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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2021 - Part 2


January 2021 - part 1 <--- January 2021 - part 2 ---> February 2021 - part 1


January 31, 2021


Don't we do rums?

Let's see what we have in the boxes. I believe we have a few Frenchies, for example… But let's rather do this randomly, as to any whisky enthusiast, rum ought to be fun and only fun. There's enough pain in whisky (jo-king).

Enmore 2006 'EHP' (40%, OB, Guyana, +/-2019)

Enmore 2006 'EHP' (40%, OB, Guyana, +/-2019)
Sure 40% vol. sound like shameless murder, come on El Dorado. Remember Enmore equals wooden column still, the last if its kind in operation. Colour: amber. Nose: lovely, rather old-school, in the sense that it's got this feeling of 'improved petroly molasses' that usually come with a metallic side. Whiffs of ylang-ylang, overripe bananas, and perhaps a little too much caramel. Tends to lose steam even on the nose, which doesn't bode well wrt the palate. Mouth: oh, no. I mean, it tastes like brandy de Jerez, or Malaga, but it's really weak, flabby, it even feels like a weak liqueur rather than full-flown rum. So, 25% vol? Notes of sugar syrup, coconut water, vanilla, all nasty things. Highly disappointing. Finish: very short, but it's highly forgettable too, so that's good timing. An unpleasant sweetness – they've probably mellowed it down – aka murdered – even before filling. Comments: the others in the series were disappointing, but this is frustrating. Do people have to pay for this flavoured sugared water? I mean, El Dorado, what's up? Very bad. The Port Mourant was not great, but much better.
SGP:720 - 50 points.

Rhum J.M. 'Jardin Fruité' (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2020)

Rhum J.M. 'Jardin Fruité' (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2020) Three stars
As I understand it, this is some NAS blend done for mixologists, rather with a fruity profile as 'Jardin Fruité' means 'Fruity Garden' – but of course you knew that. So perhaps not a sipper, but you never know, J.M being a good house… Colour: amber. Nose: oh, lovely! We're between a rhum and a Canadian rye, I would say, and that seems to work. I'm finding soft cinnamony notes, rye indeed, touches of lavender, oranges, panettone, citron liqueur, chestnut honey… Well to anybody who would have composed this I say kudos. Unless the palate's a wreck… Mouth: hey, cool! I would have gone for 45% vol. instead, but other than that, this is a banana cake spread with heather honey, orange liqueur, cough syrup and cinnamon. Balsa wood. It's just a shame and a pity that it would then nosedive, just because of the low strength. That's frustrating, as such as solid composition needs a proper canvas I would say. Finish: so nice, so frustrating. Almost some kind of coitus interruptus, just because of the strength. Comments: fantastic blending work, and I mean it. Crank up the voltage and you'll come up with a star. I mean, Aerosmith rather than Donovan.
SGP:641 - 81 points.

Aerosmith?... Hold on, let's swim to Guadeloupe…

Longueteau 'Concerto' (47.2%, OB, Guadeloupe, batch 1, +/-2018)

Longueteau 'Concerto' (47.2%, OB, Guadeloupe, batch 1, +/-2018) Three stars
This is obviously not about concerto the barley varietal, but it is about musical analogies, as they have symphonies, preludes, concertos and stuff. I say as long as there are no age statements, that's often all only brand masturbation (as they do in Cognac, ha-ha). Now let's be serious, Longueteau are highly reputed for their distillates (and consequently, for their white rums). Colour: reddish amber. Nose: you sure don't feel the 47% vol., as you'd rather get fudge and shortbread here, molasses, maple syrup, raisins, a little menthol... Some flowers too (lilac, violet) and some cigarettes and triple-sec, all cool but not very big for sure. I would call it 'Cointreau-y'. Mouth: ah there, power and drive! It's rather  sweet and cake-y rum – it is Guadeloupe but it's neither Bellevue nor Bielle -  with notes of brandy, raisins, orange cake, triple-sec (which is not sec at all, don't ask), gentian (Suze) and a tiny bouillony, meaty and herbal side. As if someone had added a drop of miso to the mix. Finish: medium, a little sweetish. Raisins. Comments: it's a sweet mix for sure. Good but probably a little too sweet for whisky lovers.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

Hey, let's fly to Barbados!

Foursquare 14 yo 'Nobiliary' (62%, OB, Barbados, bourbon, +/-2019)

Foursquare 14 yo 'Nobiliary' (62%, OB, Barbados, bourbon, +/-2019) Five stars
Some say this is illegal. Other people claim that it wrecks your spectacles because of the high strength. That's all very opaque, but let's try it. I'm usually trying all Foursquares, but rather around 18 months after they come out, as I wouldn't like to interfere. You understand me? Colour: amber. Nose: painting varnish and drawing gum, Diesel oil, eggplants, 'at Ikea's', new plywood, mountain honey, maracuja ice-cream. I think I like this. With water: high-esters? High pot-still proportions? When olives and carbon dust chime in, that's always a good sign. Litres of Thai soup too, which would involve coconut, coriander, citronella, ginger… Mouth (neat): sweet Jesus, this is pretty perfect (varnish, acetone, dead animals, coconut) but boy is it strong. With water: excellent, honeyed and spicy, fermentary, appropriately varnishy, estery, phenolic… Finish: rather long but let's not exaggerate, this is neither Hampden nor Worthy Park. But frankly, quality's extremely high. Comments: Foursquare is usually a pretty gentle rum. I mean, it's not Bacardi, but it isn't Worthy Park Maximus either (Luca, don't). So we could say this is a firmer Foursquare.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

A last one, perhaps… Why not something funny…

Reimonenq 2020 'Rhum Agricole Dynamique' (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, 698 bottles, 2020)

Reimonenq 2020 'Rhum Agricole Dynamique' (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, 698 bottles, 2020)
I have to say I don't know much about Reimonenq in Sainte-Rose. Now this was matured on boats, apparently, a trick that many brands have used already. Sadly, they've chosen Port casks. Colour: salmony. Nose: rubber boots and Fanta. Typical, red wine – and Port even more so - may make your spirit rubbery. Geranium. Rather ugly nose. Mouth: terrible, fizzy, rubbery, with too many raisins too. This isn't excatly 'rum' in my opinion. Finish: medium, sweetish, raisiny and sour. Oak tannins and just the worst Ports in the aftertaste. Comments: it is fantastic to experiment, but when you fail, just disgorge your barrels and give it to the fish. Very poor 'rum' n my opinion, so sad for dear Guadeloupe and Reimonenq. Now of course they've got much better rums!
SGP:630 - 30 points.

What was that? Halt!

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


January 30, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Three Bunnies
Bunnahabhain is relatively ubiquitous today, and also often pretty good I think. Let's investigate two new and one recent examples…


Bunnahabhain 10 yo 'Batch 22' (50.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2019, 1161 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 10 yo 'Batch 22' (50.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2019, 1161 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: probably some subtle sherry at play, it's all rather bready, rounded, gently earthy, mineral and with rather a lot of peanuts - for many years I've been finding peanuts in Bunnahabhain - beyond that there's sandalwood, gorse and a little hessian. Feels rather firm and rugged in a positive way. With water: chocolate, wet leaves, mixed nuts, cereals, bracken. An impression of petrichor and damp forests which I'm always a fan of. Mouth: indeed, leathery, slightly creamy and nutty sherry with smaller notes of chocolate, cocoa powder, milky cornflakes and rapeseed oil. Feels like a rather industrial and muscular whisky, which shouldn't be surprising and Bunnahabhain is no big jessie! Some caramel and coffee now too. With water: toasted brown bread with butter, samphire, stout beer, other old school bitter ales, malt loaf and a dollop of Nutella. Finish: medium and again rather earthy, bready, chocolatey and nicely bitter and beery. Comments: very good, there's a rugged and boisterous quality about it that feels suitably 'Bunnahabhain'. I liked the rather clean and sinewy sherry.
SGP: 462 - 84 points.



Bunnahabhain 'Bn8' (58.4%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements of Islay', American oak and ex-sherry hogsheads, 1896 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 'Bn8' (58.4%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements of Islay', American oak and ex-sherry hogsheads, 1896 bottles)
Always liked this nifty little series, although I haven't really tried that many of them sadly. Colour: gold. Nose: bigger, gutsier and with a more assertive coastal impression. A feeling of blustery jetties, rubber fishing wellies and wet rope. Roasted nuts, hessian, leaf mulch, tobacco and mineral oils. I find this freshness combined with a well-balanced, restrained and clean sherry very enjoyable. Flints and minerals are also very 'Bunnahabhain' in my book. With water: this one also develops a leafy, mulchy, mineral and rather lean, sinewy profile. Hessian, cocoa and putty. Mouth: it's actually very similar to the Boutique-y in many ways, just here there's more raw power, lots of brown bread but spread with treacle, lanolin, lapsing souchong tea with lemon, crushed aspirin. If you want to understand what power without peat in whisky is, you could do worse than try this sabre-toothed Bunny. With water: golden syrup, sultanas, some gruff and gravelly minerals, wee leathery touches and a rather peppery bite. Finish: good length, a little grubbiness, some gamey notes, earthy, instant coffee and black pepper. Comments: the sherry had plenty to say here, but overall I think it's very good. You probably just need to be in the mood for a wrestle.
SGP: 472 - 86 points.



Bunnahabhain 22 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, The Whisky Exchange 'Single Casks', cask #5448, hogshead, 199 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 22 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, The Whisky Exchange 'Single Casks', cask #5448, hogshead, 199 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: looks like we've struck peat. This very specific impression of damp, leafy smoke, bonfire embers, charred shellfish, ink, tar and embrocations. Was this a sherry hogshead? It speaks with a rather sherried accent. Also some lighter toned underneath of beach sand and seaweed. With water: more herbal, sooty and ethereally smoky. Metal polish, steel wool, camphor and fir wood. Really good. Mouth: deeply tarry, mentholated and unctuous. Could almost be some kind of old Ardbeg with these big peppery, leathery and tarry aspects. Lots of burnt rope, creel nets, black olives and brine. Really excellent and impressive! With water: doubles down on this wonderfully dry smokiness, cured game meats, herbal ointments and tinctures, resinous peat smoke and wood ashes. Also more natural tar, rope and black pepper. Finish: long, leafy, smoky, tarry, salty and with more wonderful notes of black olive, brine, peat and pepper. Comments: these stocks are really starting to shine, a shame there aren't too many around it seems. This one has definite echoes of old Ardbeg about it. A great surprise.
SGP: 467 - 90 points.




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


January 28, 2021


Dailuaine Phase Two

Indeed, we had a second wee box of Dailuaines, apologies… Why not try an earlier vintage at a lighter strength, as today's aperitif?

Dailuaine 27 yo 1983/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #869, 407 bottles)

Dailuaine 27 yo 1983/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #869, 407 bottles) Four stars and a half
What a nice little collection that was! Colour: light gold. Nose: oh lovely, rather on sunflower oil, church candle, a very delicate sulphur again (stone), lamp oil, paraffin, lanolin, rubbed orange skin, a touch of mustard… Could be that glass maturation's already had some impact here. That always works even better on 43-46% vol. whiskies than on cask strength. Awesome nose. Mouth: clearly, good OBE in motion here. Pine resin, lime juice, holly spirit (not holy spirit!), rapeseed oil, plasticine, touches of pistachio, grapefruit… This is absolutely terrific, in fact. There's an awesome medicinal and smoky side to it. Finish: medium, just perfect. Rather crème de menthe and green bananas. That works a treat. Comments: wham, we're too fast already. Now to catch one of these bottles…
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Dailuaine 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 1st and refill bourbon, 703 bottles, 2018)

Dailuaine 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 1st and refill bourbon, 703 bottles, 2018) Three stars and a half
I know I've been a little harsh on James Eadie yesterday (after months of nothing but praise) but it was a wacko cask. This is pure bourbon…  Colour: straw. Nose: et voilà. Vanilla, earth, fresh barley, grist, green bananas, fresh pancakes, and that faint sulphur that belongs to the Distillery's style. Et voilà. Mouth: simple pleasures well concocted. More custard, a little lime, pepper, lager, and some melon jam and apple liqueur. Spanish things I believe. Finish: medium, very good, with more green oranges. A touch of sawdust and English black tea in the aftertaste. Comments: et voilà, very good, not complicated, while retaining Dailuaine's signature mineral sulphur.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Dailuaine 2008/2018 (49.2%, Or Sileis, sherry hogshead, cask #18898, 135 bottles)

Dailuaine 2008/2018 (49.2%, Or Sileis, sherry hogshead, cask #18898, 135 bottles) Three stars
I find this label splendid; it reminds me of Stanis?aw Szukalski's work. Granted, Google isn't our friend but you may make use of it. Colour: gold. Nose: this time we're rather all on old benzine (hints at sulphur indeed), walnuts just as old, roots and autumn leaves, green tobacco, potpourri… And rose petals, and even gewurztraminer. A feeling of coal smoke too. A tad loco but intriguing. With water (because we must): closes down and gets very leafy, although there would be pleasant notes of old-style orange cordial too. Mouth (neat): starts a little bitter, on artichoke, pepper, more old walnuts (how many times have we already mentioned walnuts since yesterday morning?) and just bitter oranges. Gears even more towards bitters after that. Not the easiest whisky ever! With water: indeed. Bitter ale, walnut wine, cinchona, grandpa's tonics… A touch of butterscotch too. Finish: medium, on teas and tobaccos. Comments: I like it but the more recent Dailuaines by our friends in Taiwan had been in a higher league. IMHO.
SGP:461 - 82 points.

Dailuaine 12 yo 2008/2020 (57.8%, Watt Whisky, 312 bottles)

Dailuaine 12 yo 2008/2020 (57.8%, Watt Whisky, 312 bottles) Four stars and a half
Got to love the Watts' minimalistic labels, whilst most other indie ones start to look more and more like Jeff Koons having repainted the Sistine Chapel. Colour: white wine. Nose: as they say, they have captured Dailuaine's essence here. Engine oil, grape pips oil, grist, porridge, soot… With water: essential Dailuaine. Sulphur stone – or powder, chalk, flints, grist, raw wool, grapefruits. Mouth (neat): oh very good! Huge oranges covered with sesame oil, grass juice and liquid paraffin. Very tart, as tart as the tartest mezcals from Oaxaca's remotest valleys. Lime. With water: wonderful. Same profile, just rather more barley-y. Finish: long, tense, vertical and yet fattish. Perhaps a drop of fish oil. Grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: didn't we mention those rare fattish Dailuaines that could be part of the HP-to Springbank trip via Clynelish and Ben Nevis right yesterday? Well this is another good example. No, really, I think the label is fine.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Dailuaine 11 yo (54.3%, James Eadie, PX finish, 271 bottles, 2018)

Dailuaine 11 yo (54.3%, James Eadie, PX finish, 271 bottles, 2018) Three stars and a half
Indeed I'm not a fan of PX finishes, but they do that right. But crikey, they have this at Amazon, where they suggest this would go well with a 'Reusable coffee cup, a premium insulated tumbler with a lid'. The pick of the dungeons, really, civilisation is over. Now get this, if I ever spot anyone quoting WF's notes or scores on stinky Amazon, I immediately send a bunch of highly motivated Alsatian guerrilleros. Colour: gold. Nose: typical soft oils, peanut butter, custard, sunflower oil, and just fresh croissants. Wet plaster and a little saltpetre. A fine nose. With water: as usual, more raw wool, more grist, and more metal polish. Mouth (neat): oh good! No cloying PX in sight, rather this mineral oiliness, sulphur, green walnuts and all that. Good. With water: gets even thicker and oilier, you almost need a mocha spoon to get it out of your tulip. Tulip glass. Very green, grassy, oily. Grape pips, blackcurrant leaves, stems. Finish: long, on the same notes, more or less. More paraffin. Comments: very good and yet pretty austere. For malt exegetes only, I suppose – but those fine folks wouldn't do Amazon, would they?
SGP:362 - 84 points.

Sure we'll go on, as there is no hell for he who has already navigated a waterfall (calm down, S.)…

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Three stars
This baby from three bourbon hogsheads. If you want to know about everything, it was part of their 25th International Release. BTW W.M. Cadenhead , keep this range and don't discontinue it, it's shaped like a diamond and they are diamonds! And raise the price from £50 to £60 or more if you must! Oh, and kumbaya! Colour: straw. Nose: a little hot but that's the high strength. Acetone and vanilla. Quick… With water: fun stuff. Jell-O, leek, eggplant and Palmolive. I am not joking. Mouth (neat): but yes this is good, cake-y, seemingly a little gentler than the others… But it is strong. I believe it's a style that needs water anyway. With water: I was wrong, it's full of vegetables, fruit peelings, banana skin, eating grass… Well, it's a good conversationalist, but it is real pain in the neck too. Finish: rather long, on more peelings and grasses. Some sourness. Comments: that one was a bugger. You'd almost believe it's a French government worker.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

Quick, a sister…

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (60.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (60.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: baker's yeast, grist, a drop of umami, a little acetone, some oregano perhaps… But remember we're members of the P.O.N.A. That would be the Protect Our Nostrils Association. As a consequence, with water: wonderfully doughy, sour, fermentary…  This is almost pure pizza dough. Mouth (neat): oh very good. Very tight, grassy, sulphury, this works like pliers on your tongue. Not that we're masochists, but I enjoy this. Totally in the style of those earlier Authentic Collections with their 'small cream labels' as we used to call them. You could have poured them into your Renault and presto, faster than a lousy Tesla! With water: fruits coming out, especially citrons. Herbs and greener spices, green peppercorns, cardamom… Finish: very long very grassy, fermentary, lemony… Some bone-dry cider. Comments: ueber-tight and very extreme. You could add 1,5 litres of H2O and it would keep fighting you back, what a beast. We should protect this stye, they're endangered species. Game?
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Good, a last step back in time and I solemnly promise we won't have any other Dailuaines, I mean Daluanes, I mean Dailuanes, I mean Dailuanies, I mean Dailuaines before the month of July. Okay, August.

Dailuaine 27 yo 1962/1989 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, USA, 75cl)

Dailuaine 27 yo 1962/1989 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, USA, 75cl) Four stars and a half
What's pretty funny is that, as it appears, you could find this rare juice under both the 'old black dumpy' and 'small cream label' liveries. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is something completely different. Lady's moisturizer, bitter almonds, barley water, metal polish, carbon paper, old magazines… That's a profile that was rather to be found in the old black dumpies, but this time it came from a 'small cream label'. How's your head doing this far? Tell me if I should send the medics. With water: suet and soot (not bad, S.), paraffin, Play-Doh, marrow, oxtail soup, old leathers… Well we tend to cherish these kinds of deviations, but they remain deviations indeed. Imagine the general public being exposed to such perverse whiskies… Mouth (neat): seriously, this tastes of 'an old black dumpy'. Sand, coins, meats, bouillons, glutamate… With water: ah very good! Sweeter, rather on old wines, meads, and beers. Honeyed flavours tend to dominate the whole shebang. Finish: rather long. Salty, meaty, fermentary, winey. Comments: no one makes them like this anymore, and between us, I'm not sure anyone should. To be honest, we love them, but they do tend to lack focus and precision. But there, love this one, it's like when you love an old vinyl over Spotify, it's not about 'accuracy'.
SGP:362 - 88 points.

I think We 'll call this a session. See you Dailuaine.

(Jason, KC, merci)

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


January 27, 2021


A rather large bag of Dailuaine

We've got quite a few of them, some already a little old, so let's purge the box if you don't mind. I agree that's a little brutal, but we've got to go… Let's do this randomly – after some aperitif.

Dailuaine 7 yo 2008/2015 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, sherry)

Dailuaine 7 yo 2008/2015 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, sherry) Two stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: not an unusual nose with some ex-sherry whiskies, that is to say a mix of wee metallic notes, walnuts, patchouli and dried herbs and flowers. Something meaty too, bouillons, Chinese pork dumplings perhaps (well done, I'm hungry now). Quality green tea. Very pleasant nose, pretty fresh, not feinty or 'too young'. Mouth: starts well but a few off-notes are there too. Some kind of soapy spices over this meatiness and a little sulphur. Sucking tobacco and sipping walnut liqueur. Something leathery and rubbery too. Finish: rather long, rather bitter, leathery. Green walnuts. Comments: this profile is not unseen in Dailuaine, as far as I could taste. Some aspects were really nice though, especially on the nose.
SGP:371 - 72 points.

Dailuaine 12 yo 2005/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # 12429, 674 bottles)

Dailuaine 12 yo 2005/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # 12429, 674 bottles) Two stars
This old particular is not particularly old, is it. Colour: gold. Nose: a little sulphur right away, gun oil, tree bark, chocolate, metal polish, silverware, walnuts, apple peeling… It really is a peculiar nose. Really curious about the palate… Mouth: beef bouillon, sucking copper coins, bitter chocolate, soy sauce, tobacco, leather, gingerbread, huge cloves, very bitter marmalade… Well this one sure is a talkative conversationalist, but it really is pretty challenging. Not unlike your old uncle who's very talkative too. Finish: long, a little more on muscovado sugar, but gets butter too. Burnt raisins. Comments: not a contemporary style at all and in a way, we should be happy that not all malt whiskies have become the same (yet). Now, as I said, I find this baby a little challenging, perhaps a little reminiscent of some sherried Mortlachs, but Mortlach's usually better constructed.
SGP:362 - 76 points.

Perhaps a seemingly unsherried one from the bottom of the box?

Dailuaine 1999/2012 (59.4%, Spirit of Caledonia, bourbon hogshead, cask #3701, 294 bottles)

Dailuaine 1999/2012 (59.4%, Spirit of Caledonia, bourbon hogshead, cask #3701, 294 bottles) Three stars and a half
From the good old days when you were doing a label just because you needed a label. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: its rather a flinty kind of sulphur, so sulphur stone I would say (nothing to do with burnt sulphur), plus flints, then green fruits, granny smith, gooseberries, star fruits, physalis… So not overripe wild mangos, if you like. Chalky sauvignon. Nice and much cleaner than the sherried ones! With water: fresh plaster and stewed cauliflowers, there's nothing not to like here. Sheep's wool. Mouth (neat): Dailuaine's trademark mineral sulphur (in my book) does it good here, and would come with really a lot of grass. So we have a very austere grassy and chalky palate, which I enjoy. With water: very nice fruits coming out, green melons for example, plums, greengages… It's very tight, still chalky, grassy, and indeed austere. Finish: rather long, very tight, vertical, akin to a very young Sancerre. Comments: I like this one, it's perfectly natural and tight. I suppose the hogshead had already been filled two or three times.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 774 bottles)

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 774 bottles) Four stars
This one from three hogsheads. Apparently, this 'Small Batch' series is no more, sob... Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar, just a tad breadier, doughier, and more fermentary. Naturally, that's all good, with these whiffs of natural sulphur lingering in the background, clearly an asset in this very case. With water: delicate whiffs of wisteria after the rain. Makes you a poet. Mouth (neat): once again, this is very similar, just more fermentary and citrusy at the same time. Touches of coffee liqueur too, probably from one of the hoggies (hey I'm not saying that cask had been sheltering Kahlua!) With water: swims like a champ. Limoncello, butterscotch, lime, vegetal oils (coconut, perhaps) … Oh and barley. Finish: rather long and frankly perfect. Oil and paraffin, barley, café latte, lemon liqueur, chalk (bordering good sulphur here)… Comments: exquisite young malt whisky al natural, full of nuances and authenticity (oh wow!) And I suppose the price is low. I hope it's still around here and there…
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Another one from the bottoms…

Dailuaine 18 yo 1996/2014 (48.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 159 bottles)

Dailuaine 18 yo 1996/2014 (48.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 159 bottles) Three stars
Am I not late? Indeed we cannot taste all the whiskies we get, and it's not impossible that when this lovely little Maltbarn came out, there was also an Ardbeg, a Port Ellen, a Brora, a Springbank and a Clynelish, and that difficult choices had to be made (yeah right). But never say never… Colour: straw. Nose: it's true that Dailuaine's fatness, oiliness and, well, sulphuriness can bring much joy to any whisky provided the cask was right. In a way, that's what happens with Springbank or, there, Ben Nevis too. Sunflower oil, chicory and Nescafé, salsify, maize bread, fresh herbs and grasses… In truth you ought to enjoy these babies for they're the opposite of modern binary wham-bam whiskies. Asparagus. With water: damp chalk, floor cloth, ink. School, in other words. Mouth (neat): a tad deviant (sulphur, soap and plastic) but the spices are right. Miso, cocoa, coffee, Maggi, malt extracts, chalk… Well this sure is another 'different' malt. With water: goes into many directions, hard to follow. Finish: it never came back (ha-ha). Comments: seriously, it's a serious tipple but it's pretty challenging. Do not drink this in front of a Disney.
SGP:362 - 80 points.

Dailuaine 2010/2020 (56.8%, Or Sileis, hogshead, cask #310235, 316 bottles)

Dailuaine 2010/2020 (56.8%, Or Sileis, hogshead, cask #310235, 316 bottles) Four stars and a half
Ah, a fairly new one! Lovely label, I just hope you don't need a samurai outfit to properly tackle this baby. Colour: white wine. Nose: say chalk, flints, lemon skins, crushed aspirin tablet, pine needles, resins, roasted sesame oil and black nougat. This sure is not your average malt whisky, but it needs us to try to dig much deeper once water's been added… With water: lovely, on earth, moist tobacco, chalk, paraffin… Mouth (neat): we've known some Ben Nevisses that were a bit like this. Fat, a little sour, fermentary, with some coffee too, malt extracts, mutton suet, marrow, ink, chicory, cigars, old walnuts… And it is not even ex-sherry. With water: oh yes! More of all that plus some earthy fudge and honey. Buckfast, but good. Finish: long, complex, waxy, meaty, even a little petroly. Only the aftertaste is way, way much difficult, with some cardboard and acetone. Acetone could be nice when you first nose a whisky, but certainly not in the aftertaste. Comments: well, in some cases, the magic bow from HP to Springbank via 'lish and 'Nevis could well make a short stop at Dailuaine – despite the very whacky aftertaste here.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

This is not a session, it's a rollercoaster…

Dailuaine 2007/2020 (55.7%, Or Sileis, sherry butt, cask #13635)

Dailuaine 2007/2020 (55.7%, Or Sileis, sherry butt, cask #13635) Four stars
When our dearest friends in Asia add tigers (or any other large cats) to their labels, that's always a great sign, even better than when Scots put stags. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this is a rounder Dailuaine, from a rounder cask that imparted many notes od custard and toffee. Caramel, café latte, macchiato, roasted peanuts, turon, halva and all that. Dailuaine's inherent off-notes are kept at bay this time. With water: earth and mushrooms, no one could be against that. Shiitake and Guinness – after all Dailuaine belongs to Diageo. Well I'm not saying Diageo are growing shiitake, I mean on an industrial scale, are they? Mouth (neat): very good walnutty sherry, perfectly mastered. Walnut wine, green cigars, ans really bags of caraway but that may go away once water's been added. In fact, it's a little brutal when neat. With water: do not add too much water or that sulphury side may swim to the surface. Otherwise, oyster sauce, soy sauce, bouillon, old walnuts and lovage. Bon appétit. Finish: long, salty, bouillony. Very tight oloroso-y flavours. Comments: frankly, this has the knack that many modern official whiskies do not quite display. But as they say, it's not for the faint-hearted.
SGP:361 – 86 points.

This one shouldn't be either…

Dailuaine 10 yo 2009/2020 (52.7%, James Eadie, 10th Anniversary of Scotland's Glory, oloroso quarter cask finish, cask #356855)

Dailuaine 10 yo 2009/2020 (52.7%, James Eadie, 10th Anniversary of Scotland's Glory, oloroso quarter cask finish, cask #356855) Two stars
I mean, a quick oloroso quarter cask finish, should we really delve into that? I mean, I'm sure it's a great whisky organoleptically, but philosophically? Now it's for 'Scotland's Glory' (that's haggis, no? Or Mrs Sturgeon?) so could we be against that? Colour: office coffee. Nose: I don't know. Coffee, strawberry jam, raisins, brandy, chocolate. Let's see what happens once water's been added. With water: for once I believe it's gone a little too far. Walnut stain and tobacco juice (from an old pipe). Mouth (neat): no, it's very good I'm afraid, but for a short while. Thick walnut liqueur, grassy spices, pepper, soy sauce… Perhaps is it a tad stuffy? With water: salt, soups, umami, roasted pumpkin seeds, walnuts… Well it sure is very salty and dry, and perhaps too bitter. Finish: long and bitter. Big tannicity and a feeling of crunching pine needles. Comments: always loved their concept and the execution, but I feel it's really gone too far this time. Rather too bitter and drying. Now even the Rolling Stones have had some bad songs. I mean, 'Miss you?'
SGP:271 - 72 points.

Quickly, a last clean one and hasta la vista…

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 15 yo 2004/2020 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 282 bottles)

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 15 yo 2004/2020 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 282 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: totally natural, on fresh baguette, paraffin, and, well, fresh baguette. Fresh baguette is very complex in itself, is it not? With water: barley, apples of all kinds, mashed turnips, breads of all kinds, ales, and once again crushed chalk bordering sulphur stone… Mouth (neat): excellent, a tad medicinal, oily, with some carbon, some lemon, and clearly a Springbankness. Shh… With water: oh! Lemons, green peppers, sultanas, brioches, breads… Finish: same for a long time, with some chalk and more lemon. What we were hoping for. Comments: I believe it is our very mission to draw the public's attention to these small bottlings that would otherwise go pretty unnoticed. I mean, this is so much better than the lousy juices some big brands are trying to stuff you with! Now it sure isn't very glamorous whisky...
SGP:461 - 87 points.

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


January 26, 2021


Single session, today Coleburn

It's not often that we taste only one whisky out of the blue, but you see, the Coleburn box has been virtually empty for quite some years. So when G&M's latest blue chip Coleburn came out last year, well, I already wasn't having any proper sparring partner at hand, and with Covid and the cancellation of all festivals, I'm afraid the situation hasn't changed much to this day. So better not let that old G&M evaporate and try it now.

Coleburn 47 yo 1972/2020 (62.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 125th Anniversary, cask #3511, refill sherry puncheon, 363 bottles)

Coleburn 47 yo 1972/2020 (62.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 125th Anniversary, cask #3511, refill sherry puncheon, 363 bottles) Five stars
Remember Coleburn Distillery, located near Elgin, was closed for good in 1985 but it's still got a few aficionados who do remember that it could be a stupendous malt whisky. Ripe pink bananas anyone? The buildings are still used for the storage of whisky casks. Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes, crushed ripe bananas, menthol and the subtlest blend of honeys there ever was. Manuka's not too far away, remember Sir Hillary, who conquered Mount Everest, used to be a professional beekeeper in New-Zealand! But why am I telling you this? Mead as well, obviously, beeswax, high-class chardonnay,. Now despite this very old age, this baby was bottled at more than 60% vol., which is just incredible. What I mean is that water should make it more complex… With water: no changes as far as the main aromas are concerned, but each main one literally explodes and gives birth to tiny sub-aromas, such as many honeys, mentholy herbs, white wines and even tropical fruits such as, indeed, bananas, papayas and guavas. Mouth (neat): a wrestler for sure, with some tart spiciness and literally wheelbarrows of peppermint. With water: fantastic fruits, mints, very soft spices and, once again, honeys. Some piney notes might be a little loud but that's often the case with very old whiskies that spent their whole life in a single cask or two. Tend to become a little tea-ish, also. Ginger and cloves, cinnamon tea… Finish: pretty long and rather all on mint, beeswax, and cinnamon. A tad drying but that's absolutely not unseen in such old whiskies, or brandies for that matter. Comments: this one had been much lauded when it came out last year, and I now understand why. Hope we'll still manage to try a few other Coleburns over the years. Forgot to say, Coleburn used to work in tandem with Clynelish for some time, especially in the 1930s.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Right, this session was short, but good.

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


January 25, 2021


A quartet of Strathmill

Violin, alto, cello, double bass. Perhaps! Another former second or even third-tier name that's gained some traction since the former blue chips have become virtually unobtainable at the IBS. As we say more and more often "after all, they're not bad at all!" First, the apéro…

Strathmill 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2019)

Strathmill 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2019) Three stars
It is a little unclear whether Diageo are still producing these or not. Some well-known websites claim that they've been discontinued but other do not, while the official website malts.com keeps listing this one. The last Strathmill F&F we've tried had been bottled circa 2007 (WF 79). I also remember that around twenty years ago, we used to talk about these - and the Rare Malts - as 'official independents'. How silly have we been! Colour: straw. Nose: some natural 'pure malt', that is to say rather all on porridge, muesli, leaven, grist and ale. There is, indeed, something very natural to it. Whiffs of warm brioche straight from the nearest French bakery, as well as not-too-aromatic fruits. Greengages, I would say. Mouth: this feeling of distilled beer that's sometimes to be found in malt whiskies. After all, that's what it is! Hops, herbs more greengages, more muesli, IPA and a little grapefruit. Tens to get more citrusy over time, almost acerbic, in a good way. Finish: of medium length, on more or less the same notes. Touch of pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I like this very natural malt, so up one point!
SGP:451 - 80 points.

Strathmill 14 yo 2006/2020 (61%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry butt finish, cask #TWB1013, 685 bottles)

Strathmill 14 yo 2006/2020 (61%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry butt finish, cask #TWB1013, 685 bottles) Four stars
These fine people too are doing it right. Average spirit 'in the good sense' and some properly engineered maturation done on it, for very good results even if distillery character is probably completely lost. Now as the other guy said, Strathmill ain't Clynelish. Let's see if all that works… Colour: mahogany. Nose: chocolate and soy sauce I would say, roasted chestnuts, fermenting hay. Water is needed at this strength. With water: soups and bouillons, miso, glutamate, ready-made Chinese noodles, chocolate, tobacco… Mouth (neat): looks like this is good. Some gunpowder, bitter chocolate, Fernet-Branca, artichoke bitter… With water: more of all that, plus bitter oranges, and a few ounces of oak spices. Nutmeg and ginger. Finish: long, well-constructed, modern sherry. Comments: good stuff from the right school. Probably not very romantic, and indeed we've known some very old Strathmills that had been more poetic, but these are like VW Golf GTIs, they are not Lambo Miuras but they just work bl**dy well.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

I suppose this will be very similar…

Strathmill 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.5%, James Eadie, oloroso cask finish, 617 bottles)

Strathmill 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.5%, James Eadie, oloroso cask finish, 617 bottles) Four stars and a half
Finished for 19 months. Expect bold flavours yet some modern complexity. Colour: very deep amber. Nose: chocolate, coffee, Cuban puros, marmalade, quince jelly, dried figs, Corinthian raisins, prunes, armagnac, copper. Do you get this, armagnac! With water: fine leathers and tobaccos. Stems and leaves. Fresh walnuts. Nothing beats fresh walnuts, except more fresh walnuts. Mouth (neat): very powerful, a tad salty, gamey, soupy… Nice bouillon. With water: lovely soup, salted oranges, cress, sorrel, soy sauce… They sure didn't butcher this one, wow! Finish: same, but drier yet. Smoked almonds, olives (hurray) and miso soup. I shan't mention tofu (too late) but you get the idea. Comments: of course you could do this on just any unpeated Scottish malt, from Strathmill to Macallan, but that does not change the fact that it's brilliantly made whisky. Very impressive, this little Strathmill oozes of smartness. A VW Golf with a Ferrari engine (oh forget about those very lazy car analogies of mine).
SGP:371 - 88 points.

A last, older one…

Strathmill 27 yo 1991/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles)

Strathmill 27 yo 1991/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles) Four stars
Back to nature I suppose… This series too is no more, no more gold! Colour: white wine. Nose: I find this very subtle, almost delicate, with various grasses and orchard fruits. I would mention greengages again, also apples, gooseberries, white peaches, then something floral (dandelions) and the slightest amounts of beeswax. Lovely whiffs of fresh peonies too, as well as this irresistible combo that I think I often mention, fresh panettone plus kougelhopf. Always a good sign! Mouth: very good, if a tad too citric/spicy for me at first. Lemon drops, the expected butterscotch and fudge, then preserved greengages and bitter almonds. Some kiwi, perhaps. It's actually pretty complex and even tends to wander off with many tiny fruity touches that are harder to pin down. Wee wild berries, like. Finish: this is where it gets rather peppery, and drier. Grassy and gingery aftertaste. Comments: indeed, just excellent, it just lost me a little bit at the finish line.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

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


January 23, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
and Ben Nevis
I didn't write 'versus Ben Nevis' because, well, I'm sure you can guess. I know we all make jokes about Allt-A-Bhainne, and I have to say, that silly official 40% thing they put out didn't help matters. It remains one of only a tiny pod of distilleries I'm waiting to find something truly brilliant from. But then again, it was built as an industrial blending fodder machine in the mid-1970s, so you cannot expect too much.


Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles)
One of Kate and Mark's recent efforts. What is lockdown like in Campbeltown I wonder? Has anyone told them? ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: clean, fresh and very cereal dominated. There is a slightly dry and brittle, malty backbone which feels a notch more austere than some of the more opulent Speysiders about. Beyond that I find dried banana chips, a tiny hint of lavender and something like freshly laundered fabrics. With water: shoe polish, new leather, vase water, chlorophyll. Good and certainly not boring. Mouth: pretty good. Nicely balanced arrival showing peppery warmth with runny honey on cornflakes, soda bread, mead and a wee camphor and pollen touches. With water: I wouldn't say it gets better with water but perhaps a little more waxy, oily and lactic with hints of Greek yoghurt, bitter lemon and more breakfast cereals. Actually, perhaps I do prefer it a bit with H2O. Finish: medium, with plasticine, cooked grains, breads, more fabrics, ink and mineral oils. Comments: At times a little funny, but it's actually a rather charismatic, if unassuming, wee dram. I could quite easily sip a couple of a night. What's more, it's entirely possible I've just found my favourite ever Allt-A-Bhainne.
SGP: 451 - 85 points.



Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (52.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #102589, barrel, 114 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (52.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #102589, barrel, 114 bottles)
A barrel this time as opposed to a hogshead, should we expect greater wood influence? Colour: deep gold. Nose: indeed, more polish, sandalwood, pine resin, workshops, oily rags and a bit more of a peppery and camphor edge up front. With water: some more opulent fruit qualities now, green fruits and fruit salad juices along with more familiar acrylic and clay notes. Mouth: it's very similar in structure in that you feel, underneath, it's the barley that dominates rather than the fruits. Here though, you have a lot more oak influence, but it is clean and spicy with some preserved and crystallised fruits, wood saps and putty. Some brown bread too. Very good. With water: firm spices, saps, resins, oils, some rather herbal qualities now too. More mineral oils and camphor. Finish: medium, sappy, spicy, sweeter, some golden syrup and spiced oatmeal flapjack. Comments: The cask did a lot of heavy lifting here, but then I suspect Allt-A-Bhainne is the kind of distillate that likes a bit of hot stave action. The key here is that the wood was clean and rather bright. Kate and Mark, I'll send you a certificate to confirm that you had bottled my favourite ever Allt-A-Bhainne for at least 10 minutes.
SGP: 551 - 87 points.



Over to Fort William…



Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #1196, refill sherry butt / 1st fill oloroso butt)

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #1196, refill sherry butt / 1st fill oloroso butt)
Half of this cask was already bottled at 22yo back in 2018 and this is the remaining half with some further age. I remember trying the first bottling at the time and being impressed, but I didn't record any notes. Apparently this half has been re-racked into a fresh oloroso sherry butt… Colour: pale gold. Nose: typically waxy and honeyed but also rather bready and richly malty, which is not something I always find in these 96 Ben Nevis. Some baked bananas, porridge sweetened with honey and a rather floral waxiness. With water: canvass, chalk, soft pepperiness, crushed aspirin and muesli studded with dried fruits. Lighter in style overall. Mouth: typically juicy, exotically fruity and lightly herbal. This is certainly a lighter example in terms of body and power, but the fruits themselves are beautifully concentrated and verging on overripe in a very pleasing way. Lots of guava, papaya and grapefruit. Some hessian and olive oil too. With water: the texture remains fleet footed and on the lighter side, also the overt fruitiness kind of disappears a bit and instead there's bitter herbs, minerals, chalk, citrus piths and crisp, oily cereal tones. Finish: good length, fresh herbs, cereals, soft waxes and lemon peel. Comments: Extremely good and very fine mature Ben Nevis, it just lacks a little extra power here and there and the fruits were beautiful but a bit too momentary. I think it works better without water in my view.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.



Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, The Whisky Exchange Single Casks, cask #1709, hogshead, 205 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, The Whisky Exchange Single Casks, cask #1709, hogshead, 205 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: drier, more peppery and a little bit punchier on the nose. Canvass, dry cereals, chalk, clay, light medical touches and a rather raw barley character. There's a nice sense of poise and sharpness here. With water: greener and leafier, with impressions of leaf mulch, wet moss and a rather brusque, gravelly minerality. Also some nice olive oil notes coming through. Mouth: excellent! Punchy, peppery, waxy, mineral, oily, camphor, a wee thread of pulpy exotic fruit. Simple, direct and terrifically assertive with clear distillery character. With water: gets more peppery, spicier, drier and the waxiness becomes more brittle and drying. Big, chunky cereal tones, dried banana chips and some herbal notes. Finish: long, waxy, more olive oil, some breads, camphor and medicinal touches. Comments: What's quite fascinating is how they are identical strengths but give quite divergent impressions of texture and body. This one feels more cohesive all the way through and carries itself with a notch more assertion and power.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.





January 22, 2021


Rare Tastings, two opposite Knockdhu

All right, Knockdhu isn't quite rare but it's now almost always christened AnCnoc instead, because of Knockando I believe. If memory serves me right…

Knockdhu 2013/2020 (60%, Whisky Is The Limit, first fill Pomerol barrique, cask #51)

Knockdhu 2013/2020 (60%, Whisky Is The Limit, first fill Pomerol barrique, cask #51) Four stars
I don't think I've had any Pomerol whisky since some early Murray McDavid or Bruichladdich, or Arran, not even sure about that. I seem to remember there had been a 'Laddie finished in Le Pin. Crazy idea. Oh and didn't Signatory have a pink Pomerolled Port Ellen? Colour: pink indeed, or rather apricot. Or smoked salmon. Nose: STR? No big merloty aromas, no whacky raspberries or mulberries, rather some pastries, clafoutis, cassata and orange blossom. Makrouts and other delicious oriental pastries. So far, so good, we may start to think about unfastening our seatbelts… With water: success (I've never thought I'd ever write that about a Pomerol finish). Cherry cake, dough, focaccia? No cassis or geranium leaves, no boisterous French oak either. What did they do to the barrique? (tell me, no one's listening…) Mouth (neat): big and probably a tad aggressive at this strength, but some kind of balance seems to have been achieved, around blood oranges and marmalade. Pomerol, blood oranges, capeesh? With water: pretty good! To be honest the pink colour was very bad news, but it looks like things went smoothly. Cakes, a few fruit drops, some cloves. Finish: medium, with, indeed, a wee feeling of Kriek beer. Pepper and big caraway in the aftertaste. Comments: still a little crazy but looks like they got away with this set-up and that they made it out. Madre de dios, a Pomerol finish!
SGP:661 - 85 points.

Let's find an older one . Really, they don't exactly give 'Knockdhu' away with coupons these days...

Knockdhu 10 yo 2006/2017 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Knockdhu 10 yo 2006/2017 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Four stars
A rather large small batch, assembled out of three bourbon hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical unoaken fresh Cadenhead, all on sweet bonbons and tart fruits. Granny smith, starfruit, tangerines, a little vanilla, finger biscuits, then a little more fatness, buttercream, custard… What's really rather fantastic is all these tangerines, it is getting very tangerine-y over time. With water: husk and grist. Well, ground malted barley. The fruits are gone. Mouth (neat): all natural malt whisky! Tart fruits once again, a hint of wood smoke (remember, Scotch = smoke in popular beliefs), grapefruit skins, peach skins… Now it feels even more than 56.5%, so… With water: very good, very much natural indeed, with good fresh tart fruits and good grass (I mean…) plus good fresh bread. The tangerines come back to haunt you after only a few seconds. Tangerines covered with honey. Finish: rather long, with a herbal quality to it this time. I seem to detect oregano and perhaps borage flowers. I'm not joking. Comments: I'm rather impressed with this perfect wee Knockdhu au naturel. I should have tried it earlier instead of binge-bathing in Macallan. Ooh that nightmare…
SGP:551 - 87 points.

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


January 21, 2021


The return of 1970s Ardbeg

We cannot survive without a few Ardbegs every once in a while, even if the great times of the 1970s distillates are now long gone. As they say in social media, those were the days… But let's see what we have…

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2003, for duty free, 1 litre)

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2003, for duty free, 1 litre) Five stars
Most probably some early 'Allied' distillate, made by the Laphroaig crew to keep the equipment fit while the distillery was virtually closed. Colour: white wine. Nose: a very medicinal Ardbeg, with fairly huge whiffs of vaseline gauze and tarred bandages at fist nosing, with something slightly musty and some tarry ropes, old hessian bags, fisherman's boat, petrol… All that is very older-Ardbeg indeed in my book. Tends to become cleaner then, almost lighter, and rather all on lime, with a little beach sand and chalk. One green olive too, brine… All in all this is brilliant. Mouth: a little gentler, perhaps, grassier and even more on lemon (drops) for a short while, but the smoke's unleashed then, with rather huge tarry notes, this feeling of eating the content of an ashtray, and just quite a lot of natural rubber, with a Talisker-like pepper in the background. This sure hasn't much to do with the current -albeit just as excellent – Ardbeg Tens, which are less fat and deep. Finish: rather long and fat indeed, with more rubber. Also tar, kippers, and salty olives. Comments: not the 1970s, but… stay tuned…
SGP:367 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 26 yo 1993 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, The Islay Giants, 257 bottles, +/-2020)

Ardbeg 26 yo 1993 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, The Islay Giants, 257 bottles, +/-2020) Five stars
This one's dedicated to the friends of Quaich Bar, which is obviously pretty charming and a rather thoughtful touch. Now the whisky might be a little more brutal… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: really very different, as I'm rather finding a lot of raw wool at first, mud, seawater, kelp, then lanoline, Woolite, brake fluid, engine oil, waxed papers, then rather cut hay and grass… In short almost no citrus this time, rather pretty huge notes of 'a walk on a beach on Islay'. Your choice. It's perhaps also a little more reminiscent of the 1970s. Mouth: sweet and sour at first, with quite a lot of smoked water, sour apples, seawater, almond paste, as well as pieces of tangerine and even oranges. Orange drops, Fanta. Some walnuts would join the dance later on, a little mustard too, which, together with the saltiness, would then make you think of a good bone-dry manzanilla. No sweetness of fruit left whatsoever after two or four minutes. Remains pretty 'lanoline-y'. Finish: long and salty, waxier too. Brine, oregano, something chalky again. Grapefruits are back in the aftertaste, with a later onset of granny smith apples. There's even a drop of honey! Comments: not quite an instant winner but give it a little time and it would become splendidly complex. Class Ardbeg, reminiscent of the 1970s indeed.
SGP:456 - 92 points.

Everything goes well so far, no?

Ardbeg 22 yo 1998/2020 (56.5%, OB, Rare Cask for Benjamin Tan, second fill oloroso butt, cask #50, 500 bottles)

Ardbeg 22 yo 1998/2020 (56.5%, OB, Rare Cask for Benjamin Tan, second fill oloroso butt, cask #50, 500 bottles) Five stars
A very interesting bottling, first matured in refill bourbon for six years, then transferred to sherry for some further sixteen years of maturation. In other words, this baby started its life as a potential Uigeadail, but luckily, it wasn't disgorged and went on aging quietly in warehouse #3, at the Distillery. Well that's what I understand. Colour: mahogany. Nose: you're instantly reminded of some kind of smoky coffee, then metal polish, then pipe tobacco, then old copper kettles. Umami's hovering over all this and we cannot wait to add water. Neither can we not think of the first Uigeadails indeed, which stormed Whiskydom when they came out. With water: it's like a sea turtle, it swims better than it walks. Old coal stove, cocoa, black cigars, the tiniest drop of acetone ever, bitter oranges aplenty, and this thing that's always brilliant, 'new electronics'. Vegetal extracts are also showing up, soy sauce, umami sauce indeed… Mouth (neat): very focused, compact, almost pungent. Heavy walnut cordial, tart lemon juice, cocoa, ground coffee, Worcester sauce and 'sucking an old penny'. Which no one should do, naturally. With water: smoked rancio, walnuts in all their possible forms, bone-dry armagnac, chocolate and coffee, then meaty, malty and vegetal extracts and sauces. Maggi, Kikkoman, Bovril… Oh and have I mentioned smoke? Finish: very long, not stuffy – not light either – with a blend of smoked tea with all those yeasty sauces and extracts we've mentioned before. Rather some nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: it's a thrill to compare the Quaich and this one, for they are so different and yet remain within the same family. Same super-high quality in my book.
SGP:367 - 92 points.

Since we were mentioning the 1970s, here's a *new* one!

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #9859, 24 bottles)

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #9859, 24 bottles) Five stars
There were so few bottles of this that I believe this expression flew right under the chatterati's radars when it came out last year. But we have it , he-he… Possibly the oldest Ardbeg ever bottled. Good, the OB 1965 was 40 too if I'm not mistaken, but it wasn't that great, was it.  And this is quite a (well-deserved) coup for Kirsch Import. Not sure if that was all what was remaining in the barrel having said that, but that's very possible. Colour: gold. Nose: it went towards piney aromas, clearly. Lovely on the nose, the palate 'might' be more problematic then, but one thing at a time. So I would mention teak oil, sauna essences, then rather Barbour grease, old embrocations, camphor, artemisia, drawing gum, things like that. Some leather polish too, spearmint cordial, acacia gum… It's gathered many tinier aromas throughout the years, mainly ones that aren't very common in everyday life. Now, we agree the concepts of Ardbeg 40 and everyday life do not quite fit. With water: no changes. Perhaps a little more hessian – hessian's certainly not unseen in old Ardbeg, and some orange-scented candles. And dry almond paste, which is rather Ardbeggy too. Mouth (neat): a miracle. It is piney and woody, acetone-y, varnishy, even pretty bitter, but for some reason all that remained under control and very well-mannered. There's a very lovely dustiness, reminiscent of an old library – or there, of an old warehouse – then many notes of old-school middle-European herbal drinks. Underberg, Jäger, Unicum, Fernet Branca, Cynar… All that without one single microgram of sugar, rather with a big waxiness. Paraffin. Some lemon keeping it tight and bright, that's a miracle too. With water (we're trembling…):  ah, no, on the contrary, lemon and mint take over, this is almost 'young'. The smokiness gets also more obvious, while it wasn't before, while it's also getting more medicinal again. Cough medicine, also some unexpected notes of apple liqueur, which would keep the tension on. Menthol and pine resin do that too, obviously. Finish: unexpectedly long, tight, not fragile at all, and never too dry. Menthol in apple liqueur, with a smoky twist. More or less that. Only the aftertaste is a little 'oaky' as such. Comments: two miracles here. First the fact that it was so fresh, and second, the fact that I've also got a sister cask, #9861. But I just do not know for whom that one was bottled. Can you help?
SGP:474 - 91 points.

Yeah well I'm afraid we've been flying a little high. But too high? Never!

(Merci Benjamin, Des and KC)

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


January 20, 2021


Two Kornog, one being very special to WF

Yeah well, all whisky enthusiasts do own casks, do they not? For example, I used to own a barrel of Kornog, Glann ar Mor's Longrow if you like. Kornog's becoming cult by the way. The question is, what do you do once your casks are mature ? Well, the good news is that I happen to know that strange entity named 'The Whisky Sponge', and that we managed to find a good deal. I would transfer the property of my cask to the Sponge, I would get back a few cases for my personal consumption (as a drink, as antifreeze, as a window cleaner etc.), I would make sure that £30 out of each bottle that's sold to the public would go to Parkinson's UK to further commemorate the life and works of the great late Michael Jackson, the best whisky writer there ever was, and lastly, we would declare that that very special Kornog would be bottled to celebrate the 18 years, 4 months and 7 days of whiskyfun.com. Sounds good, no?

Our friend Jean, founder of Glann ar Mor
and Kornog. The distillery, which had been
operational since 2005, has just been
sold to Maison Villevert.

So we did it, and here's my tasting note, right after a solid sparring partner. Excuse me? No, please do not expect a score, we won't stoop to that… But first, our sparring partner…

Kornog 2006/2020 (59.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, France, bourbon barrel, cask #12101, 124 bottles)

Kornog 2006/2020 (59.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, France, bourbon barrel, cask #12101, 124 bottles) Five stars
It's good that they would have had one of those rare Kornogs from Brittany within this rather posh – some would say high-brow – range. Kornog's malt is peated to some rather Ardbeggian 40ppm, and actually pretty rare. Colour: gold. Nose: soft and oily at first, with some sunflower oil and some homemade custard at first, then a perfectly integrated and pretty olive-y second breath. I know they are very proud of this one at LMDW and that someone there whom I totally trust said it was reminiscent of Lagavulin, but I'd rather say well-matured, 20 yo ex-bourbon Caol Ila. But they are right, obviously, as they are the pros. I mean it. With water: some menthol and aniseed coming out! Crushed sardines too, remember this was matured on a shore indeed. Mouth (neat): superb, really. Huge arrival, very punchy, warming, with good fatness and yet a zesty, lemony feel. A thin blade in a thick sheath. Touches of natural vanilla, sour oranges, a lot of seawater, olives, oysters, ashes… I insist, Coal Ila! But first and foremost it is Kornog (sorry if I sound like a brochure). What a shame and a pity that they're making so little Kornog (yes, same with Longrow, probably a matter of having to clean up the pipes all the time and all that)… With water: oh lovely, wee touches of oregano and tarragon that would go so well with the lemon, the oysters, and the rather huge smokiness that are inside. Finish: long, exceptionally well balanced, zesty and fat once again. Salty ashes and no dullish fruits, that's well-aged C.I. indeed. Comments: I have to confess it's the first time I'm trying a really well-aged Kornog. I've tried many young ones, but I've never monitored my own either. So a total surprise here, I'm just a wee tad sad because the Distillery just changed hands. Truly great work Jean, I know that just like yours truly, you'll never retire ;-).
SGP:557 - 90 points.

And so, our own, kind of. It's actually a little older, as it was distilled in 2005. In fact, it is the oldest Kornog - and Glann ar Mor for that matter - that's ever been bottled. It's to be remembered that beyond what's clearly local, such as the warehouses, they've done this right as anyone should, so as the best Scots used to do it, that is to say with proper worm tubs, pot-stills, live flames, proper yeast, perfect washbacks and all that. No corners were cut, no Holstein was used, and no pinot noir casks were ever butchered, if you see what I mean. But let's proceed…

Kornog 15 yo 2005/2020 '18 years 4 months and 7 days of whiskyfun' (50.4%, WhiskySponge, France, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 149 bottles)

Kornog 15 yo 2005/2020 '18 years 4 months and 7 days of whiskyfun' (50.4%, WhiskySponge, France, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 149 bottles) Five stars
Remember, £30 per bottle go straight to Parkinson's UK, in memory of the late Michael Jackson, the greatest whisky writer of all times. This is the first time I'm properly tasting 'my cask', or, should I say, 'my ex-cask'. Colour: light gold. Nose: obviously rather similar, but it's somewhat firmer, probably more austere, with more vegetal notes (white asparagus) and more petroly aromas. A little more leather too, tobacco and mustard, and this manzanilla-quality that comes a little unexpected since this is was a fresh bb barrel. With water: m.a.n.z.a.n.i.l.l.a. Really. Possibly the influence of the sea, as they have in Sanlucar. Yeah I know that's controversial but this wee whisky is clearly very coastal. Mouth (neat): very mature, salty, zesty, with a few bitterish notes around green tea, ashes, green walnuts and artichokes. But this time I've got the papers in my hands and I can solemnly swear to Vishnu that it wasn't a manzanilla butt. Oh and I've seen the barrel in real life, around the time when it was filled, so please believe me. With water: feels older than 15 for sure, and yet it's totally bright, wonderfully bitter (green walnuts, mustard and manzanilla indeed) and integrally dry and peaty. Finish: long, salty, very manzanilla-y indeed. Comments: I hereby certify that this was a honest and faithful description of this little whisky. As I said, I shan't score it, but I shall drink the remaining drops (well, bottles) to the memory of Michael Jackson. Please friends, keep mentioning M.J. to the new enthusiasts, so that he's never forgotten (and screw the diminutive bearded Panama-wearing sexist braggart who's not even half the man that M.J. was). There, thank you.

Sadly, there aren't too many of these bottles, so they will be sold via a ballot, full details of which you can find here, should you wish to enter. Remember £30 goes to Parkinson's UK. Who's mad enough to actually import a cask of malt whisky from France to the U.K. while Brexit's in motion? The Sponge! Adios, do well!


Amazing MoMa-quality artwork by the WhiskySponge team. The future of whisky design has arrived! >>

January 19, 2021



Tomorrow we'll celebbrate Whiskyfun's 18 years, 4 months and 7 days right here and do something we've never done before. Something that we may well never do again...


A 3-vertical of new old indie Jura

There's been a good bunch of early 1990s indie (probably ex-SV) Juras around for quite a few months. These batches are always either good or interesting, provided no official entity has ever decided to murder them with any Mathusalem sherry or multiple wood madness. Let's have a very short verticale…

Isle of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (49.7%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 98 bottles)

Isle of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (49.7%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 98 bottles) Four stars
A micro-bottling bearing a very Moony label. A good sign methinks… Colour: gold. Nose: I remember. Bidis, patchouli, camphor, pink pepper and old rose petals, a very hippy combo. All we're missing is Jefferson Airplane or Country Joe McDonald. Perhaps not Country Joe. Some fine woody notes start to rise to our nostrils after two minutes, fresh-sawn teak, or just pinewood. I always enjoy oak when it's become pine-y, same with rums or even tequilas, not saying I'm not a little unorthodox here. Mouth: more pine-y flavours, some oddish herbal notes (crunching fir needles), and some notes of small bananas covered with pomegranate syrup. I am not joking. Some liquid caramel too. Finish: rather medium, oaky, spicier. Huge cloves and cinnamon. Comments: I know quite some friends are wondering why I'm not totally ecstatic about these batches and wouldn't light candles and sing awe mantras for seven hours between two sips. I would answer 'because they're all over the place and are lacking coherence'. And that I don't have to defend myself to you and nobody, there. Well really!
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Isle of Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (42%, Lady of the Glen, cask #1843, 214 bottles)

Isle of Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (42%, Lady of the Glen, cask #1843, 214 bottles) Four stars
I believe Lady of the Glen have recently upped their game, but as always, that's only a personal feeling. These 42% vol. here are natural, as this was bottled at cask strength indeed. Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's rather tropical. One mustn't forget that they have palm trees in front of the distillery! Preserved pineapples, coconut wine, Australian chardonnay (nothing wrong with that, mind you), buttercream, mango ice-cream, crème de menthe… That's all a lovely cocktail, seemingly refreshing and, well, sexy. Okay, glamorous. Let's only hope the palate won't be, say flabby. Mouth: no it's not. When some malts are lighter like this you sometimes find notes of old grain whisky – old Cameronbridge, for example – with due coconut et al., but balance and, first and foremost, tightness and tension were preserved in this case. Coconut wine, mint cordial, Bellini (champagne and peach coulis)… That's all delicate and perhaps a tad fragile, but it would just work. I would add 'phew!' Finish: medium, yet fresh. Lovely fruits and Timut pepper. Comments: I believe this one's miraculously fresh and well balanced. I also believe you'd be forgiven for thinking this was an old pure pot still Irish from Midleton's. Seriously.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

No funky Juraness in sight this far, but this wee session ain't over yet…

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (49.7%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 217 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (49.7%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 217 bottles) Five stars
A previous 'Patersponge' bottling by the inenarrable Sponge had been excellent, so statistically, this one should be pretty good too. Could be that 1990 was a better vintage, even if I remember the distillery's official 1990/2005 had been as bad as a Mélenchon speech (enough with US or Brit politics, on to the French!) As for the label on this Sponge bottling, I say buy a bottle, put it next to the TV set and no need for any German shepherds or alarms at home anymore, all burglars and robbers will leave instantly anyway. Colour: light gold. Nose: different for sure, as this one's got the trademark oils and greases that were not to be found in the others. Castor oil, Connolly polish, new magazine, shoe polish, razorfish… Yes, razorfish. Also cut cactus, grandma's linoleum and unusual spirits, not the least of which would be white slivovitz. Mouth: it sure is the most Jura-y of them all. Much drier, with some earthy mushrooms, inks, dusts, then orange skins, geneever, stout, 'chewing on your Partagas', Listerine, cod oil… This is a funkier Jura for sure, but on the other hand it's probably rather intellectual. I mean, stuff that you like because they're a little difficult, hence rewarding. See what I mean? Like reading Dostoyevsky. Finish: long, dry, earthy. The thing is, there's also an Old-Clynelish quality to this juice, which we just couldn't reject. Some saltiness in the aftertaste, as well as a glutamate-y echo. Comments: the finish was even more convincing than what happened before. Scores went like 86, 87, 89, 90.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

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


January 18, 2021


Aberlour by three

After many whiskies from the rest of the world – I'm afraid we might remain a little Scotch-centric for a little longer – let's resume normal service, starting with the letter 'A'. And why Not?

Aberlour 2009/2019 (40%, OB, White Oak)

Aberlour 2009/2019 (40%, OB, White Oak) Two stars
Given the meagre strength here, I suppose this will rather be or aperitif-quality. Colour: light gold. Nose: rather on porridge, grist, apple compote, gooseberries and just oak vanillin. This is a light, pleasant, undemanding nose that would display a lot of fresh barley as well, before fading away… Mouth: this is where it's getting a little more difficult. The oak strikes first while the body's a little too weak to keep up. Violet sweets, sawdust, some nutmeg... It tends to become bitter and just rather unpleasant. A little bizarre, but we've often noticed that whiskies need higher voltages to be able to sustain this kind of oaken profile. Finish: short, bitter, dry, oaky. Comments: I remember last time I visited the distillery – but that was a long time ago – you could fill your own bottle from either a sherry or a bourbon cask. The bourbon used to be splendid and, at that time, very unusual as Aberlour was all about sherry. But this time, American oak doesn't do much good, in my opinion, but maybe is the newer batch, the 2010, better.
SGP:361 - 70 points.

Let's find a sherried youngster…

Aberlour 8 yo 2012/2020 (58.5%, Whisky Is The Limit, 1st fill oloroso quarter cask, cask #800916, 225 bottles)

Aberlour 8 yo 2012/2020 (58.5%, Whisky Is The Limit, 1st fill oloroso quarter cask, cask #800916, 225 bottles) Four stars
This one straight from Switzerland. According to the colour and since it was first fill, I suppose the quarter cask had been seasoned with fino. Colour: gold. Nose: panettone, mead, fresh pollen and gingerbread, that always works in my book. Kougelhopf. With water: huge saponification happening here, let's wait… Well, some sawdust comes through, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, a touch of horseradish, a little tobacco… (box of cigarillos)… Mouth (neat): very spicy. Fresh oak, turmeric and ginger, mustard, that's new(ish) oak. And indeed, it could have been fino. Indeed, this little best was limitless as far as oak spices were concerned. With water: in general, I believe reduction tends to make whisky oakier, but that's what does not happen this time, as I tend to believe it became a little rounder, with more gingerbread and spicy Jaffa cakes. A little gentler. Finish: the best part for once, with more gingerbread, icing, marmalade, a lot of juniper, rather a lot of cinnamon, all that for a long time. Comments: probably a little extreme, with a feeling of heavy Russian tea at times. A strong boy.
SGP:371 - 85 points.

Aberlour 'A'bunadh' batch #65 (59.5%, OB, 2019)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh' batch #65 (59.5%, OB, 2019) Four stars
Pure oloroso-y Aberlour and one of the batches I haven't tried yet. Last year's #66 had been pretty excellent in my book (WF 87). Colour: A'bunadh's colour is getting lighter every year, is it not? Nose: it's really funny to have this one after the bone-dry limitless expression, as this one is much rounder, much more on butterscotch, Mars bars, roasted raisins, and, well, millionaire shortbread. Very nice, as they say in whisky forums. I mean, fora. With water: Guinness (apologies, Pernod) and drops of beef sauce, Bovril… Now it's rather less meaty than early batches, if I remember well. Mouth (neat): tannins and spices aren't absent here either, but it's still more on cakes, chocolate, peanut butter, maple syrup… With water: same comments. Some orangey notes too, curaçao… Finish: rather long and, once again, rounder and probably a little easier than the biggish WITL. Comments: the style of A'bunadh is evolving, becoming more modern, that is to say with an oak that came rather more to the front, but it's still an ausgezeichnet dram, as they say in Marbella, not too far from Jerez (S., please…).
SGP:461 - 85 points.

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


January 17, 2021


More rums and hopefully more malternatives

It was a great session last week, I doubt we could fly as high on this Sunday. Figuratively (well not that figuratively). Apéritif please!

Santa Teresa 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2020)

Santa Teresa 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2020) Two stars
The lazy word 'reserva', on any bottle of booze, is always a little scary and sometimes even bad news. Now, Venezuela needs our support for sure. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a gentle, easy, rather subtle nose, on fresh-broken branches, fruit peelings, white asparagus, and rather vanilla yoghurt than full-blown vanillin. Some lovely floral notes too, geranium, wisteria… Really, a very nice surprise, but as always with these ranges, only the palate will really tell… Mouth: it is really very light, you'd almost believe this is Absolut Sugarcane. Grasses and sugar syrup I would say, not much else. The good news is that it's not been dosed-up in any way (well, as far as I can tell). Very, very light rum. Rather pleasant notes of bananas and apples coming out after thirty seconds. Finish: extremely short, thus very clean. Comments: I find this honest, if really too light. Like it better than that other Venezuelan oddity, Diplomatico a.k.a. 'Diplo'.
SGP:430 - 75 points.

Let's do one of the heavies…

East London Liquor Company 'Navy Strength Rum' (57%, OB, Guyana, +/-2018)

East London Liquor Company 'Navy Strength Rum' (57%, OB, Guyana, +/-2018)
I suppose I should have tried this one before Brexit, but there. It's the kind of stuff you could only find at The Whisky Exchange anyway. Said to be three years old, let's only hope they haven't added any sugary sauces right when filling the casks, as I believe they often do at Diamond. Colour: gold. Nose: light, without much Demerara power and aroma, and rather in the style of a light Cuban, really. Things may change once water's been added. With water: nope, they do not. Mouth (neat): it's okay, simple rum, with some caramel, burnt wood, molasses, vanillin and some grass. Okay. With water: a notch better, since some pineapple's coming through. But it remains rather empty and soulless. Finish: short. Sugar, caramel. Comments: really very 'Cuban' – many Cubans are better though - and frankly a little disappointing. For cocktails only, I suppose.
SGP:430 - 65 points.


Port Mourant 2006 (40%, OB, Guyana, +/-2019)

Port Mourant 2006 (40%, OB, Guyana, +/-2019) Three stars
Branded El Dorado. At some miserable 40% vol., will they get away with… murder? I like how Master of Malts describe this, 'a satisfyingly dumpy bottle'. The fine art of deeply conscient copywriting… Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh, no! I mean, it's absolutely lovely, which makes the fact that they've murder… I mean, bottled this at 40% vol. even more excruciating. Roses, litchi, gewurztraminer, diesel oil, pineapples, liquorice, musk, liquorice allsorts, earl grey, bergamot, Chinese noodle soup, old pack of cigarettes, old raisins in an old tin box, lovage, charcoal… I mean, really, wow, this is fantastic! But let's pray to sweet Vishnu… Murder or not? Mouth: yes and no. Sure they are assassins, but this reminds me of some older bottlings by Macallan, or there, Gordon & MacPhail, many made us cry because of the low strengths, but that was because the juices were absolutely stunning. Same here, I believe it's a wonderful rum (same flavours as on the nose, there), it's just that it's weak and feeble. No power and no steam whatsoever on the palate. Finish: almost none, which doesn't happen often with Port Mourant. Some nice liquorice and perhaps pinot gris, shall we say. Comments: high and heavy frustrations. Great rum badly executed, shall we say.
SGP:352 - 80 points.

Good, so far the session is struggling to take off. Let's try to do something…

Diamond 2012/2020 'VSG' (58.9%, Barikenn, Guyana, 186 bottles)

Diamond 2012/2020 'VSG' (58.9%, Barikenn, Guyana, 186 bottles) Five stars
Aged for almost 3 years in the tropics and then in Europe. The marque VSG means this is from the old wooden pot still of Versailles. Remember, Versailles' still was moved to Enmore, then to Uitvlugt, then to Diamond. Doesn't the pan make the soup? Colour: gold. Nose: old pans, best soups indeed. Some kind of salty, bouillony broth, with rotten bananas, crushed sardines, cloves, tar and liquorice, and the obligatory olives. Parsley and watercress soup (I adore that even if I'm not English - ha). With water: some kind of mentholated earthiness, just beautiful. And fresh sugarcane juice! Mouth (neat): perfect, salty, liquoricy and herbal. Perfect focus, body, balance and power. With water: superb salty liquorice indeed, oyster plant, mushrooms, anchovies, tapenade, green and black olives… In fact I believe this is one of the most olive-y rums I've ever tasted. Finish: very long, and you just ate a large pack of olives. Comments: one of the best salty/briny rums I've tried. I mean, my favourite, sorry Mother.
SGP:363 - 91 points.

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


January 16, 2021





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

A pair of Aultmore

I don't know much about Aultmore I'm afraid, it's not a distillery I've tried too many expressions of. Some older examples have been pretty thrilling, but then you can say that about almost any distillery really.


Aultmore 9 yo 2011/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Reserve Casks', six barrels)

Aultmore 9 yo 2011/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Reserve Casks', six barrels)
I quite this elegant looking wee series. Colour: straw. Nose: nice! Lots of soft, but rather bright honeys, pressed flowers, vapour rubs, pollens, lemon rind, cider apple. Very easy, approachable and pleasantly characterful. Mouth: rather firm and rich upon arrival. Lots of biscuity and bready notes providing richness. White pepper, lanolin, bitter beers, bitter citrus piths and some olive oil. A few tart orchard fruits in the background too, like underripe pears and gooseberry. Finish: medium and on simple wood spices, cereals and apples. Comments: The nose was the best part in my view, and after that it declined ever so slightly. But it remains a quaffable, if simple, wee drop overall, no doubt.
SGP: 451 - 83 points.



Aultmore 2011/2018 (67.5%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria series', cask #900367, 1st fill Spanish oak sherry butt, 120 bottles)

Aultmore 2011/2018 (67.5%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria series', cask #900367, 1st fill Spanish oak sherry butt, 120 bottles)
Another from this interesting series where they are bottling single casks in small portions over an extended period of time. Just looking at the ABV is making my eyes water… Colour: amber. Nose: all things considered, it wears its strength well, although there is an undeniably bristle of heat. But beyond that, there's a rather nice cakey density to proceedings. Dundee cake, raisins, toffee sauce, coffee and walnut cake, balsamic and various sweet liqueurs. I'd never pick it as an Aultmore but there is some gooey charm about the sherry profile. With water: takes on a meaty edge now, goulash with paprika, red pepper stew, sticky ginger cake and some kind of chocolate covered prunes. Mouth: It's not painfully strong, but it is rather high octane with these rather trebly sweet notes. Earth, tobacco, ruby port, cafe latte, walnut oil and sugary black tea. A rather extractive profile where sweetness and tannin rule. Probably a result of such a high filling strength. Develops some bitter chocolate notes in time. With water: the spice is instantly and impressively magnified now. Lots of cumin, ginger, caraway, fennel and paprika. Some cooking oils and bitter almond syrup. Powerful stuff. Finish: quite long and getting rather beefy, earthy and with more dark chocolate and bitter cocoa notes. Perhaps straying in to 'natural dirtiness' territories. Comments: A whisky that really makes you work, but there are rewards to be had for sure. The overall impression is one of 'potential'. It will certainly be fascinating to see how such a cask develops over another 5-10 years of maturation - especially now it has a bit more head space for oxygen.
SGP: 561 - 83 points.




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

January 2021 - part 1 <--- January 2021 - part 2 ---> February 2021 - part 1




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2003, for duty free, 1 litre)

Ardbeg 26 yo 1993 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, The Islay Giants, 257 bottles, +/-2020)

Ardbeg 22 yo 1998/2020 (56.5%, OB, Rare Cask for Benjamin Tan, second fill oloroso butt, cask #50, 500 bottles)

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #9859, 24 bottles)

Coleburn 47 yo 1972/2020 (62.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 125th Anniversary, cask #3511, refill sherry puncheon, 363 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (49.7%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 217 bottles)

Kornog 2006/2020 (59.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, France, bourbon barrel, cask #12101, 124 bottles) 

Diamond 2012/2020 'VSG' (58.9%, Barikenn, Guyana, 186 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo 'Nobiliary' (62%, OB, Barbados, bourbon, +/-2019)