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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2018 - Part 2


January 2018 - part 1 <--- January 2018 - part 2 ---> February 2018 - part 1


January 31, 2018


Auchentoshan’s turn

I usually keep my Auchentoshans for summer days, but I thought … Oh well, let’s see what we have, in no particular order…

Auchentoshan 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Auchentoshan 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
This low-strength baby did rather please me last time (WF 80 in 2013). Colour: gold. Nose: well, I’m finding it even more Irish than usual, and that’s the rather appealing mix of soaked sultanas with cinnamon rolls. Bags and bags of cinnamon rolls! Beyond that, the expected wine gums and these notes of cut apples and pineapples. Nice nose, almost refreshing. Mouth: a little more citrus this time, a wee touch of ginger, something clearly limoncello-y, squash blossoms, vanilla, a spoonful of acacia honey, and one or two liquorice allsorts. Tends to get thin but not quite too weak. Finish: short, clean, on more or less the same notes plus a little more malt, especially in the aftertaste. Comments: really liked it this time. Is it summer yet?
SGP:541 - 82 points.

Auchentoshan 14 yo (46%, OB, Cooper’s Reserve, Travel Retail, +/-2017)

Auchentoshan 14 yo (46%, OB, Cooper’s Reserve, Travel Retail, +/-2017) Three stars
No, no, that’s not The Cooper’s Choice, this is well an OB. A lot of wood inside, I suppose – given the name. Colour: gold. Nose: certainly less fragrant than the regular 12, and certainly a little more oaky/sawdusty although we would remain below our own limits. Quite floral as well (honeysuckle, elder flower) then we have overripe apples and figs. You know, the big purple ones… And whiffs of kiwis? Mouth: same remarks, it’s got much more oak than the 12, which was brighter and more appealing. Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, and only then sweet apples and oranges. Clearly modern. Finish: medium and double-headed (what?) Bright fresh fruits on one side and spicy sawdust on the other side. Comments: really good, but a little too modern/oaked for me.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

Auchentoshan 15 yo 1999/2015 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, bourbon, casks #800260-800261)

Auchentoshan 15 yo 1999/2015 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, bourbon, casks #800260-800261) Two stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: spirity, kirschy, feeling young and, I have to add, a little immature. Now I do enjoy these notes of squeezed lemons, green apples, and these very faint hints of bananas and pineapples. A touch of coconut too, and very little oak. Which, in theory, is good in my book. Mouth: same feeling of unaged eau-de-vie to which someone would have added just drops of vanilla essence. Apples, oranges, plum eau-de-vie, and hints of sucrose. Finish: medium, rather on greenish bananas. Comments: some rather crisp and fresh young malt that doesn’t taste its age. Good but perhaps not very deep, not very representative of this otherwise excellent range.
SGP:541 - 78 points.

And he insists…

Auchentoshan 17 yo 1998/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, bourbon, casks #102361-102362)

Auchentoshan 17 yo 1998/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, bourbon, casks #102361-102362) Three stars and a half
Let’s see if the 1998 vintage was better. I’m kidding. Colour: gold. Nose: much, and I mean much more like it. More vanilla and honey, more mature, with more ripe fruits, fresh figs again, a bit of toasted oak, barley water, chestnut purée, bananas flambéed (with Bacardi, not Hampden ;-)), white chocolate… In short, all very easy and nice. Mouth: that’s the difference with many OBs (not particularly at Auchentoshan’s), this is matured in oak, not flavoured with oak. Good tropical fruits (bananas again, papayas), barley water, more white chocolate, a little bit of tobacco, tinned fruit salad… Very nice body, very approachable. Finish: medium, rounded yet a tad spicier. Cinnamon and ginger in appropriate measures. Comments: another, higher league.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Auchentoshan 18 yo 1998/2017 (47.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11829, 231 bottles)

Auchentoshan 18 yo 1998/2017 (47.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11829, 231 bottles) Three stars and a half
At an unusual strength for this range. Natural strength? Colour: straw. Nose: this is the most citrusy of them all, with cider apples, lime, lemons, kiwis… I’d even call it quite ‘sauvignony’, and we’ve known some Sancerres that… Mouth: a tad more mineral than the others, a notch more mentholy as well, with really a lot of elderberry eau-de-vie and a drop of orange blossom water. This is a very singular profile, really interesting, it’s as if the cask had seen a peater in its life, or some high-ester rum. Not obligatorily the previous content, but possibly the one before. No, no, really… Finish: medium, more on classic wine gums and a good deal of Auchentoshanness. Comments: like it!
SGP:651 - 84 points.

We may come back tomorrow with bigger Auchentoshans…

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


January 30, 2018


Glentauchers on the tasting table

Because there’s quite a lot these days. Not a big name but chatting circles know them well and do enjoy these fruity malt whiskies…

Glentauchers 1997/2016 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling)

Glentauchers 1997/2016 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Two stars
In fact these Glentauchers are quasi-official bottlings. Colour: light gold. Nose: pears and peaches and crushed barley at first nosing, then a maltier side, some mushrooms, and a growing bready side that would come together with notes of grated coconut. Hints of lovage and even soy sauce, for even more complexity. Some better writers would call this one ‘intriguing’. Mouth: starts right with these coconuts, then we rather have sour beers and bread dough, leaven, obvious notes of artisanal cider, and some kind of slightly sour vanilla cream. The beer keeps the lead here, at times you would think this is distilled lager. Finish: medium, rather dry and pretty spicy. Ginger. Comments: not a huge fan of this dry baby, earlier ‘semi-official’ Glentauchers by G&M have been much more to my liking, such as the 1994/2012.
SGP:351 - 76 points.

G&M, the floor is still yours…

Glentauchers 2003/2017 (55.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, refill sherry, casks # 650-652)

Glentauchers 2003/2017 (55.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, refill sherry, casks # 650-652) Four stars
More oomph to be expected from this one, I suppose… Colour: full gold. Nose: totally butterscotchy (yeah I know), and ridden with roasted raisins and peanuts. Sesame paste, halva, dark turron, chocolate, and, dare I add, Nutella. Bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah… With water: perfect! Oyster mushrooms, morels, humus, garden peat, chocolate, and soy sauce. Got to love water… Mouth (neat): liquid raisin cake, really. Raisins, figs, prunes, and more raisins. It’s almost moscatelly, should that word exist. With water: once again, water improves it mucho, although that heavy raisiny side remains there. A truckload of figs and much more malt. Finish: long, almost heavy, raisiny, and rather more tobacco-ish. As very often, more bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: quite a beastly Glentauchers. Make sure that you’ve got your Vittel/Highland Spring/Evian/Glenlivet on the side. Or any waters, but remember that the kind of water you’re using is of utmost importance. Yes, really.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Glentauchers 14 yo 2002/2016 (45.8%, The Single Cask, Singapore, cask # 15827)

Glentauchers 14 yo 2002/2016 (45.8%, The Single Cask, Singapore, cask # 15827) Three stars
Apparently and according to the excellent folks at Master of Malt, this baby was named best single cask single malt Scotch whisky 11 to 15 years in some kind of bible. But doesn’t God move in mysterious ways… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s true that it’s nice. A fresh Speysider, with ripe kiwis, some barley water, white chocolate, muesli, dandelions, lilies of the valley, and a spoonful of acacia honey. You got it, it’s pretty floral. Mouth: good creamy barley-y arrival, then more green tea, some slightly green tannins, and a fair amount of malted barley. Green apples and a pinhead of soft curry powder, perhaps. Finish: medium, bready and spicy. Some gingerbread, cinnamon cake and burnt sugar. Rhubarb cake, cloves. Comments: surely very fair, but not totally earth-shattering. The G&M CS may have killed it, actually.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Glentauchers 7 yo 2009/2016 (62.1%, A.D. Rattray, Cask Collection, bourbon, cask # 900217, 326 bottles)

Glentauchers 7 yo 2009/2016 (62.1%, A.D. Rattray, Cask Collection, bourbon, cask # 900217, 326 bottles) Two stars
Another super-young B-list Speysider by some indie. Should we tremble? Some maturity to be found? Colour: white wine. Nose: very ethanoly. Tutti-frutti eau-de-vie running from your still, right after the foreshots/ heads/ Vorlauf/ whatever. Or porridge, vodka, and green apples. With water: no changes, just a lot of saponification happening. So, some soap, which is normal. Mouth (neat): a tad indefinite but super-strong. Touches of bananas and pears, and a whole pack of fruit drops. Or do you know Sugus? They have them in Switzerland… With water: a little more citrus, but otherwise it wouldn’t change much once reduced. A fizzy side, perhaps, Fanta etc. Finish: long, fruity, spirity, new-make-y. Comments: rather fine but I’m not totally sure it was totally ready for bottling. As they say in London, our Champagnes are older.
SGP:531 - 74 points.

Glentauchers 1996/2017 (53.9%, Archives, barrel, cask #7324, 211 bottles)

Glentauchers 1996/2017 (53.9%, Archives, barrel, cask #7324, 211 bottles) Three stars
This one should be more mature. Colour: white wine. Nose: what’s obvious is that this baby does have some better-defined fruits, around melons this time, greengages, wee plums, plus touches of honey and custard. Not earth-shattering (yet?) but this is a different league indeed. With water: touches of menthol cigarettes and a little oil. Sunflower again? Hessian as well, muesli… Mouth (neat): bonbons aplenty and a whole fruit salad, with a few leaves and soft spices thrown in. Not the most characterful spirit ever, but it’s a pleasant tipple so far. With water: good, solid fruity Speysider. No one will remember this one forever, but it would just do its job. Finish: medium on fruit peelings and green tea. Comments: some serious natural middle-of-the-road Speysider.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Good, we had many more Glentauchers on the table, but I think we need more action and more character. So, a last, much older one, and we’ll call this a tasting session, gracias.

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 39 yo 1976/2016 (43.8%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, sherry, 180 bottles)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 39 yo 1976/2016 (43.8%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, sherry, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half
A higher pedigree, don’t you agree? Really curious about this one, which I forgot to taste last year or the year before. Right, I kept it for this kind of situation… Colour: gold. Nose: simply reminds us that time is a key component in the manufacture of Scotch whisky. It all got much more honeyed and cake-y, and smoother as they would have said in a 1970s ad for… well, just any whisky brand. What’s superb is the way many tiny aromas are coming out of their dens one after the other, such as roasted chestnuts, various mushrooms, artisan toffee, chicken soups, Zante currants, ripe cigars, massage lotions, humus… You could think of some very old armagnac at times, with these notes of dried prunes. Mouth: it’s a little oaky (yesterday’s black tea in the teapot) but the cavalry is soon to come to the rescue, with those plums and prunes, oranges, herbal teas, lime tree tea, balsamic honeys, tobacco… It tends to become a little drying though, and that’s the tannicity. Not a problem at all, but I guess it was time they bottled this cask. Finish: medium, with some tea and cinnamon. Liquorice tea. Comments: absolutely lovely, for sure, and near perfect, but I’d say the oak was starting to win the battle in the cask. Would it have made it to 40? Phew!
SGP:461 - 88 points.

We have a clear and worthy winner, we’re happy.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glentauchers I've tasted so far


January 29, 2018


More Whiskies of the World

Well many ‘new’ whisky countries have become big enough to deserve whole sessions, such as Sweden indeed, or India, or Australia, or even Switzerland and others. So that’s not whiskies from those countries that we’ll have today. Let’s see what we can find…

Penderyn 5 yo 2012/2017 ‘Tawny Portwood’ (59.6%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, Wales, Cellar Book, cask #PT260, 366 bottles)

Penderyn 5 yo 2012/2017 ‘Tawny Portwood’ (59.6%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, Wales, Cellar Book, cask #PT260, 366 bottles) Two stars and a half
This baby first spent three years in a bourbon cask, then two years in a genuine old Port cask. The colour’s rather impressive… Colour: dark rosé wine. Do you know the Rosé des Riceys in Champagne? Nose: well, this is pretty much well balanced, quite the opposite of what I was expecting. Granted, there’s a feeling of Kriek beer, peonies, cherry stem tea, leaves, and even raspberry liqueur, but there’s also this typical dirty-ish maltiness, some humus, new plastic, gravel, concrete dust… With water: bitter fruits, blackcurrant buds and leaves, flower pot, gravel, porridge… Mouth (neat): strong, starting on jelly babies (the redder ones) and red pepper, getting then earthier and more peppery. Turmeric and ginseng mixed with crushed cherries and raspberries. Pretty extreme on the palate. With water: smoother and rounder, while the red peppers are still there. Caraway, cloves, bitter tobacco (eating a wee bit of your untipped Gauloise)… Finish: very long, very leafy. Rocket salad and tealeaves. Comments: I find this pretty… experimental and challenging, but I’ll add a handful of points for the fun in it.
SGP:572 - 79 points.

High Wheeler 21 yo ‘3070’ (43%, OB, blend, New Zealand Whisky Company, 2017)

High Wheeler 21 yo ‘3070’ (43%, OB, blend, New Zealand Whisky Company, 2017) Two stars and a half
This is from the old stocks of the long-gone Dunedin Distillery a.k.a. Milford a.k.a. Willowbank a.k.a. Lammerlaw. The New Zealand Whisky Company had already issued some excellent old malts, especially a lovely 25 yo (WF 85), but this one’s a ‘single blend’. Like this appellation on the label, ‘Singlewood Aged’. We can see that spread to other makers, can’t we… Colour: pale gold. Nose: nice! Rather malty, starting with cake-y oils, sunflower, then we have some custard, fresh croissants in the morning, roasted sunflower seeds, and just a wee bit of warm sawdust. Mouth: gentle, rather fruitier, with overripe apples and pears, then more pepper and sawdust, and touches of oranges and physalis. This feeling of sunflower oil returns. Finish: medium, rather fresh, on peppered apple juice and compote. Some popcorn in the aftertaste. Comments: exactly the opposite of the rather whacky Penderyn. This is much softer… Same ballpark, I would say.
SGP:441 - 79 points.

Potter 31 yo 1986/2017 (57.1%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, Indian corn, Canada, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles)

Potter 31 yo 1986/2017 (57.1%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, Indian corn, Canada, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles) one star and a half
Cadenhead had already bottled quite a few of these gentle Canadian oddities. A 26 yo in 2016 had been a little, say odd indeed (WF 66) but remember, always personal opinions only. Colour: gold. Nose: totally grainy and solventy. High ethanol plus notes of vanilla and wood varnish, plus a little popcorn fresh from the microwave oven for good measure. With water: some nicer tiny whiffs of pinesap and menthol, probably all from the cask. Then it’s marshmallow galore… Mouth (neat): well… A lot of vanilla plus a few jelly babies. Corn syrup, coconut balls, oak-aged vodka… Some sides also remind me of Southern Comfort. With water: gets very very sweet, as if someone had added as much sucrose as in Coca-Cola. Finish: short, very sugary. Comments: a few more points for the evanescent menthol on the nose – when diluted. But it is a bottle of historical importance, isn’t it? I think the Potter Distillery got closed quite some years ago. Not too sure…
SGP:830 - 69 points.

English Whisky Co. 5 yo (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, England, batch 1, 964 bottles, 2017)

English Whisky Co. 5 yo (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, England, batch 1, 964 bottles, 2017) Three stars
Let’s try this independent Norfolkian malt whisky! Sadly it’s not a distillery I’m very well-acquainted with, but I remember well the years when Iain Henderson was working with them after he had left Laphroaig. Colour: straw. Nose: ah, civilisation this time. It’s fresh, even kind of crisp, with nice notes of crushed barley, pastries, patchouli, mint tea, green oranges, then a little more vanilla and warm sawdust. Rather clean and elegant, if not totally assertive (always a useful word in any tasting notes). Mouth: well, we’re talking here. It’s akin to some very young Speysider that would have seen some rather active oak pretty closely. Candied oranges, apple compote, barley, muesli, some drops of peppermint liqueur… Finish: rather long, with nice notes of orange syrups and liqueurs, plus some spicier oak. Comments: a fine malt whisky, with a very wee touch of smoke.
SGP:442 - 80 points.

Isle of Fionia ‘Ardor’ (46.8%, OB, Nyborg Distillery, Denmark, 117th batch, 2017)

Isle of Fionia ‘Ardor’ (46.8%, OB, Nyborg Distillery, Denmark, 117th batch, 2017) Four stars
Well it says it all. A new whisky from a rather new whisky country where they know what’s good… What could go wrong? Let’s hope this would have been welcomed onto Babeth’s table… Colour: pale gold. Nose: isn’t it strange how the mind works? I’m finding notes of Danish pastries. A pile of Danishes in a high-brow pastry shop. Custard, croissants, preserved apricots, plums, brioches, white chocolate… All you’d also need is a wee cup of espresso. Mouth: impressive. It’s a textbook pure malt whisky, with oranges, those apricots, vanilla, barley water, almonds, and just a little butterscotch and a touch of tinned pineapple. Made with care, for sure. Finish: medium, with only the slightest touch of wine gum, then a perfect sweet barleyness and notes of blood oranges and apricots. Comments: did they add apricots to the mash? Seriously, I think this is very good and worth a rather high score (given the young age). Well done, Denmark! What’s more, it’s organic; but what isn’t these days…
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Isle of Fionia ‘Ardor’ (59.8%, OB, Nyborg Distillery, Denmark, 116th batch, 2017)

Isle of Fionia ‘Ardor’ (59.8%, OB, Nyborg Distillery, Denmark, 116th batch, 2017) Three stars and a half
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that this is a high-strength version of Ardor. Colour: gold. Nose: as almost always, higher strengths lead to more closed noses. Otherwise, we’re very close to batch #117 as far as styles are concerned. With water: a slightly spicier version, with a little more grassiness and a little more oak. Mouth (neat): #117 was easier, this is a little strong and the high alcohol gives it a grainy side. Nothing unexpected, though… With water: ah this is fun, there are topical fruits this time, a feeling of mango chutney perhaps, bananas… Finish: rather long, and a tad earthier. Very pleasant fruity breadiness. Comments: another very lovely young drop. I don’t think you can go much higher when you’re just issuing your first whiskies. #117 was a tad easier and I’m all for easiness. Oh well…
SGP:551 - 84 points.

While we’re in the north…

Mackmyra ‘Guldrök Small Batch’ (51.7%, OB, Sweden, for La Maison du Whisky, 300 bottles, 2017)

Mackmyra ‘Guldrök Small Batch’ (51.7%, OB, Sweden, for La Maison du Whisky, 300 bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half
Forgot to try this one when we were having those excellent Swedish whiskies, apologies… Colour: straw. Nose: very oily and pretty peaty, this one. We’re wandering throughout a working kiln while quaffing banana and sorrel juice, smoking a black Tuscan cigar (a shame that I don’t quite smoke anymore), and crunching one cough lozenge. Do you get the picture? With water: mud and crushed smoked barley, plus pinewood and mugwort. Mouth (neat): thick and almost syrupy – and almost cloying when neat - with clear notes of young Ardbeg, mezcal, and apricot nectar. With water: it’s really very Ardbeggian. We’re talking contemporary Ardbeg. Finish: long, still rather thick, and rather modern-oaked. Very bready aftertaste. Comments: feels ‘young craft’. Very good, but I even prefer the fresher Mackmyras.
SGP:454 - 83 points.

Seven is enough for now…


January 28, 2018


Malternative-y Old Brandy de Jerez

Tasted on location a few weeks ago. These are all ‘SGR’, so Solera Gran Reserva. It’s to be noted that Gran Reserva’s an appellation that’s only used for brandies, never for sherries. Did you know that, Macallan lovers? I'djust add that most brandies de Jerez that I have tried so far (but I've tasted very few of them) had been quite liqueury and much sweeter than Cognacs or Amrmagnacs.

Tradicion ‘Solera Gran Reserva’ (38%, OB, Brandy de Jerez, 800 bottles, +/-2017)

Tradicion ‘Solera Gran Reserva’ (38%, OB, Brandy de Jerez, 800 bottles, +/-2017) Three stars
An average age of 25 years, did they say, but it’s still their youngest brandy. Tradicion is a great house that makes some superb sherries, now why would someone bottle some high-end brandy at 38% vol.? Colour: coffee. Nose: unexpectedly fresh, with a little chocolate and quite some peppermint cordial, then more pipe tobacco and a clear oloroso-ish profile. I think they’re using ex-oloroso solera casks anyway. Mouth: what’s good is that it’s not sweetish or wishy-washy (wobbly in the knees as we sometimes say). Always this mentholy side, and quite a handful of zante currents. Finish: a bit short but full and, again, not too sweet, while we’ve tried other brandies in Jerez that had been frankly… sickly sweet. Comments: perhaps not the finesse of a proper Cognac, but it’s one of the best ‘entry-levels’, no doubt about that.
SGP:461 – around 80 points.

Tradicion ‘Platinum’ (38%, OB, Brandy de Jerez, +/-2017)

Tradicion ‘Platinum’ (38%, OB, Brandy de Jerez, +/-2017) Three stars
A top-of-range Brandy de Jerez of which Bodegas Tradicion only make a few hundred bottles per year. Said to be between 50 and 60 years of age, mind you! Sadly, they bottle this one at 38% too, and, ach, mature it in ex-PX casks. Hope it’s not a sugar bomb… Colour: mahogany. Nose: all on pine needles, cocoa, and thuja wood, so rather dry and even smoky, but getting headier by the minute. Honey, prunes, pipe tobacco. Mouth: creamy and rather sweet, with loads of coffee liqueur and a good few drops of crème de menthe. Tends to become much drying after a few seconds, rather more on coffee beans. Finish: rather long, dry, on tobacco and ground coffee. Comments: the PX doesn’t feel that much.
SGP:561 – around 80 points.

Cardenal Mendoza ‘Non Plus Ultra’ (OB, Sanchez Romate, Brandy de Jerez, +/-2017)

Cardenal Mendoza ‘Non Plus Ultra’ (45%, OB, Sanchez Romate, Brandy de Jerez, 50cl, +/-2017) Four stars
This 500€ brandy stems from a solera of 38 botas (butts) ex-PX and ex-oloroso, and of an average age of 50 years. Although the way they calculate the average ages of their brandies remains unknown to me… Colour: coffee. Nose: rather soft, marked by the PX, with a little bitter orange, Grand-Marnier, a little hot chocolate, and then quite some prunes and black raisins. Mouth: rather round, smooth, a little terpenic, with prunes, mint liqueur, and really a lot of black raisins of all kinds. Finish: medium, sweet, but never dull or cloying. Comments: the PX feels, but of course there’s some great PX around. It’s just not the kind of PX they use to season whisky casks, eh! In this case, they use some proper solera PX casks. Naturally.
SGP:630 – around 85 points.

January 27, 2018




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
More Assorted Duos
The ongoing efforts to get on top of the sample avalanche continue... Yes I’m aware it’s an awful predicament to be in. What is it the kids are saying these days? #firstworldproblems? We’ll try to be swifter and more precise today, something I’m attempting to do more in general with my tasting notes. I’m aware that I have a propensity to waffle. On occasion.


Let’s kick off with... Miltonduff. Why not? After all, any malt which is favoured by the esteemed Dick Beach, Don of Drumnadrochit, must be worth our attention...  


Miltonduff 10 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-2000?)
Not sure when this one was bottled, but there have been a number of batches and Serge last tried it back in 2004, so I feel it’s earned another outing today... Colour: Light amber. Nose: Oh! Hello... It’s a rather lovely sherry style full of figs, quinces, light green fruits and a few notes of dark chocolate and spice. Rather lovely actually and reminiscent of some older sherried Glen Grant bottlings. Mouth: Still good, although you can feel the lower ABV lets it down a bit. Chocolate orange, shredded wheat, oatmeal flapjacks, a little sootiness and mint tea. Finish: A tad short but biscuity and gently fruity with spiced orange and some soot. Comments: A very pleasant surprise. If you want something clean and gently sherried you could do a lot worse.
SGP: 431 - 83 points. 


Miltonduff 23 yo 1973 (43%, Hart Brothers, +/-1996) Miltonduff 23 yo 1973 (43%, Hart Brothers, +/-1996)
Colour: Straw. Nose: Ooft! A beautiful combination of pollens, honeys, waxes, soft fruits and buttery cereals. A little ointment, some chalk, a greengage or two and a freshly baked croissant. Some lemon curd, a wild strawberry and a touch of oily rag. Mouth: A wonderfully textural malt, full of barley sugar, light waxiness, white stone fruits and meadow flowers. A few dried mixed herbs, olive oil, camphor and beeswax. Simple but mouth coating and very beautiful. Finish: Medium-long and becoming rather savoury with freshly malted barley, brown bread, sourdough and little lemon sponge cake at the end. Delicious. Comments: In all seriousness, it’s no great secret that some older Miltonduffs could be pretty spectacular. An underrated whisky in many ways I suppose.
SGP: 542 - 90 points.


And now, to Sutherland...  


Glenmorangie 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK market, Late 1970s) Glenmorangie 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK market, Late 1970s)
Many of these old Glenmorangie 10 year olds could be pretty terrific. Let’s see how this one compares... Colour: White wine (always a good sign I feel). Nose: Buttery, mineralic and delicately waxy. An impressive freshness with an inclination towards chopped herbs, soot, breads and cereals. A lick of citrus as well. Typical and rather excellent. Mouth: The lower ABV perhaps doesn’t help it here but there’s still lots of greenery, light waxes, oils, minerals, herbs, soot and a few notes of beach pebble and flint which nod in a coastal direction. Perhaps a little wood ash, white pepper and dill. Finish: Short to medium. Some porridge and an iota of cardboard in the aftertaste which are typical OBE characteristics. Still with some white flowers and flinty aspects though. Comments: Not as glorious as some other old 10 year olds from the mid-70s or earlier. However, it remains an impressive and characterful distillate. Blind next to the current example you’d say they were different distilleries. Another good example of how when you have character in the distillate, you don’t need hyperactive wood - just a little patience.
SGP: 341 - 84 points.


Westport 20 yo 1997/2018 (58%, Dornoch Distillery, cask# 3292, 270 bottles) Westport 20 yo 1997/2018 (58%, Dornoch Distillery, cask# 3292, 270 bottles)
Now, I’m not saying this is Glenmorangie, but the Giraffes on the label are whispering to me... Colour: Light gold. Nose: In some ways it’s a world away from the old Morangie with these highly polished buttery and fudgy notes. There’s also similarities though with a grassy side, some mineral edges, a little chalk and paint. With time some slightly lush green fruits in the form of cut apples, ripe pear and gooseberry emerge alongside white flowers and some pollen and honeys. Simple and very nice. With water: a few more drying herbal qualities, lemon peel, sunflower oil and the lightest touch of wax. Still a tad peppery as well. Mouth: Continues this honey and grassy theme. A little earthiness, some quince paste, a touch of charcoal, white pepper and a kind of herbal muesli note. With water: pollens, earths, some green tea, assorted citrus fruits and a little camphor. Finish: Medium - long with a bit of wood spice, some vanilla and more teas and orange peel. Comments: Good, solid, modern malt whisky. Not the most exciting but pretty flawless nonetheless and rather drinkable.
SGP: 432 - 83 points.


I appear to have a LOT of Glen Garioch samples, let’s reduce whatever that number is by precisely two...  


Glen Garioch 24 yo 1992/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask# 3059, Hogshead) Glen Garioch 24 yo 1992/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask# 3059, Hogshead)
Colour: Light gold. Nose: A wonderful and deep earthiness at first; gravel, soot, wax, hessian and wee tertiary notes of sheep wool, gravel and chalk. Some of these early 1990s Glen Gariochs were terrifically characterful. Goes on with mineral oil, tool boxes, copper coins, hay loft and some dandelions and white flowers. Really excellent. Mouth: Surprisingly farmy. These kind of Gariochs feel very akin to the early 70s examples just with the peat stripped away. Earthy, oily, sooty, gently waxy and overall very fulsome and mouth coating. Wee touches of crushed watercress and black pepper as well. A little lemon peel as well. Finish: Long, green, earthy, camphory, mineral, chalky and with a touch of barley sweetness keeping things lively. Comments: Supremely quaffable and top notch Glen Garioch from Berry Bros. A beautifully textural distillate that you could guzzle like crazy of a night - should you be so inclined.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.


Glen Garioch 1991/2011 (51.1%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask# 3855, 243 bottles) Glen Garioch 1991/2011 (51.1%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask# 3855, 243 bottles)
Colour: White wine. Nose: A little rawer and more spiritous than the 92, very chalky and gravely with this blustering and rather punchy minerality. Chalk, lime peel, some crushed flowers and a little pollen. More austere and globally a little rougher and tougher than the Berrys. With water: some white fruits such as litchi and then a menthol cigarette or two perhaps. Mouth: Sooty, a little oily and camphory but without the obvious farmy richness of the 92. Some white pepper, a bit of earth and wet wool, then a tiny touch of mint. With water: becomes a little yeasty and displays some rather nice notes of toasted seeds and assorted freshly baked breads. Almond paste and buttery cereal notes as well. Finish: Medium-long and still rather chalky and austere, some assorted, fairly sharp citrus fruit notes and raw barley mingling in the aftertaste. Comments: It’s a good and relatively clean highland style malt, but it lacks the texture, boldness and sheer force of personality that the 92 possessed. Perhaps it’s a question of age, maybe a few more years and this one would have filled out a bit more. As it stands it’s pretty austere and a bit tough. Anyway, who knows.
SGP: 342 - 84 points.


And to finish: Orkney...  


Highland Park 12 yo (40%, OB, 10cl bottle, -/+ 1990)

Highland Park 12 yo (40%, OB, 10cl bottle, -/+ 1990)
These wee 10cl bottled were part of some limited run presentation packs from around the late 80s/early 90s if I’m not mistaken. Colour: gold. Nose: It’s this sort of juice that got early writers like Michael Jackson raving about HP and it’s easy to see why. It really is a wonderful spread of heathery honey, very soft peats, earthiness, some resinous sherry notes and lemony/salty coastal aspect. You can understand why it came to be referred to as the ‘great all rounder’ or whatever the phrase was. It does possess a rather unique ‘universality’, something I’m not sure you could say about the current HP - although that’s not necessarily a criticism. Mouth: Bitter oranges, wood spice, smoked olive oil, black olives in brine, chopped fresh herbs such as parsley and chives and even some sherry-induced rancio. Surprisingly old school in fact. If you’d give me this blind and said it was bottled in the 70s I wouldn’t have blinked. Finish: Long, mineral, nervous sherry again, lemon rind, oils, a little natural tar and some green fruits. A fading, drying and increasingly medicinal peat in the aftertaste. Comments: Wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but I should not be surprised that it is excellent whisky. Emblematic old style HP. I suspect that the average age was a good few years higher than 12 at this point however.
SGP: 454 - 91 points.



Orkney Malt 17 yo 2000/2018 (56.5%, Dornoch Distillery, cask# 2, 350 bottles) Orkney Malt 17 yo 2000/2018 (56.5%, Dornoch Distillery, cask# 2, 350 bottles)
Now, I’m not saying this is Highland Park, other Orkney distilleries are available... Colour: Gold. Nose: It’s a sweeter and more obviously modern one with some rather rich honey notes mixed in with a background coastal saltiness which makes it globally rather fresh and invigorating. Develops with notes of peanut brittle, plum jam, linseed oil, orange bitters and a little aged mead. With water: lilies, wet beach pebbles, geraniums, bass beer and lanolin. Mouth: Sweet barley, wood smoke and crystallised citrus rinds at first. Then a touch of cured meat, rather a lot of soot, some wax and hessian and lick of medicine. Gets gravelly with time, becoming fatter and more mineral. Some green malt, salted cod, green olives in brine and a few coastally located wild flowers. With water: drier now, with chalky and mustardy notes (Serge and I are now mustard experts by the way), perhaps some smoked tea and more resinous lemon notes. Finish: Medium to long, earthy, rather fat and oily and becoming a little mechanical and industrial in style. The coastal aspects gain in stature towards the end. Comments: Quite obviously a Stromness! But seriously, rather excellent juice. Rather punchy and muscular overall. Well selected.
SGP: 343 - 88 points.



January 25, 2018


A few more American whiskies

Just what we have in the box these days… Do not expect old glories, but it’s always nice to be able to revisit a few regulars, and perhaps some rare ones too…

Buffalo Trace (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017)

Buffalo Trace (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017) Three stars
Not a very expensive one, you’ll find it for around 25€ in French hypermarkets. A shame that it’s gone from 45 to 40% vol. a while back. Colour: gold. Nose: shall we say ‘nice’? It’s rather light in style but it does talk, with a blend of honey and maple syrup, and not too much bland vanilla-ness. Some toasted rye bread, notes of gingerbread, a touch of wet earth (could be the rye), and a little soft curry, always enjoyed here. Really, I think it’s a nice nose. Mouth: soft, and indeed 43% vol. or more would have worked better, but this bread/gingerbread combination works very well. More maple syrup, honey sweets, cappuccino, Demerara sugar, soft liquorice, gingerbread… Finish: medium, a tad more caramely. Corn syrup and molasses in the aftertaste, but that’s all right. Comments: serious Bourbon. I think I liked it better than some smaller batches of BT!
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Evan Williams ‘White Label’ (50%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017)

Evan Williams ‘White Label’ (50%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Heaven Hill’s turn… This is not very expensive either. Colour: dark amber. Nose: there’s more heavy sweet oak in this one, café latte, vanilla cream, speculoos, touches of lavender and violets, and grandma’s old cookie jar. A wee bit of varnish and glue. With water: gets rather spicier and earthier. Damp wood, sawdust. Mouth (neat): rich, on many kinds of sweets and other regressive foods, marshmallows, orange liqueur, and indeed vanilla. A gritty side in the back, but that may be the higher strength. With water: it’s the sweetness that wins it. Notes of banana skins and sawdust in the background. Finish: medium an a tad oaky. Black tea, cinnamon, Parma violets. Comments: a tad less easy than the BT. Not a total fan of all this oak, but it’s a style indeed.
SGP:631 - 78 points.

Hudson ‘Manhattan Rye’ (46%, OB, +/-2017)

Hudson ‘Manhattan Rye’ (46%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
The famous speed-aged Rye from Tuthilltown. It doesn’t say it’s whisky, so it’s probably very young. I last tried this version in… 2008, when it was still ‘Hudson Whiskey’. How time flies… Colour: amber. Nose: funny spirit, between cologne and speculoos, with notes of lilies of the valley and juniper berries, plus pumpernickel and orange blossom water. Perhaps a little closer to gin than to whisky, but I won’t deny that it’s extremely well made. There. Mouth: certainly more ‘whisky’. Massive bready and sweetly spicy arrival, with some thyme and rosemary, plus orange liqueur, cranberry syrup, juniper, and cloves. Thick mouth feel. Finish: long, thick, oily, with many spices and tiny berries. Checkerberries for sure. Liquorice allsorts in the aftertaste. Comments: very unusual, but characterful and kind of sexy. And with a brilliant time-to-market, I suppose.
SGP:651 - 80 points.

FEW ‘Bourbon’ (46.50%, OB, +/-2017)

FEW ‘Bourbon’ (46.50%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
I’ve liked all the other FEWs I could try (the ryes, the single malt etc.) Colour: amber. Nose: it is, indeed, very ‘bourbon’, with some vanilla cake, some roasted chestnuts and pecans, some maple syrup, some sweeter cloves, and a curious coastal side that’s adding some complexity. Very nice touches of fermenting oranges and cardamom. Mouth: I know it’s some high-maize/corn bourbon but I find it rather spicy and rye-y, with touches of lavender, grenadine, grist, caramel pie, coffee toffee… I’m even finding bananas flambéed, or even arranged rum (spiced). Quite a ride. Finish: rather long and a tad oakier and breadier now. Gingerbread and quite a lot of cinnamon – or rather cinnamon cake, with oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: a distiller you can trust! The ryes are a tad more outgoing (and outspoken), but this wee bourbon just does it.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Perhaps an indie now, and we’re done…

Heaven Hill 8 yo (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 2016)

Heaven Hill 8 yo (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 2016) Four stars and a half
Interesting, very interesting… We had seen quite a few George Dickels by some indie bottlers in the last months, but this is different, obviously. Really curious… Colour: dark gold. Nose: aren’t we going a little more towards malt whisky here? As if it was a little more about the distillate, and a little less about the wood. Utterly love these pine-y whiffs, pine needles, moss, fern, then the lime, this wee feeling of ti-vieux (that’s a ti-punch made with aged rum), pistachios, caramel cream, crème brulée, rye, buckwheat (Breton galettes)… Only good things to say so far (who said for a change, who?) Mouth: my, this is hugely spicy! Did they redistill gingerbread liqueur? Sure that exists… Also many notes of cool vegetables, Brussels sprout, sweet carrots, broccolis (I’m joking, no broccolis)… Gets then a little rounder and sweeter, with the usual maple syrup and Demerara sugar, but it does keep this tenser, ‘maltier’ side all along. Which, naturally, we enjoy at WF Towers. Finish: rather long, and to tell you the truth, this could have been some Glen Garioch matured in heavily-charred virgin US oak. Seriously! Comments: loud applause.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all American whiskies I've tasted so far


January 24, 2018


Six whiskies from Sweden

Some kind of holidays, if you will. Let’s see what we can find, without any prejudices or preconceptions, while remembering that Sweden became a very serious whisky nation a few years back.

Box ‘Dàlvve’ (46%, OB, Sweden, 2017)

Box ‘Dàlvve’ (46%, OB, Sweden, 2017) Four stars
I think I got the accent on the ‘a’ wrong, should be acute and not grave. Heartfelt apologies to all our Swedish friends! Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a fairly smoky one, well balanced, with notes of ointments and cough syrup in the background. A feeling of smoked pinesap as well, which I really enjoy, and touches of citrons and tangerines. Mouth: excellent! We’ve got Bowmore in sight, with tarry kippers and quite some ashes, before some wee berries come out, such as sorb and even holly. Have you ever tried holly eau-de-vie? Then more and more grapefruits, for the (even) better. Well done. Finish: rather long, really ashy, smoky, with just touches of oak in the aftertaste (sawdust). Comments: super well done! It’s probably quite young, but it would never feel immature.
SGP:456 - 85 points.

Oh while we’re at it…

Box ‘Quercus I’ (50%, OB, Sweden, 2017)

Box ‘Quercus I’ (50%, OB, Sweden, 2017) Two stars and a half
This baby spent its last seven months in Swedish Quercus Robur, after having started its rather short life in American oak. We might have to expected some kind of spiciness… Colour: deep gold. Nose: hate to feel oak in my whiskies, unless it is like this, that is to say kind of sappy, nicely empyreumatic, and herbal (juniper/mint). Terpene, caraway, ginger, bread, burning tyres, and wee touches of strawberry jam and marmalade in the back of the background. Gingerbread. With water: more cloves and gingerbread. Mouth (neat): it goes far. Genever, bitter oranges, caraway, cloves, fir liqueur, pipe tobacco, kumquats, touches of curry, masala… Quite some concoction! With water: gets a little softer, but it remains very spicy and, I would say, kind of ‘Indian’. We’ve encountered such dishes in the past… Finish: rather long, on some kind of spicy chutney. Comments: right, I preferred the straighter Dàlvve. This is interesting, for sure, but the oak’s spices are rather too bold for me.
SGP:473 - 78 points.

Box ‘Early Days Batch 001’ (51.2%, OB, Sweden, 2017)

Box ‘Early Days Batch 001’ (51.2%, OB, Sweden, 2017) Three stars
This is the unpeated version of Box, all ex-bourbon quarter casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: jellies and bubblegum, not unlike in some good very young unsherried Speysider. A pack of pear sweets, some pineapple ones, touches of mandarins and tangerines, perhaps a little hay, and absolutely no porridge or baker’s yeast or sour dough, which means that it doesn’t feel ‘too young’ at all. With water: barley and cereals. That’s rather perfect. Mouth (neat): really very fruity and sweet, I cannot not think of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit, while Haribo isn’t too far away. Some malt and bread are there too, and will prevent this baby from becoming too candy-ish. If I may… With water: it loves water, really. More cakes, brioche, Jaffa cakes, baklavas. Wait, baklavas in Sweden? Finish: medium, clean, fruity and cake-y. Say some pear tarte. A little more oak in the aftertaste. Comments: very fine. What I also liked is that it’s not all on vanilla. No, no names.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Mackmyra ‘Brukswhisky’ (41.4%, OB, Sweden, +/-2017)

Mackmyra ‘Brukswhisky’ (41.4%, OB, Sweden, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
I remember I had tried the first Bruks back in 2011. It was already very good (WF 83). Colour: straw. Nose: freshly ashy and smoky, and we would rather be on wood smoke, and even coal, perhaps. On top of that, there’s broom and dandelions, and wee bits of fresh spicy bread (caraway, fennel seeds), plus a little wet earth after a summer rain. Impeccable. Mouth: really very lovely, fresh, with its own style, grapefruits, one wee slice of spiced pineapple, a feeling of rye whisky (is there some malted rye?), and more spicy bread with small bits of apricot inside. Great with foie gras. Finish: medium, with a little more white pepper and cinnamon. Comments: this style will grow on you. Loved its freshness.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Mackmyra ‘Skördetid’ (46.1%, OB, Sweden, 2017)

Mackmyra ‘Skördetid’ (46.1%, OB, Sweden, 2017) Two stars
Apparently, this one’s seen some Amarone casks. Let’s move on with caution, Amarone’s a really thick red wine… Colour: apricoty gold. Nose: European oak spices all over the place. Caraway, juniper, cloves, fennel, aniseed… And in the background, perhaps some apricots indeed, and perhaps peaches, and surely something freshly coastal. Clams? Whelks? Winkles? The good news is that it tends to become earthier, certainly more elegant, and rather more on blood oranges. Mouth: it hasn’t got the clarity and the precision of the lovely Brusk, but I find it kind of fine. Cassis, leaves, cherry stems, ginger, sour cherries, drops of mulled wine, cloves… Finish: medium, spicier. More mulled wine with extra-spices. Cherry sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: very okay, but this is not my preferred style. Amarone in a Swedish whisky, why not…
SGP:661 - 76 points.

Mackmyra ‘Jakt’ (48.1%, OB, Sweden, Moment Series, 2011 bottles, +/-2016)

Mackmyra ‘Jakt’ (48.1%, OB, Sweden, Moment Series, 2011 bottles, +/-2016) Two stars and a half
This unusual baby’s been finished in Jakt wine casks, Jakt wine being made out of bilberries, cranberries and, it seems, other small berries. A drink for Vikings? Colour: gold. Nose: ah, this is pretty clean, it’s clearly whisky and not some kind of premix, and it would display notes of caraway, some kind of earthy tobacco, a little leather and, perhaps, hints of pine cones and needles. Forgot to mention soft gingerbread. Mouth: this is pretty good. It’s full of gingerbread, or even gingerbread liqueur (which is something some mad Alsatians are baking for tourists), Mozartkugeln, marzipan, roasted pistachios, and quite a lot of unkown liqueurs. Checkerberries? Yeah, checkerberry liqueur, with this almondy side. Finish: pretty long, on more gingerbread, speculoos, and indeed, checkerberry liqueur. Comments: a very fine drink. Whether this is still malt whisky remains a question for debate, I would say.
SGP:651 - 78 points.

I know we should have some Smögen too, but we did that already a few months ago. So, session closed, tack! Wait, unless… What’s this in the ‘box’?... Some other Box!

Box ‘The 2nd Step Collection 02' (51.2%, OB, Sweden, 2016)

Box ‘The 2nd Step Collection 02' (51.2%, OB, Sweden, 2016) Three stars and a half
From a mix of bourbon and sherry casks, with a small proportion of peated spirit. Colour: gold. Nose: rather buttery and vanilla-ed, easy, cake-y, we’re wandering throughout a pastry shop around seven in the morning. It’s a pleasant feeling… In the back, a few roasted nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame… Perhaps even argan! With water: more spicy herbs, blond tobacco, caraway and raisins, shitake… Mouth (neat): very good, starting a little mentholy, getting then spicier. Speculoos, marzipan, cinnamon cake, black raisins, walnuts… Nothing too bad in there! With water: really very good. Raisins, gingerbread, pumpernickel. Finish: rather long, creamy and almost thick, full of raisins and spicy gingerbread. Earthy/spicy aftertaste. Comments: we could have quaffed this on Christmas day. Too late…
SGP:462 - 84 points.

And a last one…

Box ‘The Festival 2016’ (53.9%, OB, Sweden, 2016)

Box ‘The Festival 2016’ (53.9%, OB, Sweden, 2016) Three stars and a half
Probably for some kind of festival. Now, shouldn’t Box tell us about the vintages or the ages? We all know they’re young whiskies anyway… But check their website, they would give you all other details, which I find quite fascinating, although I seem to understand that this was distilled in 2011 (yes I read Swedish - as long as numbers and figures are concerned). Colour: deep gold. Nose: more spicy and honeyed gingerbread. You wouldn’t imagine how much gingerbread there is in this whisky. And pumpernickel, and rye, and roasted pine nuts… With water: it got very bready, which I always enjoy. Mouth (neat): it’s heavy and thick, and yet I like it a lot. Honey with bits of gingerbread, dried apricots, and quite some caraway again. All these ultra-active casks give out a lot of caraway, really. And ginger of course. With water: similar, perhaps more oranges and some plum jam. Finish: rather long, bready, with dried fruits and some extravagantly honeyed gingerbread. Comments: still like the zing of the Dàlvve better, but this rocks, for sure.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Great, great job, Sweden!


January 23, 2018


Some more Bowmore

I know, yet another well-carved headline. It’s just that I couldn’t spend two months without trying any Bowmore. One of the greatest spirits ever, as long as no wine or excessive oak were in sight. I mean, IMHO, as we used to say when the Web was still pretty non-commercial and gloriously neutral…

Bowmore 15 yo 2001 (55.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #20117, 23 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo 2001 (55.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #20117, 233 bottles) Five stars
I have the feeling that this will be brilliant, which is kind of boring since I love surprises. Colour: straw. Nose: burnt things. Tyres, wood, vegetables, leatherette, cigars, plastic… Like, indeed and above all, burnt asparagus. And then, seawater, lemon juice, and oysters. Phew! With water: fresh tarmac and yesterday’s clams, plus brand new Michelins. I would have said young Port Ellen, really. Truffles. Mouth (neat): I’m not finding that too funny that someone at TWE would have bottled some artisanal mezcal and named it ‘Bowmore’. I’m serious, this is (almost) mezcal. Some great mezcal. With water: what? Seawater, lemon juice, and bits of bicycle inner tubes? Finish: long, and very tarry. Brine and lemons are coming to the rescue in the aftertaste. Comments: this session is wrecked already, I shouldn’t have chosen this one as #1. Hate these people.
SGP:367 - 92 points.

Perhaps another 15… Now I know what you’re gonna say, I should have started this session with this one. You’re right…

Bowmore 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Bowmore 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars
This baby was finished in sherry casks. This one from a fresh bottle, so let’s be careful, Bowmore always needs a little breathing, in my experience… Colour: full gold. Nose: muddy waters, roasted chestnuts, tarry ropes, walnuts, brake fluid, burnt cakes, slag, bitter oranges, dried kelp, lovage, Maggi sauce, miso soup, umami sauce, roasted onions… Some stuff is happening here, this is no shy whisky! Mouth: ah! Smoked nuts and ham, salty almonds, coffee liqueur, roasted pine nuts, pipe juice, samphires, liquorice… This is some concoction, and I think they got the balance right. Smoky gravy. Finish: rather long, rather salty, Maggi-y, rather with Chinese prune sauce towards the aftertaste. Where’s my Beijing duck? (oh come on!) Comments: we’ve had some unlikely 15s in the past, especially the infamous ‘Darkest’ that’s sometimes been really infernal (rotten fruits, anyone?) but this batch was very well composed, by sane people. Well done.
SGP:355 - 85 points.

Another 15 please…

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11804, 321 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11804, 321 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: gherkin brine, riesling, almond oil, Harris tweed, fireplace. This is going to be short… Mouth: ashes, liquorice, bitter almonds, toasted brioche, lemon sherbet, kippers, herrings, oysters. This will be short indeed. Finish: rather long, very brine-y, ashy, smoky, and lemony. Marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, as expected. A rather smoky one, perhaps less zesty than other middle-aged Bowies from these very smoky vintages.
SGP:457 - 87 points.

Bowmore 2000/2016 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, cask # 800115)

Bowmore 2000/2016 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, cask # 800115) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is extremely austere, kind of narrow, with only grass, bark, and ink. Oh and grass smoke. With water: paper, plastic, shoe polish. Mouth (neat): sharp and acidic, with a sour background. Lemon juice and new-world sauvignon blanc, then olive brine. With water: not too sure. A sour tar comes out, careful with water. Each and every added drop of water will change this baby completely. Finish: rather long, on brine, but with hints of plastic. Not something that never happens with Bowmore. Comments: very ‘millimetric’, to the point where it became a little thin, and a little plasticky. Has its charms though, some kind of niche Bowmore.
SGP:356 - 80 points.

Bowmore ‘N°1’ (40%, OB, 2017)

Bowmore ‘N°1’ (40%, OB, 2017) Two stars and a half
An enigmatic name for this newish bottling, which matured entirely in first fill bourbon casks and is meant to replace the shortlived ‘Small Batch’.  NAS, sadly, but of course, more expensive than the 12 yo (46€ vs. 41€ at LMDW). Where have we already seen this trick being played? Colour: gold. Nose: the fact is that I enjoy young Bowmore, and this is bright indeed, fresh, certainly coastal, with some sea breeze, then touches of passion fruits and some creamy, almost barleyish vanilla. Simple, yet pleasant. Mouth: the 40% vol. feel, there’s a nice briney and lemony arrival, but it’s soon to lose steam and to become a little planky and dry. Nice salty background, though. Finish: a little short, with the usual smoky brine and a wee bit of lemon. Oaky aftertaste (cardboard and sawdust). Comments: I think the Small Batch was/is much better, possibly because that one was partially aged in second fill. Wood can be the enemy, we all know that.
SGP:355 - 79 points.

Perhaps something more extraordinary now?

Bowmore 1972/1988 (60.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Fifth Anniversary, #3.10, 298 bottles)

Bowmore 1972/1988 (60.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Fifth Anniversary, #3.10, 298 bottles) Five stars
This one could rock… Colour: white wine. Nose (neat): sweet Vishnu! This is almost pure kerosene! No, wait, pure Atlantic water! Hold on, no, this is crème de menthe! Well as I’m sure you guessed already, all this ends up with a blend of kerosene, seawater, and peppermint. With water: there, fresh almonds, lemon-flavoured marzipan, samphires, seaweed… Mouth (neat): starts almost sweet, with some icing sugar, and goes then towards a funkier, petroly and salty style. Kippers, passion fruit juice drizzled over smoked salmon, tar liqueur, and more peppermint. Some rather bitter herbs in the background. With water: this green and grassy peatiness that one could find in those years. Very few topical fruits, though, if any. Finish: long, very petroly and tarry. I may have mentioned kerosene before. A lot of salt in the aftertaste – remember those stories about distillery men rolling barrels in the sea towards puffers? Comments: a pretty austere old Bowmore, very interesting to try. The ‘tropical years’ had already come to an end at Bowmore, but his remains rather brilliant.
SGP:367 - 91 points.

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


January 22, 2018


Glenturret at WF Towers

I know, I know, but there's always something happening in any Glenturret. Some older bottlings had been very strange in my opinion, but things have really improved in the last decade or so...

Glenturret 2004/2016 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, The MacPhail’s Collection)

Glenturret 2004/2016 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, The MacPhail’s Collection) Four stars
The 2002/2015 had been much to my liking (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: I don't think you'll ever find this much shoe and metal polishes in any whisky, and perhaps as many autumn leaves and straw bale blocks. A lot of humus too, then silverware (which older bottlings already had) and just a touch of shampoo. No, just any brands... A touch of burnt molasses too. Mouth: some kind of delicately smoked caramel, then curry bread, cracked pepper, fried eggplants, and drops of oak-aged gin and caraway liqueur. Glenturret remains 'different', and difference is life, isn't it. Finish: medium, a tad toastier and rounder at the same time. Chargrilled gingerbread or something like that? A little beef jerky in the aftertaste, a feeling of smoked mham, and perhaps even a little lettuce. Comments: another fun Glenturret by G&M. Again, vive la différence !
SGP:362 - 85 points

Glenturret 8 yo 2007/2017 (57.1%, North Star Spirits, refill bourbon hogshead, 330 bottles)

Glenturret 8 yo 2007/2017 (57.1%, North Star Spirits, refill bourbon hogshead, 330 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one could be rather, say restless, let's see... Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's from the countryside for sure. You'll find some grass smoke, a lot of earth and even mud, a box of old tools (the box is old too), litres of ale, porridge, crushed barley, one rotting strawberry, a lot of mead, elderflowers... Now it's most probably much peatier than earlier distillates, which is a little new to me. With water: whiffs of a working kiln. Mouth (neat): a very big distillate, that's for sure. Starts rather acrid and very smoky - let's call that lapsangy - and gets then very herbal. Barbecued thyme and rosemary, cardamom, smoked oysters and mussels, drops of green lemon juice (or very bitter oranges)... My this one talks! With water: very Glenturret and very smoky at the same time. Grisons meat, smoked fish, wakame seaweed, something metallic and leathery (reminiscent of grandpa's old penknife)... Finish: very long, dry, and a little more 'normal'. Green pepper stewed with honey. Comments: I've already tried quite a few Glenturrets over the years, but this was a new discovery, and I am grateful.
SGP:455 - 88 points

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


January 21, 2018


Rum, Forrest, rum!

Indeed, trying to win the Worst Headline Ever Award 2018, since we had failed in 2017. We’re doing good, aren’t we? I’m keeping “Da Doo Rum Rum” aside in case there is a final fight against Breitbart or any other digital entities of high qualities… And just like them, we’ll do it in a glorious clutter…

Caña Brava 7 yo (43%, OB, Panama, +/-2017)

Caña Brava 7 yo (43%, OB, Panama, +/-2017)
Tremble, mere mortal… Rum from Panama in the weirdest bottle ever… (let’s forget about the skull bottles). I had thought the white 3 yo Caña Brava was rather terrible a few years ago (WF 35). Colour: gold. Nose: hello! Hello? Please? Anybody in there? Perhaps a little stale olive oil? Mouth: some ugly sweetened concoction and no body whatsoever. The Indians and the Thais make better rums and sell them for 2$ a bottle. Finish: none. Perhaps a little sawdust? And some sucrose for sure. Comments: some totally empty spirit, pretty embarrassing. No I have no plans to visit Panama in the near future.
SGP:220 - 20 points.

Now I’m sure they can do better in Panama…

Don Pancho 25 yo 1992/2017 (49.2%, Sansibar, Panama, 267 bottles)

Don Pancho 25 yo 1992/2017 (49.2%, Sansibar, Panama, 267 bottles) Two stars and a half
If the excellent people at Sansibar’s have selected this one, there must be something…. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s not that this is Hampden or Worthy Park, but within this chocolaty style, it’s doing pretty well. Café latte, tobacco, burnt cake, brownies, roasted pecans… Mouth: there is some sweetness, and it may have seen some bespoke sweet sauce in its life, but it’s way above most sugary oddities out there (the rums that dentists hate). Pomegranate liqueur, tinned litchis, sweet liquorice, Kahlua… Finish: medium, sweet… Coffee liqueur and a touch of violet with some chocolate and walnut cake. Comments: not my favourite style at all, but should you need some sweet ron, this is one of the better options.
SGP:730 - 79 points.

Fair 10 yo (66.3%, Fair Spirits, Belize, 2017)

Fair 10 yo (66.3%, Fair Spirits, Belize, 2017) Three stars and a half
This is fair-trade rum! Anyone who’d have heard about the health and poverty issues in Central America, especially in Nicaragua, couldn’t not applaud this. We’ve already tried quite a few excellent rums by Fair Spirits by the way. But the strength, the strength… Colour: amber. Nose: hey, I get something despite the keroseny strength! Ylang-ylang and rose petals, perhaps… And most surely, cane juice… But other than that… With water: some very cake-y rum, banana-y, with some nice earthy tones and a touch of walnut. Mouth (neat): it’s extremely strong but you could quaff it, drop by drop. It’s just that you’d need a whole evening… Tastes good. With water: really good now. You really get the sugarcane, plus this herbal earthiness that some agricoles do have (this is not agricole!), and indeed these notes of liquorice. Very nice balance and above all, no ugly doctoring in sight. Finish: medium, cake-y, nutty, with nice notes of sugarcane juice. Comments: most probably column-rum from Travellers, but as far as this set-up is concerned, it’s one of the good ones. And yeah, it’s fair.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Back to Panama, perhaps…

Panama 9 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel)

Panama 9 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: oh niiiice! Pure cane juice, earthy, with some hay, olives, tapenade, even hints of anchovies in brine… I had thought this would be much quieter (and frankly less interesting) but this almost noses like some pot still rum. Or at least ex-Creole column… Mouth: really very very good (did I make my point?) Olives, sugarcane, rotting bananas, liquorice, brine, a feeling of pulque… Frankly, this is a surprise. Finish: rather long, with bitter oranges and more of these brine-y elements, including black olives. Sweeter, cane-ier aftertaste. Comments: Panama, really? Panama-the-country?
SGP:641 - 86 points.

Okay, five is the deal. So let’s have Hampden…

Hampden ‘Secret Cask’ (51.8%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 2017)

Hampden ‘Secret Cask’ (51.8%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 2017) Four stars and a half
Forty-nine Swiss francs a bottle (50cl). Why am I telling you this? Colour: amber. Nose: do you really need to know that this is full of green and black olives, fish brine, salted liquorice, and seaweed smoke? With water: pencil shavings! Some finishing/re-racking? But this time, these things are enjoyable and remind us of our days at school. Mouth (neat): power and glory. Earth, concentrated lemon juice, seawater, rotten fish (surströmming, I think, never tried that), more salted liquorice, miso soup. No, not nato. With water: what a distillate! No oak or whacky casks will manage to tame it. Finish: long, salty. Heavily salted butter fudge. The miso soup returns in the aftertaste. Comments: that some die-hard malt whisky lovers haven’t tasted any Hampden yet baffles me. Especially members of the Ardbeg Consumer Club. I mean, Committee ;-). Now this one is superb, but it’s not one of the most brutally blade-y ones. Shall we call it an introductory Hampden?
SGP:453 - 89 points.

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


January 20, 2018




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Three Recent Bruichladdich
This wee session in memory of the late Carl Reavey, Bruichladdich’s head of communications who sadly recently passed away. Not so long ago Bruichladdich released these three, well-aged vintage bottlings. I’ve been rather keen and curious to try them I must admit...


Bruichladdich 30 yo 1986/2017 (44.6%, OB, Oloroso sherry casks and PX sherry butts, 4200 bottles) Bruichladdich 30 yo 1986/2017 (44.6%, OB, Rare Casks Series, Oloroso sherry casks and PX sherry butts, 4200 bottles)
There have been some terrific sherry matured Bruichladdichs from 1986, this one is composed from 7 casks (hence the name ‘Magnificent Seven’). It was re-racked from ex-Oloroso casks to PX in 2012. Colour: Amber. Nose: I get a lighter sherry aspect at first; all on wild mushrooms, bailed hay, little touches of hessian and a few Strepsil throat sweets. There’s a few whiffs of rancio and some old herbal liqueur but also a slight sawdusty, green oak aspect which is perhaps gleaned from the re-racking. A little coal dust, some dark fruits, a sprinkling of cinnamon and some caraway. Overall very pleasant, although perhaps lacking Bruichladdich’s usual coastal vivacity and fruitiness. Mouth: Nicely earthy to begin, lots of dried cherries, hessian, trail mix and muesli. Some rather jammy and even slightly cloying dark and red fruit notes. A cheaper raspberry jam perhaps, you do feel the PX talking in this instance. There are also many pleasant notes of walnut wine, old Chartreuse, a little dried mint and some fudge. Finish: Medium and with some strawberry jam, a few figs, icing sugar and sweetened prune juice. Comments: Overall I rather like it, although it verges on a tad too sweet for me and I think you feel the PX a little to much in a way which comes across as a little clunky perhaps. I would have loved to see what it would have been like full term in the original oloroso casks. Anyway, it’s a fine old sherried Bruichladdich.
SGP: 431 - 85 points.


Bruichladdich 32 yo 1985/2017 (48.7%, OB, Bourbon, Fresh Bourbon, French Oak, 4200 bottles)

Bruichladdich 32 yo 1985/2017 (48.7%, OB, Rare Casks Series, Bourbon, Fresh Bourbon, French Oak, 4200 bottles)
The story behind this one is that apparently Jim McEwan ‘rediscovered’ these 1985 casks in 2012, presumably one of the stock spreadsheets had fallen down the back of his radiator. Anyway, this bottling is composed of 22 casks which were re-racked in fresh bourbon barrels in 2012 and then in ex-red wine French oak casks in 2017. Something which, this being a somewhat scarce example of an official bottling from my vintage, I find a little disheartening. Colour: Rose gold. Nose: It’s a rather leafy and slightly tobacco-esque nose at first. Some watermelon, strawberry lace and then with a little time some beautifully mineralic notes with hessian and camphor. Goes on with wee touches of white pepper, pink marshmallow, green banana and a little lanolin. Mouth: I was worried the wine would sing too loudly here but thankfully it isn’t the case. There’s rather a lot of juicy fruit chewing gum, melon, pumpernickel bread and a kind of zingy rye spiciness. Even if the wine is quiet the oak certainly isn’t. All this re-racking has elevated these notes of green pepper, pencil shavings and sawdust a little too high for my liking. Continues with notes of wine gums, brambles, olive oil and a few bits of citrus peel and green fruit syrups. Finish: Good length, slightly earthy and with a tiny hint of coastal freshness. Also some sweeter, spicier aspects from the oak still shining through. Comments: A rather perplexing and at times frustrating dram. There were aspects of it which were really beautiful, but you can really feel that all this re-racking has kind of supercharged the oakier traits at the expense of distillery character and freshness. Anyway, another fine old Bruichladdich.
SGP: 431 - 86 points.



Bruichladdich 32 yo 1984/2017 (43.7%, OB, Bourbon, 3000 bottles) Bruichladdich 32 yo 1984/2017 (43.7%, OB, Rare Casks Series, Bourbon, 3000 bottles)
This one was composed from the final 12 casks from 1984 and, mercifully, was spared any re-racking. Let’s see how it fares compared to its younger siblings... Colour: Gold. Nose: I’m almost sorry to say it but this is a totally different story. Pure and classical Bruichladdich: melons, citrons, elegant seashore freshness, little flashes of grapefruit, minerals, beach pebbles, sandalwood, a few fistfuls of watercress. Quite beautiful and in possession of a freshness and balance that the others obviously lacked. Goes on with some cereals and a touch of mustard seed after a little time. Not overtly complex but full of beauty and grace and extremely evocative in character. Mouth: Even at the naturally low strength it still has plenty bite and these fruity and coastal characteristics that kind of announce: ‘Bruichladdich’ are still front and centre. A few drops of mandarin liqueur, some sea salt, a little liquorice, assorted dried herbs and more wonderfully lively mineral qualities. Finish: Long and full of sea air, green fruits, apple peelings, sunflower oil, a touch of wood spice, nutmeg and various teas: green; mint; lemongrass etc... remains superbly fresh and poised throughout. Comments: Tasting these three you wonder why on earth any company would re-rack aged stocks. This 1984 is an ode to refill wood, good distillate and time all working together to create a fresh, vivid, evocative and delicious old whisky. I love just how riddled with distillery identity this one is.
SGP: 522 - 90 points.



January 18, 2018


Little duos, today Aberfeldy

The owners did a great job with the fairly recent revamping of the packaging. Doesn’t anything kind of Victorian seem to work these days?…

Aberfeldy 2003/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice)

Aberfeldy 2003/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice) Three stars and a half
Said to be ex-first fill sherry but the colour’s very pale, so that’s a little bizarre... Colour: pale gold. Nose: pretty much all on baked raisins and crushed overripe bananas at first nosing, with then notes of almond paste (frangipane), caramel, café latte and brown beer. More liquorice coming through after one minute or two. Rather classic Aberfeldy, I would say. Mouth: it’s a very malty one, starting with baked raisins again, which leads to kougelhopf, which in turn leads to panettone. Then butterscotch, a little burnt caramel, cornflakes, and toasted brioche. Very pleasant mouth feel at this strength. Finish: rather medium, malty, toffee-ish, always with burnt raisins. Some green pepper and crystallised oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good example of the make, as they say.
SGP:441 - 83 points.

Aberfeldy 33 yo 1983/2016 (52.4%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, for China, Marsala finish, 588 bottles)

Aberfeldy 33 yo 1983/2016 (52.4%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, for China, Marsala finish, 588 bottles) Four stars
I think it’s a little worrying that the owners felt the need to do a finishing in Marsala on a 33 yo malt, but you never know… Colour: pale amber. Nose: the truth is that we’ve already encountered ex-Marsala-finishes that had worked, and it seems that this is another fine example, with juicy ripe mirabelles, quinces, and above all, bergamots. I am a total sucker for bergamots, especially the sweets/candies they’re making out of them in the city of Nancy, in Lorraine. There’s also some blond tobacco, perhaps Camels as I remember them (although I haven’t nosed a pack of Camels since around the year 1995). Some brown beer as well and again. With water: lovely honeyed notes coming out, and those would come together with dates and figs. Dried ones. Mouth (neat): starts unexpectedly peppery and gingery, rather sharp, almost mustardy, and certainly a little bitter, but that rather works and would put this old Aberfeldy straight into the ‘spicy malts’ cluster. After that, we have bitter oranges aplenty. Do they have bitter oranges in Sicily? You do know that Marsala’s located in Sicily, don’t you. With water: much more tobacco, green tea, with a savoury side, notes of stout… Finish: long, peppery, with a green tannicity and rather a lot of apple peelings. Bitter oranges again in the aftertaste. Comments: nose and palate were very different. Loved the nose. An excellent one for sure, but didn’t the Marsala make it a little dry? Was it dry Marsala by the way?
SGP:461 - 87 points.

(Many thanks, Derek!)

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


January 17, 2018


Two Springbank

Because no month would be complete without some Springbank. A good few of them, preferably, but we'll only have two fairly new ones today.

Springbank 17 yo 1999/2017 (49.2%, OB, for Quaich Bar Singapore, fresh sherry hogshead)

Springbank 17 yo 1999/2017 (49.2%, OB, for Quaich Bar Singapore, fresh sherry hogshead) Four stars
A low outturn for this single cask for one of the members of the burgeoning Sigaporean whisky scene. Colour: rich amber. Nose: it is a pretty game-y, leathery Springbank, with rather heavy notes of Cuban cigars and bitter oranges, then the expected waxy gravel and diesel oil mingled with touches of aniseed and chive. More aniseed coming through with time, as well as these trademark flinty notes. Mouth: very rich, waxy and quite bitter, with a lot of paraffin, green curry and green pepper, more leather, and lastly, tons of bitter oranges. A heavy Springbank indeed. Finish: very long, with more green tannins from what may have been some new European oak cask. Peppery grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: the rather heavier side of Springbank. Very good, just quite extreme - and extractive.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Springbank 21 yo 1996/2017 (58.1%, Whisky Nerds, cask #471)

Springbank 21 yo 1996/2017 (58.1%, Whisky Nerds, cask #471) Five stars
This one should be brighter. Colour: gold. Nose: as expected, this one's brighter, and much more mineral. You're nosing wet rocks, limestone, crushed chalk, concrete, tarmac, then rather lemons and grapefruits, shoe polish, hay... So this is very typically 'clean' Springbank, but clean Springbank can be quite dirty. Oh well, I know what I'm trying to say. With water: exceptional. Old engine oil, rusty tools, brake fluid, metal polish, and assorted mushrooms. Shi-take! Mouth (neat): just superb. Very oily, mentholy, camphory, peppery, lemony, earthy, chalky, waxy, peely, sappy... Simply one of the very best distillates on this little planet. With water: splendid! More chalky and lemony waxes and oils, tar candies and liqueurs, polishes... Finish: long, grassier. Cactus, celeriac, chalk, lemon, balms... Comments: this one's just as very exciting as other clean ones from similar vintages. A style that's very hard to beat if you ask me.
SGP:352 - 92 points.

(Many thanks, Benjamin!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Springbank I've tasted so far


January 16, 2018



Dear friend, you may have noticed that things have become a little chaotic wrt the typesets we’re using these days, that’s because we’re testing various solutions so that WF remains readable on all platforms, especially Android mobiles. Things should improve in the very near future, thanks for your patience. – S.


Is Tobermory becoming more-y?

Yes, still ahead of everyone as far as the Stupidest Headline Ever Contest is concerned. While Springbank managed to make some brilliant Longrows (and Hazelburns) without damaging the reputation and the notoriety of their main brand name, I wouldn’t say the same is happening at Tobermory’s, where Ledaig is now catching all the light. Think the mid-1970s, think the 2000s (and forget about the rest). Fair or not? Let’s check that, by tasting a few Leda… I mean, proper Tobermory(ies)…

Tobermory 21 yo 1996/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11768, 290 bottles)

Tobermory 21 yo 1996/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11768, 290 bottles) Two stars and a half
I have to say I’m no Tobermory expert… Colour: straw. Nose: do you enjoy your porridge? Baker’s yeast? Wacky artisanal beers? Yoghurt? Mashed turnips? Jerusalem artichokes? Brussels sprouts? Then you’ll love this. With water: chalk and cardboard, plus ink and fermenting grass. Mouth (neat): indecisive… The sharp smoky lemons are great, and so is the toasted meringue over stewed rhubarb, but this gingery pepper and these dirty-ish burnt fruit notes are rather more unlikely. Really singular, a malt like no other malt (as they would say in neck leaflets). With water: more fruits, grass, peppery things, and a curious salty tang. Finish: medium, unexpectedly brine-y, with some cardboard, porridge, and last night’s grapefruit juice in the back. Comments: I always thought Tobermory was bizarre. Interesting, though…
SGP:362 - 78 points.

Tobermory 22 yo (51.5%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #17-2022, 124 bottles)

Tobermory 22 yo (51.5%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #17-2022, 124 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: some active oak at play here, you would almost think there was some botrytis, and there’s also a rather Mortlachy/Benrinnessy sulphur in the back. Behind that, bags of dried porcinis, cured ham, sour cream, gravy, and moss. Shan’t we call it ‘unconventional’? With water: an old sherried Mortlach. Used matches, gunpowder, roasted chestnuts, beef jerky… Mouth (neat): do you believe in miracles? In this case that miracle has got a name, it is ‘lemon’. Tobacco and burnt nuts in the back. With water: bitter orange liqueur over assorted roasted nuts and a bit of burnt cake. Finish: long, on pretty much the same flavours. Comments: this one fights and screams, with a dry sherry that managed to tame the fiery spirit. Rather for lovers of this rather extreme style.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Tobermory 21 yo 1996/2017 (56.7%, Dramfool, bourbon hogshead, 247 bottles)

Tobermory 21 yo 1996/2017 (56.7%, Dramfool, bourbon hogshead, 247 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s very brine-y at first, then porridge-y, with also notes of fresh concrete and plaster, yoghurt, sour dough, and new magazine. Nutshell, it is very ‘Tobermory’. With water: more new magazines and newspapers, plus a little rainwater and mud. More plaster as well. Mouth (neat): oh, we’re going towards Benromach, seriously. That’s interesting. Soot and pepper, salted fish, chalk, bitter oranges. It’s got some kind of clean dirtiness, if that’s making any sense. With water: gets rounder, with drops of orange liqueur, as well as a little vanilla, but some smoke’s appearing too. Finish: rather long, on oils, inks, and limestone. A drop of cod oil, perhaps. Comments: I’m wondering if there wasn’t a little Ledaig in this cask. Or more than a little… Liked it!
SGP:453 - 85 points.

Tobermory 1995/2017 (48.6%, Whic Whiskycircle, sherry octave finish, 231 bottles)

Tobermory 1995/2017 (48.6%, Whic Whiskycircle, sherry octave finish, 231 bottles) Three stars
Let’s check this different recipe… Colour: deep gold. Nose: pine needles and bark, ideas of moscatel, cranberries, black butter, then flowers and herbs from a forest, lilies, woodruff, moss, fern… It is rather a funny one, a funny one that worked. As far as I can tell so far… With water: gingerbread and French toast, then a little Spanish ham covered with redcurrant jam. Mouth (neat): I wouldn’t say there’s much left from Tobermory’s rather boisterous style. I’m finding strawberry and raspberry yoghurts, cherry-flavoured pipe tobacco (Borkum Riff’s Cherry Cavendish, as far as I can remember from… thirty years ago), then rather cakes, speculoos, gingerbread… With water: gets a little dry, while the fruits have gone someplace else. Finish: medium, spicy. Cherry and pepper with juniper and caraway. Comments: almost mulled whisky, this one was funny and rather well made.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

Tobermory 14 yo 1997/2011 (50%, Liquid Treasures, refill sherry)

Tobermory 14 yo 1997/2011 (50%, Liquid Treasures, refill sherry) Four stars and a half
Another one that I should have tasted a long time ago. Shame, shame, shame… Colour: white wine. Nose: get out of here, this is Ledaig. Indeed, Ledaig from Tobermory Distillery. Soot, ashes, peat smoke, brine, olive oil. Unstoppable. With water: just perfect. Damp floor cloth, hessian, tarry ropes, and a little carbolinium. You could find that in young Port Ellen too… Mouth (neat): sharp, clean, very zesty, salty, smoky, peaty, tarry. A blend of Caol Ila and Ardbeg, I would say. With water: more Caol Ila. After all, Caol Ila (and Bunnahabhain even more so) is kind of close to the Isle of Mull. Finish: long, lemony, brine-y, smoky… Who could be against this? Comments: some independent Ledaigs are labelled as coming from ‘Tobermory Distillery’. Not always bad news if you ask me, but just one question, how come can Tobermory be rather ‘dirty’, while Ledaig’s often ultra-clean? Indeed, yawn…
SGP:456 - 88 points.

Oh and this new one for the road…

Tobermory 23 yo 1994/2017 (57.9%, Sansibar, PX sherry, 242 bottles)

Tobermory 23 yo 1994/2017 (57.9%, Sansibar, PX sherry, 242 bottles) Three stars and a half
Tobermory and PX, what could go wrong? Colour: deep gold. Nose: a lot of freshly sawn oak at first nosing, then rather stones and brake pads, as well as used matches. And yet I wouldn’t quite use the S-word! Then more and more ham and grilled meats, as well as touches of a drier Jägermeister and quite a lot of leather and green tea. With water: miso soup and beef bouillon, with garlic and parsley. Mouth (neat): powerful and rather cleaner than expected, on some kind of mineral and orangey notes, some pickled ginger, and perhaps a few black olives. I enjoy this very peculiar sourness that’s totally un-PX. With water: some used matches are back, plus some brine and lemon juice. Funny sour/acidic profile. Finish: long, with more pepper. Thai bouillon? Earthy aftertaste. Comments: some parts really reminded me of the Valinch & Mallet. Didn’t find much PX, but it sure is a restless dram.
SGP:362 - 84 points.

January 2018 - part 1 <--- January 2018 - part 2 ---> February 2018 - part 1



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bowmore 15 yo 2001 (55.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #20117, 233 bottles)

Bowmore 1972/1988 (60.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Fifth Anniversary, #3.10, 298 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo 1996/2017 (58.1%, Whisky Nerds, cask #471)