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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2019 - Part 1


December 2018 - part 2 <--- January 2019 - part 1 ---> January 2019 - part 2


January 13, 2019


Cognac at higher strengths

It’s true that many cognacs, if not most, are bottled at 40%, which is becoming cheap, even if wine brandies are usually fuller spirits than whiskies when still white, and could stand lower strengths a little better. But more houses and bottlers are going for high(er) strength these days, which is quite cool, isn’t it. Let’s find a few examples…

Hine 2006 ‘Bonneuil’ (42.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #04/19, 450 bottles, +/-2016)

Hine 2006 ‘Bonneuil’ (42.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #04/19, 450 bottles, +/-2016) Three stars
From a batch of 19 casks, all bottled separately, so as single casks or fûts uniques. I have to say I hadn’t been too convinced by Bonneuil 2005 (WF 78). Colour: pale gold. Nose: looks like they improved the recipe, although this feels pretty young again. Apples and peaches, Starkrimsons, peels, a touch of butterscotch and shortbread, more peaches… It’s rather fresh, uncomplicated and pretty easy, I would say. Mouth: I rather like this simple fruity cognac! It’s the equivalent to a young ex-bourbon Speysider of good quality, I would say. Aultmore, Craigellachie… Even if naturally, this is ex-French oak. Apple compote, touches of ripe pears, a drop of honey, maple syrup, a few raisins, apricots… A pleasant salty touch in the background. Finish: medium, bizarrely maltier. Apple pie, a little pepper, cake… Comments: I’m really happy now, not too sure about what happened with the 2005. We’ll try more recent vintages in a while.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Pierre Ferrand ‘10 Generations’ (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017)

Pierre Ferrand ‘10 Generations’ (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017) Three stars
I have to say I always liked what Ferrand were doing with their cognacs better than their ‘cuisine-y’ works with rum (Plantation). Even if I’m not too fond of the use of figures such as ‘10’ when it’s actually some NAS. Unless, of course, the youngest cognac in this blend is 10 yo indeed - or above. Colour: gold. Nose: there’s something sweeter and slightly syrupy in this nose, but that’s far from a problem as the general fruitiness is pretty lovely, and rather more tropical than others. Pineapples, preserved litchis, then the expected peaches and pears, apricots, perhaps a little quince jelly, a very nice touch of camphor and mint, fresh marzipan… Mouth: the arrival is a tad too syrupy for me (citron liqueur) but other than that, there’s a very pleasant unfolding on bananas and peaches, with a wee feeling of PX or sweet muscat. Probably some wine casks involved. I’ve always thought all you could use for cognac was either fresh or ex-cognac French (European?) oak, but I was probably wrong, my bad; well I sure was, I know some are using American oak these days. Now, as almost always in my book as far as brandies are concerned, the nose was more complex than this palate. Finish: medium, very sweet yet not sugary. Jams and liqueurs, melons… Comments: a very good sweeter cognac.
SGP:741 - 80 points.

Bache Gabrielsen 1992 (45.7%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2017)

Bache Gabrielsen 1992 (45.7%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2017) Three stars
A well-reputed house, perhaps less known in France but the French don’t know much about cognac, busy with whisky as they are. Colour: gold. Nose: you do feel it’s an older cognac, as some beeswax has appeared, some pollen, whiffs of a new pack of Jaffa cakes… Then  we have all these very typical and topical fruits, juicy raisins, melons, peaches, quinces, pears… Some flowers too, always good news with cognac. Broom, lilies, honeysuckle, wisteria… Mouth: a drier, more traditional style again after the sweeter Ferrand, with mirabelles, ripe gooseberries and greengages, a little tobacco, lemony spices, some cinnamon, apples… Now it would not go much deeper, but this is a very fine palate. A little custard. Finish: medium, a tad grassy. Green fruits, greengages, a touch of liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: really very fair, just not extremely complex IMHO. Is that the Fins Bois? A tad whisky-y.
SGP:551 - 81 points.

Grosperrin 32 yo (52.8%, Cadenhead, Grande Champagne, 384 bottles, 2018)

Grosperrin 32 yo (52.8%, Cadenhead, Grande Champagne, 384 bottles, 2018) Five stars
Well Jean Grosperrin did not distill this, this is Grande Champagne sourced from Grosperrin’s, who, in turn, sourced it from some local growers. What’s sure is that this is a very good pedigree – and an excellent sourcing strategy. Colour: copper gold. Nose: not extremely expressive, but it’s to be said that high-strength cognacs remain very unusual. Having said that, what we get is pretty perfect, with something oriental (incense, ylang-ylang) and some blood oranges or something. Some old calvados or apple brandy too. Domfrontais with a lot of pears? With water: smells of the countryside down there. Some old orchard around September the 15th, with wonderful ripe apples and pears about to fall. Mouth (neat): old calvados, really! Apples, cider, white pepper, gritty peels, rambutans… Good I know rambutans do not belong to Calvados, but is that a problem? Rather love this rusticity I have to say. With water: pam! Just more of all that, plus a little cappuccino. What some foreign friends call French coffee, which, apparently, is some Irish coffee with some cognac instead of Irish whiskey. N.o. c.o.m.m.e.n.t.s. Finish: rather long, a tad grassier. Wulong tea, apple skin, oranges. Comments: truly wonderful and the price is (was?) absolutely perfect. Proper old Cognac from the countryside indeed.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Oh I have an idea, seek contrasts with some Armagnac, game? Remember the differences, small columns instead of pots, and different grapes, especially baco instead of ugni blanc. In theory… Oh and of course the regions aren’t quite the same, that is to say Gascony vs. Charentes. But you know all that…

Domaine de Baraillon 1974 (44%, Bas-Armagnac, 2016)

Domaine de Baraillon 1974/2016 (44%, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
Some say Baraillon are to Armagnac what Vallein Tercinier are to Cognac, that is to say makers of perfect malternatives (as seen from a Malt Maniac’s POV, naturally). I’m not sure they are completely wrong. Colour: amber. Nose: bang, peach jam covered with liquid chocolate and coffee sauce. This is absolutely fantastic, undisputable, and simply evident. Please call the Anti-Malto… I mean the Anti-Brandyporn brigade! Mouth: sweet Vishnu! Let’s start with the darker side, or the flipside, it is a little too oaky for me. We’re talking black tannins, Russian tea, eating a cigar, totally burnt chocolate cake… Now on the front side, you’ve got these wonderful notes of coffee, of prune cake, of heavy dark red wine (strong Cahors or Madiran, if that rings a bell), liquorice, proper no-Nestlé espresso, walnuts… If you like this heavier style, you’ll love this sherry monster that did not need any sherry (ooh that one was good, S., very good indeed). Finish: extremely long, very coffee-ish, rather more grape-y. I would add that the aftertaste is pretty tannic, though. Comments: great cognac: 1 – great armagnac: 1. Great very old-school armagnac, some old families still have such old casks down there in the Gers, but they have old riffles too. So, careful!
SGP:362 - 90 points.

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


January 12, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Anonymous Malts
There’s plenty of them about today, both older ones which people tend to suspect are Glenfarclas, but also younger examples which tend to form the basis of ‘brands’. We’ll try examples of both today. Kicking off with this smart looking new(ish) series from North Star.


The Highland Star 11 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill sherry butt, 600 bottles) The Highland Star 11 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill sherry butt, 600 bottles)
What’s fun with this series is that, while the distilleries remain technically anonymous, the labels provide the necessary latitude and longitude co-ordinates to find out. In the case of this wee bottling, google maps informs us that the whisky almost certainly comes from Tea.... Colour: white wine. Nose: straw, bailed hay, cider apples, pears, sooty porridge, chalk and things like river water and moss. No nonsense, rather pure malt whisky that does indeed bring to mind the ‘idea’ of ‘Highland’ malt whisky. Even if the concept of regions is a little daft these days (while indeed the concept of terroir is on the rise). With a little time there’s various lovely notes of herbs, lemon rind, greenery and petrichor. With water: chalk, aspirin, citric, malt bins, dry cereals, plain toast - perhaps a little more chiseled and mineral. Mouth: sharp, flinty, lemony, yeasty, bready and rather lively. Full of olive oil, hints of pineapple and other fruit syrups, cornbread and some white flowers and pebbles. With water: green apples now, lemon zest again, more chalky, crushed aspirin notes, bay leaf, trodden bracken and other such greenery. A slightly ascendant earthiness. Finish: good length, rather on oatmeal, dried cereals, baking soda, dried mixed herbs and a light pepperiness. Some watercress in the aftertaste. Comments: A very solid and natural wee dram and a great, young example of this particular make. Good hipflask material.
SGP: 451 - 84 points.


The Speyside Star 12 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill sherry butt, 600 bottles) The Speyside Star 12 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill sherry butt, 600 bottles)
Is the ‘Millennial Range’ designed to appear primarily to Millennials? Being born in 1985 I’m from a ‘pocket generation’ between Gen X and the Millennials called the ‘Xennials’. At the time of writing we are still awaiting recognition in contemporary whisky branding. We live in hope... This one hails from a distillery which practiced partial triple distillation between 1974 and 2007. Colour: gold. Nose: oh very nice! Golden syrup, honeys, brioche, heather, warm banana bread, lightly toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds. A halfway house between a fuller, sweeter sherry style and a more earthy, distillate-driven profile. Some rather leafy and leathery notes emerge over time, hints of sultana and prune. With water: nice hints of plum eau de vie, gingerbread, a touch of melon and a few other stewed fruits for good measure. Mouth: fruity muesli, black tea, fruit scone mix, greenhouse flowers, baked apples, a hint of spiced custard and some sweeter old dessert wines. Also some hummus made with butterbeans (I know, it’s all getting a little bit ‘Marks & Spencer’). With water: more sweet syrups, flapjack, runny honey, a touch of camphor and some wood polish. Finish: longish, slightly earthy and with this very slight hint of rubber, like bicycle inner tube. Not ‘dirty’, rather a sort of natural spirit sulphur influence perhaps. Comments: I like and I suspect there’ll be plenty to enjoy in here for fans of simple, easygoing, lightly sherried malts. Only lost one point in the finish I’d say.
SGP: 641 - 84 points.


The Island Star 10 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill hogshead, 300 bottles) The Island Star 10 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill hogshead, 300 bottles)
This one hails from Orkney. Specifically from Mrs Cameron’s house which lies exactly between Highland Park and Scapa. At the time of writing she doesn’t yet have a visitor centre. Colour: gold. Nose: I get cooking oils and fresh breads to begin with. Then it moves more in the direction of mint julep, lighter coastal qualities and things like juniper, nettles and beach pebbles. Gets more coastal and evocative with time. There’s also hints of sweeter things like lemon barley water and barley sugar. With water: some lemony fruitiness, olive oil, poppy seeds, sponge cake mix and barley broth. Mouth: kiln air, sooty coal scuttles (I eat them regularly), heather ale, green pepper, herbal ointments, dried lavender and seaweed in miso broth. Some salted butter and chives as well. With water: a curious initial note of white chocolate then more toasted bread notes, salt and pepper, smoked herbs and umami paste. Finish: medium length and perfectly dry, crisp and full of heather and cereal notes. Comments: I suspect we’ve all got a pretty good idea which direction Mrs Cameron’s house is facing...
SGP: 362 - 87 points.


The Islay Star 11 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill hogshead, 300 bottles) The Islay Star 11 yo (50%, North Star ‘Millennial Range’, single refill hogshead, 300 bottles)
This one hails from the Port Askaig region of Islay. Colour: straw. Nose: pretty textbook stuff. Shellfish, seawater, yeasty sourdough, white flowers, lemon juice, fish sauce, wood ashes. A touch of good malt vinegar on salty chips. With water: more ashes, more beach pebbles, some sheep wool, a wee hint of blue cheese and bandages. Mouth: great arrival! A soft, peaty oil slick. Lots of ash, brine, green olives, sea water, medical embrocations, black pepper, hot grist and lime juice on fresh oysters. It’s very hard to find fault with this make at this age and cask type. With water: dried seaweed, tarry rope, lemon infused oil, barley sugar, smoked German dark beers, smoky bacon fries and some good plain peat smoke. Finish: long and all on kiln smoke, anchovies, pine resins, cured meats, salted fish and newspaper ash. Comments: “Westering home and a song in the a...” etc, etc...
SGP: 367 - 88 points.


And now, after a long break...  


Speyside Region 28 yo 1989/2018 (47.6%, Mancarella, bourbon hogshead) Speyside Region 28 yo 1989/2018 (47.6%, Mancarella, bourbon hogshead)
Mancarella is a small indy German merchant and bottler. Colour: light gold. Nose: nectar, plum wine, golden syrup, delicate background waxiness, canvas and many softer, green and orchard fruits. It’s interesting how these vintages are beginning to shift in profile towards the kind of aged profiles we normally anticipate from 1970s vintages. The unstoppable march of time I suppose. Anyway, this is a very lovely, harmonious nose that I find very inviting. Mouth: rather toasty, slightly nutty and with more notes of butter and honey on toast, glazed fruits, toasted cereals, nuts and seeds - very ‘trail mixy’. Then plenty ripe apple, gooseberry and pear. A hint of almond cake as well. Very lovely stuff. Finish: good length, slightly bitter and peppery with notes of green tea, artichoke and lemon biscuits. Comments: not convinced this is Glenfarclas, but I am convinced it is delicious, well-matured malt whisky. Extremely quaffable stuff!
SGP: 641 - 89 points.


Speyside Region 41 yo 1975/2016 (46.9%, Whisky Doris, fino sherry, cask #22, 220 bottles)

Speyside Region 41 yo 1975/2016 (46.9%, Whisky Doris, fino sherry, cask #22, 220 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: pure fruit compotes, jams, waxy resins, furniture polish, plum wines, aged Sauternes, various fruit eau de vies. Just beautiful. Dried wild flowers, an abundance of different fruit aspects such as citrus peels, compotes, preserves, jellies, crystalised, dried, stewed, dark, tropical, green - all shades of fruit. Also honey and golden syrup along with white pepper, olive oil, saps from precious hardwoods, sultana cake, mint liqueur. A stunning nose, the epitome of lusciousness and abundance in malt whisky. Mouth: softer, massive resinous honey and fruit tea notes, then pepper, ginger, cinnamon and other woody spice notes. Gets a tad extractive with notes of black tea and blood orange. Some orange bitters and lemon cordial notes. Still lovely but not as thrilling as the nose - there’s a sense on the palate that it’s just on the descent. Perhaps some slightly unusual violet notes as well that allude to a fragrant soap quality. Not over the top but it brings a slightly jarring impression to the palate. Evolves towards earthier territories such as mushroom powder and tobacco over time. Finish: medium and rather dry, peppery, teaish, sappy and with various fruit-infused resins and oils. Comments: Unsurprisingly the palate came across as a tad tired in comparison with the nose, which was comfortably up in orbit somewhere. Still, overall a pretty thrilling old dram which offers aromas and flavours which are tough to find anywhere else these days, and which I doubt will appear in contemporary whiskies when they reach similar ages in the future. The nose alone was 93 territory.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.




January 11, 2019


Little duos, today Glen Mhor

I agree this won’t be extremely useful, but I always enjoy tasting long gone names, even if the three old Inverness distilleries (Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn) never quite filled me with a lot of enthusiasm. Having said that, Glen Mhor remains my favourite…

Glen Mhor 1978 (65.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK, 75cl, +/-1988)

Glen Mhor 1978 (65.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK, 75cl, +/-1988) Four stars
An early young ‘CASK’ by G&M. I remember the version for Intertrade in Italy was ‘extremely extreme’ (WF 70), so tremble mere mortal (err, that would be me…) Colour: pale gold. Nose: pwerkk! Old musty cardboard, fermenting hay, long dead mice (yes I’m an expert, just ask Jack Wiebers), plasticine, crushed pine needles, brake fluid and brake pad dust, carbon paper, ink, new vinyl LPs… Oh well, oh well… With water: ah! Perhaps a little marrow and bouillon at first, and a drop of soy sauce, but other than that, what a wonderful lemony/mentholy development! Lemon oil. Mouth (neat): ah, this is much nicer! I’m finding wonderful lemons and an overall very tangy profile, even if this very peculiar sourness in the back (rancid fruits) reminds us that this is Glen Mhor. Concentrated Sprite and pressed pine wood. With water: yeah! Grapefruits and lemons plus a salty touch and a spoonful of grass juice. By the way, as many G&Ms do or did, it gets very cloudy when reduced. Finish: long, rather very grassy, not the easiest part. Pine-y and lemony aftertaste, almost a blend of chartreuse and limoncello. Comments: many malts do taste the same today, but things used to be different in the old days. This is a good example of a very ‘different’ and certainly hugely uncommercial malt whisky. A bit moving, I have to say.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Glen Mhor 26 yo 1965/1991 (56.4%, Signatory Vintage, cask #202, 300 bottles)

Glen Mhor 26 yo 1965/1991 (56.4%, Signatory Vintage, cask #202, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half
I think we tried this one before, but who cares, it’s a very old Glen Mhor. Colour: coffee. Nose: some kind of dry coffee-schnapps, with some kirsch, some leather, some tobacco, and many leaves and teas, while the foundations remain a little cardboardy and chalky. Walnut stain from the sherry cask, possibly a genuine ex-solera butt. With water: gets really meaty and on marrow, as well as a little metallic, which is not unseen either. Old copper coins, penny book… Mouth (neat): huge, almost monstrous. Heavy-duty sherry, prunes, raisins, pu-erh tea, earth, dried dates, Armagnac, even Calvados… In short some genuine pre-Brexit malt whisky! Ha. With water: really good. Artisanal chocolate, orange liqueur, coffee, and malt extract. A lost recipe, I would say, no one makes this kind of slightly deviant malt anymore, not even Springbank. Okay, perhaps Springbank. Finish: long, a tad too pine-y now. Geraniums, cassis buds, a wee bit of dirty fruitiness in the aftertaste, perhaps… Comments: looks like I forgot to mention umami! And glutamate!
SGP:462 - 88 points.

(Thank you Carsten and Tom)

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


January 10, 2019


Bowmore of all sorts

I know another proper verticale would have been in order, especially since we might come across some of those lavenderised 1980s, but we need to break our chains from time to time. So, we’ll go kind of randomly (but not aimlessly) today…

Bowmore 20 yo 1997/2018 (56.3%, Adelphi, cask #2414)

Bowmore 20 yo 1997/2018 (56.3%, Adelphi, cask #2414) Four stars and a half
By Jove, we might start this a little ‘too high’… Colour: office coffee. Nose: sherry! You know how it is, sherry and peat may tango to perfection, but the combo may also fail miserably and generate some pretty awful smells of old horses and dead whelks. Well, you see what I mean. Good news, no foul smells here, rather some new leather and a fresh pack of pipe tobacco, some salted and smoked almonds, Spanish ham, then perhaps a little plastic (new bin bag), dried kelp, cigar box, raw chocolate… With water: oh, H2O does wonders! Fantastic notes of well-hung grouse (nothing personal) with cranberry sauce and Cuban cigars. I’ve long lost touch but quite some years ago, I would have said big Partagas. Mouth (neat): no need to be afraid, this strange combo rather works. Mussels, black olives, raisins, leather, tobacco, caraway, ink and marmalade, plus blackberry jam. Thickish mouth feel. With water: once again water is queen. Perfect pepper and very bitter oranges, smoked fish, plus currants and pickled grapes. Finish: long, bittersweet, very orange-y, superb when reduced. And a little too harsh when neat. Comments: water is obligatory here; each bottle should come with a free quarter of Vitell! Right, why not Highland Spring, if you must.
SGP:466 - 88 points.

Bowmore 20 yo 1996/2017 (53.6%, Hepburn’s Choice for SCSM China, bourbon, 243 bottles)

Bowmore 20 yo 1996/2017 (53.6%, Hepburn’s Choice for SCSM China, bourbon, 243 bottles) Five stars
This one should be much cleaner and straighter than the Adelphi. It’s always cool to taste whiskies for China (as long as we don’t take each sample’s carbon footprint into consideration, ha-ha). Colour: straw. Nose (neat): yes. Ashes, charcoal, beach sand, paraffin, linseed oil, fish oil, seaweed, oysters, peart smoke (kiln). As expected, this is the exact opposite of the Adelphi. With water: fantastic. Ever been to the farm next to Loch Gruinart on Islay? So farmyard, wet dogs (we are sorry, dogs), kelp, oyster shells, candlewax … Mouth (neat): just totally excellent. Grapefruit juice, menthol, seawater, camphor, smoked salmon, lemon, peat. Rather immaculate. With water: bone-dry white wine (verdejo, muscadet) and o.y.s.t.e.r.s.! Finish: long, clean, smoky, lemony, coastal. Comments: loved this very clean and well-aged Bowmore. Almost lace. Great vintages, great batches.
SGP:457 - 90 points.

Bowmore 22 yo 1998/2018 (53.6%, Hidden Spirits, cask #BW9618)

Bowmore 22 yo 1998/2018 (53.6%, Hidden Spirits, cask #BW9618) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather the lighter, fruitier side of Bowmore, with these tropical fruits that do hint at the Distillery’s swinging sixties. I’m meaning mangos and maracujas, as well as pink bananas. Then rather fish oils and very fresh seashells, especially clams. No complains so far. With water: these wonderful clean farmy smells again, that’s perfect. Fermenting fruits and light grass smoke, plus some hops, IPA-style. Mouth (neat): oh really very good, full of citrus. Rather tangerines than lemons. Also pomegranates and other assorted fruits, it’s actually very fruity for a 199Os’ Bowmore, I suppose the cask did help. Very good, for sure. With water: a smoky fruit salad, really, but I’m not sure it needs water on the palate, as it tends to lose focus, just a tiny wee bit. Here I am, splitting hairs once again. Finish: medium, very fruity. All-vitamin fruit juice, cranberry, papayas, barley syrup… Comments: not a smoke bomb, for sure. Rather big fruits. An eminently lovable ueber-fruity Bowmore that just anyone would adore.
SGP:755 - 89 points.

Bowmore 35 yo 1982/2018 (46.8%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, for SCSM China, bourbon hogshead, cask #85214, 182 bottles)

Bowmore 35 yo 1982/2018 (46.8%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, for SCSM China, bourbon hogshead, cask #85214, 182 bottles) Three stars and a half
Good, we loved the SCSM’s Hepburn’s Choice just a few minutes ago, but in my book, 1982 was to Bowmore what 1979 was to the Bee Gees, a tragedy. Kind of. Oh drop that. Anyway, careful now… Colour: gold. Nose: ah-ha, no cheap perfume so far, no artificial lavender, no air fresheners, rather some light puréed fruits, cassis, raspberries, cranberries… I’m also finding blood oranges, fresh figs, some very soft leather (is that calf?), a little candle wax, a very thin slice of fruitcake… What’s this miracle? Where are the foul notes? And where are ‘the ladies’? Mouth: well, mega-LOL! It is, indeed, of these ultra-bonbony Bowmores on the palate. It’s as if someone mad had bought the largest pack of marshmallows they have at Marks & Spencer’s and let them all infuse in a magnum of Smirnoff. And then added 500g of violet petals and 1kg of lavender flowers. Mad, really. Finish: medium and all on Parma Violets, as expected. What’s good is that it hasn’t got anything rotten, rubbery or sulphurous, you just have to enjoy Parma Violets. Comments: the nose was pretty fantastic, the palate was more… you know, Bowmore 1982. Worthy of a good score in my book, because of the nose!
SGP:734 - 82 points.

Bowmore 15 yo 1988/2004 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #42520)

Bowmore 15 yo 1988/2004 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #42520) Two stars
This one for glory. Colour: white wine. Nose: sauvignon blanc indeed, and clay, some new plastic, some fern, a little mud, old and new magazines, mothballs… Well, this is a little unlikely, but some sides are pleasant. Fishing nets and, perhaps, preserved pineapples. Mouth: nah, we’re still in the wrong years. Cassis bonbons, fish oil, plastic, a little gentian, violet sweets, grenadine… Finish: medium, on some kinds of burnt and smoked fruits. Comments: history. Friends often wonder about the end of the FWP period at Bowmore; well, in my book 1988 was still part of those vintages. Clearly.
SGP:645 - 73 points.

Bowmore 14 yo 1998/2012 (54%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon)

Some rest, we need some rest. We’ll have classic Bowmore again next time. Unless, perhaps, one better vintage just for the road…

Bowmore 14 yo 1998/2012 (54%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon) Four stars
Not heard much from Whisky-Doris in recent times, hope they’re doing just fine! Colour: straw. Nose: chalk, iodine, plasticine, seaweed, seashells. With water: these muddy smells that used to be found in 1990s’ Bowmores. Like them. Mouth (neat): excellent, more medicinal than others, on mercurochrome, chalk, brine, capers, olives… With water: sour fruits (citrus), brine, riesling, chalk, etcetera.  A touch of litchi. Finish: same for quite some time. Comments: rather ausgezeichnet. There, hoppla.
SGP:456 - 86 points.

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


January 9, 2019


Bourgeois Glenburgie

What, yet another very stupid headline??? Anyway, Glenburgie’s not an extremely common malt, although it seemed to sell quite well in Italy… in the 1980s. Will there be a revival? What’s sure is that the indies seem to have or find many casks of Glenburgie these days. Actually, what’s cool with the disappearance of the first-tier names in general, is that there’re more second, and even more third-tier distilleries around, which lets us find out that some were actually… rather first-tier, and that we just weren’t noticing them. Are you following me? Nah, you’re right, better try these wee Glenburgies, starting with kings of this make, G&M…

Glenburgie 1995/2017 (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Series, refill sherry butt, cask #6342)

Glenburgie 1995/2017 (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Series, refill sherry butt, cask #6342) Four stars
Still the older livery, are we going to feel a little nostalgia already? Nôh! Colour: amber. Nose: it is a relatively dry sherry, and yet it’s full of cakes, butterscotch, puréed chestnuts, then rather earth and fresh concrete, clay, pebbles, and the obligatory walnuts. No excessive raisins and no ‘s.’, that’s good. With water: gets even drier, rather all on cocoa powder, black tobacco (Gauloises and stuff), then more earth, humus, mushrooms… A wee touch of Bovril too, or even Marmite. Mouth (neat): big, a bit old-style, rather on a lot of marmalade this time, Seville oranges, touches of pepper and chilli, and a wee bag of bitter almonds covered with raw chocolate. With water: wonderful citrus! Oranges, tangerines, lemons, almost all as marmalades and jams. The fainbtest note of ginger on top of that. Finish: rather long and rather spicier. Cloves, as expected from these casks. Comments: all very good, classic sherry ‘à l’ancienne’, as mustard makers would say.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Naturally, such a good one will make you want another good one…

Glenburgie 1995/2016 (57.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Series, first fill puncheon, cask #6346)

Glenburgie 1995/2016 (57.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Series, first fill puncheon, cask #6346) Four stars
Any keen observers will have noticed that this was a sister cask, and yet that those casks weren’t similar. Fine. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s a rather leafier, grassier, and even drier kind of sherry, with a wee mustiness this time, a lot of assorted mushrooms, and a large bag of old walnuts that someone mad would have over-roasted. I’m absolutely not against this rather complex dry style, even if it’s really all about the cask. With water: almost no changes, it just got a little more approachable. Just as dry as before, and somewhat muddy. Mouth (neat): big, with this ‘good’ rubber at first, green coffee, cigar tobacco (when the tip kind of breaks in your mouth), more of those plentiful walnuts, and just a lot of sherry dryness. With water: resembles the sister cask now, this one having just a different kind of fruitiness, a little more towards cherries, perhaps. Morellos, a touch of pinot noir, northern Bourgogne-style. But hey, not ‘re-wine-a.k.a.-whisky-killer here! Finish: long, the expected tangerines having finally reached destination. Marmalades and, once again, a touch of cherry liqueur. Not obligatorily a Chambertin! Comments: too close to call, both casks were pretty great.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Let’s find some lighter ones…

Glenburgie 18 yo 1998/2017 (53.9%, The Single Casks of Scotland, hogshead, cask #900900, 267 bottles)

Glenburgie 18 yo 1998/2017 (53.9%, The Single Casks of Scotland, hogshead, cask #900900, 267 bottles) Five stars
Their 17 yo from the previous year had been splendid, according to this humble taster (WF 89, close to perfection). Colour: straw. Nose: a fat and fruity spirit at first nosing, as if someone mad would have blended sunflower oil with apple and melon juices. The fact is that the fruitiness never stops growing after that, while it would involve melons indeed, but also peaches and fresh papayas. Which makes for, naturally, a fantastic combo. With water: oh, mango and banana peels! Mouth (neat): an immense fruitiness that will remind us of some mid-1970s Benriachs. Which makes sense, actually, when you know which distilleries belonged to whom and when. I know what I’m trying to say. Someone should further study the yeasts the industry’s been using over the ages. No, of course not me. With water: immaculate fruitiness, perfection this time. Finish: medium, superbly tropical, with more mangos, guavas, papayas, bananas… Comments: but why those good folks in London-on-the-Thames would have labelled a 1976 Benriach as a 1998 Glenburgie, I frankly don’t know. Some kind of game, perhaps? A joke? Pulling our legs?
SGP:741 - 90 points (almost 91).

Glenburgie 22 yo 1995/2017 (53.1%, Signatory Vintage for Maltbarn, hogshead, cask #6508, 246 bottles)

Glenburgie 22 yo 1995/2017 (53.1%, Signatory Vintage for Maltbarn, hogshead, cask #6508, 246 bottles) Four stars and a half
For once Maltbarn haven’t used their famous and rather arty labels. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s earthier, less extravagantly tropical as the TSMOS, and rather more marked by American oak (coconut and vanilla, marzipan), but the fruitiness does arise after two minutes, rather with melons and apricots this time, although mangos would not be absent either. Neither are passion fruits. With water: a little mint this time, leaves that you would have rubbed between your fingers. Mouth (neat): so easy, so good. Vanilla, coconut, chamomile tea, peaches, tangerines, mangos. There. With water: Careful, don’t add too much water or it’ll lose a part of its fruitiness. Finish: long, superbly fruity. More on citrus at this point, including zests. Comments: high-flying fruity malt whisky. Little Glenburgie, imagine!
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Perhaps a slightly older one?...

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 25 yo 1992/2017 (54.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles)

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 25 yo 1992/2017 (54.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: coffee and cappuccino from the oak at first, then butterscotch and fresh croissants, which just flatters my Frenchness. This one is more on cakes than on fruits, but it does all this good. Pear tarte. With water: no wait, fruits are coming. Rather bananas and ripe apples, as well as white peaches. Or vine peaches. Mouth (neat): excellent, I’m afraid to say. A tad rougher, with rather more herbs and grasses, but it’s also showcasing a very complex lemon-ness, tangy and tart, and yet fulfilling. Okay. Some spearmint. With water: phoo, that tanginess! And the chalk, lemons, mint, the two fennels seeds hidden behind those… It’s all pretty perfect. Finish: medium perfectly balanced. Fruit peels and salad with a touch of honey. An unexpected salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: I’ll have to re-do my kind-of-official ranking of the distilleries soon. Glenburgie will be up for sure.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Perhaps a slightly younger – and last – one, since we’re at Cadenhead’s?

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 13 yo 2004/2017 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads, 576 bottles)

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 13 yo 2004/2017 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads, 576 bottles) Four stars
Just mouthwash after those wonderful older Glenburgies? Let’s see… (being a tad provocative, I know)… Colour: straw. Nose: we’re frankly on cakes this time, on croissants (tah-da-tah-da-tah-da-da-da…), on buttercream, hazelnuts, Nutella (don’t die just yet), and on café latte (not Starbuck’s funny ones, mind you). With water: alors ça c’est pas possible, un vrai croissant au beurre avec un vrai café-noisette ! Mouth (neat): it’s pure butter cake, or tarte tatin. Or Breton kouign-amman. This is easy, and it is fingerlicking good. The casks were good for sure. With water: excellent given the age. A tad fruitier and grassier, more on zests, peach peels etcetera. Finish: medium, on both cakes and preserved fruits, especially peaches. Comments: another one that’s super-good. Mind you, Glenburgie, that workhorse!
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Really very happy about this session! Goes to show that those stories about 1st-tier, 2nd-tier or 3rd-tier distilleries are just codswallop (and that branding in malt whisky definitely kills).

HOLD ON! There’s more just in…

Glenburgie 22 yo 1995/2018 (56.7%, The Whisky Embassy Bonn, Reifferscheid, hogshead, cask #6520)

Glenburgie 22 yo 1995/2018 (56.7%, The Whisky Embassy Bonn, Reifferscheid, hogshead, cask #6520) Three stars and a half
Looks pretty much like Signatory stock, which is a good sign, obviously. Remember Bonn was Germany’s capital city. Sweet place and great Trockenbeerenauslese. Yep that’s just one word. Indeed you could say TBA. Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s different, as it starts with Comté cheese, meadow flowers, artichokes, raw chocolate, pinewood, pine cones… Some action in there! With water: grass, peels, and teas. A little clay and mud too. Mouth (neat): ale and fruit juice, hops, IPA, mangos, bananas, sour fruit juice, grapefruit… I would say this one’s a little imperfect, but that’s sometimes an asset. Indeed, this is no boring whisky (they have millions of casks of boring whisky up there in  the middle of Scotchland, haven’t they). With water: maltier, fruitier, with a little honey, stalks, stems, sour apples… Finish: long, malty, slightly ale-y, with citrus and cloves in the background. Comments: not an immaculate one this time, but it’s packed with action. Danke schoen Bonn!
SGP:462 - 84 points.

I promise this will be the last Glenburgie. I mean, today’s last Glenburgie.

Glenburgie 23 yo 1995/2018 (54.4%, Signatory Vintage for La Source, hogshead, cask #6584, 212 bottles)

Glenburgie 23 yo 1995/2018 (54.4%, Signatory Vintage for La Source, hogshead, cask #6584, 212 bottles) Four stars
Looks like we’ll try all the hoggies within this parcel! Not… Colour: straw. Nose: similar to the German, that is to say with whiffs of flowers and flower cheese at first (tomme de fleurs), then rather chalk and fruit peels, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, apples, gooseberries... Peach peels, melon peel, bark… With water: almonds and sap, fresh wood and broken branches, almond milk, pine nuts… Mouth (neat): full fruits, fruit salad, preserved peaches, apricots, barley syrup, the tiniest marshmallow ever… With water: much sweeter, fruitier, on jams and syrups. Nicely citrusy, that always works. A touch of sweet beer. Finish: rather long, with some liquorice this time, fruit reduction and sauce… The cask imparted an earthy/spicy rootiness. Comments: notes of pomegranates and cranberries in the aftertaste – forgot to mention that.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

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


January 8, 2019


A crazy old duo at 55 degrees. Each.

Does that make any sense? Not too sure but since we’ve got both an old Glen Grant 1965 at 55% vol. and an old Glenfiddich 1964 at the very same strength, both yet un-tasted on WF, I’ve been thinking, you know,  well I thought the situation was irresistible…

Glen Grant 34 yo 1965 (55%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium decanter, 390 bottles)

Glen Grant 34 yo 1965 (55%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium decanter, 390 bottles) Five stars
Never tried this one, but another 1965 by Signatory had been rather wonderful (cask #5543, WF 90). Colour: almost coffee. Nose: sweet Vishnu, what a wonderful sherry! No questions or quibbling here, everything’s perfect, Smyrna raisins, artisanal coffee liqueur, prunes, genuine chocolate, chestnut honey, roasted nuts, walnut wine, forest soil… Enough written. With water: wow, just wow. Please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade i.m.m.e.d.i.a.t.e.l.y. This kind reminds us that (and why) in the 1970s or even later, Glen Grant used to be more sought after, and more expensive than that very showy brand that starts with an M. Mouth (neat): Signatory, just like G&M, always had some stunning 1960s Glen Grants, and this is just another example. Some pretty amazing bitter chocolate and heavy mocha coffee, then rather some black tobacco that you would have mistakenly put into your mouth instead of into your pipe, some very bitter orange liqueur, some cloves, and some very old walnuts, bordering walnut stain. Bone dry oloroso from an extremely old solera. With water: bitter saps and herbal/pine-y oils in just the right measures, that’s what we were expecting. Finish: very long, dry, full of nuts and resins, with a glorious aftertaste on precious lemons and bitter herbs. Comments: another exceptional old Glen Grant – provided you’re not afraid of a few bitter walnuts, that is. A wonderful bitter beast.
SGP:471 -  93 points.

Glenfiddich 44 yo 1964 (55%, Kingsbury, Japan, hogshead, +/-2008)

Glenfiddich 44 yo 1964 (55%, Kingsbury, Japan, hogshead, +/-2008)
A whisky that’s notoriously dry, pungent and simply whacky, but let’s check that. Colour: totally coffee. The hogshead must have been ‘treated’ in some way. Nose: one further step towards pine resin and black ‘maduro’ tobacco, roasted pecans, more old walnuts, walnut stain, thuja wood, fir needles, cedar… My this is dry and woody! But that’s usually no problems on the nose, it’s on the palate that things might go awry, we’ll see… With water: few changes. The calm before the storm? Mouth (neat): what a concoction! Things start okay, in fact, but it’s soon to become immensely soapy. I’m sure some good folks would be okay with this, but to me it’s almost like drinking shampoo mixed with teak oil. Very hard. With water: could have been even worse (pure ink), but frankly, this is almost Head & Shoulders Classic Clean 2-in-1 Anti Dandruff Shampoo. Quite. Some hard oak too, a touch of dry coconut oil… Finish: rather long, very bitter, very soapy, and certainly not moreish. Comments: something must have happened somewhere. Strange that our Japanese friends would have selected this around ten years ago, that is to say when they were still having some glorious genuinely age-stated sherried Japanese malt whiskies! That’s right, Yamazakis, for example…
SGP:181 - 39 points.

I know this was meant to be a duo, but I think we need some kind of mouthwash now. Such as a clean middle-aged Glen Grant from a good house…

Glen Grant 23 yo 1995/2018 (48%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, six refill bourbon barrels)

Glen Grant 23 yo 1995/2018 (48%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, six refill bourbon barrels) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: phew, holydays! Ferien! Les vacances! Perfect easy barley, pears, oranges, brioche, fresh panettone, vanilla, acacia honey, and custard. A lot of custard, just what the doctor ordered after the crazy ultra-dry old Glenfiddich. Mouth: very good and showcasing the powers of proper small batches (not tens of thousands of bottles mind you) whiskies vs. single casks. Custard again, apple juice, soft curry-like pepper, touch of nutmeg, malted barley (of course you could malt other grains), poiré (pear cider), quite some peppermint… It’s full and it’s totally malty, perhaps a touch bolder than most official GGs of similar ages. Finish: rather long, rather vanilla-ed, and very malty and barley-y. Comments: really good, flawless, perhaps just a wee tad oaky towards the aftertaste (cinnamon and sawdust).
SGP:451 - 85 points.

January 7, 2019


More than an inch of Inchgower

No, not very proud of that headline either. Anyway, I believe the Inchgower is last year’s only Special Release that we haven’t tasted yet, so let’s have a few Inchgowers…

Inchgower 9 yo 2008/2018 (46%, James Eadie, first fill bourbon barrel, casks #808846+808851)

Inchgower 9 yo 2008/2018 (46%, James Eadie, first fill bourbon barrel, casks #808846+808851) Four stars
Typically the kind of bottling that should give us a better grasp of the distillery’s core style. Colour: light gold. Nose: malt, vanilla, lemon juice, grass, leaves, and a wee glass of pale ale, plus a touch of wood smoke, or rather wood-smoked fudge. All fine and well, pretty ‘natural’ and clearly ‘malt whisky only’. That’s what the good people want! (speak for yourself, S.!) Mouth: very good, rather fresh, less ‘light’ than expected, on lemon curd, limoncello, lemon tarte (with meringue please), and a grassier kind of maltiness. Strong green tea, a wee spoonful of stewed spinach. Perhaps. Finish: long, pleasingly bitter and herbal. More spinach, if you like, but rather marshmallows in the aftertaste. That’s usually  rather the other way ‘round.  Comments: proper pure young malt whisky, uncomplicated and flawless.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Inchgower 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #12361, 591 bottles)

Inchgower 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #12361, 591 bottles) Two stars and a half
I suppose it’s refill sherry, according to the colour. Colour: straw. Nose: another one that’s rather grassy, herbal, an d pretty rooty this time. Celeriac and turnips, then sweeter and fruitier tones, around apples and pears, and walnut peels. Nor raisins or any other obvious sherry notes so far. Mouth: sweeter, and more obviously sherried (yet only a little), with some pepper and traces of used matches, or perhaps clay. A slightly gingery development, with some grapefruit peel, quite a lot of grass, and a few touches of sour fruits. Indeed, grapefruits. Finish: rather long, rather peppery and gingery. Bitterish leaves, hops. Comments: really not bad at all, but the younger ex-bourbon Eadie was cleaner, rounder and easier.
SGP:461 - 79 points.

Perhaps this bro?...

Inchgower 18 yo 1998/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #12102, 363 bottles)

Inchgower 18 yo 1998/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #12102, 363 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s rather as acrid as it’s sibling, but in a way that’s more enjoyable here, kind of fuller, and fruiter to boot, with some green melons, fermenting apples (or cider), and very nice notes of Wulong tea and ‘pure’ hay. Mouth: rather creamy and rather on oranges this time, with drops of yellow chartreuse (always this herbalness) and the expected limoncello. Once again, no obvious sherry, rather some very good sweet barleyness coming through after one minute, honeycomb, creamy lemon fudge… All excellent! Finish: long, tangy, lemony, very very nice. Comments: it was interesting to try both DL together, they’re quite close to each other but a few details made all the difference. Like, a better cask!
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Inchgower 27 yo 1990/2018 (55.3%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 8544 bottles)

Inchgower 27 yo 1990/2018 (55.3%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 8544 bottles) Five stars
There used to be some ‘larger volume’ official Inchgowers by Arthur Bell’s, some brilliant, some rather weaker, so careful with auctions. Colour: gold. Nose: really very creamy and vanilla-ed, typical good ex-American oak, with then oranges and dried apple slices. Some ripe mangos too, but that’s the oak. With water: barley everywhere, papayas, even bananas… Mouth (neat): excellent, really. Pure bourbony malt (I know that sounds odd), with a lot of vanilla, ginger and cinnamon rolls, lemon marmalade, angelica, and orange blossom water – or Middle-Eastern pastries, makrouts, baklavas… With water: perfect. Rather more honey, pan-fired bananas, mangos, citronella… Finish: medium, clean, tangy, lemony and clearly tropical. More mangos and passion fruits. Comments: cracking malt whisky, sweet and yet perfectly constructed. Perhaps the easiest among 2018’s Special Releases, which is a compliment, mind you!
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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


January 6, 2019


A few cognacs, some stellar

As I may have written before, there are marvellous cognacs out there, provided you favour the smaller houses, especially the ones that grow their own vines and control all stages of the production. Not saying the houses that are only blenders can’t give us very good cognacs too, but those often lack character in my opinion. But then again, I’m no cognac expert, at all. Let’s see what we have today…

Lhéraud ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Petite Champagne, +/-2017)

Lhéraud ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Petite Champagne, +/-2017) Three stars
This a blend by a good house whose reputation is relatively recent. This VSOP is said to be around five years of age. Colour: gold. Nose: typical fresh young cognac, rather on peaches and melons, as well as soft honeys and sultanas, than rather more cake and a touch of liquorice. No rancio at this young age, and very few tertiary aromas, but this freshness is rather pleasant. Let’s only hope the palate will stand the distance. Mouth: this is very coherent albeit more on caramel, fudge and tarte tatin. Peach tarte, some maple syrup, a curious wee smokiness, more spicy tannins as well (ginger and cloves - some new French oak?) and rather more liquorice as well. Sure the youth feels, but it’s all fine and not boisé-ish or too caramely. Finish: medium, firm, just a wee tad bitter, perhaps. That oak, plus cherry stems, perhaps. Comments: some very fair young cognac for a good price.
SGP:561 - 80 points.

Leyrat ‘XO Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2017)

Leyrat ‘XO Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2017) Four stars
This is well single-estate cognac, from the Fins Bois region. To be totally honest, I must confess I can’t really detect the various crus when tasting cognac blind, even if they’re obviously different. In other words, I think I could tell there’s a difference, but not say which is what. Colour: gold. Nose: oh lovely! Wonderful full-flown fruits, from melons and peaches again to oranges and even papayas. Also flowers, dandelions, broom, pollen… A truly wonderful nose, I suppose there’s some pretty old cognac within this superb composition. Mouth: indeed, this is excellent. Perhaps less majestic than on the nose, but full and coherent, on crisp peach-like fruits, honeys and syrups. Agave, perhaps? Oranges again, as well as tangerines. Finish: medium, very fresh, well-constructed, fruity and complex. A touch of fudge in the aftertaste, and even hints of Oriental rose jam. Comments: an excellent cognac. Looks like there’s some 30+yo inside, just a wild guess.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Guillon-Painturaud ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017)

Guillon-Painturaud ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
A very old family estate in Segonzac that dates from the year 1610. As most small estates do, they’re also making Pineau. Colour: amber. Nose: and once again we’re finding a fresh and fruity cognac of a pretty high level, again with ripe peaches at first, then apricots and assorted yellow flowers. Various currants as well, sultanas, touches of orange blossom water, baklavas, praline, a touch of tangerine marmalade, and just faint hints of rancio. Black raisins, tobacco, a hint of umami… Mouth: a tad rougher and grittier this time, more on straight grapes, tealeaves, fruit peels and perhaps a little star anise, pastis, liquorice… Some dried figs and some vanilla too. Very good, but perhaps not totally extraordinary. Finish: medium, with some green tannins, a little ginger and a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Comments: more high-level cognac, perhaps a little more rustic this time.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Tesseron ‘Lot No. 90’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Tesseron ‘Lot No. 90’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars and a half
This is technically a XO. In general, when cognac makers give you funny numbers such as ‘Lot No. 90’ or else, that means that it is a 1990. It is a blend of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Fins Bois, the house being located in Châteauneuf-sur-Charente. Colour: gold. Nose: a style similar to that of the wonderful Leyrat, full of crisp fruits, yellow peaches, touches of mangos, mandarins, then rather herbal teas, hawthorn, peach leaves, rosehip, hints of banana skins, dried figs, quince jelly… A little grenadine too, poppy sweets, rose petals, Turkish delights… Indeed another one that is absolutely wonderful, and what’s more, really very complex. Rather staggering, I would say. Mouth: as almost always with very good cognacs, the palate’s a tad below after a glorious nose, but in this very case we’re still flying pretty high, with a touch of mocha and liquorice, then the expected jams (peaches, oranges) and preserved fruits (cherries). Touches of green tea, green tannins, leaves, stalks… Finish: long and much greener and grassier, but that’s not a problem here. Liquorice root and even a wee salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: it lost one point eventually, but what a great blend by Tesseron!
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Good, how can this be done better? Perhaps with a very old bottle?

Otard 1917 (68°proof, Threlfalls Liverpool, UK, 1960s)

Otard 1917 (68°proof, Threlfalls Liverpool, UK, 1960s) Four stars and a half
Threlfalls seem to have been a famous brewery in Liverpool, active until 1967. I suppose they were also spirit importers and/or merchants. Not too sure if this was early landed cognac, so if it was partially matured in the UK, what’s sure is that this is not an original Otard or Otard-Dupuy label. I’d add that at some point in history, Otard was one of the largest cognac houses, together with Martell and Hennessy. Also that this is probably cognac made by women, given that it’s a wartime vintage. Some say that consequently, those vintages were the best - Which could very well be the case. Let’s taste this little jewel that was harvested, and most probably distilled more than one hundred years ago…

Colour: full amber. Nose: many very old brandies do display a slightly liqueury profile, and that’s because they were often a bit ‘arranged’ (on Sunday mornings, ha). That’s probably the case here, but that worked wonderfully as we’re finding hints of tar liqueur, a touch of gentian liqueur, a little coffee, whiffs of violets (not Parma), then quite a lot of old rancio and meaty notes. Bone marrow, ham, bouillons, parsley… Also a little liquorice, old chartreuse-like scents (often to be found in old bottles of brandy in my experience), chestnut purée, old furniture polish, linseed, triple-sec… So it’s all still vibrant despite the low strength (here 39% vol., which was legal at that time), and simply wonderful. Mouth: pretty dry, with typical notes of black raisins and prunes as primary flavours, of old wood and pipe tobacco as secondary ones, and then all meaty and waxy notes you could imagine, all covered with some kind of coffee and chicory cream or something. The texture is a little thick, something’s probably been added indeed. Finish: unexpectedly long, and shock-full of coffee notes. Perhaps did they actually add some coffee or coffee liqueur or cream, in Cognac or in Liverpool? ? Comments: moving.
SGP:650 - 88 points.


(To whomever forgot that old bottle of Otard at WF Towers, well, thank you!)

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


January 5, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Triple Talisker for 2019
Indeed, we might need at least that to get through this already somewhat ominous year. Still, there are very few situations in life which a good Talisker cannot improve in my experience. Let’s try three of them today, one of which I already declared as my favourite recent bottling of 2018 on these pages. Apologies for the belated appearance of the actual notes themselves.


Talisker 8 yo 2009/2018 (59.4%, OB ‘Special Releases’, first fill American oak hogsheads, 4680 bottles) Talisker 8 yo 2009/2018 (59.4%, OB ‘Special Releases’, first fill American oak hogsheads, 4680 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: rather punchy and slightly spiritous to begin with. But it quickly begins to settle into some sheep’s wool doused in medicine, salt and pepper, smoked paprika, grist and things like kippers drizzled with iodine, floor cleaner and lemon zest. A potent young Talisker! There’s also some graphite and freshly milled green peppercorns. With water: fresher and almost sparking with these wee touches of yeasty sourdough, baking soda and mineral salts. Given time it moves more towards soft peat smoke, drier herbal qualities and things like caraway and fennel. Really lovely! Mouth: hot BBQ ashes, lime juice, chalk, struck flints, brine mixed with olive oil, mercurochrome, pollen and soda bread. There’s also an earthy and rather farmy side, lots of peppery, watercress and horseradish notes. Notes of cough medicine, lemon balm and herbal toothpaste. Quite a beast! With water: sootier, fatter, oilier, waxier and a touch more fruity while still retaining this nervous and slightly ‘sizzling’ coastal edge. Finish: long, lemony, bready, slightly autolytic, coastal, lingering farmy notes and more mineral aspects. Comments: I kind of forgot to mention that there was also more than a few notes of oak and a sense of ‘designer wood’ in this one, but the sheer ‘Taliskerness’ kind of overwhelmed me I have to say. The wood never dominates or obfuscates the raw character and classiness of the distillate. A terrific young Talisker that waterskis like a pervy Dutch dentist! Maximum entertainment and maximum pleasure.
SGP: 464 - 91 points.


Hebrides 18 yo 1983/2001 (58.0%, Kingsbury, cask #101) Hebrides 18 yo 1983/2001 (58.0%, Kingsbury, cask #101)
I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of the label for this one and I can’t seem to find one online either. But I’m sure you all know the classic Kingsbury white label with red lettering (we’ve found a picture of a sister cask at Muuseo – Editor’s note). Between us, I’m also not 100% certain this is Talisker either... Colour: white wine. Nose: purity and maturity! (that was, to quote Serge, ‘lame’!) But seriously, a beautiful cocktail of seashore, lemon and lime cordials, barley water, brine, grapefruit peel, mint, juniper and dried lavender. Some heather ale, white pepper, stone fruits, elderflower champagne and various shades of wildflower. Surprisingly light for such a high strength - elegant even. With water: sharper, more taut, heightened acidity and more notes of yeast, brine, aspirin, limestone, wispy bonfire smoke, pink peppercorns and daisies. Remains deliciously coastal and fresh throughout. Mouth: superb! Soft fruits, flowers, waxes, light medical tinctures, gooseberry, fennel, chamomile, iodine, lemon wax and a hint of farmyard. With water: earthier, more tertiary, notes of mushroom powder, umami, wax, hessian, camphor and things like canvas and baking sheet. There’s also graphite and lime oil. Pretty thrilling complexity with water. Finish: long, slightly milky, some sour Gueuze beer, tart fruits, flowers, pollens, beach pebbles, peppery and with plenty of waxy citrus rinds. Comments: Pretty certain this is Talisker. And what a beautiful, complex and charming wee Talisker it is. Feels older than 18 and lighter than its ABV would suggest. But then, isn’t that kind of impressive selection exactly what we’ve come to expect from this great Kingsbury series? Reminds me of some of the best official 30 year olds.
SGP: 463 - 92 points.


Talisker 1957 (53.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s)

Talisker 1957 (53.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s)
Already something of a legend. Let’s get stuck in... Colour: chestnut. Nose: like nosing a mahogany smoothie! Seriously this is some kind of interstellar, galactic collision of rare hardwoods, wood treatment oils, ancient jumbled workshops, hessian sackcloth, the finest coffee beans, liquefied peat, engine oil, dark crystalised fruits and Dundee cake studded with glazed walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts. You can also include teas such as darjeeling, earl grey, mint, chamomile and lapsang souchong. There’s preserved lemons, mint julep, ancient dark rum, soft brown sugars, bitter chocolates, wild mushrooms, black cherries, balsamic, walnut wine and an ocean of rancio. Ridiculous whisky and almost embarrassing to write notes for. The kind of whisky that the anti-maltoporn brigade exists to protect us all against. Speaking of which, where the fuck are you guys?! With water: sharper, saltier, fattier, like frying bacon, ointments, toasted nuts, pure peat and black pepper. Seriously, where is the anti-maltoporn brigade? Mouth: leathery, salty, peaty, waxy, liquorice-laden, spicy, darkly fruited perfection! The bitterest chocolate, the purest, saltiest, punchiest rancio. Thick, sappy, oily, peppery, immense and utterly thrilling! Like drinking a 1936 Martin D-45 acoustic! With water: I think we’ll have to censor the rest or we’ll just be here all day and I’ll lose my shit beyond all reasonable hope of redemption. Finish: pretty much as endless, complex and poetic as you may imagine from all my gushing nonsense above. Comments: this whisky already has quite the reputation, so it’s not really a huge surprise. However, it is a timely reminder of just how immense and spellbinding the greatest spirits ever made can be. Everything is just immense: the flavours, the complexity, the intensity, the length, the texture, the balance, the ‘Talisker’ identity - unequivocally a masterpiece. This is the kind of quality that really helps to define what greatness in whisky truly is. A whisky that stops you in your tracks before whisking you away into the heavens...
SGP: 674 - 96 points.



Happy new year to all, and heartfelt thanks to Hans and Gunnar!  



January 3, 2019


Little duos, today Strathisla

If anyone would have asked me, fifteen years ago, which malts would become more famous and asked for in the near future, I would probably have mentioned Strathisla amongst others. And yet, the name rather went in the opposite direction, don’t you think? Who’s talking about the lovely Strathisla these days? Yeah, us!

Strathisla-Glenlivet 20 yo 1997/2018 (53.6%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles)

Strathisla-Glenlivet 20 yo 1997/2018 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles) Three stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: the cask wasn’t very active – no problems, mind you. So light vanilla, fruit salad, cut apples, barley syrup, cornflakes, some earthier honey, and a little tobacco. There. With water: a touch of wax, grass, and peach peels. Mouth (neat): rather on oranges, including bitter ones, and more barley syrup. A little cider as well, in this malt that remains pretty gentle altogether. With water: indeed, it’s gentle, fruity, malty. I’m not sure we could have written a whole novel about this good little Strathisla. Finish: a little short, barley-y, with greener fruits. Melon skin. Comments: indeed, a very good yet humble little dram that just won’t bother you. Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot (Thomas Moore).
SGP:541 - 82 points.

Let’s see what we have on the S-shelves…

Strathisla 1989/2002 (61.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry oak, cask #9411, 278 bottles)

Strathisla 1989/2002 (61.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry oak, cask #9411, 278 bottles) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a relatively sour one, rather on cider, porridge, and fresh bread. Some nice earthy touches as well. Doesn’t feel like 60%+. With water: a little linseed oil. Mouth (neat): good, solid fruitiness, right between lemons and green apples. A tighter Strathisla, without any honeyed or vanilla-ed hoopla. With water: good maltiness, fruits, brioche, and vanilla. That’s all, citizens. Finish: medium, gently malty once reduced, with good fruits. Comments: similar territories. Good pretty undemanding whisky.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Right, this like unfinished work, isn’t it…

Strathisla-Glenlivet 9 yo 1989/1999 (57.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 300 bottles)

Strathisla-Glenlivet 9 yo 1989/1999 (57.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 300 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: typical coffee plus malt plus apples, then verbena, menthol, fennel and liquorice. Unquestionably pleasant, this little beast that’s so typical of what Cadenhead were doing in those years. With water: lovely, earthier, and rather on carrot and turnip greens, fennel, sorrel.... All that is perfect. Mouth (neat): I’m dead sure the extra twenty years in glass did it much good. Perfect melons and peaches, with a lovely tangy and clean fruitiness. A very bright young malt, extremely seductive – and not quite young whisky that you could as well pour into your fuel tank, this time. I know you know what I mean. With water: perfect green fruits, aniseed, dill, and green melons. Superb rather naked distillate. Finish: long, clean, more citrusy. Pink grapefruits calling the shots. Comments: some very pure, racy young malt whisky.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

(Thank you Nicolas)

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


January 2, 2019


Four official Glen Garioch

Shall we find some peaters today?

Glen Garioch '1797 Founder's Reserve' (48%, OB, +/-2018)

Glen Garioch '1797 Founder's Reserve' (48%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
We first tried this expression when it came out in 2009 (WF 80), time to revisit it. OH and it’s pretty cheap for a late 18th century vintage, isn’t it ;-). Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s a rather leafy and grassy one, with pretty high oak extraction, and heavy notes of porridge and raw malt, as well as a grassy smokiness. Dairy cream, a fresh loaf of wholegrain bread, and only after a good five minutes, much more vanilla and light syrups (corn). Leaven. Looks like the distillate was young, and the oak pretty active. Mouth: tastes a bit like if it was hesitating between the distillery’s modern fruity style, and its smokier past, but that would be a grassy smoke once again. Quite some pepper, cut grass, leaves, apple peels, the whole remaining rather bitter and curiously unsexy given its positioning. A lot of green oak and quite some yeast too. Finish: long, peppery, sharp, leafy. Still not very sexy. Bitter and sour aftertaste. Comments: it remained a challenging dram in my book, much grassier than I remembered.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

Glen Garioch 1999/2013 ‘Sherry Cask Matured’ (56.3%, OB, batch N°30)

Glen Garioch 1999/2013 ‘Sherry Cask Matured’ (56.3%, OB, batch N°30) Four stars and a half
It’s true that Glen Garioch and sherry have had a long and fruitful relationship, who doesn’t remember those magnificent official 1968s? Colour: amber. Nose: a touch of sulphur at first (gas, chalk, struck matches) but oranges and drier raisins are soon to join in, together with some sweeter whiffs of cigars and raw chocolate. Some chicory too, old walnuts, Ovaltine, perhaps a pinhead of Marmite, and the loveliest black pipe tobacco. Tends to become fantastic once you got past the sulphury arrival. With water: no more sulphur, rather a large bag of oranges of all kinds. Mouth (neat): really very good. Some very malty oloroso (almost more oloroso that tastes of malt than the other way ‘round), cherry liqueur, cane syrup, chestnut honey, ginger cake, chocolate and coffee… It’s really very big and lovable, although just a tad fizzy at times (tonic water). With water: really a lot of tobacco and chocolate. Like if someone had dipped his cigars in Mexican chocolate sauce. Finish: long, chocolaty and pretty smoky. Burnt brownies. Comments: I find this big monster excellent, despite the sulphur that, having said that, was rather to be found in the nose.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Glen Garioch 1987/2017 (47.1%, OB, for CWS China, refill sherry butt, cask #603, 132 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1987/2017 (47.1%, OB, for CWS China, refill sherry butt, cask #603, 132 bottles) Five stars
We’ve had some very fruity and floral Glen Gariochs from these vintages. Some violets to be expected, perhaps? Colour: amber. Nose: this is exceptional on the nose, full of dried fruits and honeys. We’re talking figs and we’re talking heather honey. Also camphor and various balms, which is even more spectacular, and a few fresh fruits, Starkrimsons, red gooseberries, damsons… I find this absolutely fantastic, rather surprisingly so I have to say.  With water: gets beautifully muddy. Some stewed fruits as well, cassis, a touch of liquorice and aniseed, and a hint of violet sweets. That’s really minimal. Mouth (neat): perfect! Leather, much more peat than expected, Timut pepper, a wee bit of strawberry jam, marmalade and apple compote, honeys, figs, dried pears… Only the pepper is a tad loud, but let’s see what happens once water’s been added. With water (not that water is obligatory here): excellent jams and honeys, a little rosewater and orange blossom. Turkish delights covered with chocolate. Finish: medium, smokier. Bitter oranges too, some caraway and cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely terrific.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Glen Garioch 1979/2017 (42.9%, OB, for CWS China, first fill sherry butt, cask #3831, 114 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1979/2017 (42.9%, OB, for CWS China, first fill sherry butt, cask #3831, 114 bottles) Two stars and a half
This older baby’s almost black, so, careful… Colour: almost black. Seriously, walnut stain. Nose: terpenes and eugenol all over the place, varnish, pine resin, paint thinner, thuja wood, cloves, sap, fir needles… It seems that the spirit sucked absolutely all oils from the wood over the years, a profile that can be pretty enjoyable on the nose, but that would usually lead to a very difficult palate, let’s see… Mouth: there are some funny sides, especially all this mint mixed with lemon peel oil, but this feeling of eating a whole pine tree is a little difficult for me. What’s more, there’s quite a lot of lavender, thyme oil, and cranberry sweets, not quite a combo that I would cherish. Bitter. Finish: long and herbal and bitter indeed. Crunching more pine needles. Comments: there used to be a few very old indie Glenfiddichs that were a bit like this, that is to say rather over-extractive. For lovers of extreme malts only, perhaps?
SGP:481 - 78 points.

(Thank you Derek and Tom)

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


January 1, 2019





A quick note on the State of Whiskyfun

Perhaps a few additional words about what happened to little Whiskyfun in 2018. First, I’m extremely happy about the fact that our ‘Scottish Correspondent’ (and great friend) Angus MacRaild kept sending us superb tasting notes that, I hasten to say, did sometimes put mine to shame. He’s become a fantastic asset to this lousy old website that, I was sure at the same period last year, was going to suffer quite a lot because of Google’s increased pressure on old websites that are not really optimised, especially the ones that are neither mobile-friendly (I think Whiskyfun is, but Google thinks otherwise) nor properly ‘securitised’ (you know that httpS). What’s more, looks like Facebook and Twitter are stalling in mature countries, and I’m certainly not going to ‘pay’ to artificially increase our audience!

So, after many years of constant growth, I was ready for the worse when I finally decided to check our statistics, after having kept my head buried in the sand for many months and pre-emptively drowned my sorrows to come in Clynelish or Springbank. And so I took a deep breath and decided to check our statistics for 2018 and the earlier years. This is what I saw:



Frankly, really?! For the first time we’ve pulled more than 4Mio visits! Granted, I’m sure not all were fully on target, but still, what a surprise. Looks like I (and Angus) won’t be allowed to take it any easier in 2019, we have no excuse. Bah… Now why these good figures? I have no ideas. Perhaps do good people enjoy our old layout, as they enjoy vinyl or mechanical watches? Perhaps do they value genuine independence? Perhaps are they warry of any ‘commenting entity’ that would actually be commercial or that could be manipulated in any way? Or perhaps is it because of WF’s pretty good ‘Trust Flow’ (49 at time of writing)? Or because the most distinguished Board of the Keepers of the Quaich foolishly decided to make me a Keeper? Angus says it’s because of the word of mouth, maybe he’s right. Anyway, I insist, those good figures came as a surprise to me, and will now force me to do these major changes to little Whiskyfun.com:

Strictly none.

See you soon my friend,



Laphroaig for the New Year

Yes, shan’t we do a crazy wee verticale of Laphroaig to celebrate 2019? What do you say? Like, 2010 until a very celebratory 1967 that, having said that, may well kill us all?

Williamson 8 yo 2010/2018 (63.4%, Carn Mor for The Whisky Barrel, hogshead, 284 bottles)

Williamson 8 yo 2010/2018 (63.4%, Carn Mor for The Whisky Barrel, hogshead, 284 bottles) Four stars
At these age and strength, this could be pure mercurochrome, let’s see… It’s to be noted that this is a single malt, so pure Laphroaig under its other name, Williamson. Unless there was some mistake, naturally. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical peaty pears plus seawater and mercurochrome indeed. Tincture of iodine, bandages, oysters, seaweed… It’s a well-known song, isn’t it. With water: diesel oil and lemon juice plus seawater, that’s all, there. Mouth (neat): excellent. Smoked almonds, lemons, kippers, Vicks, seawater, marzipan, sesame oil. With water: lemony brine with a little candy sugar and a rounded bitterness. Smoked salmon and whelks. Finish: long, fat, brine-y, rooty. Comments: rough, very smoky, archetypical and undeniable. To think that some dump these makes into Port or other red oddities…
SGP:467 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 12 yo 2005/2017 (55.3%, OB, for CWS China, 340 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2005/2017 (55.3%, OB, for CWS China, 340 bottles) Four stars
Colour: amber. So probably sherry! Nose: ah, yes, sherry, and in truth I’m not finding any foul, or even offbeat notes, rather an earthy start with touches of old metal (tin boxes) and chestnuts, as well as dried meats (Grisons, bresaola) and a little motor oil. Not much coastalness this time, but the medicinal side remains. Leather and camphor. With water: some kind of extreme embrocation! Tyres, tar, puréed chestnuts, smoked chocolate (I swear they’re making that in the south of Spain – or is that Italy?)… Mouth (neat): total monster! Crème de menthe, Dutch salted liquorice, rich Banyuls wine, cigarette tobacco, bitter herbs, cactus… Both very rich and tight, which doesn’t happen too often. My this one hits you! With water: raisins coming to the front, sweet spices, tajine spices, a touch of rubber… Becomes a tad shakier once reduced, typical sweet sherry casks. Moscatel? Pedro? Finish: long, very rich, a bit insane, and not quite well-balanced, but there is something that clicks. Some sweeter hospital? Bitterer aftertaste, artichokes… Comments: it was a tad pachydermic, but there, I really liked it.
SGP:657 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 18 yo 2000/2018 (52.9%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, hogshead, cask # 12780 ,299 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 2000/2018 (52.9%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, hogshead, cask # 12780 ,299 bottles) Four stars and a half
Bwah, this should be obvious. Colour: white wine. Nose: ultra-clean, millimetric, simple to the bone, brilliant. Smoke, seaweed, iodine, fish, seawater. There – the proportions being perfect. With water: mercurochrome blended with some green apple juice and almond oil. Mouth (neat): a Botticelli. Lemons, oysters, peaches, kippers, anchovies, limoncello, liquorice wood. With water: yep, perfect. It’s not impossible that they would have hundreds of thousands of such casks, and that this would not be rare at all, but that wouldn’t change one iota to the extreme quality – and value - of this make. Finish: loses one or two points here, I’m afraid. Tends to become a little dull, as if the backbone had vanished. Apple juice. Comments: still a fantastic whisky! Just, be careful with water.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 19 yo 1998/2018 (53.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 222 bottles)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1998/2018 (53.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 222 bottles) Five stars
222 bottles, that’s a cool number, and 1998 is a cool vintage. Colour: gold. Nose: yep. Menthol, sea spray, green apples, fennel, dill, kelp, iodine, cut apples, green ones. No you don’t need more. With water: utterly perfect smoked grapefruit. Mouth (neat): this baby’s got this tropical fruitiness that’s so very Laphroaig. As if some bananas had shagged some mangos (whaaaaat???? Oh que gran horror!!!) With water: and some high-ester rumness to boot, imagine. As if this was actually an ex-Hampden cask. Finish: long, losing you. Is this from Islay? From Jamaica? Wait, from Oaxaca? Stunning distillate nonetheless, absolutely pure despite an aftertaste that’s a tad bitter. Comments: this is not good whisky, drop all this, buy grain whisky instead. Thank you.
SGP:367 - 91 points.

I told you, 1998. Let’s stammer a wee bit…

Lp9 1998/2018 (54.3%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, ex-PX butt)

Lp9 1998/2018 (54.3%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, ex-PX butt) Three stars
I know, apparently, this is PX. But Montjoie! Saint-Denis! Take heart! We will survive! This could have been worse (Port!) Colour: amber/bronze. Nose: typical leathery oranges, tobacco, gingery smoke, roasted raisins, tabasco, oysters, cedar wood… Not un-nice, actually, where have all the cheapish raisins gone? With water: sweet curry and mustard, plus leather and ginger. I’m sure some chef could make a fantastic sauce out of this. Masala. Mouth (neat): yeah well, it is more than okay. Ale, butter, raisins, smoked fish, caramel… Sure that’s all a tad unnecessary, but let’s keep an, open mind. With water: careful, do not ad too much H2O or you’ll kill this baby. Not many PX-ed whiskies swim well. Finish: rather long, leathery leafy, spicy. Curry again. Comments: I am a bit lost, where are we? In New Delhi? Jakarta? Not my preferred style at all, but within that very style, I’m sure it’s rather a winner.
SGP:556 - 82 points.

Further down the vintages…

Laphroaig 28 yo 1989/2018 (57.6%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular for SCSM China, bourbon hogshead, cask #12335, 54 bottles)

Laphroaig 28 yo 1989/2018 (57.6%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular for SCSM China, bourbon hogshead, cask #12335, 54 bottles) Three stars and a half
My this is a tiny bottling! Colour: full gold. Nose: the peat is fading away, and instead of mangos and guavas as in the 1960s (just an example), it would rather leave room for marmalade, cakes and herbal teas, rather of the mentholy kind. Eucalyptus leaves, for example, or pine needles… The whole’s rather dry, and a little scary I have to say. With water: pencil shavings, cigar boxes, garden earth, a drop of miso, more menthol from the oak… Mouth (neat): it’s really loud, it’s pretty oaky, and rather jammy/spicy, while the coastal side got pretty minimal. Rose jelly, quinces, leather, candied ginger, peppers and cinnamons of all kinds… With water: please do not add much water! A bit of sour wood, fruit peels, juices, green tea, tannins… Finish: medium, earthy and rather tannic. Peppers. Comments: this one’s slowly saying goodbye. Of course it’s very good, but I would think it was even better ten years ago.
SGP:365 - 84 points.

Good, and now, ladies and gentlemen, the Laphroaig I wanted to have to celebrate the new year… drumroll please, it is the…

Laphroaig 13 yo 1967/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, sherry wood, dumpy)

Laphroaig 13 yo 1967/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, sherry wood, dumpy) Five stars
This utterly legendary bottle from when CAD were still in Aberdeen, when the old lady used to buy just any casks, according to envious colleagues. What’s sure is that this 13yoihas got its reputation. Like, best Laphroaig ever or stuff like that. Let us check that together… Colour: caramel gold. Nose: well, Angus already tried this one for these pages. He was right, it is brilliant, but it is not the complexity that I’m finding striking, it’s rather the way it focusses on soups and bouillons (asparagus is obvious), as well as precious old perfumes and woods. Love the hay, the caramel, the greasy meats (jabugo), and simply the Seville oranges from the sherry wood. I’m asking you, why don’t modern sherry casks impart more notes of Seville oranges? Mouth: bang. Once again, it’s very focused whisky, it would not go into too many directions, and should I have to use only a handful of descriptors, I would say wood-smoked salmon covered with soft fudge and tobacco. Finish: rather medium, on salty fudge and smoked fish. Comments: surely out of this world. Smoked and salted fudge, does anyone make this kind of delicacy? Anyway, happy new year everyone, stay tuned, there might be more good whisky to taste in 2019! According to the rumour mill, some distillers may even enter the 21th century. It was about time, to think that some of them still see themselves as innovators! Yawn…
SGP:555 - 94 points.

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

December 2018 - part 2 <--- January 2019 - part 1 ---> January 2019 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bowmore 20 yo 1996/2017 (53.6%, Hepburn’s Choice for SCSM China, bourbon, 243 bottles)

Glenburgie 18 yo 1998/2017 (53.9%, The Single Casks of Scotland, hogshead, cask #900900, 267 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1987/2017 (47.1%, OB, for CWS China, refill sherry butt, cask #603, 132 bottles)

Glen Grant 34 yo 1965 (55%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium decanter, 390 bottles)

Inchgower 27 yo 1990/2018 (55.3%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 8544 bottles)

Laphroaig 13 yo 1967/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, sherry wood, dumpy)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1998/2018 (53.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 222 bottles)

Grosperrin 32 yo (52.8%, Cadenhead, Grande Champagne, 384 bottles, 2018)

Domaine de Baraillon 1974/2016 (44%, Bas-Armagnac)