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Whisky Tasting

 

Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
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December 2022 - part 2 <--- January 2023 - part 1 ---> Current entries

 

January 8, 2023


Whiskyfun

From Don Papa to Versailles

Well, this will rather be some proper rums plus a spirit drink.

(Picture of the old Darboussier sugar factory - sucrerie - in Guadeloupe. Photograph Aristol)

Darboussier

 

 

Don Papa 'Baroko' (40%, OB, Spirit Drink, Philippines, +/-2022)
In the EU, and possibly elsewhere as well, the label for this other marketing wizardry by Don Papa claims it's a 'Spirit Drink' but naturally, most websites, including those of the poshest online retailers, will tell you it is 'Rum'. That's lying by delegation, which many brands that, for example, use 'solera numbers' in lieu of age statements are doing ad nauseam as well. Not guilty, your honour! Having said that, these new brands, including that 'Bumbu' that Pernod just bought up (really!) are hugely successful so in a way, they deserve some respect. At least some marketing respect, or recognition. After all, 'To each according to his needs', said Karl Marx, and people are addicted to sugar. Colour: deep gold. Nose: you're right, you could say I'm guilty as well since I'm trying this horrendous liquid within a rum line-up, instead of a funny 'worst booze of the world' session that we might do later in Summer. This is some kind of curaçao, flavoured with a lot of vanillin and possibly several strange molecules. It is extremely heady, but it is not rum. Mouth: cane syrup and pineapple liqueur, fifty-fifty. Cough mixture for kids, vanillin indeed, Toplexil, banana cream, strawberry yoghurt. To be totally honest, I don't think anyone, including the makers, are expecting you to sip this without a ton of ice... Finish: long and cloying but that's the sugar. More curaçao and quite some Bailey's. Comments: since so many parties are advertising this as 'rum', we'll score it as if it were 'rum', while as 'rum', it is very bad. As a liqueur that you would drink on a lot of crushed ice, I would say there's probably much worse around.
SGP:920 - 45 points.

Darboussier 6 yo (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2022)

Darboussier 6 yo (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2022) Four stars
This rum de sucrerie, a.k.a. industriel or traditionnel, is made from molasses in columns. That doesn't mean that it is obligatorily inferior to agricole. Having said that, there used to be a Distillerie Darboussier indeed, which was attached to a now derelict sugar factory, but it doesn't exist anymore, so Darboussier's become a brand, probably produced by Distillerie Bonne-Mère in Sainte-Rose. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: interesting nose, pretty unusual, absolutely not 'bland' as so many molasses/column rums can be, with rather some tar and tyres at first, some menthol, marmalade, then tangerine liqueur and a little lychee. Herbs, chartreuse, verbena and liquorice would then chime in. It's funny that some aspects would be close to the Don Papa's, only one hundred times more complex and, well, appealing. Excellent surprise on the nose, although I remember we've already tried some very nice indie Bonne-Mère. Mouth: very heavy liquorice at first, but I do love liquorice. Then tropical jams, some caramel, a saltiness, a good deal of esters (some light funk ala Steely Dan, ha) and more liquorice. A very specific earthiness, perhaps some kind of flower compost? Finish: pretty long, with some burnt sugar, tar, liquorice and once again a floral side. Rotting bananas and some olives in the aftertaste. Comments: not one that you could easily put into a box (figuratively), but I'm fond of this unusual style.
SGP:652 - 85 points.

Chairman's Reserve 13 yo 2008/2022 (56.9%, OB for Rhum Attitude, St. Lucia, cask #0885112008, 227) Chairman's Reserve 13 yo 2008/2022 (56.9%, OB for Rhum Attitude, St. Lucia, cask #0885112008, 227)

Chairman's Reserve 13 yo 2008/2022 (56.9%, OB for Rhum Attitude, St. Lucia, cask #0885112008, 227) Four stars and a half
The independent island of St. Lucia/Ste Lucie lies just south of Martinique. Chairman's Reserve is said to be a blend of pot still and column rums done by St. Lucia Distillers, but this very bottling is purely ex-Coffey column. We've already tried several excellent ones. Colour: amber. Nose: it's got that large amount of varnish that some bourbons may display (Pappy), plus unusual vegetables (eggplant, artichoke) and vast quantities of crushed bananas. Geared towards cakes after that, various muffins, biscuits… There is some tar in the background, the whole remaining dry and austere. Which we enjoy! With water: the varnish is still there. Polished hardwoods, earth, softer cigars, new humidor (cedarwood)… Mouth (neat): fruity and floral, but with many twists and turns. Lilies and bananas, fudge, oranges, Bénédictine, candy sugar… At times you would think of a Distillery in Barbados that starts with a F (amended, it used to say with a B!). With water: the sugar cane grew bigger in the mix, there's also some perfect butterscotch, more fudge, some liquorice and some black tea English-style. Finish: medium, with some cappuccino, still a little varnishy side, sugar cane, tar, liquorice, ultra-ripe (but not rotten) bananas… Chocolate and liquorice in the drier aftertaste, a tiny salty touch too. Comments: splendid, and I don't think it was easy to come after the surprising Darboussier. But so, no single drop of ex-pot-still in there?

SGP:552 - 89 points.

Off to Jamaica…

WP 2007/2022 (59.1%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, refill barrel, cask #29, 271 bottles)

WP 2007/2022 (59.1%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, refill barrel, cask #29, 271 bottles) Four stars
WP, WP… What could this be? No marque that I can find, having said that. Colour: amber. Nose: I have the impression that it would be a pretty 'light' marque, such as WPEL or WPL… It is a little strong but garden herbs and leaves seem to be running the place, plus a little new plastic (new electronics) and roots. A little varnish too, as usual. With water: fruitier. Peelings, apricot kernels, plum eau-de-vie, kirsch… Some green tea too. Very, very moderate tarriness and oliveness. Mouth (neat): some saltiness, some acetone, some lemon squash, perhaps sorrel and cress, grapefruit skins, a drop of pineapple wine, strawberry gum… I'm not sure I would have said 'WP', but I'm finding this excellent. With water: more fresh citrus, herbal teas, light mint tea, a little vanilla… Would tend to become grassier. Finish: medium, light for WP. Oranges and grass. Some grittier oak in the aftertaste, plus the tiniest olives and lemons there is. Comments: an awesome, grassy, unusually lightly-funky WP. 
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Micro-Batch #1 13 yo (58.7%, Rest & Be Thankful, Jamaica, 1,182 bottles, 2022)

Micro-Batch #1 13 yo (58.7%, Rest & Be Thankful, Jamaica, 1,182 bottles, 2022) Five stars
This is 'pure blended Jamaican rum'; not 100% sure that's a shameless oxymoron having said that, although this is not a 'self-blend'. It contains New Yarmouth, Long Pond, Clarendon and some secret rum from Lluidas Vale, which cannot not be Worthy Park. Colour: gold. Nose: 1. Iove parsley, lovage and coriander. 2. There are massive amounts of parsley, lovage and coriander in there. With water: classic carbon dust, brine, olives, green lemons, oysters, tar, tomato leaves, geranium flowers… Mouth (neat): moderate amounts of fresh paint and varnish, rather some focaccia alle olive and quite some liquorice, lemon and tar. Extremely 'Jamaican', but with some softness. A few jelly babies and beans and crocodiles (cassis, lemon, orange, pineapple…) With water: epitomically Jamaican. Some seawater and rather more mineral dust, carbon, clay, some coaltar… Finish: a little softer. Tropical fruits about to start to begin to rot, liquorice, tar, and a perfect salty signature. Olives and seawater. A little menthol too, cough embrocation… Comments: it was a smart idea to blend rums that are relatively similar. No one does that, not even in Whisky. Ever heard of some 'beg + Laga + Laph + Caol Ila blended malt?

SGP:563 - 90 points.

Versailles at Enmore 36 yo 1985/2022 'MEV' (50.4%, Distilia, Greenheart Collection, Guyana)

Versailles at Enmore 36 yo 1985/2022 'MEV' (50.4%, Distilia, Greenheart Collection, Guyana) Five stars
What is this madness? It is to be remembered that Versailles Distillery's old single wooden pot still was moved to Enmore Distillery in 1974, when so many distilleries got closed (1974 was Guyana's 1983). The wood used to build that still was local 'greenheart', hence the name of this wee collection. Enmore Distillery got closed in 1994, this still moved to Uitvlugt Distillery, then to Diamond Distillery in 1999 when Uitvlugt got closed in its turn. Stories that would remind us whisky folk of Inverleven's gear. Colour: gold. Nose: on petrol! And many woods, pine, fir, cedar, eucalyptus, thuja… Some complex savoury soup in the background, with some sorrel, sage, marrow, chives, leek… With water: old pencil shavings, furniture polish, stock cubes, dill, seaweed, parsley, putties, grooming hair grease (gomina), hair tonic… This is almost like crossing into uncharted territory! Mouth: clay and mint, pickled small citrus, anchovies, tarragon, green walnuts, a feeling of very old manzanilla topped with mint, tar and liquorice… Some sides remind me of some sides (pff…) of some early 1970s vintages Ardbegs. That's probably the tar (and the anchovies). With water: all on greases, citrus and herbs, myriads of them. It is like those old Ardbegs, that is to say both compact and 'one', and very complex and 'fractal'. Now the oneness remains all along, it would never quite do 'the peacock's tail', as we say in wine. Finish: medium, with the coastal, maritime part being on the front this time. Some medicinal touches in the aftertaste. Comments: superb. The obvious oak had been perfectly digested. By the way, the marque MEV means Main Enmore Versailles, I believe it is an European broker's marque, but I could well be wrong here.

SGP:463 - 92 points.

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

 

January 7, 2023


Whiskyfun

Missing you already, Ulf Buxrud

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Four Tormore Then Four Longmorn
I was almost going to call this session Torfour and Longfourn, but I have no wish to wind up in the dock at The Hague on crimes against whisky tasting.

 

Tormore 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK, late 1970s)

Tormore 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK, late 1970s)
Many of these batches can be excellent, although I don't know the UK ones as well as the various import versions at 43%. Colour: straw. Nose: wonderful old school fruitiness that incorporates white stone fruits, green fruits and exotic ones such as papaya and mango too. Lightly waxy and mineral as well, typical old style profile and wonderfully clean and pure with it. Mouth: even at 40%, the weight of the distillate carries through extremely well. Lots of soft waxes, citrus rinds, oily sheep wool impressions, soft peppery notes and wee touches of camphor, olive oil and shoe polish. Finish: medium, slightly minty, peppery once again, waxy and showing a return of those fruitier qualities in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely pleasurable old drop that's highly exemplary of this wonderful old style profile that's all about waxes, minerals and fruits. Only a slight lack of power will prevent it technically reaching the 90 mark, but it's soulful and beautiful old whisky for sure.

SGP: 551 - 89 points.

 

 

Tormore 11 yo 2011/2022 (50.5%, Hannah whisky Merchants 'Dalgety', casks #8003 + 8004, refill sherry hogsheads, 550 bottles)

Tormore 11 yo 2011/2022 (50.5%, Hannah whisky Merchants 'Dalgety', casks #8003 + 8004, refill sherry hogsheads, 550 bottles)
From the good folk behind Lady Of The Glen. Colour: straw. Nose: bailed hay, straw, flower nectars and honey on oatcakes. I also find white flowers in vase water, wee hints of aniseed and sweetened children's medicines. With water: darjeeling tea, a hint of rosewater and some lighter grassy tones. Mouth: fuzzy peaches, tinned pineapple and breakfast cereals dusted with icing sugar. Surprisingly sweet and candied in fact, with some nice notes of gooseberry and mango pulp. With water: as on the nose it becomes more nimble, grassy and playful. Lemon rind, plain cereals and wee hints of IPA and heather ale. Finish: medium and on citrus oils, grass, sweet cereals and IPA again. Comments: very easy wee Tormore with a pleasing natural sweetness.

SGP: 541 - 86 points.

 

 

Tormore 12 yo 2010/2022 (59.3%, Watt Whisky, rested in a rye barrel for 14 months, 222 bottles)

Tormore 12 yo 2010/2022 (59.3%, Watt Whisky, rested in a rye barrel for 14 months, 222 bottles)
Not sure 14 months counts as a rest? More a sabbatical. Colour: pale gold. Nose: you can just about see the strings on this rye and it works very well with these nice notes of fresh custard pastries, dessert wines and honey. I also find a little eucalyptus and flower blossom. A lovely sense of richness about the nose. With water: becomes juicier with notes of green melon, fruit jellies and banana bread. Mouth: sharper than expected with green apple, cooking oils, crushed nettle, young calvados and lime sherbet. There's a sense of spiciness from the wood but it's pretty restrained overall. Those custard notes come back given some time. With water: sweetness to the fore with runny honey, orange muscat wine and hints of red liquorice and date molasses. Finish: good length, impressions of bruised cooking apples, more custard, more sweet wines and sultana. Comments: Watt Whisky seem to increasingly specialise in these kinds of 'direct to the point quaffing whiskies'. This one certainly fits that bill, a very tidy wee Tormore with a clever finish.

SGP: 641 - 87 points.

 

 

Tormore 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.8%, The Single Cask, cask #20095A, 102 bottles)

Tormore 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.8%, The Single Cask, cask #20095A, 102 bottles)
I'm late with this one… Colour: deep coppery gold. Nose: superbly rich and bready, behind that damp potting shed earthiness, pipe tobacco and sultanas. Apples baked in armagnac, soft liquorice, leather and hessian. A classical and excellently robust sherry style. With water: that bready quality still dominates but here it subdivides into brown and white breads, toasted seeds, chestnuts, dark ruby ales and goes towards wee hints of umami seasonings and stocks. Mouth: crystallised citrus rinds, various shades of marmalade, slightly dried out aged fruit liqueurs, aged apple brandy and impressions of shoe leather, dried tarragon, strong green tea and mineral oils. Surprisingly fat and rich with these persistent earthy, leathery and bready vibes. With water: lemon verbena, boozy dark chocolate gateau with cherries, wintergreen and even more of these subtle but definite medicinal herbal qualities. Finish: good length, warming, very slightly medicinal, more breads, chocolate, fruit liqueurs and sweet liquorice. Comments: no quibbles here, this is a terrific cask of Tormore. Seems like Tormore and good sherry dance extremely well together. What a shame there were only 102 bottles, it's an extremely pleasurable dram.
SGP: 661 - 90 points.

 

 

Longmorn 10 yo 2011/2022 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #974, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 246 bottles)

Longmorn 10 yo 2011/2022 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #974, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 246 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: custard tarts, gooseberry, green apple, grass and things like trampled nettles and warm porridge run through with honey. Also some very slightly sappy notes, crushed flower stems and vase water. A modern and sweeter style that's very hard to be against. With water: more flower stems, glasses and also breads, crisp green apple notes once again and crushed oatcakes. Mouth: loads of custard, baked apples, cinnamon breakfast cereals dusted with brown sugar. Also some pineapple jelly beans, shoe polish, lemon verbena and sweet citrus curds. With water: a little more peppery, some hints of clay and canvass, along with more of these nicely juicy fruity notes that incorporate pineapple, bubblegum and heather honey. Finish: medium and on wood saps, honeys, dried flowers and orange juice. Comments: easy, sweet, simple and very pleasurable young Longmorn. Although, where the distillate ends and the 1st fill barrel begins is hard to determine - not that that's a complaint mind you.

SGP: 641 - 86 points.

 

 

Longmorn 11 yo 1989/2000 (62.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 7.18)

Longmorn 11 yo 1989/2000 (62.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 7.18)
We're expecting rocket fuel… Colour: pale straw. Nose: fresh barley and oatcakes with something a little lactic and bready in the mix too. Raw ingredients, natural sweetness and simplicity. But perhaps a tad boring… With water: still this slight milkiness, along with soft honey notes, crushed oatcakes, green apple and barley water. Mouth: zing! Rather hot but also surprisingly sweet with pineapple jelly beans, confectionary notes, white mushrooms, shoe leather and cigarette rolling tobacco vibes. Quite a bit more entertaining than the nose, which is fun. With water: nicely peppery now with watercress, mustard powder and green peppercorns in oil. Also a hint of tarragon Dijon mustard - which I just bought a large jar of before Christmas for a frankly outrageous and embarrassing price which I refuse to admit here (was worth it though, utterly delicious!). Anyway, rather a mustardy whisky on the palate I think. Finish: medium, once again on mustards, pepper and even a little saltiness. Comments: a little mundane on the nose, but this one threw off some whacky and fun qualities as it went along. The SMWS bottled many such curiosities during this era I think.

SGP: 461 - 84 points.

 

 

Longmorn 28 yo 1973/2001 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, cask #3970, sherry hogshead)

Longmorn 28 yo 1973/2001 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, cask #3970, sherry hogshead)
Colour: reddish amber. Nose: wonderfully earthy with many medicinal roots and herbs, herbal bitters, cough medicines, liquorice and treacle. A big and punchy mix of things like bouillon, salted caramel, rosewater and umami seasonings. Dried dark fruits and some feelings of incense and mango tea. Mouth: big, dark, chocolatey and with many bitter herbs, pickled walnuts and tar extracts. Also verbena, tarragon and salted liquorice. A very big and perhaps slightly too tannic sherry profile for me. Goes on with cough syrups, more herbs and deep dark chocolatey flavours. Finish: good length, very herbal, nicely bitter, more salted dark chocolate, liquorice, dark fruit liqueurs and peppery notes. Comments: these old 70s heavy sherry Longmorns never fail to impress, I just tend to prefer them on the more playfully fruity side. This one is just a tad too heavy and brutal for me, but still an excellent drop of course.

SGP: 472 - 88 points.

 

 

Longmorn 28 yo 1969/1998 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage '10th Anniversary', cask #4254, 220 bottles)

Longmorn 28 yo 1969/1998 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage '10th Anniversary', cask #4254, 220 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: tight but gorgeously sharp and fruity. Citrus, green and exotic fruits all vying for prominence. There's also a grassy and crushed nettle aspect which invokes rather exotic New Zealand sauvignon blanc impressions. Add to that minerals, wood saps and various fruit teas and subtle waxes. A fruity glory this nose! With water: citrons, hand cream and a feeling of pollen-heavy flowers, warm greenhouses and olive oil. Warming, densely textured and complex. Mouth: waxed canvass and wood saps with pollens, dried mint, tea tree oils and camphor. Mentholic and medicinal with wormwood and cough medicines. Still very fruity but those exotic fruit notes are more crystallised and preserved. With water: gets broader and fatter in texture. More oils, resins, teas and impressions of peppery waxiness, putty, syrupy green and yellow fruits and a nicely resinous and gently medicinal edge. Finish: long, herbal and waxy with wee resinous and crystallised fruit notes dominating the glowing aftertaste. Comments: not as much of a total fruit bomb as some other 1969 Longmorns, but the combination of fruits, waxes and soft, herbal medicines is hugely impressive and satisfying. Quite a complex example I think.

SGP: 762 - 92 points.

 

 

Thank you to KC, Iain and Enrico!

 

 

 

 

January 6, 2023


Whiskyfun

A proper Tomin-toul session

All right, that'll be only three of them, but they do not abound at WF Towers, for reasons I can't explain. Still enough to do a short verticale of this 'gentlest of drams'…

Tomintoul

 

 

Tomintoul 'Tarn' (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Tomintoul 'Tarn' (40%, OB, +/-2022) Two stars
It looks like this is a peater, but I'm not quite sure about the differences with Tomintoul's Old Ballantruans. The back label tells us that tarns are small lochs, surrounded by peat bogs that will shape the smoky character of this whisky. We agree, that sounds like pure **, but Let's see… Colour: straw. Nose: some light, coal-like smoke indeed, as if they had re-racked some Tomintoul in ex-Ballantruan casks. Indeed it does not quite feel like the distillate itself was peated. But this is not unpleasant at all, it is just light and, indeed, gentle. Mouth: feels 'enhanced' indeed, with a little smoked pineapple and apple and even a feeling of tequila. Very thin body. Finish: short, with some smoked water, ashes, and cider apples in the aftertaste. Comments: a funny, harmless peated expression.
SGP:443 - 76 points.

On to bigger boys…

Tomintoul 11 yo 2010/2021 (56.8%, Whisky Is The Limit, 1st fill bourbon hogshead, cask #128/2010)

Tomintoul 11 yo 2010/2021 (56.8%, Whisky Is The Limit, 1st fill bourbon hogshead, cask #128/2010) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: a little varnish and acetone at first, but there's some lovely coconut too (while coconut is rarely lovely in my book), white asparagus, artichoke, sunflower oil, raw celeriac… Some fun to he had with this one. With water: more fun, with balsa wood, new batteries, coconut, tree bark, celeriac indeed, parsnips… Mouth (neat): reminds me of one Tomintoul for Holland, by WIN. Now this one combines citrus, coconut and earth in an unusual manner, this is not a common style. The hogshead was a little special, shall we say (cannot be Tomintoul!) With water: citrus up, always good news. Some sour apples are there too, custard, coconut, apple cake, cinnamon, ginger… But root vegetables keep standing guard. Finish: long, say on mashed celeriac and turnip, sweetened with honey and coconut water. Presto, *** at Michelin's! Comments: a very unusual drop, very hard to score. Good fun though.

SGP:551 - 83 points.

Tomintoul 33 yo 1988/2022 (52.6%, Signatory Vintage, Germany, hogshead, cask #Rem 8080, 93 bottles)

Tomintoul 33 yo 1988/2022 (52.6%, Signatory Vintage, Germany, hogshead, cask #Rem 8080, 93 bottles) Five stars
93 bottles? What happened? And what does 'Rem' mean? Remixed? Remingled? Remains? Remembered? Colour: gold. Nose: the glory of age. Some bits of coal, some old books and cigars, some sandalwood and beeswax, then some apple pie, tarte tatin, crème brûlée, mead, old Sauternes, honeys and stewed quinces. Unstoppable on the nose. With water: ooh an old Meursault! Not one by winemakers who can't behave and believe they're streets ahead of Coltrane and Hendrix, though. No, of course no names. Mouth (neat): superb. Apple juice from old varietals, more mead (or ambrosia indeed), Sauternes, honeys, top chardonnay from Burgundy, custard, sultanas, Danish pastries… This is truly fantastic. With water: beeswax and anything else you would find in a hive. Brilliant. Finish: medium, very good, perhaps just a tiny tad tired now, a little dry shall we say, but that was to be expected; after all this is an old Tomintoul. Comments: some very old Tomintouls distilled in the 1960s were awesome, but often a little tired and fragile. This one's more alive and kicking. Love it.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

January 5, 2023


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today sherried Tamdhu

There's a new release of the popular 'Batch Strength' version! We'll then have a digestif (we call them 'digeo', nothing to do with diageo)…

Tamdhu

 

 

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 007' (57.5%, OB, 2022)

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 007' (57.5%, OB, 2022) Three stars and a half
2019's Batch 004 is my favourite this far (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: the lighter colour didn't suggest this would be this oloroso-y, that is to say full of raw chocolate and roasted pecans, plus toffee, old walnuts and marmalade. It is also a little cologne-y I have to say. With water:  the cologne is gone, but some leather and leaves are chiming in, together with some oak spices. Ras-el-hanout (hello Moroccan friends!) and yellow curry powder. Mouth (neat): classic young sherry monster, rather in the style of the old Macallan 10 C/S, or of earlier Aberlour A'bunadhs or Glenfarclas 105. A monster fruitcake, dried figs, armagnac and prunes, slivovitz, chocolate, then heavy teas and an unexpected pinch of salt. With water: gets grassier and spicier, with much more cinnamon as well, as if it had been more about the oak than about the sherry. Finish: rather long, with a little citrus, more cinnamon, nutmeg and again, this pinch of salt(iness) in the aftertaste. Comments: a pretty spicy batch. A few more years in glass would round it off, but who would do that? Very good tipple for sure, as expected.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Tamdhu 32 yo 1988/2021 (46.3%, Precious Liquors, Three Wise Men Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #2840, 69 bottles)

Tamdhu 32 yo 1988/2021 (46.3%, Precious Liquors, Three Wise Men Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #2840, 69 bottles) Five stars
A small outturn, for Singapore. Some of these 1988s have been a little sulphury in the past, but let's forget about that… Colour: brown amber. Nose: if this has actual sulphur, I'm Harry Kane. There are rather massive loads of raisins in all their forms, macerated in cognac, roasted, further dried, burnt, in pastries… Dried damsons as well, French prunes, cinnamon powder, mulled wine spice mix, old rancio wine, proper old PX (we've just had another bottle of Barbadillo's superb Pedro Ximenez Reliquia)… All in all, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds in this rather Andalusian Tamdhu. Mouth: superb old-school sherriness, with tobaccos leading the pack, then toffees and millionaire shortbread, marmalade, prunes, raisins, rancio, fruitcake, dried beef, muscovado, British-style rum indeed (but I insist, I'm not Harry Kane), more old armagnac… Finish: long, perfectly dry, more on chocolate, coffee and Indeed, armagnac. Comments: sneak these kinds into a blind line-up of old armagnacs, you'll see what will happen (but you may lose some friends). Splendid drop.

SGP:661 - 91 points.

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

 

January 4, 2023


Whiskyfun

More Glenlivet on the table

We've had some superb Glenlivets in the end of last year, there's no reason why we wouldn't try more in the beginning of the new year. Say a quartet, vertically?

(Asterix-inspired French magazine ad, circa 1985. 'You could recognize us with your eyes closed. Locating us is a different story.)

Glenlivet

 

 

Glenlivet 12 yo 'Licensed Dram' (48%, OB, 2022)

Glenlivet 12 yo 'Licensed Dram' (48%, OB, 2022) Four stars
This one ex-1st fill sherry and ex-1st fill bourbon. It came with a story and is/was, apparently, exclusive to dramazon (no comments). Colour: gold. Nose: an allrounder, apparently, with overripe apples, cereals, custard, a little fudge, honey and some nougat, maple syrup and sponge cake. A little more wood in the background, but the whole is very solid, exactly in the middle of malt-Whiskydom on the nose. Mouth: same feeling, word for word, this is a pivotal style, with some honey, marmalade, vanilla, fudge, apple cake, biscuits, some flowers (pollen, nectar, beeswax) and tarte aux mirabelles. Some earl grey too. Finish: medium, a tad oaky but we're all right. Scones, honey and tea in the aftertaste. Comments: this series is very intelligently done. At last, some malt that the neighbours will enjoy! So, without a blush, buy a bottle for the neighbours and keep the St. Magdalenes and the Broras for you and your whisky friends. Charity begins at home. Kidding aside, it is an excellent dram, as was its compadre the 12 years old 'Illicit Still'.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 'Nàdurra First Fill American White Oak' (59.1%, OB, batch #FF0117, 2017)

Glenlivet 'Nàdurra First Fill American White Oak' (59.1%, OB, batch #FF0117, 2017) Four stars
No wonder we've been procrastinating with this one, it is an NAS. But let's keep an open heart and check if this is (sorry, was) not plain oak juice… Colour: white wine. Nose: acacia honey and lime juice, shortbread, custard, kumquats (there) and stewed rhubarb. It's fresher than I had thought. No feeling of 'a pile of fresh sawn planks' this far. With water: citrus and granny smith at the wheel. Perfect kitchen work, no flaws. Mouth (neat): what can I say? It's modern, it's well made, it's fresh and fruity, it's got the right cakes at the right place (sorry?) and it's full of apples and bananas. It is just a little… strong. With water: I surrender. Excellent work, with a perfect fudge, lemon, popcorn, apple cake, lighter honey… It is only in the back of the back that you would find a little straight sawdust. Finish: medium, honeyed, well balanced, easy and not dull, with pineapples and papayas coming through in the end, that's good timing. Comments: believe me, I've tried but this baby remained  unassailable and irreproachable. Better than the olorosos, but what's its age, by the way?

SGP:651 - 85 points.

Let us summon the Sponge…

Glenlivet 14 yo 2007/2022 (53%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 364 bottles)

Glenlivet 14 yo 2007/2022 (53%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 364 bottles) Four stars
Comes with all sorts of funny and whacky things on the labels. Not sure who the guy on the label is but he sure is in big trouble, which shouldn't be the case with this 2007 'livet from Signatory's. We've tried a few, they were good if sometimes, say explosive. Colour: dark amber. Nose: loads of metal polish and chocolate at first, then gentler elements, chestnut honey, peach jam, quince cake, lap xuong, beef bouillon, lighter pipe tobacco... With water: gets a little leafy and leathery and even a tad rubbery, typical saponification. Let's wait… zzz zzz… Good, emphasis on metal polish, old coins, bouillons… And there, since we know The Sponge is a fan, escargots. Mouth (neat): I think this is rather perfect, right in the middle of salty meats, acidic fruits, chocolate and toffee and jammy… err, jams. With water: meats, mint, honey sauce, soups and bouillons, umami sauce, and some honey to round it off. Finish: long and drier, more herbal and more on tobaccos. Some tannicity and some teaishness (they'll catch me one day) in the aftertaste. Comments: love these batches, they can just be a little tiring, or at least demanding. Almost 89 before the finish.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenlivet 44 yo 1978/2022 (48.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, LMDW, Collection Antipode, sherry, cask # #9044403, 75 bottles)

Glenlivet 44 yo 1978/2022 (48.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, LMDW, Collection Antipode, sherry, cask # #9044403, 75 bottles) Five stars
1978, that's last year, no? Right… I believe it was the first time I ever went to Scotland and visited a Distillery, which was Glenlivet indeed, although I just wouldn't remember whether that was actually 1978, or 1979, or 1980. I'm really not too sure but what I remember is that you just couldn't escape Bonnie Tyler's 'It's a Heartache' on the radio. Apologies, I know it's an earworm… Colour: dark amber. Nose: a maelstrom. Every time you pick up your tulip glass you're encountering something else, which I find a little, say unsettling. Meaty! No, fruity! No, chocolaty! No, floral! No, honeyed! No… What happens is that all those A-descriptors would take the lead one after the other, while you just couldn't cope with that frantic pace. And now it's raisins and prunes. No no no, chocolates and toffees! No wait, old brandies, armagnacs… No, old metals… Who's in charge, actually? Or is this self-management? Mouth: grand, one, meaty, topped with honey and chocolate sauce, mead, cognac, dried figs and just a lot of black nougat, or black turon. In my book, black nougat is not totally uncommon at all in malt whisky, but this one's has really got a lot of it. Some Demerara sugar too, chocolaty molasses, thicker honeys… Finish: gravy, honey, chocolate, chalky wine, more nougat, allspice… And black nougat in the aftertaste. Comments: it's even becoming old rum at times, sometimes old brandy, or old plum (vieille prune), or old calvados… Well it would just keep marching to its own drum anyway, no mercy for the humble taster. Let's bow out…
SGP:661 - 91 points.

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

 

January 3, 2023


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today young Glengoyne

We don't see much Glengoyne at Château WF these days, while the name was huge in the house in the early 2000s. Why is this the first Glengoyne session of 2022/2023? Right, whiskies and things come and go and new operations appear on a daily basis these days, but we try to never forget any older names, brands or Distilleries…

(Magazine ad, 2002. 'Unlike other single malts, Glengoyne uses air-dried barley for a better tasting whisky'. Who smoked the Cohibas?)

 

 

Glengoyne 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Glengoyne 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
Ouch, we last tried the 10, in its penultimate livery, in 2012. Mixed feelings back then (WF 78). Colour: light gold. Nose: it starts with cornflakes and new world chardonnay, gets then very barley-y, with some caramel and vanilla fudge in the background. Tiny bits of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, all roasted. Mouth: a light malty dram, with some caramel, praline, roasted peanuts, halva, popcorn and Demerara sugar. Tends to become grassier (green tea, apple peel). Finish: of acceptable length, with some figs, toffee and more cornflakes. Golden Grahams, Jaffa cakes. Sweetish aftertaste. Comments: of sound and fair merchantable quality, as they used to say. I believe it's improved.

SGP:441 - 80 points.

Glengoyne 'The Legacy Chapter Three' (48%, OB, 2022)

Glengoyne 'The Legacy Chapter Three' (48%, OB, 2022) Four stars
NAS but Chapter Two was very good (WF 84). The word 'legacy' is one of the bottlers' preferred whenever they're dealing with NAS, together with the word 'reserve'. This is ex-American oak sherry casks. Colour: gold. Nose: the 10 packing more oomph, with some chocolate, cappuccino, Jaffa cakes, marmalade and biscuits, plus malt, stout, nougat and toffee apples. Uncomplicated but well balanced. Mouth: it delivers! Some strong heather honey, vanilla, a little white chocolate, a few pencil shavings (some rejuvenation?), black chocolate, then some black pepper, cinnamon rolls and nutmeg. Finish: long, with marmalade, clove, pepper, cinnamon and chocolate. Muscovado and some mentholy liquorice in the aftertaste, and a tiny leafiness. Comments: almost a Speysider, style-wise. Probably very young, but very well constructed. Smart whisky, there must be some kind of algorithm behind it (what?)

SGP:451 - 85 points.

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

 

January 2, 2023


Whiskyfun

Easy session, three little Glenfiddich

It's true that we've tried many splendours lately, and shall try many more soon, so we may need a little break, that is to say malt whiskies that are meant to be, hem, not too cerebral. Easy post-holidays whiskies, shall we say…

(Magazine ad, circa 2000. Looks like it was real.)

 

 

Glenfiddich 'Malt Master's Edition' (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glenfiddich 'Malt Master's Edition' (43%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
This is some kind of double maturation, first bourbon, then sherry. It is a very affordable NAS expression, as all NAS should be if you ask me. It's good that they bottled it at 43% instead of some stingier 40%. Colour: straw. Nose: I like this, it's rather on apple crumble, walnut cake and some gentle ale, with the usual pears coming through only after a good fifteen seconds. Pretty light but well-constructed on the nose, now as usual with these relatively simpler drams, the truth will lie somewhere on the palate… Mouth: it's a good palate, easy, very Glenfiddich at first (we're not talking Glenfiddich 1937, are we), then more and more led by raisins, which works pretty well in this context. You could have believed this was finished in cognac wood. Some preserved peaches too, apple compote… Finish: medium, with a little more tea-ish oak, cinnamon, star anise… You may try to pour a teaspoon of this into your hot glass of mulled wine, you'll see, it'll work. Comments: pretty positive and probably a good gift to remote friends and family, as it's really easy and well made. I mean, close friends and family may need something a little more characterful instead. Anyway, we had tried an earlier batch bearing the older livery and thought it was very good too, so no changes as far as scores are concerned.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Glenfiddich 'Reserve Cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2022)

Glenfiddich 'Reserve Cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2022) Two stars
Here some 'hand-selected' sherry casks are married together in a 'solera vat'. Not sure the words solera and vat do hang nicely together; this sounds a little oxymoronic but let's not be bores once more. I mean, a perpetual vat that you keep filling is something else than a solera, is it not. This time again we had tried an earlier expression (circa 2015) but we had thought it was a little too mundane back then (WF 76). Colour: gold. Nose: much leafier and yet lighter than the Malt Master's, rather on fruit peel, cut grass, a little hay, cardboard, sawdust, leather… Mouth: sweeter, rounder for a while, but it would lose steam and become rather tea-ish and tannic. Some wood spices, a little fudge, some malt (and Ovaltine/Ovomaltine)… Finish: rather short, sweeter, with a little sugarcane syrup. Overripe pears and apples in the aftertaste. Comments: relatively all right, juts not very compelling. This time again, we won't change our score. Oh and the Malt Master's killed it, I'm afraid this little Réserve stood no chance.
SGP:541 - 76 points.

Glenfiddich 12 yo 'Our Triple Oak Twelve' (40%, OB, France, +/-2022)

Glenfiddich 12 yo 'Our Triple Oak Twelve' (40%, OB, France, +/-2022) Three stars
A vatting of American oak, European oak sherry and virgin French oak. I believe it is a bottling for France, hence the French oak I would suppose. Nowhere does it actually say '12 years old' but with a large '12' on the label, it cannot not be, this is not rum after all, is it. Colour: gold. Nose: the expected vanilla cake, praline, nougat, popcorn, banana cake, custard tart, blancmange, getting then matter so to speak, with some sawdust but nothing unbearable, quite the contrary. Mouth: I believe the Malt Master's Edition was still superior, and indeed this has quite some apparent oak (we sometimes call them whiskies with exposed beams), but despite the lower strength it's got stamina, freshness and nice fruits, around mirabelle plums and apples. Plus the Glenfiddich pears. Also some raisins once more, from the sherry I would suppose, which will prevent this baby from becoming cardboardy at 40% vol. Finish: short to medium, with good fruits, mirabelle jam, even a little honey. Pleasant! Comments: you know one of our usual mantras, 'please bottle at a higher strength'. Solid Glenfiddich, nonetheless.
SGP:541 - 82 points.

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

 

January 1, 2023


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Celebrating the New Year with Hampden

  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

 

Did you know that Hampden was founded by a Scotsman called Archibald Sterling? And that they were in big trouble until the Jamaican government stepped in in the beginning of this century and then sold it on in the year 2009? Anyway, we never taste only rums from the same Distillery within one single session, as rum remains a 'side spirit' at Whiskyfun, but today we shall make an exception since:

  1. This is January 1st,
  2. It's going to be Hampden indeed,
  3. There is an incredible new official set of 8 different marks/marques, all in nifty 20cl bottles,
  4. What's more, they're all white, so obviously fully distillate-driven and in their most natural, naked glory,
  5. We have the potential to add quite a few recent aged Hampdens to put what we'll have learned into practice,
  6. Indeed, any excuses…
Hampden set

I'd add that this is one of rum's advantages w.r.t whisky, you can have rum white, while you can't quite have whisky white (except that Glen Kella from the olden days). Globally, rum's more about the distillate, although more and more rum makers are starting to talk about wood and wine a little too much for my taste. We'll see what happens in the coming years, I for one wouldn't mimic whisky too much…

8 Marks Collection

So, first up, those eight new white Hampdens, sorted by 'ascending' marks, meaning by growing proportions of esters in the new distillate. What's also brilliant is that they would tell you what those marks really mean, with many technical details… Oh and the fact that they would have bottled all eight at the same strength, 60% vol. while they were all distilled in some of their six (some say four) double-retort pot stills. Dazzling from the beginning to the end! (Hope I'm not sounding like a brochure…)

 

Hampden 'OWH' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Five stars
The mark means 'Outram Wormald Hussey' while the level of esters is of 40 – 80 gr/HLPA (hectolitre pure alcohol). OWH is the lightest mark and was created very recently, in the early 2010s. There is no cane juice vinegar (a concept new to me, I would suppose that's all about bacteria), no dunder and no muck added to the molasses. Colour: white. Nose: that's the thing, it's a bit like peat, even when there's very little you call it 'smoky' or, in this case, 'estery' (or, there, funky). I'd swear there's some Diesel oil, olive oil, capers, lemon syrup… But if I want to survive this session, I'd better bring them down to approx. 45% vol. as soon as possible. So, with Vittel water: it's the mineral side that stands out, chalks and concrete dust, new magazines, ink, linseed oil, and simply fresh crushed cane juice. Mouth (neat and quickly): excellent lemon juice, olives, capers, citronella and a little soap, which is perfectly normal at this point, in my opinion. With water: indeed, it's already in high-esters territories, this time with more saltiness, oysters, and those lemons and olives. Imagine you would think whisky and peat levels, let's say we're already in Ardmore's ballpark. I have no idea if you have stories about bacteria and yeasts colonising distilleries and imposing their marks on any output, as would happen in wine (like in Jura for example)… No soapiness left.

huitres Finish: long and saltier, clearly coastal. I find it terrific, and this is only the start. Rotting bananas in the aftertaste. Comments: what it didn't quite have was ammonia, acetone, heavy varnishes and all that. Love this already, boy is this going to get tough…
SGP:562 - 90 points.
(Picture, oysters from the Île de Ré, Destination Île de Ré.)

 

Hampden 'LFCH' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Four stars
That's 'Lawrence Francis Close Hussey', while the esters would range from 80 to 120 gr/HLPA. It is also a newer mark, it's all also done with molasses without the addition of any vinegar, dunder or muck, but with a longer fermentation period, 4 days instead of 3 for the OWH. I'm not sure you could say that simply adding 33% fermentation time doubles the esters, could you? It's also to be noted that the wash is at a higher strength for both lighter marks, that is to say 5% A.B.V. instead of 2-4% in all more estery ones to come. I find it really cool that they would give us all these data. Colour: white. Nose: there, trouble begins. I mean, so far I'm finding it rather less estery, and a bit more on caraway-and-curry-like spices. But then again, no chances to be taken… With water: more vegetal notes this time, rather around ferns, but the core remains all on chalky lemons, with some ink, paraffin, probably a little glue…

Mouth (neat): more brutal than the AWH this time, with some varnish, but… With water: some fresh fruits, tangerines, maracuja, more lemons, and our petroly olives. Finish: really long, not vastly different from the OWH. Comments: it really takes immense amounts of water before starting to fall to pieces. I love it, but OWH remains my favourite. But this is only the start…
SGP:652 - 87 points.
(Picture, Marmiton)
OLives

 

Hampden 'LROK' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Five stars
LROK means 'Light Rum Owen Kelly', the proportions of esters in the make being of 200-400 gr/HLPA. That's clearly not 'light', is it. It is an old mark from the late 19th century this time, the Owen-Kelly family used to be the owners of the Distillery at that time. To make this one there was an addition of cane vinegar, dunder and muck to the molasses, but in low proportions. By the way, I need to confess that until this very day, I used to believe that dunder and muck were kind of the two sides of the same medal. Shame on me. Anyway, this time they've done an acetic fermentation following the alcoholic one, which brings the total time to five days. Colour: white. Nose: glues and rotting fruits are chiming in this time, while there would be more citrus as well, especially lime. A kind of smokiness too, or am I dreaming? With water: it's getting dirtier than the others, fatter, with many oils, putties, and paints. Like olive green, no need to say (please stay focussed, S.) Mouth (neat): fabulous pure Hampdenness, with more olives than ever, zests, petrol (a feeling of…) and spent oils (something reminiscent of…) With water: a clear favourite, not a throwaway, limoncello and fruity olive oil, chalky chardonnay, some tar showing up for the first time…

Mastic Finish: long, chiselled, salty, olive-y and lemony. Tar and petrol in the aftertaste. Comments: this is Hampden as we know it. As for it being white, I'm starting to believe that with the best rums (cane juice and /or pot still), aging is just an option, or a variant. Glorious.
SGP:662 - 91 points.
(Picture, Polyester putty, Finixa)

 

Hampden 'HLCF' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Five stars
HLCF stands for 'Hampden Light Continental Flavoured' while the amounts of esters are reaching the 400-600 gr/HLPA threshold. To think that someone, a long time ago, has been considering this as 'light'… I would suppose that it was designed as a dresser for continental brands, and that 'flavoured' rather meant 'flavourful'. No? Colour: white. Nose: I see, some turpentine appearing this time, acetone indeed, nail polish remover, also always a lot of chalk and clay, the usual olives, some tiny pickled citrus… With water: forgot to say, it was still harbouring low amounts of vinegar, dunder and muck, while the fermentation time was extended to 7 days. As for this nose, once water's been added it's really going to the other side, the side of glues, paints and varnishes.

Mouth (neat): totally massive already. Black olives this time, glues, lime, varnishes, tar, black propolis, many rotting fruits… With water: wow, brilliant. Fresh lemons and oysters on top of all those tarred olives and clearly overripe bananas and pineapples. Finish: very long, estery, tarry, even slightly rubbery. Turpentine and peat (you read that right) in the aftertaste. Comments: what's really cool with all these Hampdens is that you can taste many elements that, in real life, you would never, ever put into your mouth. Such as turpentine… Fab rum, who needs oak…
SGP:563 - 92 points.
(Picture, OneHOWTO)
Dissolvant

It's now that it's becoming a little scary…

 

Hampden '<>H' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Five stars
'<>H' a.k.a. 'diamond H', 900-1000 gr/HLPA esters, medium amounts of cane juice vinegar, dunder and muck, 3 days alcoholic fermentation + 7 days secondary acetic fermentation (dead wash), with high acetate ethyl (5.5%) and close to 90% butyrate. Knowledge is power! Let's see how all those dazzling data will translate… Colour: white. Nose: we're at a gas station rather than at a Distillery now, but it is still kind of balanced, with bananas and guavas still there in the background. Whacky guavas are particularly obvious, in my opinion. But remember, no chances taken… With water: more fern, vinegars indeed, olives in abundance, tar, seawater, engine oil… The oysters have become severely fat. Mouth (neat): more paint and certainly a lot of acetone. Also huge quantities of liquorice this time, which wasn't obvious in the others. This baby is particularly strong, I have to add. With water: we've clearly reached extreme territories, says this whisky enthusiast. Varnish, dust, Diesel oil, capers and gherkins, green lemons (rather than lime), nail polish, acetone…

capers Finish: extremely long, with some strawberries at first, which you could sometimes find in heavily peated whiskies too, then just a lot of salty oils, tar, and 50 kilos of cracked olives in the aftertaste. Comments: utterly wonderful, but I would say we start to lose a little balance. The HLCF was ahead of it, in my humble little book.
SGP:463 - 90 points.
(Picture, capers, Gastronomiac)

 

Hampden 'HGML' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Four stars and a half
HGML stands for 'Hampden George MacFarquhar Lawson', a mark originally for blending for export markets. High cane vinegar and medium dunder and muck proportions, while the fermentation times reach 15 days (5 alcoholic, 10 acetic). The proportions of esters are reaching 1000-1100 gr/HLPA. Colour: white. Moves like oil your glass. Nose: grasses and glue, would I say, but there also more fresh fruits this time, which we weren't expecting. Even pears and pineapples, and certainly something eau-de-vie-ish (kirschwasser, plums). Some earth as well. This one's intriguing, perhaps thanks to some clearly longer fermentations. With water: fumes and cigarette smoke at first, then dark chocolate and even some coffee. Varnishes, olives and lemon juice are joining only later on. Mouth (neat): heavy glues and acetone, plus crushed bananas and rhubarb wine, and really a lot of liquorice. It remains bright, having said that. With water: higher salinity, but also more sweetness, even notes of yoghurt. Preserved cherries, really? This one's really unusual, or at least different.

Finish: long and, this time, unexpectedly rooty. Beets (which takes the cake) and gentian spirit. The aftertaste is more acetic and varnishy, as expected this time. Some heavy liquorice and pepper too. Comments: highest order, naturally, but a 'funnier' one.
SGP:563 – 88 points.
(Picture, preserved cherries, Les Gourmandes Astucieuses)
Cherries

 

Hampden 'C<>H' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Five stars
So 'C Diamond H', which I don't think I've ever seen before, with high cane juice vinegar, muck and dunder adjunctions, very long fermentations (10+10=20 days), and 1300-1400 gr esters/HLPA. Scary résumé, don't you think? Colour: white. Nose: back to concrete and diesel oil, pickled gherkins, olives, carbon dust, old brake pads, plus new electronics and leatherette. No fruits in sight this time, so far. With water: it is much more elegant than I would have thought, rather less wham-bam-check-my-esters (S., are you all right?) and rather on various herbs and earths. Something basaltic. Mouth (neat): really extreme this time. Concentrated lemon juice, acetone, indeed vinegar, some very tight liquorice, the greenest green olives… With water: perfect, straight to the point, no detour ahead (sweet Bill Evans!), rather on some earthy liquorice and, to be honest, not that much acetone. And a lot of olives, aren't they throwing olives into the pits?

Gherkin Finish: long, rather elementary, in the best sense of that word, simple, perfect. Olives, lemon, salt and tar. What does the people want? Tight 'green' white wine in the aftertaste. Comments: awesome, one that you could actually sip without racking your brains.
SGP:552 - 90 points.
(Picture, gherkins, NDTV Food)

What's complicated is that I love Hampden, so in no b****y way could I proceed by elimination. Anyway, the last one will be a legendary…

 

Hampden 'DOK' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) Five stars
DOK stands for 'Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson', the highest ester count at Hampden and in Jamaica in a whole, with 1500-1600 grams esters per hectolitre pure alcohol, which is the legal limit. Fermentation was eternal (well, 10 days alcoholic + 15 days acetic) while they had originally added the highest proportions of cane vinegar, muck and dunder. It is not the first DOK we're trying, but let's remember that esters may translate differently in any aged rums. Yeah, t's like peat, nothing is linear or granted. Colour: white wine. Nose: the fumes from a well-tuned old 911, geraniums, tomatoes, williams pears, young Comté cheese, vinyl, sour cherries… Well, the molecules in there seem to be run off their feet! With water: grass, cactus, carbon, slate, capers, samphires, and this vinyl again. A large box full of old 33 rpm vinyls and cassettes. A little ammonia this time, and more cheese as a consequence (or conversely). Mouth (neat): yes, no, I don't know. It is full of varnish and cigar ashes. I love it and I hate it, pretty intermittently. Only escape, water: it's gherkin juice with some cellulosic varnish, kept in an amphora with bits of tyres and green olives. Quite bizarrely, this works.

Finish: extremely long, with lemons back at the helm. Smoked olives and tarry ashes in the aftertaste. Even a little vanilla and sweet oak which, I agree, cannot be there. Sweet mustard. Comments: fantastic, if a little tiring at times. Between us, would you have more than three glasses of this? A theoretical question…
SGP:653 - 90 points.
(Picture, Porsche 911t 1970, Richard Opie)
Porsche

Announcing The Podium
What's my favourite mark/marque? Well, they may then age differently depending on their profiles, the various precursors that they may shelter and all that, but as far as white Hampdens are concerned, my personal podium would be:

  1. HLCF
  2. LROK
  3. OWH, <>H, C<>H, DOK

Disagreements and taunts: on a postcard please.

HLCF

Good, I feel like I should pinch myself to see if I'm still alive after these crazy eight Hampdens. It seems that I am, so what did we learn? First, that they're all superlative. No real surprises, but there. Second, that these rums do not really need oak. In a way, they're like the greatest mezcals. Third, that ester counts aren't linear by any means, at least not 'in your glass', possibly because of our own detection thresholds or personal biases and distortions. Fourth, that fermentation times, whether alcoholic or bacterial, are extremely important. And fifth, and rather deceptively, that some rum makers are now at the cutting edge in terms of education and engagement, while so many whisky makers are still busy doing some lousy 20th century-type brand-building that would make the most optimistic oyster cry. But didn't we say we'd also try a few aged Hampdens? I think we've got a pretty young one, for example…

 

Hampden 5 yo 2016/2021 'LROK the Younger' (47%, OB)

Hampden 5 yo 2016/2021 'LROK the Younger' (47%, OB) Four stars
A little Wedderburn sheltering 314.8 gr esters per HLPA. Long live precision! This should go down easy and effortlessly. Colour: white wine. Nose: citrons running the show, together with light varnishes and green pears. Some American oak has added some roundness, some vanilla, and some fresh ripe bananas, plus a feeling of cane juice, rather agricole-style. This is smoother and rounder than any of the whites from the Collection, from the OWH up to the crazy DOK. Mouth: much Hampdenness at first (varnish and olives) but once again, the sweet American oak made it almost cakey, almost as if someone had added some maple syrup. Now, lemons are coming to the recuse, re-establishing balance and zestiness. A little saltiness finishes the job. Finish: medium to long, very citrusy, and actually just excellent. I think we got a little bit spooked over nothing. Comments: super mega good, easy for Hampden. Just like with Pliny, the Younger can match the Elder; now you do feel, at times, that the oak was not that necessary. I know some true rum afficionados that would always, ever favour the whites.
SGP:652 - 87 points.

HPDN 2013 '<>H' (65.4%, Swell de Spirits, Anniversary Cuvée, cask #05086)

HPDN 2013 '<>H' (65.4%, Swell de Spirits, Anniversary Cuvée, cask #05086) Four stars and a half
A rather pan-Jamaican baby, as it was first matured on location at HPDN for 7 years, then for 2 years in the UK, then for 3 months in a New Yarmouth cask, which sounds a little.. odd. But they say only the result counts…  By the way, remember, <>H means heavy butyrate, so ripe bananas and pineapples. And 900-1000 gr esters/HLPA altogether. Colour: light gold. Nose: crazy indeed, very vinegary, with shallots and onions, olives, tar, caramel and many varnishes and ketones. Mirabelle plums and bananas are kicking in after a moment and would literally invade it. With water: unknown aromas. It is very intriguing, with something Chinese as far as the profile's concerned. Chen-pi, Austrian riesling, young vinegar de Jerez, sweet Chinese sauces indeed, also raisins (raisins?!) Mouth (neat): extremely powerful. Crunching raw rhubarb and the greenest green plums. But that should be temporary… With water: acetone and varnish at the helm, tar and brine on the deck, olives and pineapple liqueur in the bilge. Moreover, it swims extremely well and can take a lot of water. Finish: long, rounder, but always salty, varnishy and olive-y. I haven't quite got New Yarmouth's profile in mind, but it may be the guilty party. Comments: very crazy indeed, with esters moving in a Brownian way, not easy to follow but rather spectacular.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Hampden 15 yo 'C<>H' (62%, Kinghaven, sherry finish, 2022)

Hampden 15 yo 'C<>H' (62%, Kinghaven, sherry finish, 2022) Four stars and a half
Kinghaven is a brand by Smögen, the small albeit very valiant Swedish Distillery. If they have decided to finish some Hampden in sherry, there must have been a reason, beyond the fact that they were having some empty sherry cask at hand. Oh and remember what we've learnt, C diamond H means extremely high esters… Colour: gold. Nose: right, the sherry was anecdotal, or was it some manzanilla? What it's got is rather some camphor and pine resins, beyond the smoky and tarry olives and all the crazy varnishes. With water: massive oliveness. It's all about olives, really, with an acetic side. But now that we've learnt that they're adding some cane juice vinegar to the molasses, nothing surprises me anymore. Great nose. Mouth (neat): well, smoked olives perhaps? Surely some high-concentration tarry grassiness, crushed olives, stone dusts, ashes, vinegars, green walnuts, some mad nocino liqueur… With water: pure high-ester Hampden, with just a piney side. A piney side from a sherry cask? Why not! Finish: very long, a tad waxier and with some lemon marmalade. Really. Comments: pretty experimental, with emphasis on the 'mental' part of that word. A joyous, rather extreme concoction by Smögen, top rung for sure but it's like mortadella, we don't actually wanna know how they made it. Remember these are the folks who are also making surströmming (okay, I owe you a beer, Pär).
SGP:563 - 89 points.

A last one…

Jamaican Rum 21 yo 2000/2022 'JMLR' (48.2%, The Whisky Blues and Get Lost In The Whisky, cask #94, 137 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 21 yo 2000/2022 'JMLR' (48.2%, The Whisky Blues and Get Lost In The Whisky, cask #94, 137 bottles) Five stars
Brokers are using different marks, in this case it seems that JMLR is a mark by E & A Scheer in Amsterdam and would translate into LROK. For example, Cadenhead's are using the mark JMLR for Hampden LROK, which, remember, is a lighter mark, with 200-400 gr esters/HLPA. We'll also remember that it's not all linear anyway… Colour: straw. Nose: this is so gentle, easy, rather on sunflower oil, green tea, soft sweeter olive oil rather than plain olives, old books, spearmint, with a little myrtle and elderberries, whiffs of pine smoke, lime tea, wormwood… In truth I'm finding this fantastic, extremely subtle and delicate. Mouth: absolutely wonderful, starting with various citrus and mints, herbs of many kinds, a dollop of fir honeydew, then we'd find the olives that are actually running today's show, then sour wines, lemon juice, dill, even smoked kippers… We're actually slowly moving towards old Islay, especially towards the briniest Bowmores. And oysters! Finish: medium to long, very maritime. Oysters in majesty, with smoked olives as the garniture. The aftertaste would be a notch sweeter, perhaps on raisins, perhaps on goji berries. Comments: wow. There was also a medicinal side, but all in all, it was truly as maritime as a… stripped-back Bowmore.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Happy New Year!

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

December 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Lagavulin 30 yo 1991/2022 (44.3%, OB, Cask of Distinction, for Hong Kong Whisky Fellows, House Welley Whisky Bar, Christoph Kirsch, Sebastian Jaeger and Boris Borissov, 1st Fill PX/Oloroso seasoned European oak butt, cask #5403, 318 bottles) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Clynelish 33 yo 1973 '2nd bottling' (54.6%, Prestonfield/Signatory Vintage for LMDW, cask #8913, 439 bottles, +/-2007) - WF95

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Lagavulin 8 yo (48%, OB, +/-2022) - WF90

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Tiffon 'Lot 19:22 Borderies' (45%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Kirsch Import, Cognac)  - WF93

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Millonario '10 Anniversario Reserva' (40%, OB, Peru, rum, +/-2022)  - WF45

December 2022 - part 2 <--- January 2023 - part 1 ---> Current entries


 

 
   
 


Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Glenlivet 44 yo 1978/2022 (48.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, LMDW, Collection Antipode, sherry, cask # #9044403, 75 bottles)

Tamdhu 32 yo 1988/2021 (46.3%, Precious Liquors, Three Wise Men Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #2840, 69 bottles)

Tomintoul 33 yo 1988/2022 (52.6%, Signatory Vintage, Germany, hogshead, cask #Rem 8080, 93 bottles) 

Hampden 'OWH' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022)

Hampden 'LROK' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022)

Hampden 'HLCF' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022)

Hampden '<>H' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022)

Hampden 'C<>H' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022)

Hampden 'DOK' (60%, OB, La Maison & Velier, The 8 Marks Collection, 20cl, 2022) 

Jamaican Rum 21 yo 2000/2022 'JMLR' (48.2%, The Whisky Blues and Get Lost In The Whisky, cask #94, 137 bottles)

Micro-Batch #1 13 yo (58.7%, Rest & Be Thankful, Jamaica, 1,182 bottles, 2022)

Versailles at Enmore 36 yo 1985/2022 'MEV' (50.4%, Distilia, Greenheart Collection, Guyana)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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