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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2010 - Part 2

July 2010 - part 1 <--- July 2010 - part 2 ---> August 2010 - part 1


July 30, 2010

Rumfun, tasting three Enmores plus four other Demeraras

Demerara is the name of a region in Dutch Guyana, where all sugar-processing factories used to have their own distilleries, named after the places where they used to be. Enmore, Albion, Blairmont, Port Mourant, Uitvlugt, Skeldon, Versailles… The distilleries all closed down and today, only on large distillery remains in Georgetown, called Diamond Distillery and making the famous El Dorado rum.


The name of the company that owns the distillery is Demerara Distillers. They seem to have bought some or all of the former distilleries’ old stills, some being quite unique. Not all seem to be in operation these days. From what I could gather, some of the stills are as follows: Enmore, wooden column still. Blairmont, copper column still. Albion, wooden column still (not sure!) Port Mourant (or Morant), wooden pot stills. Uitvlugt (or Uitvlught), copper pot stills. Demerara Distillers are still using most of the stills and keep producing some of these old rums, using the old names for each style (as if, say Bruichladdich were using the old Inverleven stills they bought a while back and were calling the output ‘Inverleven’).

Enmore rum

Enmore 1988 (46%, Berry Bros, Demerara, Guyana) Three stars Colour: straw (unusually light) Nose: quite easy but certainly not simple, rather grassier than the ‘average’ rum in my (very short) experience. Whiffs of sugarcane, hints of molasses (not much), candy sugar, a pleasant rubber (new tyres) and something slightly meaty and animal (ham).

It’s not overpowering at all and we aren’t too far from malt whisky in a certain way. Closer than to heavy dark rums. Mouth: very sweet, extremely sweet! Liquorice allsorts and other confectionary, marshmallows, banana liqueur, plum jam, very ripe strawberries… A heavy contrast with the nose. Hints of rosewater and even litchis – or sweet gewürztraminer. Finish: long, grassier again, also more on lime and lemon zests. Some liquorice in the aftertaste, as almost all-ways. Comments: a pretty good, contrasting rum in my opinion, not too complex and globally easy. SGP:751 - 80 points.

Enmore 1990/2008 (61%, Velier Italy, Demerara, Guyana, 728 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: a punchier and more spirity version of the BBR, with maybe a little more sugar syrup but otherwise we’re very close in style. Maybe water will set them apart. With water: it’s definitely sharper and zestier than the 1988. Lemon and a little spearmint, then more camphor and eucalyptus that give it a medicinal edge. Nice nose. Mouth (neat): hot and powerful, rather zestier and much less sweet and sugary than the BBR. Crystallised lemons and angelica, green bananas, candy sugar. With water: once again, this is less sugary than the 1988 as well as firmer and rather more complex. Some mint, bananas, grapefruits, lemon, liquorice wood, a little pepper, maybe a little radish… It’s all very good. Finish: long, maybe a tad ‘narrow’ but zesty and clean, very pleasant, with something earthy in the aftertaste. Comments: simply very good, an excellent ‘unsweet’ rum, if I way say so. SGP:561 - 84 points.

Enmore 32 yo 1977 (64.4%, Silver Seal, Demerara, Guyana) Four stars Maybe from the old Enmore Diistillery? Colour: mahogany. Nose: I had thought this would be thicker and much more on fruitcake and toffee but it isn’t the case. It’s rather dry, grassy and mineral, which was unexpected. Water should help (mind you, 64.4%!) With water: oh b****y yes! It’s a completely different rum now, rich, extremely aromatic, with some lovage and parsley, balsamic vinegar, figs, cured ham, toffee, chocolate, plum sauce, prunes, even hints of brandy… Not unlike some old sherry monsters, I’d say. Great nose! Mouth (neat): rich yet nervous, grassy and limey, well in the style of the Velier despite the extra-13 years, except that there’s more raisins and quite some tannins. Rather rough so far. With water: same opening as on the nose albeit not as spectacular. A little varnish and quite some tannins, grapes, tea, walnuts, mint and pepper, then more blackcurrants, grapefruits and radishes, almost as much as in the 1990. Finish: long, slightly tannic but very pleasant. More blackcurrants and a little liquorice again. Comments: an excellent one, the nose being spectacular when reduced. A little less tannicity would have propelled it towards 90+ in my book. SGP:661 - 87 points.

Blarmont Demerara

Blairmont 1991/2006 (56%, Velier Italy, Demerara, Guyana, 1913 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: rather austere for a rum (and a Demerara), sort of fresh, with notes of malt whisky and orange marmalade. Some honey in the background, as well as a little walnut liqueur and newly sawn oak. Water will be needed here but it’s rather elegant so far. No in-your-face rum at all. With water: funnily enough, this one isn’t too far from modern-style malt whisky. Wood technology inside? Vanilla, lemon marmalade, bergamot, just a little coconut… Mouth (neat): quite amazingly, this resembles some young bourbon in a certain way. High sweet oak concentration, some green tea, a lot of vanilla and quite some grass. Much less sweet than most other rums and in that sense a little tequila-ish (I think). I think it’s good. With water: very good but water brings out even more oak. Green tea, tannins. Finish: rather long but the tannins take control. Comments: mixed feelings here. The quality is certainly high but this oakiness… SGP:561 - 79 points.

Albion 1989/2008 (62.7%, Velier Italy, Demerara, Guyana, 108 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: this one seems to be much sweeter and ‘rummy’ than the Blairmont. Molasses, treacle and honey sauce but also herbal teas. Chamomile? It’s quite noseable at such high strength, which many rums seem to be (when compared with malt whisky). With water: wowowow! Immense tarry profile ala sherried Port Ellen (I’m sure you see what I mean), totally unexpected. New tyres, coal, motor oil, old style pipe tobacco (Russian style), tarry rope, soy sauce, menthol… It’s spectacular! Mouth (neat): it’s little hard now, too strong, but the background seems to be very liquoricy, with quite some fruit jams and orange blossom water. With water: wah! It’s not exactly delicate (to say the least) but it unfolds very spectacularly. Kind of a liqueur made out of smoked tea! Cask strength Lapsang Souchong? Finish: endless, tarry and smoky. Comments: did they peat something? Did they use ex-Islay casks? Anyway, this is extremely spectacular – but needs water. Highly recommended. SGP:763 - 92 points.

Port Mourant 1993/2006 'Full Proof' (65%, Velier Italy, Demerara, Guyana, 2994 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale amber. Nose: once again, a rather noseable high-voltage rum! There’s much more sugarcane than in the Blairmont and Albion, more spices as well, liquorice, toasted brioche, caramel… It seems that it’s heavy and thick rum but so far, so good. Quite some raisins. With water: wow again! Much more ‘a classic’ than the Albion, that is to say much more on dried tropical fruits, cigars, figs, high-end varnish, bitter oranges, Chartreuse… Fabulous nose, hard to resist. One for malt aficionados. Mouth (neat): oily and very strong. I get mint, green pepper, liquorice, oak, cough syrup… As for the rest, quick, water: yeah! The oak is maybe a tad too much to the front but the rest is superb. Please call the newly formed antirumoporn brigade! Finish: endless and very complex. Many herbs and spices. Comments: some might think this is a tad too oaky, and oaky it is, but I think it’s great spirit. SGP:661 - 90 points.

Uitvlugt 1990/2008 'Full Proof' (66%, Velier Italy, Demerara, Guyana, 881 bottles) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh yes, this is very nice as well. Of course, at 66% ABV, some parts must be missing but it seems that it’s a rather fresh and fragrant rum, with a delicate and very elegant profile. I get old roses, a little sandalwood, obvious notes of verbena and spearmint… This could be a winner, let’s see… With water: okay, maybe not a total winner but it’s great indeed. More Blairmont-style, that is to say with more straight oaky aromas than in the Port Mourant and Albion. Whiffs of sweetshop, warm oak (at a cabinetmaker’s), oriental pastries... Maybe less ‘romantic’ than the Port Mourant. Mouth (neat): hyper-oaked ala Japanese malt at cask strength. It’s probably not that oaky, but at this strength only the tannins stand out. Sooooo, with water: big tannins indeed. You have to like it oaky! Other than that, these notes of mint and radish are most appealing. A little mustard as well. Finish: long, very oaky I’m afraid. Comments: great nose – that’s why we won’t go below 80 points - but I think there’s too much oak on the palate – that’s why we won’t go above 80 points. SGP:571 - 80 points.

Please remember these scores were given by one single malt whisky aficionado. Rum maniacs would probably rate some of these rums higher. If you’d like to read more about these Demeraras, please go to Tiare’s very excellent website called A mountain of crushed ice. You may also check the Ministry of Rum.

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Angela Scappatura

July 28, 2010

SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

Happy 8th Birthday Whiskyfun!
My goodness, today little Whiskyfun is eight years old! I'm afraid I lost count of how many different whiskies I tried and scored since I registered the domain, probably around 7,000, have to check that!

I must confess I've often considered stopping all this madness but now that this very unlikely blog-alike website is 8, I'll hopefully manage to go on until it's 10 unless my liver tells me I should quit earlier.

Friends, I also wanted to thank you all for your encouragements, to thank the Malt Maniacs, to thank all the bottlers and distillers who do not send over a bunch of hitmen each time one of their whiskies gets a low mark, to thank all the whisky anoraks who do not always agree with me for not being rude and, above all, to thank Nick and Kate for the wonderful concert reviews and photographs that, I believe, always work like a magnificent golden cherry on a lousy carrot cake. Yes, thank you all and let’s keep on dramming (responsibly)!

July 27, 2010


Tasting two old Miltonduff

Milltonduff 1968/1998 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Green Label) Four stars Colour: amber (actually suspiciously orange ;-)) Nose: ah yes, I remember well this one, I already tried it a few times. It’s got a rather big fruitiness but it’s all coated with spicy oak, including tea, ginger and pine resin notes. Also quite some mint, ginger tonic, roasted nuts in the background, liquorice allsorts… One of the most mentholated drams ever, maybe that’s why they chose a green label for it ;-). Mouth: very old style, with some oak upfront and once again quite some mint and liquorice in the background. Also bitter oranges, light toffee, Cointreau, walnut liqueur… The whole is surprisingly big at just 40% vol. Finish: long, still on mint and eucalyptus drops. Underberg and Cynar (artichoke liqueur). A little lemon in the aftertaste – or lemon balm. Comments: a very fine old dram that goes for little money at auctions. SGP:451 - 87 points.

Miltonduff 30 yo 1980/2010 (49%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 196 bottles) Four stars and a half The Whisky Agency keeps bottling some great drams in their Moonesque series. Colour: gold. Nose: no mint this time, rather a basketful of garden fruits such as apples, cherries and gooseberries. Also notes of muesli and oatcakes, tinned pineapples… The whole is very ‘natural’, without much oak influence so far. A little light honey. After fifteen minutes: it got much grassier. With water: even grassier. Cut hay after the rain. Mouth (neat): fresh and much fruitier now! Very zesty. Unexpected hints of tinned litchis, then grapefruits and lemons, maybe kiwis, with the same kind of grassiness as on the nose in the background. What’s sure is that it doesn’t quite taste like a 30yo malt, I guess the hogshead wasn’t too active, which isn’t always bad news. With water: excellent! Water didn’t change much on the nose but on the palate it really made this Miltonduff fresh and zesty, with only a little honey in the background. A fruit salad – but no fruit bomb. Finish: long, clean, fresh, fruity (garden fruits). A little resin in the aftertaste and just a few tannins and a little black pepper. Comments: this one is for lovers of 100% natural malts – I’m one of them. SGP:551 - 88 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Miltonduff that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: great 'new' groove by organist Larry Young around 1975, with this explosive and much pillaged Turn off the lights sung by Linda “Tequila” Logan (it was on the 'Larry Young's Fuel' record). Oh, and the great Moog!!! Please buy Larry Young's music.


July 26, 2010


Tasting two Lagavulins

Okay, the Lagavulin Manager’s Choice is in. I’ve been thinking hard about which other Lagavulin I should oppose it to and finally went for one of the old 12s ‘white label’ that were so good. But it’s not going to be a well-known ‘Carpano’ (WF 94), rather a version supposedly for the UK that my Croatian friend Tom mailed me a few months ago.

Lagavulin 12 yo (43%, OB, White Horse Distillers, probably UK, early 1970s) Five stars Colour: amber with orange hues. Nose: ah yes! Rounded and rather on orange marmalade at very first nosing, but getting sharp and magnificently peaty after that. The kind of ‘mingled’ peatiness that you only find in very old bottles of Lagavulin or Laphroaig, more rarely in Ardbeg. That involves old tar liqueurs, various herbs, some coal, old car engine, the famous tarry ropes, some mint… Now, there’s rather less fresh tropical fruits than usual in this magnificent nose, let’s hope the palate is still in good shape. Mouth: but yes! Exceptionally tarry and peaty, smooth and sweet but firm, salty, resinous, leathery, coastal… Especially the notes of bitter oranges are exceptional here. But beware of maltoporn, better stop now. Finish: no comments. Comments: to be honest, this one seems to be a tad sweeter than other versions on the palate but it’s just as magnificent globally. Imagine they were struggling to sell it forty years ago! I’ve even heard that some distributors used to offer one or two bottles for free for each case of cheap rum that was bought. Insane times. SGP:557 - 94 points (with heartfelt thanks, Tom!)

Lagavulin 1993/2009 'Manager's Choice' (54.7%, OB, cask #4477, 612 bottles) Five stars This one ex-Bodega sherry butt. Will it match the superb Caol Ila MC? Or the no less superb Lagavulins for Feis Ile? Colour: pale gold. Nose: wowie! I may well be the only drinker on this planet who loves good gentian spirit (hear, hear, Swiss people!) but all I can tell you is that there’s a lot of it in this Lagavulin. It’s got something very earthy, rooty and more medicinal than the usual Lagavulins, with distinct whiffs of a forest after a summer rain (cut the crap, S.!), moss, fresh mushrooms… Also traces of candy sugar but it’s otherwise quite dry. I’d say this is midway between the well-known annual 12yo CS and the Feis Ile versions – so far! With water: perfect. Mouth (neat): perfect again! Rather less sweet than other middle-aged Lagavulins and probably zestier and drier, with this earthiness again, something more medicinal than usual (gentian again?), a lot of lemon and… A full plate of oysters. The sherry is very, very discreet. With water: even more earth. How shall I put it? Let’s try this: this is high-precision peated malt whisky, kind of a Patek Philippe of the whisky world (as opposed to some very bling-bling Rolexes or APs). Finish: alas. Comments: quite curiously, I think it’s a Lagavulin that’s also a little ‘Laphroaig’. Now, let’s be serious, it hasn’t got the complexity of the old 12, but I’m sure it will after forty years in glass. Almost worth its very heavy price tag in my opinion. SGP:448 - 93 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Lagavulin that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: let's have some 'elementary electric powa blues' today, with the late Jessie Mae Hemphill and her You can talk about me. Isn't that what we just did? Please buy Jessie Mae Hemphill's music!

Jessie Mae Hemphill

July 25, 2010


Tasting three Aberfeldy

I often get remarks regarding the fact that I do not taste ‘regular’ malt whiskies often enough. The worst part is that I agree! So I promise I’ll do my best in the future, starting right today with some Aberfeldies…

Aberfeldy 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2009) Two stars and a half Last time I tried the 12 that was in 2005. Five years! Colour: gold. Nose: I cannot think of any other make that’s so much on grains and garden fruits. Muesli, apples, soaked barley, pear juice… All that is nicely complemented with light floral notes (around dandelions and such). The whole is fresh and light, very pleasant and probably perfect for summertime. Mouth: easy, very easy. Light and rather simple, slightly nutty and honeyed, with a little vanilla and cake. There isn’t much to say, but it’s pleasant. Finish: a little short but clean. Comments: this one may well take ice very well. We’re close to good blends in style, the body isn’t big but it’s very drinkable. SGP:431 - 79 points.

Aberfeldy 10 yo 1999/2009 (45%, Exclusive Malts, cask #23, 419 bottles) Two stars Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re extremely close to the official 12! It’s just a tad oomphier and maybe a little more oaky – very pleasantly so. There’s a little more liquorice, for example, and a little more vanilla as well. Also hints of damp wood and porridge, damp chalk. Mouth: starts a tad strange, kind of slightly chemical (jelly), musty… Then we have notes of concentrated lemon juice… Also something aspiriny. Too bad, the nose was very nice. Finish: medium long, rather cleaner now, with notes of grapefruits. Comments: some strange tastes in my opinion, but it’s still globally all right. Now, all the other recent malts in this ‘Exclusive’ series that I could try were in a much higher league. I guess you always need an exception. SGP:241 - 72 points.

Aberfeldy 21 yo (40%, OB, +/-2010) Four stars Another OB that I haven’t tried since five years. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, this one is in another dimension, with a much bigger complexity, around various honeys and very ripe fruits. Apples, melons, peaches… And heather honey (even more than in old HPs), orange blossom water, then lilies and lis, herbal teas, earl grey… It’s all very, very nice and complex, in a fairly undemanding style. Mouth: excellent, complex, spicy and fruity, with masses of honeys, light dried fruits (no heavy raisins, for example) and even hints of bananas, a little Bushmills-style. Also nice spices, a little tobacco, praline, rosehip tea, apple juice… Finish: medium long but good, clean and fruity. Comments: I’m sure this would be winning malt whisky at 46% vol. At 40%, it’s just a bit on the skimpy side. But great profile. SGP:541 - 86 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Aberfeldy that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more punchy rock-blues with Lonnie Mack's Riding the blinds (that was on his live CD 'Attack Of The Killer V'). Please buy Lonnie Mack's music!

Lonnie Mack

July 23, 2010


Tasting two easy young Bruichladdich

While the weather is still quite hot at time of tasting let’s have too supposedly easy and refreshing Bruichladdichs. I already tried both but never wrote any proper tasting notes – now’s the time, as Charlie would say (Parker that is, not MacLean).

Bruichladdich ‘Waves’ 46%, OB, +/-2010) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: a very fresh and pretty clean spirit without any obvious woody notes but a faint farminess that gives it a pleasantly grassy profile. Hints of watermelon, just ‘ideas’ of horse saddle and touches of asparagus peelings. Also quite some curcuma and even cumin and finally notes of plum spirit (quetsche). Nice personality so far. Mouth: it’s fruitier on the palate, starting on pears and pepper plus hints of tangerines. Once again it’s very clean spirit. Goes on with a little liquorice, lemon squash and indeed something faintly salty (but once you’ve read the word ‘waves’, you just cannot not find a little salt, can you!) Good dram with a presence. Finish: medium long, with the liquorice a little more to the front. Comments: it’s not exactly one of these easy drams that you may sip without even thinking about them. Again, it’s got some personality. Very clean distillation, would probably go very well with oysters. SGP:441 - 82 points.

Bruichladdich ‘Rocks’ (46%, OB, +/-2010) Three stars Colour: pale apricot. Nose: we aren’t too far from the Waves except that this one is a little rounder and maybe a little less fresh and clean. Same notes of horse saddle (not really sweat!) plus something delicately earthy. Hints of blackcurrant buds – kind of Médocan so to speak. I tend to like the Waves a little better on the nose. Mouth: same as the Wave, only with more fruits. Notes of raspberry spirit and maybe even pisco (just had a few at a friend’s who’s just back from Peru). It’s rather less fresh and playful than the Waves. Finish: medium long, with a vinosity in the aftertaste (grapefruits and raspberries). And some liquorice again. Comments: it’s a fresh and flawless, well-composed dram but I liked the Waves’ crispiness a little better.  SGP:541 - 80 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Bruichladdich that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: feeling lazy and depressed today? Abnormally slow? Have a slice of Calgary's Huevos Rancheros doing the very speedy What A Way To Run a Railroad and everything should get back to normal. Please buy the Huevos Rancheros' music.

Huevos Rancheros

July 21, 2010

SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

A new blog about Canadian Whisky
My Malt Maniacs compadre and dear friend Davin de Kergommeaux has just launched a brand new blog that's all about Canadian whisky. As expected, it's beautifully done, with much meticulousness and dedication.

More globally, as I already told several guys who were willing to start a whisky blog and were seeking advice, I believe specialised blogs represent the future now that there are more than 200 different 'general' whisky blogs in English alone - some great - out there that publish more or less the same kind of thing. Go read canadianwhisky.org

Canadian Whisky



Rumfun, tasting five rums from Guadeloupe

The French Guadeloupe gathers a good ten distilleries, mainly on two islands: the attached Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre and the beautiful Marie-Galante.


Basseterre 1997/2006/2008 (49.2%, Velier Italy, Guadeloupe) Four stars This is a blend of rhum agricole (distilled from cane juice) and rhum traditionnel (distilled from molasses), both from Distillerie Carrere/Montebello, that's been married in large casks for two further years. Basse-Terre is the name of the island. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very classy, complex yet assertive, not too round or dull… This is rum! Many soft spices, cardamom, Chinese anise, dried bananas, something faintly metallic, herbs, wormwood, varnish, newly sawn oak, chestnut honey, soy sauce, Japanese oyster sauce… I like this a lot, it’s rum that’s quite close to single malt in style. No water is needed, apparently, so let’s pass… Mouth: well, it’s certainly rounder and more ‘lumpish’ on the palate but otherwise it’s quite perfect, albeit simpler than on the nose. A lot of honey, wee touches of chilli (can we use the word ‘wee’ for rum?), banana liqueur, tangerine liqueur (Mandarine), maybe a little coffee, quite some liquorice… Very approachable, very easy to drink. Finish: long but clean and not cloying at all, on more liquorice and honey (and even more liquorice – and a little mint – in the aftertaste). Comments: very, very appealing. This will please many malt drinkers in my opinion – including this very one. SGP:840 - 87 points.

Basseterre 1995/2006/2008 (58.2%, Velier Italy, Guadeloupe) Three stars Colour: pale amber. Nose: much less aromatic than the 1997, much more closed and maybe a tad more on roundish rummy notes (honey sauce, cane sugar syrup, something slightly resinous from the oak, cinchona). Nothing wrong of course and water will probably put this one straight. With water: it’s the oak that comes out, with some vanilla, lactones and this feeling of pencil shavings that us malt lovers now only too well. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is far from being ugly. Mouth (neat): bigger and bitterer than the 1997, with much more wood influence. Varnish, heavy spices, cloves (bags!), strong honey… Also hints of lemon and apple liqueurs. Limoncello. Not quite sure about this one yet. With water: better but these notes of pencil shavings are pursuing us. Finish: long, rather simple, with quite some oak extracts. Vanilla galore! (I mean, ¡arriba vanilla!). Comments: it’s very good rum (especially when compared with many thick and heavy dark ones) but I think that, just like the whisky makers, the rum makers or bottlers should be careful with fresh oak. SGP:730 - 80 points.

Damoiseau 1991/2000/2006 (56.3%, Velier Italy, Guadeloupe) Four stars These rums are 'double-aged', that is to say re-racked into large casks named foudres. The Damoiseau distillery lies on the Guadeloupean island of Grande-Terre. Colour: amber/bronze. Nose: we’re very, very close to the latest Basseterre in style, only with maybe added earthy tones. Wet leaves, humus... Also mint and eucalyptus. With water: it’s amazing how water works well here. Many many extra-aromas are brought out, including notes of old roses, old-style orange liqueur, liquorice, hints of burnt oak, rosemary… A little coconut as well. Mouth (neat): powerful but rounded, very ‘rhum agricole’ in style, with grassy notes and many spices. Aniseed, liquorice, maybe a little tobacco… Not too complicated at this point. With water: better, balanced, not too sweet, not too grassy, not too fruity, not too oaky… But very ‘rhum’ indeed. Finish: long, with perfect balance and a very stylish style (wot?!) Quite some liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: not the utter marvel but simply very, very good. For malt lovers: a good first step towards boutique rum in my opinion. SGP:641 - 85 points.

Dom de Courcelles 1972/2003 (42%, Velier Italy, Guadeloupe) Five stars The Domaine de Courcelles distillery on Grande-Terre is inactive since 1972, so these are the very last batches. These casks had been forgotten in a warehouse until a merchant bought them all in 1998, and vatted them into a 'foudre' to stop evaporation until they were bottled in 2003. Domaine de Courcelles used to make rhum traditionnel (from molasses). Colour: brownish gold. Nose: hey hey! Very aromatic yet not thickish at all, with notes of green bananas, chestnut purée, spearmint, something unexpectedly coastal (seaweed – yes) and just hints of saltpetre and fresh mushrooms. A little caramel as well and touches of aniseed (pastis) and mint. Wonderful nose, quite complex. Mouth: great! Maybe not as complex as on the nose but I like these spicy and grassy notes in the attack, all covered with honey, mint and liquorice. Gets then more ‘classic’, with some cane sugar, dried bananas and even more liquorice. Maybe hints of big fat prunes. Excellent. Finish: medium long but quite sumptuous, silky yet firm, balanced, elegant… Comments: I love this one and have stocked up. SGP:640 - 90 points.

Dom de Courcelles 1972/2003/2005 (54%, Velier Italy, Guadeloupe) one star and a half Not sure about what happened here, maybe it was re-racked in 2003 for two further years of maturing. Colour: gold/copper.

Nose: this is much more closed than all the other ones, with notes of tinned pineapples and lemon balm but not a lot of other aromas so far. Some obvious cumin and liquorice, though. A little roughish for its age, I’d say maybe the influence of the re-racking. Water should help… Wait! After fifteen minutes, we get mega-huge notes of coconut. That doesn’t spoil it but… With water: ha! Suntan oil, dried coconut and marshmallows. Feels like if you were watching a softporn movie from the good old 70s. Sylvia Kristel anyone?


Mouth (neat): nah! The same weird notes of coconuts are there right from the start, together with something perfumy. Turkish delights, marshmallows (truckloads), strawberry syrup, liquorice allsorts (bags and bags and bags)… Not quite sure I like this, I feel it’s ‘very too much’. With water: a little better but it tastes like some premix by some international conglomerate. You know, litchi or passion fruit liqueurs and all these swills. Finish: medium long and… a little more reasonable. Comments: I guess this one came from the same vat as the 1972/2003. Well, in that case, it’s a good example of wood technology gone mad. Any similarities to one or several Scottish brands or distilleries would be purely coincidental (yeah, right). SGP:930 - 69 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some very excellent jazz by Montreal's Alex Bellegarde Quintet. It's called Pawnshop and it's on 'Alex Bellegarde Quintet Live'. Please buy Alex Bellegarde's music.

Alex Bellegarde

July 20, 2010



It is summer time. I am not in the mood for big cigars. Panatelas sounds perfect to start this month of July. Panatelas are so elegant. I love their size.  Let's try two panatelas and one grand panatela, all from 2005 boxes.


For the pairing, I want some juicy fruits, the fruit season has just begun, hasn't it ? Some Bowmore from the 1960's should be perfect ! The old Bowmore before the 1970's were exceptinally fruity (exotic fruits, mango). I have three samples found on the now famous website of our friend Luc Timmerman. They have all been highly rated by Serge. Frankly speaking it is the first time I have had the opportunity to try them. I am like a child eager looking forward to trying his christmas gift!

Cigar tasting info: it is very important not to smoke panatela sizes too fast or when they are too humid.


QUAY D'ORSAY Panetelas (Cuba)

Length: 178 mm   diameter:   13.1 mm (Cepo 33)
Format: Panatelas
Vintage: 2005

The wrapper: claro, mat
Dry Smoke: woody, light vanilla and burnt wood notes
Draw: excellent
Combustion: perfect, grey-dark ash. The cigar is very steady and does not require to be rectified or relit.
Strength: light
Aromas: woody, almond notes, the same burnt wood notes as during the dry smoke. Not a rich aromatic evolution but remains pleasant, never boring.

Quai d'Orsay Panetelas  

The three thirds: 1) soft, gentle with a nice volume of smoke 2 / gains in body and keeps its sweetness 3 / remains balanced up to the end with no bitterness.

Conclusion: not very complex but exactly what I needed, a gentle smooth cigar well balanced with a good construction. A very nice summer’s cigar.
84/100 (the rating of a cigar can only be the evaluation of a unique cigar smoked at a unique moment.)




HOYO de MONTERREY Le Hoyo du Gourmet (Cuba)

Length: 170 mm   diameter: 13.1 mm (Cepo 33)
Format: Panatelas
Vintage: 2005

The wrapper: colorado, mat
Dry Smoke: chocolate, caramel, nice creaminess
Draw: excellent
Combustion: perfect, grey-dark ash. Does not require to be rectified or relit.
Strength: medium
Aromas: woody, Caramel, toffee then some light herbal, medicinal notes, orange zest and almond


The three thirds: 1) nice start with medium body and strength. Slightly dry on the palate. Generous smoke. 2) becomes more creamy ( creamier), the dryness disapears. More Hoyo style. 3) turns a little bitter. Needs two or three more years to be more refined on the finish.

Conclusion: a very good cigar. Will still improve with time.




PARTAGAS Serie du Connoisseur No 1 (Cuba)

Length: 192 mm   diameter:  15.08 mm (38 Cepo )
Format: Grand Panatela
Vintage: 2005

The wrapper: claro, mat
Dry Smoke: leather, woody, vanilla
Draw: excellent
Combustion: perfect, nice white-grey ash. Does not require to be rectified or relit.
Strength: strong
Aromas: earthy, woody, spicy then turns more creamy (creamier) on caramel, nuttiness (macadania), liquorice


The three thirds: 1) beautiful start, rich, balanced, full bodied 2) More unctuous, consistant 3) richer and stronger but with no agressivity, still classy. Smoked with great pleasure up to the very end.

Conclusion: A true classic and one of my favourite cigars.






Bowmore 7 yo (43%, OB, Sherriff, COGIS Milano, 60’s): rating by Serge 95/100. To tell you the truth I was not impressed by this sample. Very different from Serge's tasting notes. As he told in his own tasting notes, two old bottles from the very same batch can taste completely different after twenty, thirty or forty years of 'glass maturing. However this Bowmore is a good whisky but not very complex, especially compared to the two following ones.  I expected much more. 
On the Quai d'Orsay: some similitudes in aromas on almond notes. The strength of the cigar and the whisky are very well balanced. A good pairing. 4/5
On the Hoyo: nice pairing, bring more creaminess, some buttery notes. The cigar slightly overpowers the whisky. 3.5/5
On the Partagas: the pairing of the aromas doesn't match. The cigar overpowers the whisky. 1.5/5




Bowmore 18 yo 1966/1984 (53%, Samaroli ‘Bouquet’, 720 bottles): rating by Serge 97/100. The legend is still alive. A truly amazing whisky ! So pure, very deep, long, complex. The fruitiness is impressive. The whole is so elegant and balanced. A must.
On the Quai d'Orsay: great pairing on the third third of the cigar.  The samaroli gives to this pairing a truly exciting experience. The cigar is smooth, not too strong and complex and as such respects the beauty of the whisky. 5/5
On the Hoyo: The fruitiness is still there. Very good balance on the strength. However the Samaroli doesn't  fully express its complexity. 3.5/5
On the Partagas: very nice on the second third of the cigar (more creamy / creamier), the whisky can express all its complexity and brings the cigar to another level of enjoyment. A great pairing. 4.5 /5




Bowmore 'Bicentenary cask strength' (98.8°proof /56.2%, OB for Fecchio & Frassa, Italy, cubic bottle, bottled 1979): rating by Serge 91/100.  Smokier and more powerful than the Samaroli. Quite dry, complex and with some nice fruity notes. A great whisky.
On the Quai d'Orsay: the strength is not as balanced as the Samaroli. The whisky more powerful is very concentrated and dryier.  The cigar needed more creaminess and body for this whisky. 2.5/5
On the Hoyo: nice liquorice notes appear. The smoothness of the cigar balances the dryness of the whisky. A very good pairing. 4 /5
On the Partagas: nice match but a little bit unbalanced. Brings some interesting white chocolate notes. 3.5 /5

Conclusion:  I was a little bit worried to "waste" the Samaroli with some cigars. In the end it was the most suitable with different style of cigars, from light to strong. - Emmanuel Dron, Singapore




July 19, 2010

SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

A Scotch-soaked nation?
Dear all, the weather is still too hot for doing proper tasting sessions. It's all right for freewheeling dramming but not for carefully assessing a few good old single malts, especially since I think that cooling them down a bit can change their aromas and flavours quite significantly. So, let's rather post these recent figures about us crazy Frenchmen (population 62,277,432)...


Yes, 180 million bottles! Add to those pastis, bourbon, Canadian, Irish, cognac, armagnac, calvados, vodka, absinthe... Scary? (thank you Keshav)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: probably the most successful combination of an acoustic guitar with a roaring bass - of course it's Hot Tuna's famous Water Song from 1971 (that was to be on their great Burgers LP later on). Please buy Hot Tuna's (and Jorma's and Jack's) music!

Hot Tuna

July 16, 2010

It's still very hot here in Alsace and proper tasting sessions are hard to organise. Let's hope it'll all become a little cooler next week! In the mean time, here's a rare old picture of some Scottish women playing hide-and-seek at an unknown whisky distillery in Speyside (circa 1910).

Okay, let's be serious. These French women are in fact putting salt into barrels before filling them with... fish.

July 2010 - part 1 <--- July 2010 - part 2 ---> August 2010 - part 1

heck the index of all entries:
Nick's Concert Reviews



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Albion 1989/2008 (62.7%, Velier Italy, Demerara, Guyana, 108 bottles)

Dom de Courcelles 1972/2003 (42%, Velier Italy, Guadeloupe)

Lagavulin 12 yo (43%, OB, White Horse Distillers, probably UK, early 1970s)

Lagavulin 1993/2009 'Manager's Choice' (54.7%, OB, cask #4477, 612 bottles)

Port Mourant 1993/2006 'Full Proof' (65%, Velier Italy, Demerara, Guyana, 2994 bottles)