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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2018 - Part 1


December 2017 - part 2 <--- January 2018 - part 1 ---> January 2018 - part 2


January 14, 2018


Crazy rums, a sequel

There’s always more crazy rums, and less junky sugar-loaded ones at WF Towers. Indeed we’ve learnt to avoid that terrible plague that’s currently wrecking the rum world…

Uitvlugt 26 yo 1990/2017 (51%, Silver Seal, Demerara, cask #27, 219 bottles)

Uitvlugt 26 yo 1990/2017 (51%, Silver Seal, Demerara, cask #27, 219 bottles) Four stars and a half
We’ve known rather tense Uitvlugts, as well as easier, softer ones. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: rather herbal, with notes of Camel cigarettes (as far as I can remember), then bonbons and jams. What’s particularly noticeable is that it fully goes towards classic British tea, earl grey and such. You made even add some scones. What’s sure is that it’s not a brutal Uitvlugt at all. With water: gets more brine-y. Seawater plus some ideas of Ardbeg. Mouth (neat): hold on, it’s not that soft. Burnt cake, olives, those scones again (I wasn’t joking), chocolate cake, pecan pie… We’re midway between the heavy Demeraras and the softer ones, and blind, you could have thought this was Enmore. With water: a pleasant tar comes out. Finish: rather long, and indeed half-petroly, half cake-y. Bananas in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather complex old Demerara. I feel that European aging lets them mature slower and remain distillate-driven throughout the years, even if that’s rather less romantic than full tropical aging.
SGP:452 - 88 points.

Worthy Park ‘Marsala’ (60%, OB, Jamaica, double matured, 2017)

Worthy Park ‘Marsala’ (60%, OB, Jamaica, double matured, 2017) Three stars
Oh no, the disease that we’ve seen in whisky starts to spread in rum too! A Marsala finishing, really? Do these great rums really need such crutches? Colour: gold. Nose: I do not get the Marsala, there, and I’m happy. Perhaps this mustardy earthiness? Those raisins? These dried apricots? These touches of dates? But this remains Worthy Park, and that’s good news, we were about to petition… With water: some leather, chocolate, and raisins over WP’s textbook brine. Don’t I also get mashed potatoes? Mouth (neat): sure I like Worthy Park au naturel ten times better, but this isn’t half bad. Rum arrangé (with bananas and pineapples), juicy raisins, with lemon juice, olives and brine in the background… We’re safe so far. Phew! With water: it seems that the distillate won it. Finish: rather long, a tad raisiny, but still brine-y and Worthy-Parky. Comments: a bottle to try once you’ve already tried fifty ‘natural’ Worthy Parks. Seriously, it’s still very good, but the spirit may have lost a good 5 points in my book. Seriously, Marsala? Next, white Zinfandel?
SGP:652 - 82 points.

Diamond 14 yo 2003/2017 (59.1%, Cadenhead, barrel)

Diamond 14 yo 2003/2017 (59.1%, Cadenhead, barrel) Three stars and a half
£55. Just saying. Marks on the barrel, MPM, which should mean that the Port Mourant stills have been in use, in a lighter style than ‘PM’. Some say it’s Uitvlugt, but that’s because the Port Mourant stills were moved to Uitvlugt before they reached Diamond Distillery. I agree, it’s complicated, and I’m not even sure I’ve got everything right. So, back to the spirit… Colour: straw. Nose: very light indeed for Diamond, on bananas and overripe apples. This is very surprising, I can’t find any typical fatness or strength. Cane juice, pink pepper, hay, white chocolate… With water: more pink pepper (Szechuan) and some hay. Starkrimson apples. Mouth (neat): a bit fiercer, with some grass and some white peaches, notes of pear bonbons, and a growing tar, but it remains clean and rather fruity (oranges). Nice combo, rather intriguing… With water: some brine-y notes are jumping out, together with, wait, some cucumber juice? More apples as well… Finish: medium, a tad thin for Diamond, but with some complexity, between fruits and cucumbers. Comments: possibly the mildest Diamond I’ve ever tried.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

They’ve also got a new Foursquare…

Foursquare 11 yo 2006/2017 (60.9%, Cadenhead, Barbados)

Foursquare 11 yo 2006/2017 (60.9%, Cadenhead, Barbados) Two stars
This is a traditional single blend of pot still and column Foursquare. Colour: gold. Nose: a very soft Foursquare, rather on cakes, scones, cookies, and buns. I find it surprisingly inoffensive, and almost Cuban-style. With water: perhaps a little grass, and half an apple. So, not much. Mouth (neat): rather spirity, a bit thin, with bonbons and some orange juice, Fanta-style. Rather feels like 100% ex-column if you ask me, but of course I’m wrong (what does the MBFS mark mean, by the way?) With water: okay. Oranges and a little clove. Finish: short, rather thin. Comments: not bad at all, but I find it very columny, and pretty un-Foursquare. But that’s only me…
SGP:430 - 75 points.

Dear Cadenhead, please do something… (if I may…)

Trinidad Distillers 12 yo 2005/2017 (67.4%, Cadenhead, Trinidad, barrel)

Trinidad Distillers 12 yo 2005/2017 (67.4%, Cadenhead, Trinidad, barrel) Two stars and a half
That’s Angostura! Not Caroni, mind you… But which style? Apparently, with their many columns, they’re capable of making anything, from tasteless vodka to the heaviest rums… Let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: fine, really. Apple pie, fudge, caramel, mushroom gratin, hints of ham, sweet beer, cane juice… With water: more ham! It reminds me of a German spirit called Schinkenhäger. Just like Laphroaig, it’s an acquired taste. Mouth (neat): it talks, it’s rather earthy, it’s got roasted nuts and it’s got a little brine (and olives!), in short it’s got substance. Notes of oak, chocolate, mild tobacco, pineapples… With water: good. Salt, olives, tar, that’s a winning combo, but don’t get me wrong, this is not Caroni. Not even the lightest Caroni… Finish: medium, rather more spirity. Not the fullest distillate, after all. Comments: some fine rum for sure, but it’s not very deep IMHO.
SGP:441 - 78 points.


Haitian Rum 7 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, +/-2017)

Haitian Rum 7 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Barbancourt? Most probably, and that would be modern Barbancourt, so totally ex-column. But you never know… Colour: white wine. Nose: there’s a little more happening in there, even if it’s still quite cake-y. Banana cookies and milk chocolate, with some hay and drops of orange juice. Coconut balls. Like the ‘naturalness’ of this young rum. Mouth: light, a tad spirity again, but the coconut works pretty well, and there are nice notes of sugarcane. Finish: a little short and thin, sadly. Exhausted. Comments: not much luck today, but we’ve progressed. Just between us, I would ban high column stills in strictly all countries in the world. Indeed, in Scotland too, they’re only more or less efficient ethanol factories. Just hate empty spirits. There. Apologies.
SGP:430 - 79 points.

Trinidad Distillers 25 yo 1991/2017 (64.3%%, Cadenhead, Trinidad, barrel)

Trinidad Distillers 25 yo 1991/2017 (64.3%%, Cadenhead, Trinidad, barrel) Four stars
Aged in Europe, I suppose. Colour: gold. Nose: there, classic rummy rum, with some candy sugar, cane juice, Demerara sugar, bananas flambéed, and a few green olives. With water: more oranges, corn syrup, popcorn, and buttered croissants. Tinned pineapples. Mouth (neat): very good, thick, orange-y, very cane-y, with some honey and a little olive oil. Now we’re talking… With water: it loves water, and gets more petroly, cane-y, and earthy. Finish: medium, rather bright, orange-y, fresh… Quite some cane juice too. Comments: sure it’s high-columny rum without much depth, but within that style, it’s one of the best I could try in recent months. As they say, a perfect example of this kind of make. Phew!
SGP:641 - 85 points.

We just can’t stop here...

Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘LROK’ (60%, Habitation Velier, La Maison du Whisky 60th Anniversary, Jamaica)

Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘LROK’ (60%, Habitation Velier, La Maison du Whisky 60th Anniversary, Jamaica) Four stars
I knew I would need this one, one day. Colour: gold. Nose: there, burnt cardboard, new iPhone, burnt grasses, black olives, new tyres, rotting animal (dead mice), walnut cake, rotten pineapples, fish bowl. There. With water: damp old magazines, sour fruits, cat litter. Mouth (neat): I think this is illegal. Diesel oil and pineapple juice, fifty-fifty. With water: terribly abnormal, sour, oddly fruity (rotten pineapples and bananas), and almost plastic-like. Ink. Finish: long, salty, rotten, petroly, kippery. Rotten plums in the aftertaste. Comments: when the sum of many ugly parts creates something rather beautiful. We had to reach these pitiable extremities to put a proper end to this rather strange tasting session…
SGP:363 - 87 points.

January 12, 2018


Working on Linkwood, part deux

Because we’ve got more Linkwood to try…

Linkwood 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11357, 283 bottles)

Linkwood 21 yo 1995/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11599, 234 bottles) Four stars
We ended the latest session with a DL, we’ll start this one with another DL. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s got more active vanilla, custard, crushed bananas, then rather acacia honey and a little butterscotch. Warm sawdust. With water: rather the same. Mouth (neat): really very good. A fruit salad covered with honey and corn syrup, plus vanilla. Bits of rhubarb, bananas, oranges… With water: once again, rather the same, although those oranges got more talkative, as often. Finish: medium, fruity, easy, fresh… Vanilla again in the aftertaste. Comments: it was a good refill hoggie, not dead at all.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

And while we are at it…

Linkwood 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11357, 283 bottles)

Linkwood 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11357, 283 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather more oils in this one, lamp oil, sunflower oil, also milk chocolate, then the expected oranges, light honey, cake… And of course, barley! With water: back to porridge-y notes… Mouth (neat): it’s a very fruity one again, with a large fruit salad full of preserved cherries, pieces of orange, perhaps kiwis, litchis… All this is very good, fresh, and pretty easy to quaff. With water: resurrects the barley in this! Finish: medium, rather more ‘doughy’ and porridgy, but otanges and lemons are back in the aftertaste. Comments: barley and fruits were playing hide and seek in this one. Good, of course.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Linkwood 1995/2015 ‘Summer Breeze’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 374 bottles)

Linkwood 1995/2015 ‘Summer Breeze’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 374 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: barley and pastries, then oranges and apples, then sunflower oil. Oh well, why not keep all this short and sweet? Wait, there are also notes of basil, and those keep growing. That’s unusual! Mouth: top notch. A little white pepper, apples, oranges, a wee bit of cinnamon mint, and indeed some barley, with a feeling of very malty beer. Tends to get dry. Finish: rather long, but less fruity than expected. Where have they gone? IPA, toasts, bread… Comments: super-good again, only the aftertaste was curiously dry and, well, drying.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

I’m sure Cadenhead will have something to add…

Linkwood-Glenlivet 24 yo 1992/2017 (50.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, hogsheads, 384 bottles)

Linkwood-Glenlivet 24 yo 1992/2017 (50.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, hogsheads, 384 bottles) Four stars and a half
Two casks have been used here. Colour: gold. Nose: more activity, more butterscotch, more roundness, more cakes, more praline, more custard, more preserved apricots, more Danishes… With water: leaves, oils, waxes, little herbs (basil, coriander)… Mouth (neat): I’m afraid they nailed it, and that’s the power of small batches vs. single casks. More complexity, more preserved fruits, syrups, honeys, quinces, bergamots, overripe apples, light fudge, brioche… My, this is good! With water: indeed. Rosehips and hawthorn teas. Finish: medium, rather more herbal. Green fruits (pears, kiwis, rhubarb…) A touch of coconut on the aftertaste. Oh and vanilla and honey. Comments: small batches, big whiskies. Provided those small batches are small indeed (I mean, not like 60,000 bottles, eh).
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Linkwood-Glenlivet 24 yo 1992/2017 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles)

Linkwood-Glenlivet 24 yo 1992/2017 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles) Four stars
So one that didn’t end up in that Small Batch… I suppose… Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, very same-ish, just a wee tad drier and perhaps more herbal. Say rather less emphatic… With water: perhaps a little more patchouli, lime tea, olive oil… Mouth (neat): even closer to the Small Batch, just a little less rounded, and a little more citrusy and tart. With water: very very good. Sweet herbs, green fruits. Perhaps hints of satay sauce? Finish: medium, rather drier. Some cinnamon, citrons, kiwis… Comments: all is well in the best of worlds.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

I think it’s time to put an end to this Linkwoody madness. Let’s see what we can find for the road… Perhaps something more seminal? Something that could reach WF 90? Like, an early Rare Malt? RU game?

Linkwood 22 yo 1972 (54.3%, OB, Rare Malts, +/-1995)

Linkwood 22 yo 1972 (54.3%, OB, Rare Malts, +/-1995) Five stars
Saying that UDV/Diageo’s Rare Malts have been totally instrumental to many a whisky lover’s journey would be an understatement. These bottles are gold, and ‘they’ should do them again. All substance, no BS, no stories. Please, please! Now, not all of them have been perfect, some were rather pure rocket fuel, but that was part of their many charms. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: hell! Wait, 1972, a vintage that rings a bell… Wasn’t 1972 Scotch whisky’s 1959? Amazing sharpy yet honeyed arrival, rather more floral than all the others, with notes of roses (yeah!), apples, beeswax (yeah!), pastries, and simply blood oranges. Also love these discreet metallic touches… Old penny book? Grandma’s copper kettle? With water: pretty amazing earthy development, on autumn leaves, tobacco and paraffin. Dried rose petals – which is very Old Linkwood. Mouth (neat): punches you, with more copper, then apples, then roasted herbs (thyme?), then pepper… Indeed, it’s becoming very peppery. With water: there, we tamed it! Becomes magnificent, on honey, lemon, and beeswax. You can’t beat this. Finish: sadly, but lemons seized control. Comments: all those very first Rare Malts were very powerful, and this is no exception. Some kind of statement, I suppose. Like, distillate first? We. Need. Them. Back.
SGP:452 - 91 points.


(Thanks a bunch, Morten!)


January 11, 2018


Working on Linkwood

The name’s keeping a rather low profile, but we’ve had some brilliant ones, such as some old glories by G&M, some for Italy. Let’s see what we have in the boxes…

Linkwood 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2016)

Linkwood 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2016) Three stars and a half
I last tried this little F&F in 2009 (WF 82). I believe, but I could be wrong, that they’re still making it. Not too sure, actually… Colour: straw. Nose: much less easy and floral than expected, this has rather stones, new magazines, asparagus and leek, then bone dry beer and a little mutton suet. A handful of bitter almonds. Mouth: rather sweeter, with good lemon (candies) and orange blossom honey, while the background remains grassy and rather sharp. We’re talking cut grass and green-blue tea. A little olive oil too, even the mouth feel is rather oily. Finish: medium, grassy, with a few fresh walnuts and a good cup of unsweetened herbal tea. Say a blend. The lemons are back in the aftertaste. Comments: they could have done an easy Linkwood; they have not. I like!
SGP:452 - 83 points.

Linkwood 1995/2017 ‘Under The Lemon Tree’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 319 bottles)

Linkwood 1995/2017 ‘Under The Lemon Tree’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 319 bottles) Four stars
Wemyss have already had a few of these 1995s, some I have yet to try. Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts with touches of light Cuban rum, plus a little aniseed perhaps, and would rather develop on buttery croissants, dough, panettone and kougelhopf, and then simply porridge. I’m not sure I’m getting the lemon tree… yet? But I do find hints of white cherries… Mouth: ah there. This is excellent, rather limoncello-y indeed, even lemonade, lemongrass, granny smith apples, and then just drops of wulong tea to prevent it from getting ueber-citrusy. Excellent. Finish: medium, very zesty, rather with oranges this time. Comments: very lovely limonc… I mean, Linkwood. Very easy, yet not too simple.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Let’s see what else we’ve got. Perhaps this famous oldie?...

Linkwood 15 yo ‘100° proof’ (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl, 1980s)

Linkwood 15 yo ‘100° proof’ (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl, 1980s) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this older one too is quite meaty and bouillony, and there’s quite some earth and pipe tobacco to boot. Perhaps a little OBE? Because it tends to get fruitier after one minute, mainly on dried ones, figs, bananas, dates, sultanas… Shall we call it Christmassy? With water: some cigar tobacco, humus, leaves, dried morels… Mouth (neat): rather rich, with some lemons again, dried figs, quite a lot of pepper and gingerbread, and then more oranges. With water: doesn’t change much, although it would become a little earthier and more tobacco-y. More in line with the nose, in short. Finish: rather long, rather on bitter oranges. Comments: there were many batches, and this one was very good. Could have been the older Linkwood Distillery…
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Linkwood 8 yo 2008/2016 (62.1%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, 60th anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #800035, 277 bottles)

Linkwood 8 yo 2008/2016 (62.1%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, 60th anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #800035, 277 bottles) Two stars and a half
If they’ve bottled a 8 yo, there must have been some reasons, no? Colour: straw. Nose: powerful! Mud and porridge, soaked buckwheat, fresh concrete, leaven… Ah? With water: broken branches and roots… Stays very austere and grassy/earthy. Mouth (neat): not much to do with the nose, it’s a candy bomb! Jellies and sweets everywhere, cassis, lemon, pears, oranges, cranberries, guavas, papayas, cherries… Rather extreme in that respect. Two whiskies in one? With water: fruit syrups, many of them. Cranberry seems to have the upper hand. Finish: long and extremely bubblegumy. We’ve got one called Malabar, well this is liquid Malabar. More lemon and pineapple sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: not too sure. Perhaps purely a stylistic composition?
SGP:741 - 78 points.

Perhaps another one from Signatory’s…

Linkwood 17 yo 1999/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogshead, cask #6174)

Linkwood 17 yo 1999/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogshead, cask #6174) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s more civilised, more on bread and softer fruits, on yellow flowers, on barley, and on humus and moss. That’s a style that I enjoy, as we’re closer to Mother Nature. Some very nice notes of honey – rather honeydew – arising after thirty seconds. Nice! as they say on blogs. Mouth: perfect, really. Barley, earth, oranges, marzipan, citron liqueur, custard, and a bit of meringue. You just cannot be against this. Finish: same, for some good time. A perfect barley-y aftertaste, with perhaps just a bit of cardboard. Or oak? And honey! Comments: always loved this series, and this is another example why. A proper whisky lover who doesn’t care about scarcity, names, fashion or packaging could simply only buy all UCFs by SigV. And then have a lot of fun…
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Linkwood 20 yo 1997/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, hogshead, cask #12036, 326 bottles)

Linkwood 20 yo 1997/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, hogshead, cask #12036, 326 bottles) Three stars
Colour: straw. Nose: a rather grassy one, with also whiffs of iron shavings and fresh rhubarb, perhaps green pears, and surely cider apples. All that makes rather vibrant and tart, not unlike a good Muscadet from the extreme West of the Loire Valley. With water: more mud, leaves, hessian, damp floor cloth… Mouth (neat): love this lemony and grassy style that doesn’t take many prisoners, love a little less the rather bonbony development. Cherry sweets, Jell-O, Haribo bananas… With water: a better balance, with some barley, orgeat, marzipan… Finish: medium, almondy, perhaps a tad sour. Comments: not the best swimmer ever, but other than that, it does deliver.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Good, I believe there will be a part two…

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


January 9, 2018


Strathmill young and Strathmill old

Not a big name, and even if I’ve already tried thirty of them (oh wow!), I’m sorry but I just couldn’t tell you about Strathmill’s main markers and characteristics. So let’s move on…

Strathmill 2004/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice)

Strathmill 2004/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: discreet, with some grass and some hay, some smoked herbs, then roots such as beets, turnips, and perhaps even carrots. Tofu? We’re not that far from miso soup… and god knows that I utterly love good miso soup. Mouth: it is good, with apples and citrons at first, notes of sweets (I remember some white round cherry-flavoured ones, but the name escapes me), then rather lime and cranberries. Really very fair. Finish: medium, fruity, rather citrusy. Comments: I liked the freshness and the approachability, this goes down extremely well and it’s simply very good. One to sip while watching something uncomplicated on Netflix – yes you won’t need to scratch your head, at all.
SGP:541 - 82 points.

Strathmill 1975/2017 (47.4%, Malts of Scotland for G&B Whisky Fest, cask #MOS 17047, 87 bottles)

Strathmill 1975/2017 (47.4%, Malts of Scotland for G&B Whisky Fest, cask #MOS 17047, 87 bottles) Four stars and a half
This wee one was bottled for Ostende’s whisky festival, the one that was formerly known as Lindores, a.k.a. the terror of the shrimps. Most sadly, I couldn’t attend in 2017. Colour: gold. Nose: really very delicate and akin to an old chardonnay, with this buttery side, this marzipan, these yellow pollen-rich flowers, and these juicy vineyard peaches. Love the menthol and the eucalyptus (they often come together) that are starting to come out, as well as this soft porridge-banana combo. Mouth: very good! Starts citrusy and even rather nervous, goes on with zesty tropical fruits (passion fruits), and gets then more buttery, as well as more peppery. A little oil as well (grape pips) and then peppered blood oranges and green walnuts. Finish: medium, with good ginger and cinnamon. A little cardboard, perhaps. A few green tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: almost perfect, it’s just lacking a little precision/definition to reach 90 in my book.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

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



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January 8, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Session 9, Angus picks… Ardmore (Galore)

We like Ardmore at Whiskyfun towers. One of the more characterful, commercial makes still produced in Scotland. Although, whether these youthful examples will be a little too immature remains to be seen...? (Btw: Angus at the coal face of the keyboard for this session.)

Ardmore 5 yo 2011/2016 (46%, Carn Mor Strictly Limited, Bourbon Barrel, 690 bottles)

Ardmore 5 yo 2011/2016 (46%, Carn Mor Strictly Limited, Bourbon Barrel, 690 bottles) Two stars and a half
A vatting of two casks. Colour: Tequila blanco. Nose: New make that’s been slapped on the arse by a stave of American oak. Fresh Kirsch running from the still, croissant dough, barley water and a little green tea (says Serge). I have to agree and I’d also add that, while the youth is very apparent, the distillate is overall clean and rather fresh. We don’t find much peat, rather a moderate whiff of dry, smoky barley husks and light phenols. Develops on porridge and dill (Serge enjoys fresh herbs in his porridge), and maybe a little coconut water. Mouth: raw barley eau de vie, a little more peat and some rather grizzly bonfire smoke. Maybe a little wet wood ash as well. Pears, a little salt, some lemon drops, a little cough medicine. But overall pretty simplistic. Finish: Rather short and simplistic, all on sweet barley and porridge. Perhaps some resurgent lemony notes and a little coal and very distant peat in the aftertaste. Comments: Fine distillate, bottled too soon. But does the job, if not much beyond that.

SGP: 442 - 78 points (Serge 78)

Ardmore 2011/2016 (48%, Wilson & Morgan, Heavily Peated)

Ardmore 2011/2016 (48%, Wilson & Morgan, Heavily Peated) Three stars
Colour: Pale white wine. Nose: Much smokier at first, coal smoke and preserved peaches with perhaps whiffs of wet dogs (you can guess who’s tasting note that is can’t you? Btw, Dogs, Serge sends apologies) Then a rather grassy smoke rising to your nostrils. A few drops of tincture of iodine, adds Serge. I find a little light Mezcal, some other raw cactus notes and maybe a chocolate lime or two. Lots of sheep wool, a little brine and a working kiln (when the tourists are there Serge points out) with a rather prevalent background farminess. Mouth: Pleasingly oily at first and we both find more of these grassy, slightly sharp lemony and salty notes. As if you would have salted wulong tea, says Serge. Or, as if you might find an oyster on holiday in the highlands (I’m clearly still suffering some head trauma from this cold). Further notes of raw grist and a little salted porridge, notably peatier than the first one. Finish: Medium and very clean, a nice sharpness to it and more of these oily and lemony aspects. Comments: Flawless and rather vibrant young Ardmore. Perfect proof that characterful distillate can shine without overly active wood.

SGP: 454 - 82 points (Serge 83)

Ardmore 8 yo 2008/2017 (54.5%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, #708607)

Ardmore 8 yo 2008/2017 (54.5%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, #708607) Four stars
An example from Berry Bro’s new livery - nicely minimalist. Colour: Pale white wine: Nose: Rather different at first, many more vegetal notes, haricot beans, butternut squash, mashed pumpkin and even mashed turnips (says Serge). I also find soot, earth, coal smoke, stove gas, metal polish, iron filings, lamp oil and a few oily rags in a workshop. Some gentian eau de vie also appears in time. With water: nicely medicinal, limey, chalky and with these ascendant notes of natural tar and white flowers. Even a little acacia honey with time. Mouth(neat): nice crusty lemon pie, some rhubarb meringue, fizzy lemon sherbet, some rather sharp green smoke, says Serge. I find more youthful gristy notes, preserved lemons and a rather pure, smoky riesling edge. A feeling of smoked Limoncello, adds Serge. With water: smoked honey and a little barley syrup, very good and easy, adds Serge. Finish: Medium, rather rounded with sweet barley and well balanced. I’d add with a few white fruits, then the smoke returns in the aftertaste. Comments: Great distillate again that’s given plenty room to breathe and shine without any invasive oak.

SGP: 453 - 85 points (Serge 85)

Ardmore 2002/2016 (57.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK, refill sherry hogsheads, #935,936,938)

Ardmore 2002/2016 (57.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK, refill sherry hogsheads, #935,936,938) Four stars and a half
Colour: Gold. Nose: smoky walnuts, butterscotch, lapsang souchong, marmalade (coriander and orange marmalade I would add), metal polish, barbour grease and ‘our friends’ the dried porcinis (says Serge). I’d also add a rather leafy and elegant medical peatiness, with a few ginger biscuits and a distant hot screeching tyre. Serge adds heavy salted, Dutch liquorice. With water: as to be expected it becomes leafier and more towards Cuban tobacco and pu-ehr tea. I find a few roasted nuts (chestnuts, hazelnuts), some Dundee cake made with peated whisky and Serge adds burnt butter to the equation (sounds like we’ll be out in the early rounds of the Great British Bake Off). Mouth (neat): powerful, very sooty, some peated candle wax, a lot of burned cake, burnt toast and some chocolate covered orange peel. Chocolate sauce and mole suggest Serge, along with roasted pecans, almonds covered in honey and salt and a creamy and rather oily texture. I find more of these lightly metallic notes with various medical tinctures and a leathery and rather gamey meatiness in the background. With water: a rather softer and medicinal side emerges but careful with water Serge suggests and it may become a little too bitter. However, I find it pleasingly leafy, earthy and even with a little fig jam and date compote. Serge says leathery and walnutty - very nice! We are fans of this one. Finish: Good length, slightly salty, wet leaves, various toasts, walnut cake, a touch of tar, some soot and a few herbs. Comments: As good as it gets at this age. A surprisingly successful marriage of peat and a modern style of sherry cask. As we discovered recently in Jerez, G&M insist when ordering sherry casks to have them stowed with the bung on the side and not on top.  Better ask them why?

SGP: 354 - 88 points (Serge 87)

Let’s have one slightly older one as a wee bonus to round things off...

Ardmore 1997/2018 (60.1%, Berry Brothers & Rudd for The Whisky Show: Old & Rare, #149017)

Ardmore 1996/2018 (60.1%, Berry Brothers & Rudd for The Whisky Show: Old & Rare, #149017) Four stars and a half Colour: Straw. Nose: Pretty sharp at first nosing, a little aggressive from the high alcohol. Rose petals, bubblegum and icing sugar, also peaches (which Serge says he finds often in Ardmore), patchouli, cigarette tobacco (I rather get menthol cigarettes), a little bergamot, lime zest and, as Serge points out, eau de toilette for men (he’s splashing it on his chin as I type - no sign of the girls yet...). Opens up rather nicely with a bit of breathing, notes of maraschino and white cherries emerge, and I find a little coal dust and barley sugar along with some green pepper. With water: sweet smoked barley, muddy barnyard, frying pancetta, some more lime juice, watercress, cut grass and chopped parsley. Mouth (neat): oily, fat and robust. Smoked honey, thick barley water, peach syrup, lime, olive oil, some camphor. Serge says avocado purée (I think there are some leftovers from lunch in his moustache), we both agree it’s far more approachable on the palate when neat compared to the nose which is a bit more tough up front. Rather lovely syrupy qualities with agave nectar and notes of warm lemsip (you can tell I’ve had a cold recently). Serge adds All Bran (perhaps there are remnants of breakfast  in there too?) With water: bitter orange juice with manzanilla, two green olives (add one black one from me), Serge requests no gin please, but you could make a great dry Martini with this Ardmore (maybe even an ‘emergency’ one). Goes on with more soot, fresh butter, assorted herbs and a little ashy peat. Really excellent. Finish: quite long, again sooty, oily and a little salty, more liquorice, angelica root and a touch of turmeric. Some shoe polish in the aftertaste. Comments: Simplistic in some places - such as the nose - but rather beautiful in others, such as the palate. A perfect, characterful whisky to share with friends and not have to think too deeply about it.
SGP: 354 - 89 points (Serge 88 points).

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


January 7, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Session 8, a verticale of Cognac by Grosperrin, from 1992 to 1835 (indeed)


Jean Grosperrin are probably the most famous Cognac hunters, finding casks and demijohns in the remotest locations in the region, sometimes from growers/distillers that have stopped working ages ago. Not something you could do in Scotland, ever (says Angus). We'll have some Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and Borderies.

Bons Bois 1992 (51.5%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: more fruit, definitely. Ripe greengages, tinned fruit syrups, tinned apricots, baked gooseberries, muscat tarte… It’s all a little closer to nature and to fruits, with more ‘artisanal’ feel, it’s earthier as well, and we do find whiffs of Cadum soap. Or any other scented soaps. Fresh walnuts, wee hints of lavender, perhaps... And a single crushed fresh mint leaf (says Angus, who’s a mint connoisseur). Forgot to mention cedar and sandalwood. Mouth: if you could lick the inside of a cigar box… Leaves, teas, cedar wood, burnt toasts, then rather mirabelle jam and maraschino. Tends to become a little grapey, a little gritty. Moves more towards this kind of putty, chalky character. Finish: medium, candied, more honeyed, with some Demerara sugar and praline. Cola cubes, flat Coca-Cola… Maybe some burnt orange zests or something like that. Comments: not that different on the palate. Perhaps a little heavy?

SGP:441 – 85 points (Angus 84).

Bons Bois 1991 (51.7%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Four stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: basically, this is a carefully made blend of raisins and preserved peaches and apricots, with touches of mint and eucalyptus and perhaps a little liquorice. Would go on with warm patisseries, croissants, compote-filled rolls, mille-feuilles, tart plums and a plum tarte (bravo, Angus!)… Mouth: starts just a little rough, rather on leaves and a little burnt fudge, with notes of white balsamico, maybe some crème de cacao, almond praline, black nougat, a little pine resin. Wouldn’t say there’s much fresh fruit, which is a little unusual. Maple syrup. Finish: medium and rather caramely and cake-y. Some wood spices in the finish, and touches of violet sweets (Parma). Comments: a rather candied Borderies, curiously savoury.
SGP:441 – 85 points (Angus 84).

Borderies N°84 (57.3%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Four stars
Probably a 1984. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one’s perhaps a little more jammy (plums, mirabelles) and honeyed (heather). A more obvious spiciness as well, more cedar wood, perhaps globally more simplistic and straightforward, with hints of calvados, ripe apples, a bit of oak-aged kirsch as well, some caramelised burnt brown sugar, some furniture polish, molasses as well, amaretti… Mouth: maybe slightly more buttery, this one, but there’s a spicy, apple-y, gritty background. Maybe that’s the higher strength? Burnt cake and slivovitz, vieille prune (old plum spirit)… Well we’ve known some Armagnacs that were like this. Marc de gewurz’. A more rustic Cognac overall. With a drop of water: creamier and fresher. Tinned peaches and pears, almond milk, Oreo biscuits… Fruit peel in the background. Finish: rather long, candied, remaining quite punchy. Angus is finding notes of Cognac (tired, perhaps?) He’s also finding glazed cherries. Comments: very fine.
SGP:451 - 85 points (Angus 84).

There’s very little between them, is there? But let’s move on…

Borderies N°64 (52.1%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Four stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: whiffs of varnish for a start, then many more fruits, litchis, rose petals, blood oranges, nectarines, tangerines… It’s brighter than its younger siblings, with more fruit-based complexity, more freshness… Angelica, preserved peaches, milk chocolate, touches of Provence melon, dried apricots, lemon rind, then a little spearmint, peach skin, more rose petals, fig purée… Mouth: very nice, with this bright fruitiness and this added depth of aged Demerara rum, mint-flavoured liquorice, sultanas, dried cranberries and goji berries, also some mint tea or green tea, halva, pistachio paste, dark turron, nougat, chestnut honey… A little bit of walnut oil as well, claims Angus. Big bodied Cognac. Finish: long, a tad thick and drying at he same time, with some burnt caramel and brighter notes of oranges. Mint and liquorice in the aftertaste, plus a little caraway. Something lemony. Comments: another level.
SGP:551 - 86 points (Angus 85).

Borderies N°28 (53.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Five stars
That’s right, this could well be a 1928. Who’s not heard of 1928 in the wine world? Mouton anyone? Colour: amber. Nose: immediately a different, higher calibre, with more stewed fruits, various tobaccos, prunes, dates, figs, other dark fruits, and then more meaty notes, game, Serrano ham, old pinot noir (shall we add Nuits St. Georges?), mustard, porcinis, a little bit of rancio… Not too far away from some very old sherried Scotch whisky, such as a very old Glen Grant or something like that… Candied citrus peal, lemon curd, walnut wine… And as often, more earth, humus, mushrooms, menthol, autumn leaves… Angus thinks it’s quite beautiful and I do not disagree. Over time more orange peel and mulled-wine spices. Winter spice mix. Mouth: really massive, starting with cinnamon and orange peel, polished hardwoods, cedar wood, unlit cigars… Many wood spices, black pepper, more cinnamon, wild mushroom powder, more bitter chocolate or cocoa powder, some eucalyptus, caraway, cloves… Angus also gets cherry cough medicine (Cherry Tunes), then ground coffee beans… Gets more savoury with time, umami, still quite earthy as well… Indeed, old sherried whisky territories. Don’t old aged spirits always converge? Finish: good length, with a drier profile, cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, bitter herbs, Fernet Branca, chocolate… More rancio in the finish as well. Comments: it’s unusual to see such an high-strength Cognac from such an old vintage, although we don’t quite know if this baby’s spent a large part of its life in a paradise…
SGP:461 - 90 points (Angus 90).

Grande Champagne N°24 (43.4%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Four stars and a half
Another new old glory from Grosperrin’s amazing pre-war vintages. We’re in Grande Champagne this time… Colour: darker amber. Nose: rather drier, narrower, and a tad more austere, but it’s true that the 1928 was all over the place. Drier raisins, new leather, a bit of pipe tobacco… And only then some light prune juice. Smoked meats start to arise, smoked beef, Iberico ham, a little marzipan, funny notes of barley water and even malt extract, sour sauce (English, obviously), cranberry chutney and jus, plus well-hung grouse, of course. Angus says there’s a double-meaning there; really? A little bit of sootiness as well, he adds. Mouth: there’s a wee roughness that just screams ‘I’m an artisan Cognac!’ and black tea, then grapefruit marmalade, some dried herbs (rosemary and sage) and quite a few Jaffa cakes. Tends to become rounder and sweeter, with tinned peaches. Hot toddy, honey and lemon combination (says Angus who was having a cold just yesterday). Finish: medium, a tad more on greenish apples, fruit skins, orange peel, dark fruit compote, date and frangipane tarte or something… Comments: we think we liked the 1928 a little better, but we’re still flying high in the skies.
SGP:351 - 89 points (Angus 88).

Grande Champagne N°22 (40%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Four stars
I’ve just seen that the French economy grew by 15.4% in 1922! But that was a short time after a devastating war… And the Spanish flue… Colour: bright amber. Nose: Macallan 1938! More savoury, with chestnuts and pastries, elegant wood resins, cough medicine, embrocations, freshly sawn fir wood, then black olives, liquorice, old balsamico (what other black things can we think of, asks Angus?) Oh, tarmac, road surface, even new tyres… And then camphor, honeydew, raisins, banana chips… Some very light, delicate olive oil as well. Graphite. Macallan 1940, in fact. Angus would have rather said Linkwood 1938. Mouth: a tad more gritty, with fruit peel and thick-skinned apples (cooking apples), raisins and sultanas stewed in Cognac, banana bread (some kind of fruitcake but with a banana – the clue’s in the name, says Angus). Manuka honey, clove oil, perhaps hints of nutmeg, certainly some cinnamon… Cherry Cola (not Serge speaking here)… Perhaps a little less magnificent than on the nose –possibly because of the lower strength. Angus finds the tannins a little watery. Finish: rather short(ish), with some tea notes, cold tea, a little bit of lemon rind, some quinces… Comments: still supremely drinkable, but while the nose was approaching 92, the palate took it down to approx…
SGP:461 - 87 points (Angus 87).

Petite Champagne N°14 (40.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Five stars
Most probably wartime Cognac, and even possibly Cognac made by women since most men had gone to the front. The fact is that those women were often making better spirit! Raymond Poincaré was the French President in 1914. Colour: rosewood. Nose: this one’s dense and highly polished. There are peonies and gillyflowers (Angus doesn’t know what that is, apparently), a few wild strawberries, strawberry liquorice (another Angus descriptor, never heard of that myself – we’re even). Old Sauternes, apricots, dry tarragon, then whole boxes of Cuban cigars, white balsamico, truffles… well this one’s rather very rancioty. Very old Palo Cortado or something – ever since Angus went to Jerez, he’s using sherry-linked descriptors more often. A wonderful nose, with a beautiful intensity. Impressive. Mouth: surprisingly powerful for 40.8%. Nervous, with spicy tannins and fruits, bitter chocolate, maraschino, Darjeeling tea, pollens, beeswax, many dried herbs, chestnut honey… It’s rather drying but without any tannic aggression. Angus also gets a little melon (cantaloupe). Did we already mention apricots? Some light caramel as well, milk chocolate, toffee apples… Finish: not the longest but these cigary and fruity notes are rather splendid. Some cedar wood, resinous citrus peel notes… More rancio as well, and that tarragon is back in the aftertaste. Toffee. Comments: you could quaff litres of this stuff, but are there litres to quaff?
SGP:461 - 91 points (Angus 91).

Grande Champagne 1835 (42.7%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017) Five stars
That is right, a proper vintage this time, and a pre-phyllorexic one at that. We’ve already tried several pre-phylloxeric Cognacs, but those usually came from old bottles, which isn’t the case this time. This baby was well just bottled, although it must have spent quite some years in a demijohn prior to that. Oh and we’ve just seen that Mark Twain was born in 1835. And Louis-Philippe was King of France. Colour: mahogany/chestnut. Nose: you could believe this is a very old Amontillado! Or you could be standing in a proper bodega (one in the south of Spain). Very earthy, almost salty, full of bitter chocolate, terpenic… You’ve got all these classical aromas of rancio, tobaccos, chocolates, dark fruits, aged game, peonies, but all superbly concentrated, with the volume turned up to eleven. Many mushrooms as well, especially morels and death trumpets. It’s actually emphatically syrupy, you could even thinks it’s some very old Madeira, walnut liqueur, green Chartreuse. Simply amazing. Mouth: indeed, an extremely old oloroso. Superb poise and concentration considering the strength, with more dark chocolate and sea salt, chestnut jam, certainly a lot of eucalyptus and menthol, cough lozenges, lots of mushroomy character, black truffles, morels again, then bitter oranges and marmalade, drops of old Demerara rum, cured meats…

And we’ve missed the caraway liqueur, says Angus. The kind of profile you could continue picking tiny flavours from for a long time. Gets very chocolaty after ten minutes or so. Some hot chocolate taken in Vienna on December 31. The difference with all the others is quite striking, but that may come from the fact that it was probably 100% folle blanche at that time. Finish: good length, with light medicines, a lot of bitter chocolate, and more of these rum notes. Comments: beautiful undulations between woods, spices, tobaccos, black fruits, and tannins. No aggression whatsoever, this is truly harmonic. As if you would dose a very old rum with some very old sherry (don’t give Angus ideas…)
SGP:561 – 92 points (Angus 92).

No, no 1811 on the tasting table this time...

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


January 6, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Session 7, Angus picks… A Pair Of Signatory Clynelish

Always a pleasure to taste Clynelish, especially here at Whiskyfun towers. We’ve already had many, many excellent ones by Signatory, so expectations are well primed...

Clynelish 18 yo 1998/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, #7781, hogshead)

Clynelish 18 yo 1998/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, #7781, hogshead) Four stars We rather like that they’re still using this humble livery after all these years. Colour: Pale white wine. Nose: Shy to begin, then a rather abundant and classical waxiness. Serge finds muddy grains, damp earth, clay, lemon wax, porridge and lemon oil. Goes on with green tobacco, Bidi Indian cigarettes and lots of sooty qualities. Apple skins, lime juice and also I find a little rosewater and Turkish delight. Very pleasant. Mouth: Clean, sooty and waxy at first with many of these classical notes of sandalwood, lemon skins and white flowers. It’s so good that Serge managed to take a large sip and nearly died. He eventually recovers enough to find waxy grapefruits and fresh barley grown near the seashore, and I’ll add a little mint tea. Finish: Decent length, rather biscuity with a little crusty saltiness and a few crushed herbs and damp earth. A wee coastal flourish in the aftertaste. Comments: Another dependably delicious wee Clynelish from Signatory. The kind of bottle which can be rather dangerous if you’re not careful. SGP: 452 - 85 points (Serge 85)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry butt, #8676, 544 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry butt, #8676, 544 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: light amber. Nose: again rather classical Clynelish wax but wrapped up in some butterscotch and fudge from the sherry. A little bonfire smoke and some seashore freshness. Serge adds dried kelp, perhaps a drop of Moscatel and some kind of mentholy flambéed bananas. I’d also add a few drops of cough medicine and a little motor oil. Also an old tobacco curing barn and an increasingly mentholated aspect, notes of eucalyptus tea and crushed mint leaf. A few cloves and some olive oil. With water: Weetabix, runny honey and as usual a bit more earth and a few more mushrooms. Last years apples declares Serge. Mouth (neat): tobacco and chocolate, smoking a nice Cuban cigar in a nice club while chomping down After Eight mints and listening to the clock on the wall ticking (Serge goes to rather different bars than I do it seems). Some fig jam, star anise, aged Cointreau, rather sweeter than expected, but not cloying. A little milk chocolate and muesli, maybe not of the ‘wax heavy’ batches. With water: again more honeyed, some lighter green fruits such as apples, pears and mirabelles, gentle waxiness. Serge adds Jaffa Cakes, blood oranges and a wee wink of rancio. Finish: Good length, more fruits, wax, light chocolate, earth, still glimmers of rancio and again this elegant sweetness. Comments: A slightly sweeter Clynelish than usual, but it’s a rather elegant and natural sweetness that we think works rather well. Highly drinkable stuff, even when unreduced. SGP: 552 - 88 points (Serge 88)

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


January 5, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Session 6, Angus picks… Glenesk!

Glenesk! What could you say about Glenesk, or even about Glen Esk! Could often be austere and a bit difficult, but it’s gotten very rare… Many have been very good, but very few have been exceptional in our experience.

Glenesk 1980/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, batch #R0/14/04)

Glenesk 1980/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, batch #R0/14/04) Three stars Colour: light gold. Nose: very grassy indeed, quite austere indeed, with only a bit of honey on buttered toast and some kind of flints and white flowers. Cut grass. A little barley water… In short a quite simple and straightforward nose. But it’s quite rare… Mouth: some good malty sweetness, a little plain perhaps, with touches of citrons and lemons, also fresh brown bread, hints of lemon curd… Still austere, and slightly tough. Sometimes you have to rack your brain and even that doesn’t work… Perhaps leaves? Branches? Bark? Moss? A bit difficult in all honesty… Finish: medium, grassy, with a little olive oil, candy sugar, more assorted citrus notes, and… cornflakes, perhaps? Some grass for sure. Barley sugar, banana skins… Comments: nice whisky but rather a challenge. Not the most characterful Highlander ever… But yeah, it’s good. And rare, by the way, did we tell you it was rare? SGP:341 – 82 points (Angus 82).

We may need a little more action. No other Glenesk in the library, but perhaps another long-closed name would work… Perhaps our faithful Coleburn?

Coleburn-Glenlivet 17 yo 1978/1995 (62%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Coleburn-Glenlivet 17 yo 1978/1995 (62%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Two stars and a half Rocket fuel?... Colour: white wine. Nose: brutal! Raw gravel and cactus juices, says Angus. More minerals than in a mineral mine, Schweppes, quinine, concrete… It’s hard to pick anything… Ink, maybe? Scrunch newspapers? The Daily Mail? With water: more lemon juice and white flowers, almost a little bit of wood glue, brake fluid, some herbs… Pff…. Mouth (neat): grass, asparagus, and concentrated lemon juice, plus paint and paint thinner (which does come in handy). A brutal whisky indeed, an onslaught of a dram. With water: more sweetness comes out, but it’s all very barleyish, with only notes of lemonade and, perhaps sugar syrup and crushed green bananas. Finish: rather long but narrow, citric, grassy… The good news is that it provides its own aspirin. So indeed, aspirin. And carbon paper, almost. Comments: tough baby. The epitome of an austere whisky, but Angus enjoys it more than the Glenesk, because of this brutal character. And he would add that brutality is better than no character at all (in whisky if not in humans). SGP:361 – 78 points (Angus 82).

And since nothing is impossible to willing hearts…

Coleburn-Glenlivet 19 yo 1978/1998 (59.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Coleburn-Glenlivet 19 yo 1978/1998 (59.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: again this sort of slightly painty character, with chalk and paint and glue and that sort of stuff. Porridge… With water: pepper, damp cardboard, pine needles, earth… Waxed jackets… Mouth (neat): a little better, with more oranges (oranges would save many a wrecked dram), orange diluting juice, pine-y resin, air freshener almost (pine, of course), some mustard seeds, and lanolin. Better than the 17, but still a brute. With water: even better. Some malty and pine-y porridge plus slices of bananas and a sharp grapefruitiness. Finish: long bit a little more savoury and slightly brighter than the previous one. Comments: not all whiskies were better in the old days – now we’ve had some excellent Coleburns as well. SGP:361 - 80 points (Angus 82).

January 4, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Session 5, Angus picks… Glen Scotia

Glen Scotia’s always lived in the shadows of neighbours Springbank, but it seems that the new owners have decided to make every effort to better promote it, as you can see on many whisky blogs. To be fair, the biggest effort they have made has been with much smarter cask selection and attention to quality. Well, depends on the bottlings, we suppose…

Glen Scotia 10 yo ‘Heavily Peated’ (50%, OB, +/-2015)

Glen Scotia 10 yo ‘Heavily Peated’ (50%, OB, +/-2015) Two stars and a half Still the older packaging. What we call ‘Friday afternoon design’, although we shouldn’t brag too much about design at WF, we agree. Colour: white wine (chardonnay, says Angus, who knows his wine too). Nose: sour peat, rotting apples, lager, fermenting hay, a mix of farmy and coastal elements, and just hectolitres of brine. A coal hearth. With water: wet fabric, a little bit of dung, mud, fermenting hay… Mouth (neat): good but a little simple. Peated apples (Angus is frowning), hay and ashes, cider, perhaps a little too much limoncello, a sweet fatness… Some fried bacon as well, maybe… I don’t think this one goes into subtleties. With water: it’s okayish but this time there’s an odd vanilla-ness that’s standing in the way. Finish: medium, a bit ashy, still on sour apples. Comments: has plenty of character but does just any distillery need to make peaty? The lighter peated stocks from the same period were better, according to Angus. SGP:446 - 78 points (Angus 79).

Glen Scotia 1991/2017 (56.5%, OB, for Edinburgh Airport and World Duty Free, cask #857, 204 bottles)

Glen Scotia 1991/2017 (56.5%, OB, for Edinburgh Airport and World Duty Free, cask #857, 204 bottles) Three stars Angus knows from hearsay that this is a bourbon barrel. 210£ a bottle. Colour: light gold. Nose: some fresh oak straight away, ginger… Perhaps some new oak was involved. Then ginger cake, cough syrup, caraway, cherry wood, cherry liqueur, nutmeg, cloves, a little saltiness as well, patchouli, lime tree tea, nori, a little pinewood, some slightly mineral and farmy notes… With water: maybe some kaffir lime leaf, a gingery oakiness, sawn pinewood and other woods, white pepper, nutmeg… Mouth (neat): green pepper and candied apples, some barley sugar, mint tea… Again, the oak played an important part here, this is very modern. Sweet syrups, maple, corn, gomme syrup, notes of natural marshmallows, sweet apples, a little eucalyptus (according to Angus)… With water: candied oranges, sugared cornflakes, Golden Grahams, ginger biscuits, milk chocolate… Finish: medium, spicy, gingery, sweet, oaky. White pepper and a lot of nutmeg, perhaps caraway in the aftertaste. Comments: Angus says there should be a b****y law that says that if you’ve re-racked some whisky into f*****g new oak, you should say so on the label. But otherwise it isn’t bad, and we’re not even sure it’s been re-racked, but it definitely feels like it was. SGP:451 – 80 points (Angus 80).

Glen Scotia 16 yo 2000/2016 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 612 bottles)

Glen Scotia 16 yo 2000/2016 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 612 bottles) Two stars Colour: amber. Nose: roasted chestnuts and gunpowder, wet earth, used matches, beef jerky, bitter oranges, some kind of sour leather (Angus says eh?), rotting coal (Serge says eh?) sulphury chocolate, fermenting hay, fumes, charcoal, diesel fumes (soon forbidden)… With water: maybe some violets, a bit of lavender, a little bit of chestnut which is quite nice, milk chocolate as well, and ‘grey’ truffles (the softer, cheaper ones). Gas. Mouth (neat): creamy, rich, on agave syrup, butter biscuits, bicycle rubber, struck matches, honey reduction, some ginger and even curry in the background… I wouldn’t say this is light whisky. With water: more of all that with added notes of dried fish, perhaps. Hong Kong dried flatfish. Finish: rather long, thick, but with more reduced meat sauce, Bovril, beef stock, and always these used matches. Comments: a borderline too funky and dirty sherry cask. Not un-entertaining, though. SGP:462 - 76 points (Angus 74).

Glen Scotia 15 yo 2000/2016 (50.5%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 252 bottles)

Glen Scotia 15 yo 2000/2016 (50.5%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 252 bottles) Three stars A much smaller cask, which can’t be bad, there’s much less of it (Angus dared me to write that). Colour: amber. Nose: cleaner (which wasn’t that difficult to achieve), fresher yet more earthy, greener as well, with good ripe mirabelles and pears, butterscotch as well, becoming slightly bready as well, rye bread, or pumpernickel, or malt loaf (dealer’s choice). With water: toasts and melba toasts (adds Angus), rum, orange bitters, weissen beer, and thisnkind of humussy earthiness that’s rather enjoyable. Angus finds kumquats and says hello to Marcel and his Spanish ‘friend’. Mouth (neat): very okay, on earthy oranges, Turkish delights, almonds, dried litchis, and marzipan-filled dates and prunes. Angus gets some burnt notes, like burnt orange peel. Cardamom. With water: burnt syrups, roasted peanuts, more kumquats (hola Marcel), brown sugar, and Fanta forgotten on the hob (why would you be cooking Fanta, asks Angus who hasn’t completely lost it yet). Finish: medium, caramely, with lots of nougat, coconut balls, and just a wee touch of gunflints. Comments: we both like this one much better. SGP:551 – 82 points (Angus 81).

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


January 3, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Session 4, Angus picks… Ben Nevis

Four Ben Nevis from WF’s new-arrivals-sample library. Doesn’t Ben Nevis seem to be gaining popularity within whisky circles these days? Even when it’s funky and a bit difficult, Ben Nevis is still fun and rarely boring.

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017)

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars and a half A very recent version of the revamped Ben Nevis 10. Colour: pale gold. Nose: doesn’t Ben Nevis become even more mineral (Angus insists we should say mineralic) and sooty? Angus also gets some sorts of overripe bananas, tangerines, a little saltiness as well, while I’m starting to find some kelp and wet rocks. New magazines, ink, a pack of mint lozenges, and this buttered porridge that’s not rare in Ben Nevis. Freshly chopped parsley. Mouth: wonderful sooty character, with some lemon and pepper (which is very Ben Nevis), this typical dry leatheriness, barley sugar, hay, and preserved salty lemons. Really good. Finish: rather long, with more bitter oranges. A little salty wax. Comments: Ben Nevis 10 has lost those caramely flavours that used to abound in earlier bottlings. All for the better if you ask me. A genuinely west Highland character that’s rarely found these days outside Campbeltown. One of the best value whiskies you can buy! SGP:452 – 89 points (Angus 89).

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1998/2017 (49.4%, The Whisky Mercenary for Skotsj Fellowsjip, bourbon, cask #15001)

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1998/2017 (49.4%, The Whisky Mercenary for Skotsj Fellowsjip, bourbon, cask #15001) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: not too far away from the ten, are we, but it’s a tad rounder, with a little more vanilla, and an overall profile that’s been a little toned down, possibly by a more active oak. Other than that, you’ll find similar leathery tones, bitter oranges, wet sand, that old tweed jacket that’s seen many rains and perhaps even mud, these gravely smells, and these drops of Vicks Vaporub. A few wild flowers as well. Mouth: we are closer to the OB, but it’s a tad rounder again, with a natural barley sweetness, with a vanilla from the wood that’s nicely restrained, and always these bitter oranges plus green apple peelings (says Angus). A little pepper and lemon oil. And some nutmeg. Good body, rather unctuous mouth feel, almost waxy in texture. Finish: long, rather peppery (white pepper says Angus who digs accuracy). Bay leaves. Some sunflower oil and barley sugar as well. Nice leafy bitterness in the aftertaste. Comments: another excellent characterful Ben Nevis. Remarkably similar to the official 10. SGP:452 – 89 points (Angus 89).

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2017 (48.7% The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2017 (48.7% The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh, some quite fatty fresh fruits, this is the other, perhaps earlier side of Ben Nevis. Orange rinds, grapefruits, more lemon oil, star fruit, rhubarb, then camphor and hessian, quite a lot of wet plaster and limestone, pink peppercorn, maybe a little bit of muesli, and more barley sugar before the grapefruits return. Angus, who’s in a jolly good mood, says ‘pink grapefruits’. Mouth: a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Pure barley water and lemon drops, more grapefruits of many colours (a rainbow of grapefruits says Angus who’s about to lose control), more fatty oils, waxes, and a tiny lick of medicine (always Angus). This one’s pretty early-1980s Clynelish, actually. Not on the same level of waxiness, but with this ballet of fruits, minerals and coastal character (says Angus who’s recovering nicely). Finish: long, lime-y, chiselled, coastal, and always waxy (Serge is clearly attempting to undermine my previous comments about the waxiness! - Angus). Just a touch of coconut in the end of the aftertaste. Comments: an exemplary and benchmark Ben Nevis. Proof that whisky’s not dead. SGP:552 - 91 points (Angus 91).

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1996/2017 (56.6%, Archives, barrel, cask #09/08#1, 216 bottles)

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1996/2017 (56.6%, Archives, barrel, cask #09/08#1, 216 bottles) Five starsColour: pale gold. Nose: similar to the previous one but with more punch from the alcohol, and more minerality (Angus says mineralism, ha). A little buttery as well, with some fermenting fruits, lilies, liquorice allsorts, a little Turkish delight as well… With water: leaner, getting tropical. Hessian and fruit salad, olive oil… Angus remembers Colin (the Manager) telling him that in those years they had made experiments with brewer’s yeast. Makes sense now. Mouth (neat): very tropical, with passion fruits and green guavas, pineapple cubes, confectionary pineapple, and always this mineralic background (see, I’m learning). Szechuan pepper, pink grapefruits, tangerines, blood oranges… With water: Juicy Fruit bubblegum, more fruit salad, some preserved lemons, lemon oil… And a touch of salt. Finish: rather long, with a little green pepper beyond the obvious citrus, a lighter waxiness, and some lovely notes of citra-hopped IPA. Comments: a wee bit easier, but just as magnificent. Ben Nevis! SGP:551 - 90 points (Angus 90).

It’s easy to forget about Ben Nevis, but then you come back to whiskies like this, and wow!

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


January 2, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Session 3, Angus picks… Cadenhead’s Curiosities

We’ve got that new Creation, and thought we’d find some older blends/vatted malts to generate proper opposition. Angus brought those…

Cadenhead Creations 20 yo 1997/2017 (45.2%, Cadenhead, vatted malt) Cadenhead Creations 20 yo 1997/2017 (45.2%, Cadenhead, vatted malt)

Cadenhead Creations 20 yo 1997/2017 (45.2%, Cadenhead, vatted malt) Three stars and a half A vatting of Springbank, Longrow, Tobermory, Glen Moray and Glen Garioch done on 1009 and kept for eight further years. Colour: straw. Nose: the grassy and mineral side comes out first, and would come with a light waxiness, some paraffin, a little manzanilla, some lighter spices like old cloves, damp cinnamon (powder), lighter oils such as sunflower and rapeseed oil, and then a little more mentholy smoke. Rather austere. Mouth: a tad rounder, coating, with a little honey and lemon marmalade, a few spoonfuls of puréed peaches (Angus mentions a Bellini), some orange bitters (which won’t go into Angus’s Bellini), and some white pepper. A little sour bread as well, raw kirsch, a drop of brine… Finish: medium, with notes of cough syrup, throat lozenges, and indeed readily salted bread dough. Pretzel, says Angus, who doesn’t seem to know that in Alsace, you write it Bretzel. Comments: I’m not sure Glen Moray had much to say in this salty/waxy/malty reunion. Perfectly quaffable but maybe not hugely memorable. SGP:352 – 83 points (Angus 83).

Cadenhead’s 10 yo ‘Old Vatted Malt’ (80°proof, Cadenhead, 75cl, 1970s)

Cadenhead’s 10 yo ‘Old Vatted Malt’ (80°proof, Cadenhead, 75cl, 1970s) Five stars This baby comes in this lovely pear-shaped bottle, and with a perfect cork like they make no more. It was still Cadenhead of Aberdeen. Colour: gold. Nose: more honey, oriental pastries, pollen, humus, old desert wines (the Scots such as Angus drink those with deserts, but we Frenchies would quaff them anytime), meadow flowers, especially buttercups and dandelions, then something a little bit industrial and engine-y, a touch of quince jelly and damson jam, and then we’re back on honeyed ‘stuff’, and maybe even good mead. Something very slightly mineralical (that’s a new word, and not the name of a heavy metal band, remarks Angus). Mouth: well. Builds and builds, with lots of coal smoke and hessian, old Chartreuse (I say green, Angus says yellow)… The nose was beautiful, but the palate’s even more sophisticated. Some green fruits (cooked apples), then a kind of Springbankness – where they already using Springbank while still in Aberdeen? Stewed fruits with a touch of salt and certainly a lot of heather honey. Maybe HP, after all. Finish: long, a tad more coastal, with a little bit of medicine, (Angus’s) granny’s medicine cabinet, and the most wonderful honeyed aftertaste. Comments: we’re happy with that. SGP:552 – 90 points (Angus 91).

Cadenheads 12 yo ‘7 Stars Special Pure Malt Whisky’ (85°proof, Cadenhead, 26 2/3 fl. Ozs, +/-1970)

Cadenheads 12 yo ‘7 Stars Special Pure Malt Whisky’ (85°proof, Cadenhead, 26 2/3 fl. Ozs, +/-1970) Five stars Or very late 60s… A funny mention on the label, ’12 to 20 years old’. Did the honourable SWA already exist back in those days? Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s more mineralistical (oh come on, S.), more medicinal as well, with bandages and tiger balm, eucalyptus, gauze, ointments, then crushed sunflower seeds perhaps… Hints of green bananas, some olive oil (those small soft pink olives), and then simply sea air. Mouth: to say that this is extremely good would be an understatement. Peated mead says Angus, maybe some old muscat (from Alsace, naturally), good old lapsang souchong and cured meat, also some medicinal tinctures, like a couple of drops of iodine, also some seawater, some grapefruits… It’s really really good actually, says Angus. I agree. Finish: long, on salted liquorice, a little bit of sweetened brine, angelica, and something umamiesque in the aftertaste. Savoury black olives… Comments: did anybody ever bottle something bad in a pear-shaped bottle? SGP:453 - 91 points (Angus 91).

Can’t wait for Cadenhead to revitalise this range in 2018! Does someone still make these pear-shaped bottles?


January 1, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Happy New Year! We've got a double Double O to celebrate


The chance to try two Stromnesses head to head? Yes please, even if this little session might be seen by some friends as totally hysterical rather than historical, but how could anyone resist? You may read more about Stromness in an earlier post of ours.

O.O. ‘Old Orkney’ (no ABV stated, OB, Real Liqueur Whisky, McConnell’s, Stromness Distillery, +/-1910) Five stars This one had an old driven cork and not a stopper, that old cork being proudly earmarked ‘Stromness Distillery’, which is super cool. The one that we had tried for WF’s 15th Anniversary was rather bottled circa 1930. So, this is the oldest Stromness I’ve ever tasted (ha-ha!) Is it worth mentioning that the level in the bottle was a little low, so we are expecting it to be a little delicate – while ‘fresh’ Stromness was rather a monster dram. Colour: very light gold. Nose: pure herbal, earthy peat, genepy and wormwood, almost a brittle herbalness, some burning hay, garden bonfire, soot for sure, some hessiany sheep’s wool, perhaps a few diesel fumes (old tractor, according to Angus), a lighter liquorice, whiffs of graphite oil, linseed, charcoal, a little pinesap… It’s the minerality that’s rather impressive, as well as all these tiny mentholy herbs. Not a lot of obvious Old Bottle Effect, it's all still soft and fresh (Angus adds ‘like me’ – we won’t comment on that). The peat feels still rather muscular though, almost a bass-like peat. A throbbing bass – so more John Entwistle than Paul McCartney, I suppose. Just a drop of agave syrup, or even maple. It’s also becoming farmier over time, with some fermenting hay. And now the moment of truth…

Mouth: not that weak! It sure has lost a bit of its alcoholic edge, and got more like some kind of peat liqueur, but it’s kept this smoked/salted fish character in the background, as well as this minerality, almost granite-esque. Becomes a little more medicinal, with some cough mixtures and various medicinal tinctures, such as iodine. Were it a recent Scotch malt, let’s say… perhaps peated Glen Garioch? A Brora that had an affair with a Laphroaig? Finish: something slightly bready, meady gingerbread, sweet and sour dough, salted cod… This is a short finish, but that’s to be expected with the loss of alcohol. Some unexpected fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: some whiskies never die. And the feeling of knowing that’s you’re trying Stromness is so cool, adds Angus… BTW, it seems that this bottle will be available to try at the Whisky Show Old & Rare in Glasgow in February. I wouldn’t miss the opportunity. SGP:254 - 90 technical points, many more emotional ones (Angus 90).

Ad for Stromness's Double O, circa 1915 (Whiskfun's collection)

Stromness cask sample (Cask #17, Edinburgh & Leith Warehouse Company, drawn June 16, 1922)

Stromness cask sample (Cask #17, Edinburgh & Leith Warehouse Company, drawn June 16, 1922) Five stars Some of the numbers on the label could suggest this is a 1916 vintage. It was drawn by an excise officer (Mr Watson?) on West Bowling Green Street, Leith. This bottle was bought by Angus and our pal Jonny from a collector in Scotland who themselves purchased it from an American collector who had had the bottle for many decades. We have no doubt about the authenticity of this bottle, as the cork and the label were both consistently aged. Colour: pale gold. Nose: hold on, isn’t this a blend of mezcal and white Hampden rum? This acidic lime-y start, with chalk, sheep’s wool, hessian, soot… It really shares the minerality with the O.O., but it’s brighter and much more powerful, obviously. It’s quite greasy, oily and waxy, it’s got engine oil ala modern Springbank, brine as well, beach sand, kelp, some kind of burning lemon wood (I imagine), then more fresh almonds, and a peat that’s rather blade-like, precise, sort of chiselled almost. We’re really in Springbank territories, although this Stromness would get earthier and peatier over time. And more kippery as well.

Mouth: curiously liqueurish at first (limoncello, really?) but the smoky/peaty elements are soon to take over.

Angus gets a lot of pepper and ointments, I’m getting fish oil and a little natural tar. It’s funny that Hampden springs to mind again at this point. Some black olives, a kind of gravely/dirty minerality, drops of Seven Up, but also something farmy. These notes of soft lemons never quite leave, though. A few smoked mussels in brine are there too, says Angus. Finish: quite a long finish this one, with some oiliness, more salted fish, also a rumbling farminess, and some herbal peat. Kippers and coal in the aftertaste. Oh and always a little sweet lemon. Lemon sweets. Comments: we could go on for ages but we think we’re alright. Next Stromness session, March 13, 2057. Stay tuned. As for our scores, you have to fight the knowledge of what it is and remain kind of objective, we suppose. So… SGP:454 – 90 technical points (Angus 90).

(With thanks to Phil, Simon, Jonny and Angus)



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December 2017 - part 2 <--- January 2018 - part 1 ---> January 2018 - part 2



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2017 (48.7% The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1996/2017 (56.6%, Archives, barrel, cask #09/08#1, 216 bottles)

Cadenhead’s 10 yo ‘Old Vatted Malt’ (80°proof, Cadenhead, 75cl, 1970s)

Cadenheads 12 yo ‘7 Stars Special Pure Malt Whisky’ (85°proof, Cadenhead, 26 2/3 fl. Ozs, +/-1970)

Linkwood 22 yo 1972 (54.3%, OB, Rare Malts, +/-1995)

O.O. ‘Old Orkney’ (no ABV stated, OB, Real Liqueur Whisky, McConnell’s, Stromness Distillery, +/-1910)

Stromness cask sample (Cask #17, Edinburgh & Leith Warehouse Company, drawn June 16, 1922)

Borderies N°28 (53.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017)

Petite Champagne N°14 (40.8%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017)

Grande Champagne 1835 (42.7%, Jean Grosperrin, Cognac, 2017)