 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2005/2016 (59.2%, Svenska Eldvatten, fresh sherry, cask #452, 264 bottles) Three stars and a half More high-octane Bruichladdich by those crazy Swedes… Colour: amber. Nose: starts rather sharp and grassy, with bags of fresh walnuts and broken branches, and would rather go on with some leather, cocoa, and tobacco. A wee feeling of soft curry spices. Very few raisins, if any. With water: damp earth, autumn leaves, moss, drops of turpentine… Mouth (neat): fights and hits you, with some grassy, bitter, and almost chilli-like notes. Tabasco, bitter almonds and walnuts, spent lees, ultra-strong green tea (last night’s pot, while you had forgotten to take the leaves out)… It’s definitely very spicy. With water: have I already mentioned bitter walnuts? This baby is very extractive, to say the least. Spice bread. Finish: ultra-long, very herbal, very spicy. Drinking a blend of walnut oil and Worcester sauce. And there, only in the aftertaste, two or three sultanas. Comments: maximum power. More a dragster than a Bruichladdich! For lovers of extreme feelings… SGP:371 - 83 points.

Let’s insist…

Bruichladdich 2003/2013 (56.3%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS 13051, 285 bottles)

Bruichladdich 2003/2013 (56.3%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS 13051, 285 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: deep amber. Nose: just as grassy as the Svenska, but also much more sulphury. Metal polish, used matches, green walnuts, maraschino, sour kirsch, leather… These sorts of things. With water: became very, very grassy. Burnt turnips, leather, some sulphury smells. Mouth (neat): heavy, extremely leafy and rather bitter, and indeed rather difficult. Sour fruits, bitter oranges, curry powder, leather… With water: a little better IMHO, but still very leafy and bitter. More fresh walnuts, with their skin. Finish: long and pretty bitter. Bitter chocolate, some pepper, some artisan kirsch eau-de-vie. Comments: interesting at times, but I don’t believe there’s much pleasure to be had here. SGP:271 - 77 points.

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2016 (54.6%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11204, 197 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2016 (54.6%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11204, 197 bottles) Three stars Back to reason, I hope. Colour: white wine. Nose: impeccable, yet austere, with the trademark melons (rather green ones) and ‘Atlantic sea air’, as well as raw barley and perhaps a fistful of wet beach sand. A little fresh mint too. Perhaps a little shy, but many natural Bruichladdichs from the 1980s and 1990s were like this. With water: fresh apple juice and more green melons. Grist and dust after a rain. Mouth (neat): good, fresh, all on fruit salads with a little coffee. Zests, apples, greengages… Now it’s still a little new-make-y, I guess this was neither second fill nor third fill. With water: more grassy parts, green tea, fruit peeling… Finish: medium, always very grassy and pretty austere. Comments: unsexy yet fair and fresh. Typical natural and free of tricks Laddie. Sometimes tricks do work! SGP:451 - 80 points.

Owners, the floor is yours…

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1984/2008 ‘Golder Still’ (51%, OB, 4866 bottles)

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1984/2008 ‘Golder Still’ (51%, OB, 4866 bottles) Four stars A bottling from the distillery’s most epic years. I had never tried this Golder one, but I remember well its predecessor, the Redder Still that used to look like if it was bottled right for the Chinese New Year. That one had been to my liking (WF 87). Colour: gold. Nose: a different world, this is much more civilised, rounded, soft, and delicately cake-y and fruity. Biscuits, Danish pastries, apricots, custard, vine peaches, and distant whiffs of sea air. The Loch Indaal, you see. With water: more vanilla coming out. Custard pie, streusel… Mouth (neat): creamy and soft at first, then rather more herbal and liqueury. I’m thinking Bénédictine, Chartreuse, Fernet and all that, plus perhaps a little pepper and ginger liqueur. In fact it tends to become really spicy. Again! With water: a fruit salad with dashes of ginger and pepper. Finish: medium, rather oakier than expected. Green tea tannins and pepper. Comments: the nose was much softer than the palate, which was spicier. Janus! SGP:551 - 86 points.

(Thanks Greg and Paul)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Bruichladdich I've tasted so far



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January 17, 2017


A bag of crazy Bruichladdich
at high strength

Really many Bruichladdichs. Let’s see how far we’ll manage to go while trying to preserve what's left of our sanity… As usual we’ll start with a lower-strength apéritif, and then go wild. Hopefully…

Bruichladdich 11 yo 2005/2011 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry hogshead, cask #DL11509, 185 bottles)

Bruichladdich 11 yo 2005/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry hogshead, cask #DL11509, 185 bottles) Three stars Particular, perhaps, old, certainly not ;-). Colour: golden amber. Nose: a clean, raisiny and fudge-y sherriness at first nosing, then more milk chocolate and Golden Grahams. Mars bar, molasses, corn syrup, warm brioche… You see… Mouth: super-good, rather simple, starting with the same malty/chocolaty notes, but getting then more soupy, bouillony, marrowy (!)… Very obvious notes of parsley and even tarragon. As for Bruichladdich’s rather delicate spirit, it got, well, rather buried. Finish: long, cake-y. Pipe tobacco, cinnamon mints, caraway. Comments: a very demonstrative and spectacular young sherry monster, with a Japanese side. Forgot to mention Ovaltine. So much for an apéritif. SGP:571 - 81 points.

Bruichladdich 11 yo 2003/2015 (61.1%, OB, Crofter’s Cask, cask #1161, fresh bourbon)

Bruichladdich 11 yo 2003/2015 (61.1%, OB, Crofter’s Cask, cask #1161, fresh bourbon) Five stars A private bottling done at the distillery. Does the photograph suggest that it’s the dog’s bol… well, you see… You knew the old distillery motto, didn’t you! Colour: pale gold. Nose: sublime ‘elementary’ melony spirit, with whiffs of sea air. This is more Bruichladdich than any Bruichladdich. Adore this. Let’s move on… With water: meadows, melons, sea breeze, hay, mud. Elementarily brilliant. Mouth (neat): what a syrup! Tangerines, melons, a touch of salt. And boy it burns. Great whiskies at very high strengths are disasters, because you cannot help sipping them, and they’ll kill you. A scandal. With water: magical. Fresh, full, fruity, herbal… Plainly and totally properly aged barley eau-de-vie. Finish: very long, zesty, millimetric, and totally well-carved. Comments: this one comes with echoes of the famous official 1970, and of course an obvious parentage with the first new 10. Stunning distillate. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2001/2011 (58.7%, OB, private cask, sherry bloodtub, cask #777, 29 bottles) Four stars and a half A tiny bottling from our friend Tom in Croatia. Ah those leaking bloodtubs… Colour: deep amber. Nose: these bloodtubs, whether sherried or not, did build a bridge between high-end Scotch and high-end Bourbon. This is magnificent, rich, spicy, meaty, raisiny, prune-y, earthy, full of the richest pipe tobaccos, of the oldest menthe cordials, and of the most obscure Middle-European herbal liqueurs. There. With water: stunning spicy/earthy profile, extremely thick, rich, and yeah, spicy. You could bring it down to 20% vol., it would still roar and almost bite your precious nose. Mouth (neat): ouch. Clove liqueur or something? Concentrated caraway juice? Walnut oil? The heaviest and the thickest whisky I’ve tried this year. But yeah, this is January 8 (at time of writing). With water: we almost managed to tame this very heavy concoction. Speculoos galore! And pumpernickel dipped into soy sauce. Or something like that. Finish: eternal. Comments: is this legal? A highly demonstrative young Bruichladdich, totally lovable… But I wouldn’t call it ‘the best balanced whisky ever’. SGP:572 - 88 points.

My, we’ll never make it to five Bruichladdichs!

Bruichladdich 5 yo 2010/2016 (55.3%, OB, private cask, Artisan Restaurant, bloodtub, cask #4092, 40 bottles)

Bruichladdich 5 yo 2010/2016 (55.3%, OB, private cask, Artisan Restaurant, bloodtub, cask #4092, 40 bottles) Four stars and a half And he insists… Colour: gold. Nose: ah, better civilised territories… Barley, melon, touches of mint, pomegranates, peaches, butterscotch, warm croissants, earth, cigar tobacco… Lovely lovely lovely. And easier. With water: apricots, melons, peaches… This is so totally Laddie. Mouth (neat): supreme candied fruits, first pears (and I mean, all pears of the creation), then melons and quinces. Behind that, tobacco and autumn leaves, plus a few greenish spices. Green pepper. With water: some golden fruity syrup that you could pour over any crèpe or pancake. Finish: long, rather fresh, adorably fruity and pastry-y (not too sure about that one, S.). Comments: a rounder Crofter’s Cask. Same extremely high quality, just a tad simpler, perhaps. SGP:651 - 89 points.

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2006/2016 (59.5%, Svenska Eldvatten, sherry, cask #1339, 282 bottles)

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2006/2016 (59.5%, Svenska Eldvatten, sherry, cask #1339, 282 bottles) Four stars A return to sanity? Perhaps not… Colour: amber. Nose: more oils but also more pencil shavings. Chocolate, dark pipe tobacco, burnt wood, mentholated liquorice… Well, the jury’s still out. With water: overripe pears and dried ones do come out. Figs. Mouth (neat): thick, heavy, invading, and pretty oaky. This is something I had expected from the bloodtubs, but actually, this hogshead (?) has more oak. Cloves everywhere. With water: spicy raisins, cloves, cinnamon, caraway… This is heavy. Also obvious notes of Campari, unless that’s Aperol. Finish: long and really very Aperoly. Comments: some oak involved, it appears. Indeed, some understatement. A little too much for me, but remember I’m a man of delicate sensibility. Yeah yeah. SGP:561 - 85 points.

Friends, I have to stop now, my throat got totally sore. We might try to have more extreme Bruichladdichs tomorrow if Fookenayhess, god of whisky, lets me live.

(thank you John and Tom!)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Bruichladdich I've tasted so far



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January 16, 2017


Glenburgie, a wee verticale

Glenburgie’s not a big name, but it used to be more sought after twenty or thirty years ago, especially the sherried versions, and notably in Italy. I guess once again, G&M have to be thanked for that.

Glenburgie 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.1%, Archives, hogshead, cask #6282, 278 bottles)

Glenburgie 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.1%, Archives, hogshead, cask #6282, 278 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: a relatively grassy and branche-y start, then a rather long development on many things from a forest, such as mosses, herbs, leaves, mushrooms… There’s a little candy sugar and some vanilla in the background. Perhaps a little neutral so far, but pleasantly so. Mind you, it’s no vodka. With water: fern-scented soap. I’ve seen that Roger & Gallet are making some. Smells very nice! Also apple crumble. Mouth (neat): same moss plus apples, with a lot of candy sugar and tart sweets, lemon drops, and an obvious barleyness. Some mentholy liquorice too. With water: same very mentholy profile. Some aniseed too, Indian sweet spice mix (the one they give you with the bill at restaurants), caraway… Finish: quite long, on the same fresh and spicy notes. Comments: should go well with chicken tikka ;-). Very good. SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenburgie 26 yo 1989/2016 (52.8%, Silver Seal, Cavalleria Rusticana, cask #16311)

Glenburgie 26 yo 1989/2016 (52.8%, Silver Seal, Cavalleria Rusticana, cask #16311) Four stars After Verdi and Donizetti, here comes Mascagni. As they say at Opera Online, Cavalleria Rusticana, which could be translated as “rustic cavalry”, is characterised by the extreme simplicity of its plot. Let’s hope the whisky will be a little more complex. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re not far from the Archives version, but this one’s even grassier, more austere, and mossier when undiluted. Hints of sour cream, tarragon, and chives. With water: earthier. A pile of dead leaves – from last year. A lot of hay as well, farmyard after the rain… Mouth (neat): once again, very similar to the 1995. Very tart and grassy. Green melons? A bit rustic indeed. With water: gets sweeter, more bonbony. Lemon and orange drops, and less spices than in the 1995. Rather with a Tiramisu ;-). Finish: medium, fruity, citrusy. Melon syrup. Comments: perhaps not unforgettable but good good good. SGP:561 - 86 points.

Glenburgie 1984/2014 (54.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for La Maison du Whisky, refill bourbon barrel, cask #8510)

Glenburgie 1984/2014 (54.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for La Maison du Whisky, refill bourbon barrel, cask #8510) Four stars G&M had a 1984 in their roaring Cask series twenty years ago. It was a young ueber-monster! Colour: amber. Nose: it’s funny that those mossy notes are there again, but this time, as the cask was much more active, it all went towards tobacco and teas, beyond the grassy notes. And perhaps Brussels sprouts? With water: hay and even manure. Mouth (neat): it’s funny, I’m feeling walnuts and raisins, as if it had been sherried. But other than that, it’s another punchy grassy malt. Bitter oranges, then many spices again. Ginger, caraway… With water: a Schweppesy side and indeed more ginger. Perhaps a drops of Buckfast wine. Perhaps. Finish: quite long, rather on candied grapefruits. Some ginger again. Comments: on par with the rustic cavalry in my book. SGP:561 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenburgie I've tasted so far



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January 15, 2017


Even more rums at random,
looking for malternatives

As written hereinjustabove.

Saint Aubin ‘History Collection Cuvée Grande Réserve’ (40%, OB, Mauritius, agricole, 2014)

Saint Aubin ‘History Collection Cuvée Grande Réserve’ (40%, OB, Mauritius, agricole, 2014) Two stars Saint Aubin’s white ‘1819’ has been much to my liking (WF 80). This is supposed to be totally French-style agricole. Colour: gold. Nose: earthy caramel, that is bizarre. A lot of damp cardboard, then crushed cloves and perhaps cumin seeds. English brown sauce. Bizarre indeed, but you never know, this bouillony style can work greatly on the palate. Mouth: a little sugar, a lot of café latte, a touch of salt, and the biggest bag of butterscotch ever. Some sides do remember me of Bailey’s Irish Cream, which isn’t obligatorily good news. Finish: medium, still extremely caramely and fudge-y. Breton salted fudge? Comments: it’s really strange, and sometimes feels unnatural, but there are good sides. SGP:630 - 70 points.

Quick, congeners and esters!...

Jamaica 5 yo (50%, Rum Nation, sherry finish, Release 2016)

Jamaica 5 yo (50%, Rum Nation, sherry finish, Release 2016) Four stars and a halfI simply adored the 2015 release (WF 88), but things may change… Colour: gold. Nose: how could a little sherry manage to have the upper hand in this context? This is totally and plainly Jamaican, salty, olive-y, liquoricy, grassy, and slightly lime-y. Forgot to mention a tarry smokiness. Worthy Park. Mouth: superb. I don’t think it’s totally a nosing rum, but boy does it deliver on the palate. Blood oranges, green olives, crushed anchovies, grapefruit juice, cranberries, and some kind of tarred raisiny lemons. Wait, wouldn’t that be yuzu? You do actually feel the sherry, and in this case it seems to be relatively sweet, but it does mingle with the young Jamaican to perfection. Finish: very long, and smokier and tarrier. Eventually, the spirit killed the sherry. Comments: a rather exceptional young hybrid. I even forgot to add water. SGP:563 - 89 points.

Jamaica? Jamaica! To hell with randomness…

Jamaican Rum 36 yo 1977 (60.3%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Exceptional Casks, cask #23, 220 bottles, +/-2014)

Jamaican Rum 36 yo 1977 (60.3%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Exceptional Casks, cask #23, 220 bottles, +/-2014) Five stars An exceptional bottle for sure, all what’s missing is the name of the distillery. Unless it’s a blend, of course, not too sure. Colour: amber. Nose: starts very earthy and cigary, this is almost an old cigar humidor stored in the old cellar. It is not one of those funky high-ester Jamaicans, at all, but indeed the earthy side never stops growing, with even hints of mushrooms, moss, tropical rainwater, then rather coffee liqueur and chocolate sauce. Hints of Japanese bulldog sauce as well, fern, parsley... It is complex, but careful, it’s hot. With water: several citrusy liqueurs, mandarins, lime… And indeed an umami-esque side, only to be found in properly aged spirits. Mouth (neat): cedar wood and bitter oranges… Seems to be very oaky, but at 60%, better not take any chances. With water: perfect. Bitter oranges, sweet pepper (Szechuan style), herbs, a little ginger, lemongrass, and then, indeed, this Jamaican-ness, with more liquorice, salt, tar, and the expected olives (only wee bits). Finish: long, saltier, more lemony, more ‘Jamaican’. And simply more-ish. Comments: it’s funny how it shifted from a rather ‘average’ rum profile towards more and more, well ‘Jamaica’. Oh and 1977, you cannot not think of Bob Marley… SGP:462 - 90 points.

Hampden 15 yo 2000/2016 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #JH53)

Hampden 16 yo 2000/2016 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #JHPF01, 631 bottles) Five stars This baby was aged in French oak. Perhaps ex-Cognac casks? Colour: deep gold. Nose: perhaps a bit tight for Hampden, but otherwise I just adore this style. Barbecued thyme and parsley, coal tar, peat smoke (really), vegetable soup, tarragon (bags of tarragon), seawater, these green things with stones inside that grow all around the Mediterranean… ah yes, olives… In fact I find this profile simply dazzling. Mouth: I had first thought it would have been a mistake to bottle this at 44% vol. but I would have been wrong. That does bring some kind of lightness indeed, but that’s for the better, for once. Chopped parsley, or even that dish they make in Burgundy, called jambon persillé, then more ashes than in old Caol Ila, litres of seawater or rather olive brine, perhaps a touch of chilli that goes so well with olives, and then crushed anchovies and sardines, with some kind of tarry sauce poured over. Now yeah, I’d still have loved to try this at full speed. I mean, full strength. Finish: very long and extremely salty. We just drank seawater. Comments: a sublime distillate. This lousy website is becoming jamaicafun.com, isn’t it. Oh and very well done again, Compagnie des Indes! SGP:364 - 92 points.

Yeah go try to ‘climb over’ that one… But since we said Jamaica…

Appleton Estate 21 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, +/-1995)

Appleton Estate 21 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, +/-1995) Two stars That’s right, an older version of this famous expression. Now I have to admit that I find the current 21s by Appleton Estate very disappointing, that is to say much too sweet and flabby. But I love some of their younger expression. Let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: nah, it’s very nice, but one can feel coffee liqueur and toffee, just bad signs in my book. Molasses, raisins, prunes… I’d go as far as saying that it’s pretty ‘supermarkety’, in other words rum for Joe Public. Anyway, let us move on… Mouth: yes and no. On the one hand, there is some kind of salty/tarry Jamaicanness, but on the other hand, there’s way too much burnt oak and bread, or office coffee in the evening… In fact spirit and cask are just fighting. Love/hate/love/hate/love… What’s better news is that there isn’t any vulgar sweetness. Quite the opposite, it’s really dry. Finish: rather long, but kind of disjointed, drying, with quite a lot of bitter burnt caramel. Comments: I never quite understood Appleton 21, and like the entry-level no-age bottling much, much better. Now I have the current bottlings of the 21 at 60, while this baby, since it’s much less sweetened-up, will reach… ta-dah… SGP:362 - 72 points.

Okay, we’ll soon do a verticale of Appleton Estate, including the ultra-rare and extremely pricy 50 yo, but meanwhile, we’ve got another cure at the ranch…


Hampden 15 yo 2000/2016 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #JH53) Five stars Forty-three percent alcohol by volume? Aren’t they pushing it a bit? Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: right, this one won’t put a hole through your head, for sure. Everything’s there, just in a gentler way. Brine, olives, tar, smoke, herbs, bouillons and soups (there, I’m finding miso soup)… Very nice, but I may have had to start this silly session with this wee one. Mouth: well, no, it’s brilliant. Gherkin brine plus salted anchovies, smoked salmon, kippers, olives of course, hay wine (not straw wine mind you), and yep, there, the driest manzanilla ever. Finish: surprisingly long, and very salty. Comments: sublime spirit. Have I said that before? SGP:363 - 90 points.

(thanks to the rumaniacs)

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far



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January 2017 - part 1 <--- January 2017 - part 2 ---> February 2017 - part 1



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bruichladdich 11 yo 2003/2015 (61.1%, OB, Crofter’s Cask, cask #1161, fresh bourbon)

Glengoyne 37 yo 1972/2010 (51.8%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon)

Hampden 15 yo 2000/2016 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #JH53)

Jamaican Rum 36 yo 1977 (60.3%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Exceptional Casks, cask #23, 220 bottles, +/-2014)