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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2012 - Part 2

July 2012 - part 1 <--- July 2012 - part 2 ---> August 2012 - part 1


July 31, 2012


Tasting two Benriach

We have plenty of older Benriach yet to taste but let’s rather try two middle-aged expressions today… The old ones can wait a little longer.


Benriach 16 yo 1996/2012 (47.7%, Whisky-Fässle, Duck Edition) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: surprise-surprise, there’s something of the old ‘tropical monsters’ in this nose at first sniffs. It’s not exactly an extravaganza of passion fruits and pineapples but I do get bananas and, maybe, tinned pineapples. It’s also rather grassier than the oldies, there’s even quite some menthol in the background as well as a slight flintiness. Also liquorice wood? Also the vanilla’s getting louder over time. With water (although water isn’t obligatory): more, much more (natural) vanilla. Mouth (neat): rich and creamy, with something of a bourbon Balvenie (is that the yellow plums? Apricots?) and plenty of acacia honey (as opposed to strong, very aromatic honeys) and corn syrup. Maybe marshmallows too and then a little white pepper and more grassy tones. A little green curry, cardamom… With water: it’s the rounded sweetness that wins and now some oranges and tangerines make it through. Finish: medium long, clean, citrusy. Lime in the aftertaste. Comments: a playful, easy Benriach, very entertaining and very sippable. Good body. SGP:551 - 83 points.


Benriach 18 yo 1990/2008 (50.9%, OB, Singapore, sherry butt, cask #3805, 483 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: amber/apricot. Nose: very nice whiffs of old-style tobacco and leather polish at first nosing, dried porcinis, humidor, walnut liqueurs, old balsamic vinegar… Some gunpowder too but it’s absolutely not sulphury. Some cured ham too. Lovely tobacco-like sherry! With water: even more of all that and some kind of dried smoked roses. Mouth (neat): I wouldn’t say it’s an easy one, some kind of spicy, gunpowdery greenness strikes first and makes it quite bitter, while the sweetness is rather minimal despite some notes of dried figs and maybe prunes. A little arraky, maybe… And always a lot of tobacco (exactly like when you take a little pipe tobacco into your mouth – inadvertently.) Maybe a little Demerara sugar coming through after a few minutes, and maybe a little hashish (I imagine). With water: classic development with more bitter chocolate and black tea. Finish: rather long, dry, quite leathery again. Black tea. Comments: not a very easy one, it’s got twists and turns. But very interesting it is, maybe because of that. SGP:362 - 84 points

More tasting notes Check the index of all Benriach I've tasted so far


Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2012

Favourite recent bottling:
Caol Ila 1979/2012 (52.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS12022, 280 bottles)  - WF 91

Favourite older bottling:
Springbank 31 yo 1967/1998 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry, ref #1314) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Buchanan Special Reserve 18 yo (40%, OB, blend, +/-2012) - WF 89



Block Today: GNAWA. Performer: Mahmoud Guinia. Track: Aicha Kendicha (live in Essaouira). Please buy Mahmoud Guinia's music!

WF's 10 years: thank you all!
You've been very cool! Balm to my heart while I'm travelling...

July 28, 2012


Today Whiskyfun is ten SV
1970, when this happy-go-lucky
whisky blogger was 10

Dear friend,
I’ll try to keep this short and, hopefully, sweet. Today, Whiskyfun.com is officially ten years old. I still don’t exactly know why, on July 28, 2002, I have decided to register the URL ‘whiskyfun.com’ and to start publishing stuff about whisky on the Web. I used to publish a private photocopied newsletter in the 1990s, but I don’t seem to remember I was writing much about whisky. So whisky, why whisky?

Of course I was enjoying whisky but, above all, I think the amber liquid has always been a perfect medium for friendship and camaraderie to me. And there were the pioneering Johannes and the Malt Maniacs, which I was already a member of.  Already back then, these enthusiastically irreverent people could give you very bad ideas ;-)… And so I did it.

Maybe it has to be remembered at this point that at the time, the Internet hadn’t become a giant supermarket yet, and that sharing and giving anything for free were part of its very essence and culture. Maybe it’s also to be noted that Whisky Magazine did not exist when the original Malt Maniacs was launched, in 1997. I don’t think Malt Advocate was available in Europe. And the Whisky Bible did not exist in 2002, when WF was launched. So, I know that a handful of people keep claiming that free amateur websites such as ours bear little credibility since we’re only, well, amateurs and also that they represent unfair competition. May I ask you, how can you start to compete against something that does not even exist?

Granted, in 2002 (yeah, and even these days), Whiskyfun was only a collection of clumsily designed web pages with a little information plus data about my pet distillery: Brora. And it started to grow… I was soon to add tasting notes for all kinds of whiskies, on an almost daily basis. Frankly, I’m realising now that that was a very crazy idea, especially since I had no business goals whatsoever, and still have none, while many great guys start blogs to find jobs or to gain exposure within an industry that needs more and more ‘content producers’ to keep apace with the so-called digital revolution. Having said that, I think that what the industry sometimes needs today is more substance rather than simply more content, but I’m digressing…

Old Whiskyfun
Early whiskyfun, already
state-of-the-art (post-modern)

So yeah, Whiskyfun started to grow but indeed there was little ‘competition’ around so, piece of cake. Basically, the only other ‘big producer’ was Johannes’ Malt Madness, a fantastic venture, still the best but most sadly, the blog is now inactive and I dearly miss it. Johannes, what are you doing? And then ready-made online blog engines started to get promoted, Blogger, Wordpress… It all became much easier than toying with Dreamweaver like I still do and new whisky blogs started to pop out from nowhere, both amateur and ‘pro’ ones by, for example, retailers or distillers. Bizarrely, many pro blogs became pretty inactive in recent years, as if they found out that it wasn’t worth it. No ROI? Or are they thinking social media will make blogs and websites irrelevant? I’m not too sure, the life expectancy of anything that’s put into social media being so ultra-short and frankly, it’s sometimes slightly stinky and demeaning (and sometimes just great if you are careful and manage to separate the wheat from the chaff)… Anyway, digressing again…

So, from a handful of blogs or similar ventures ten years ago, we went to literally thousands of whisky blogs today. Many are inactive or in ruins and that’s a shame, because some were really good! The basic new whisky blog today is one guy posting his tasting notes for the whiskies he can find, and that’s just fine (after all, that’s what I do most of the time), but some are much more elaborate, substantial and, I must say, interesting.

About 13 800 000 results
You're right, there aren't 14 million
whisky blogs... yet ;-)

Podcasts like Mark’s Whiskycast, videos such as Ralfy’s, historical ones such as Whisky Story, scientific ones like Whisky Science, or specialised ones such as Davin’s Canadian Whisky, not to mention Whisky Intelligence, Dramming and many others including all the other ones by MMs - obviously. Those people are genuinely passionate and that shows. Kudos to all of them for having found an original angle with real added value!

Anyway, like I already wrote in the past, quite some years ago I started to get the feeling that Whiskyfun’s days were numbered because the burgeoning blogosphere would simply smother this dinosaur of a whisky website/blog, while I was absolutely not ready to spend more time to modernise it, so to speak. Mind you, I’m more into whisky than into blogging. Maybe also because the unhappy distillers or bottlers that can’t stand a baddish score would simply start to pester me with even more force and finally make me give up. So, to be fully transparent, these were my plans two or three years ago:

  1. If the numbers of visitors to Whiskyfun were going to drop very significantly: I’d simply quit as soon as that was starting to happen.
  2. If the numbers of visitors to Whiskyfun were going to trickle away or to be simply kind of steady: I’d keep going on until the website would be ten years old – so today, and then quit (with a little panache, hopefully!)
  3. If the numbers of visitors to Whiskyfun would keep rising against all odds: that option was never quite contemplated.

And yet, it’s #3 that’s happening these days. Around +10% vs. last year in July, that’s not much but it’s still a rise, isn’t it. I had thought the circumstances would hand me an easy decision on a plate, all the more so since I still use no tricks to artificially enhance traffic (dodgy links put anywhere else, comments, social multiplication, invade forums and communities and all that jazz – more clogging than blogging if you ask me) but bloody hell, it seems that there’s more thinking to be done at WF Towers! I’ll have to make decisions all by myself!!

Hemingway Breton
What’s sure as of today is that I won’t make those decisions before September, and shall just go on until then. My own fun will remain of paramount importance because as Hemingway said, “When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.” On the other hand, as the magnificent surrealist poet André Breton retorted, “Before everything, the pursuit of the experience: reason will always follow, its phosphorescent headband over our eyes.” Hmm…
Anyway, maybe I’ll try to do something to celebrate WF’s 10 years in proper manners around September, I may have a few ideas, we’ll see.

In the mean time, I’d like to thank you for being a reader of my very unlikely musings and impressions, whether you’re a whisky lover, a die-hard anorak or a distinguished member of the whisky industry. I think I love you. – your Serge


PS - A few figures: 10 years. One understanding wife and three kids. 8,000+ tasting notes. One cat (you can't be on Facebook if you don't own a cat, can you!). Great friends, a few enemies. Around 2,000 samples in waiting. One very talented music writer (currently on holidays) and one equally talented photographer. One liver (check!) Around 2Mio visits a year. No vodka. 467 Pete & Jack comic strips, Alexa’s current world ranking for all websites about Scotch including all retail, brand and corporate websites: #12.
PPS – It crucifies me that I just do not find enough time and sometimes energy to answer and even read all emails or Facebook/Twitter messages I get, so if you wrote to me and I haven’t answered, please accept my sincerest apologies. I'm awfy bad at that.


A little banner. Hope London's brand police
won't have anything to say... ;-)


A wee birthday session,
tasting Bowmore 1965 vs. 1995

I've thought hard about which tasting session I should organise for WF's 10th anniversary. A few Broras would have been nice, or some old Spirngbanks, or some Highland Parks or Ardbegs… But I wanted this to be short and rather not too extravagant. So only two whiskies, and whiskies that 'make sense' in WF's context. So I rummaged through my sample library and decided to go for two Bowmores, for many reasons. First, because one was distilled exactly thirty years after the other. Second, because Bowmore is probably the distillery that changed the most through the decades, from the 1960s (great whiskies!) to the 1990s (great whiskies!), via the unlikely 1980s. And third, because one of these whiskies was selected by one of the pioneering Italian bottlers, while the other one was bottled by one of these independendent German bottlers who, today, keep issuing just the best malt whiskies around. Grazzie mille and danke schoen, without these good people the whisky world would be different and Whiskyfun would be less fun. Oh, and both are sherry versions. - I'm not saying they'll be great, I have no idea, they could well be over the top. But in any case, they should be fun…

Bowmore 1965

Bowmore 20yo 1965/1985 (48.5%, Intertrade, sherry, 75cl) Five stars This one must have been sourced at Gordon & MacPhail 's. Colour: gold. Nose: well, it is not one of these extravagantly tropical Bowmores from the mid-1960s at first nosing, it's even unusually silent, rather on soot, grass and rhubarb. Strange? No, because the passion fruits and the mangos are soon to appear and to keep growing steadily, calmly… There's also some pu-erh tea, blood oranges, brine, kippers, a little cardamom, leather, old books… It all gets more and more complex, more and more multi-dimensional. In the end, some big bold notes of pink grapefruit start to rule, which is very typical in my opinion. Having said that, it's not exactly a punchy nose, much less so than, for example, the Black Bowmores. Mouth: well in the style of most Bowmores from the mid-1960s. Bags of citrus and other tropical fruits plus a mild smokiness and a slightly drying spiciness (cinnamon, nutmeg). Grapefruits, papayas, mangos, a little bananas, touches of candy sugar as well, pepper… No big peat but that was to be expected. Excellent, should I add 'of course', even if it's maybe not one of the best ever. Finish: long, with more and more pepper and, maybe a wee cardboardy side in the aftertaste. That's its only flaw, and it's a tiny flaw. Comments: it's actually punchier and less 'smooth and fruity' than others. The sherry is relatively discreet, it's not a jammy one like in, say the Blacks or the Bicentenary. SGP:764 - 92 points.

Bowmore 1995

Bowmore 1995/2012 (56.8%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12018, 225 bottles) Five stars Colour: full amber. Nose: fun, fun, fun! It's just like if you put your head into a coal stove, the smoky and sooty side is just massive. And absolutely huge notes of lapsang soochong tea as well, I don't think I ever came across a malt that was reeking of lapsang that much. Amazing - but of course you have to like that. Also some motor oil, fumes, newly opened pack of salmiak, walnut stain, warm sawdust…  With water: it's the sour side that gets louder, but it works very well. Two notes: balsamic vinegar and wood smoke. Make that three: and leather. Mouth (neat): what a monster! It's not an easy one for sure and there are some contrasting flavours at first sips. Not that they clash but I get gherkins (yes), honey vinegar (yup), blackberry jelly, strong smoked fish, salted liquorice, tar, hawthorn and rosehip teas, then chillies, capsicum (big!), cardamom (heavy!) In short, a true monster, incredibly intense. With water: becomes sweeter and fruitier, with blood oranges and marmalade and then a bigger, tarry smokiness. Jams! Finish: very long, with the spices playing the first parts this time. Cumin, ginger, even something mustardy, juniper… Comments: but what a beast! I like it a lot but you really have to play with it and to tame it with water, or it may just overwhelm your nose and palate. You monster, are you legal? SGP:677 - 90 points.

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





Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Art Ensemble of Chicago. Track: Charlie M (from Full Force, 1980, composed by Lester Bowie). Please visit the Ensemble's website and buy their music!

July 26, 2012


Tasting three Tomintoul from the 1960s


Tomintoul 1967/2000 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old)Three stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: well, it’s a dry and smoky sherry that prevails here, and it’s pretty beautiful. We have pipe smoke, then black cherry jam, then prunes, before it all gets much more winey, in a great way. Baked onions, English brown sauce, manzanilla, even Madeira, old burgundy wine (forest, mushrooms, civet cat), balsamic vinegar… In short, wonderful old style dry sherry and it’s all very aromatic despite the low strength. Oh, and there’s also mushrooms à la grecque! (honest). Mouth: I haven’t tried something like that for ages. Actually, it’s much more an old Armagnac than an old malt whisky, as it’s certainly grapey, brandy-like, with some very obvious caramel, raisins, some kind of honey cake and then more marmalade. Weaker than on the nose for sure, but it’s not too weak as such. What’s sure is that I liked the nose better. Finish: medium long, drier, smokier. Liquorice and oranges, then a malty signature. Phew, whisky, at last! Comments: a funny old dram to compare with some old cognacs. You’re right, blind! SGP:452 - 82 points.


Tomintoul 42 yo 1969/2012 (42.4%, Archives, cask #4266) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: probably the opposite of the G&M. No sherry this time, rather a sweet and rounded profile on tropical fruits, coconut, vanilla and tinned pineapples. Very uncomplicated at this age but what it does it does it perfectly well. Maybe a tiny-wee mustiness in the background as well as a few oils. Mouth: same profile. A relatively simple, but very enjoyable fruity extravaganza, in other words another some old malty pina colada. Coconut, vanilla, pinapples, cinnamon and a little ginger. Finish: not very long, a little oakier now, which is perfectly normal. Comments: uncomplicated and flawless. It can’t reach 90 in my book because of the simplicity but it’ll deserve some high 80s. SGP:741 - 87 points.


Tomintoul 44 yo 1967/2011 (47%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon, 196 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: this baby’s almost silent after its two very aromatic siblings. Granted, there is a little old wood, old attic, mushrooms again, maybe a little maple syrup or some kind of cooked vegetables (isn’t that aubergines?) but it stays quite shy. Let’s try to wake it up using water… With water: no changes. Zzz zzz… Mouth (neat): it’s nice, even very nice, but maybe it’s a little too undecided, so to speak. A dryness from oak and age (cinnamon, white pepper, cardboard, tea), plus orange drops, a little honey, then more ‘pina colada’ (please see above), bananas… With water: the pina colada and the oranges come out a wee tad more but that’s pretty all. Finish: short to medium. Fruit salad and cinnamon, with a feeling of old rum in the aftertaste. Comments: a very, very fine old Tomintoul but it’s maybe a little underwhelming. Not tired yet but… SGP:651 - 85 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Tomintoul I've tasted so far





Block Today: JAZZ FUSION. Performer: Jan Akkerman and Kaz Lux. Track: Guardian Angel (1976). Please visit Jan Akkerman's website and buy his music!

July 24, 2012


Tasting three old Caol Ila

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 27 yo 1983/2011 (53.1%, Whiskybroker UK, hogshead, cask #4819, 264 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: a slightly buttery one at first nosing (fresh butter, it’s not butyric as such), rather grassy, with an ashy smokiness that’s still quite compact and kind of fresh. A lot of soot, as usual, and quite some vanilla too. It’s not very coastal. With water: it got very coastal. Ah well! Crystallised citrons. Mouth (neat): appropriately nervous, zesty, lemony, salty and peppery, with this sooty/ashy feeling that screams Caol Ila. Good body. A little candy sugar developing, which makes it rather sweeter than others. With water: more fruitiness, towards grapefruits and lemon zests. Maybe it got a little simpler but it’s still excellent, extremely compact. Finish: long, clean and zesty, as it should be. Comments: maybe not an utter thrill because there are/were so many of these, but quality’s high. SGP:455 - 87 points.

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 1979/2012 (52.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS12022, 280 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: similar. A wee tad grassier and wilder, with maybe more oysters and seaweed at first nosing. Then more medicinal notes, antiseptic, bandages… It’s a tad Laphroaiggy I must say. Quite some tar too. With water: more ashes, more cigarette smoke, more bandages. Mouth (neat): excellent attack, complex, oily and thick yet nervous, lemony, salty, peppery, earthy… Lime and oysters. Wonderfully alive at around 33 years old! With water: some ‘old-school’ notes start to appear, with rather more oils, phenols, waxed papers, ink… Just like in the older ones from the 1960s. Great! Finish: not the longest but it’s wonderfully tarry, sooty, ashy, dry… Heavy liquorice and maybe almost no salt in the aftertaste. No salt? Almost. Comments: these are starting to become old whiskies, and they seem to mature extremely well, provided you enjoy tar as much as I do. SGP:456 - 91 points.

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 33 yo 1979/2012 (53.7%, The Whisky Agency & The Nectar, refill hogshead, 241 bottles) Five starsColour: pale straw. Nose: we’re somewhere between the 1983 and the other 1979. A notch more farmyardy than the MoS. Quite some putty too, almonds, then sardines and other tinned fish. With water: same differences. Hessian, fisherman’s nets, semi-dried seaweed on a Scottish beach ;-)… Mouth (neat): simply another excellent one. Once again, it’s a tad more farmy and ‘vegetal’ than the MoS but overall quality is very similar (that is to say high). With water: ditto. This one might have a little more coffee, which is funny, and maybe a little less tar. Finish: medium long, with a pleasant bitterness (bitter herbs). A saltier aftertaste. Comments: another excellent one, rather dry. The cask may have been a little less active than its twin. SGP:256 - 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caol Ila I've tasted so far



Block Today: BIG BAND JAZZ. Performer: Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (which I have just seen at the Olympia in Paris). Track: Acknowledgement. That's on the Orchestra's utterly stunning reworking of Coltrane's A Love Supreme album. Please play it loud, visit Wynton Marsalis' website and then buy his music!

July 22, 2012


One for Mark

For many, many reasons that I just won’t explain, I’d like to have one single dram today, to pay tribute to Mark Reynier. It could have been a Bruichladdich but as the first whiskies I’ve ever tasted in his company were old Springbanks in London around twenty years ago, well, it’s going to be another old Springbank. One by Murray McDavid, no need to say…


Springbank 31 yo 1967/1998 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry, ref #1314) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: one of my favourite kinds of start, similar to when you just open a beehive (minus the stings). A marvellous combination of beeswax, all-flower honey and various kinds of resins. Add to that quince jelly, marmalade, a certain maritimeness, mango chutney, old books, a little patchouli and maybe ‘ideas’ of caraway seeds and you get a truly fantastic nose. After a few minutes: more pine resin, which is wonderful. Maybe even a little absinth, wet earth, shoe polish… Mouth: firm, smoky, earthy and spicy at first sips, and then lushly jammy and fruity. Mirabelle pie, quince jelly once again, drops of cough syrup, liquorice, touches of Fernet Branca (comes from wood), a little pu-erh tea… Not whisky, a true story that you cannot – and shouldn’t, in any case – rush. Finish: the spices get louder and that’s normal. More marmalade and something tropical as well. Oranges, cumin. Slightly bitterish aftertaste, on Kräuterlikör, as our German friends say. Comments: just wonderful, a true friend for your evening. A ta santé, Mark! SGP:562 - 93 points.
(with heartfelt thanks to Bill)

July 19, 2012


Tasting three old Glencadam

Glencadam can be very good in my experience but I don't think I've ever come across a truly great one. Maybe today? We won't sort these three babies by their vintages or ages, rather by strength…


Glencadam 37 yo 1974/2011 (41.5%, Whisky-Fässle, refill sherry) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: very light, with something of a white Bourgogne (chardonnay)… Quite subtle in fact, with some cut apples, a little tangerine, hints of banana juice, avocado, light vanilla and then something Irish. Indeed, it reminds me of Redbreast as far as the aromas are concerned. More stewed fruits then, maybe a little metal, touches of coconut milk, papayas… It's almost feminine, in a certain way… Mouth: haha, it's not as weak as I had feared, quite the opposite in fact. Sure the oak's there but it comes with some fresh fruits, both from our western gardens and from the tropics. So apples and papayas, gooseberries and bananas, tangerines… All that on a bed of soft and rounded spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) and quite some herbal tea such as chamomile and lime blossom. It's quite impressive that the oak hasn't taken over at such age and low strength. Finish: not too long but clean, delicately spicy. Some cider in the aftertaste. Comments: miraculous balance! A very elegant old dram - again, a little feminine, whatever that means. SGP:641 - 89 points.


Glencadam 1972/2011 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, cask #7822, 192 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: this baby's much bigger than the 1974 but it's also rougher at first nosing, with quite some ginger and sawdust, grass, a little bubblegum (yes, at almost 40 years of age) and then some unexpected phenols, gearing towards plain peat smoke. Having said that, it loses it's roughness over time and becomes relatively light, with the same kind of Irishness as in the 1974. An interesting one, not to be rushed. Mouth: once again, a surprising peatiness strikes first, this baby must have matured in some ex-Islay cask, I see no other explanations. Big pepper as well, bitter herbs, cloves, then grapefruits… It's all quite acrid but it's not unpleasant at all. Big it is, for sure. Finish: long, very peppery, with some bitter orange marmalade in the aftertaste. And even more pepper. Comments: very, very unusual! And if that was not peat, well, I don't know what it was. Could it have been only the oak? SGP:563 - 84 points.


Glencadam 26 yo 1978/2004 (55%, OB, Annual Distillery bottling, 184 bottles) Four stars I think this official was bottled exclusively for Jack Wiebers in Germany. Colour: coffee. Nose: some heavy, chocolaty, tarry and even smoky sherry leads the battle at first sniffs, with then much more coffee, as usual with this kind of profile, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, lovage, bacon, prunes… Not sure the distillate has much to say at this point but it's a very pleasant nose, very dry-oloroso-ish. Everything is perfectly integrated. With water: flints and blackcurrant buds come through, together with a little gunpowder. Perfect nose. Mouth (neat): bang-bang! Heavy sherry, sweeter this time, with this feeling of bubblegum and marshmallows that sometimes comes with these. I like it a little less than on the nose, it's a tad incoherent with this big sweetness (Jell-O isn't far!) With water: better, with jams, jams and marmalades. Strawberries, oranges... Too bad there's also something very faintly soapy/plastic-like. Some kind of green tannins? Finish: long and spicy. More blckcurrants with cloves, black pepper and touches of aniseed. Comments: a restless sherry monster, at times superb, at times maybe a little too harsh and bitter. SGP:471 - 85 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glencadam I've tasted so far



Friends, to save a little more time I've decided to simplify the way our daily musical tips are presented from now on. Hope you'll still enjoy our little selections! Remember, whisky and music sing (and ging) together!



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Steve Lehman Track: Foster Bros. Please visit Steve Lehman's website and buy his music!

July 18, 2012


Three Glenglassaugh from three decades

Glenglassaugh Mo or

Glenglassaugh 26 yo 1983/2009 (50.4%, Mo Or Collection, oloroso sherry butt, cask #171, 885 bottles) Five starsQuite an outturn from one single cask but remember butts are huge. Colour: amber. Nose: starts dry, rather leafy and leathery, with also a little menthol and camphor, but becomes much rounder and sweeter after that, fruity, with all kinds of dried fruits including figs, raisins and dates, as (almost) always. Also very nice whiffs of damp summer earth, humus, then a little coffee and soy sauce… In short, another classic, flawless so-called sherry monster on the nose. Mouth: hurray, this works! Great spicy sherry, bitter oranges, ginger, liquorice, raisins, cloves, caraway seeds, hints of juniper, sloe eau-de-vie… And touches of gunpowder behind all that, which works perfectly well in this context. Finish: long and rich, on some kind of spicy raisins and 'ideas' of old Demerara rum. Toffee-ish aftertaste. Comments: excellent, bold, rich and elegant sherry monster from a perfect oloroso butt. Water brings out more leathery and walnutty notes and is not obligatory here. SGP:652 - 90 points.


Glenglassaugh 32 yo 1978/2010 (46.2%, Villa Konthor) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: hugely different from the 1983, much shier and all on Williams pears, as if it was much, much younger. Quite some cider as well, ale, something slightly musty… A little paraffin too. It's all quite… say unobtrusive. Let's add a little water, just to see if that'll improve it a bit. With water: nope, that didn't work. Some plastic arises, it swims badly (even after fifteen minutes - well, it drowned.) Mouth (neat): much more to my liking. A creamy, rounded yet nervous combination of lemon marmalade and ginger liqueur. Touches of gewürztraminer, papayas, limes... Some kind of lemon fudge with quite some pepper and ginger. With water: works. Fresh mint, liquorice… Finish: medium long, on grapefruits and some oaky spices. That's right, cinnamon. Comments: I had much trouble with the nose, and really enjoyed the palate. Not an easy dram. SGP:351 - 80 points.


Glenglassaugh 43 yo 1967/2010 'The Managers Legacy' (40.4%, OB, 200 bottles) Three stars and a half This baby was bottled as a tribute to Walter Grant, who was distillery manager until 1986. Colour: amber. Nose: it's not whisky, it's some kind of old jam and it's truly wonderful. A maelstrom of figs, prunes, tamarind jam, blueberry pie, overripe plums, passion fruits, rich honey, beeswax, old sweet wine (Sauternes), sultanas… Really, it's beautiful. It could have been one of these very old Strathislas by G&M. Now, will the palate match the nose? It's not always the case with very old low-strength whiskies, let's see… Mouth: yeah well, the oak took over I'm afraid. It's still pleasant and even good, but you have to enjoy this drying tannicity. Plum pie topped with a lot of cinnamon and white pepper. Finish: medium long, all on old walnuts and bags of cinnamon. Strong black tea. Comments: maybe that was to be expected. The nose was absolutely magnificent but the palate had too much oak. Now, some tasters are less sensitive to oak than others and I know some fellow MMs scored this one very highly. As far as this 'Manager's Legacy' series is concerned, my fav was the 1974 'Jim Cryle', by far! (WF 92). SGP:471 - 84 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenglassaugh I've tasted so far

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the wonderful guitar of the wonderful and fashionably kitsch Galina Vale plays Cadiz. We won't add olé! If you like Spanish guitar, please buy Galina Vale's music, thank you.

Galina Vale

July 16, 2012


Tasting young and old Glentauchers. Well, not that young and not that old.


Glentauchers 14 yo 1997/2012 (57%, Exclusive Malts for Usquebaugh Society, cask #3798, 190 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it seems that it’s a rather heavy Speysider on the nose, with notes of olive and linseed oils as well as these touches of walnut and apple skin that can be very, well, nice. Globally rather grassy, with a fruitiness that takes its time and goes towards apples, before there’s more hay and even distant whiffs of manure. A little eucalyptus too. With water: becomes farmyardy. A little horse sweat, which adds to the complexity. Mouth (neat): very nervous start, quite lemony, tarty, even a little fizzy. Lemon squash and gooseberries, maybe even rhubarb. Slightly eau-de-vie-ish but in a nice way. With water: Riesling! Great news. Finish: medium long, pleasantly sharp and ‘chiselled’. Lemon and minerals, then grass. Comments: really nice without water and then swims extremely well. If you like Riesling or chenin blanc and have water aside ;-), this is for you. SGP:651 - 87 points.


Glentauchers 30 yo 1981/2011 (56.5%, Signatory, refill butt, cask #1057, 321 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: it’s funny that we’re not very far from the youngster (agreed, 14 years isn’t exactly young), except that this one is more complex, the kind of complexity that comes with age. I mean phenols, oils again, tobacco, camphor, pine sap, wood polish, beeswax… Great nose so far. With water: wonderful mineral and phenolic development. A little creosote, Barbour grease… Mouth (neat): excellent attack, once again there’s something of the youngster (the slight tartness) but other than that, we’re wider again, which is normal. Ripe cranberries, liquorice, then more classic overripe apples, corn syrup and various spices including ginger and cardamom. Lovely, really. With water: excellent! Crystallised lemons and citrons plus angelica and touches of green tea. Finish: very long, with some ‘nervous’ spices in the aftertaste. Green cardamom? Comments: I liked it a lot when I previewed it and now really love it – maybe because I gave it more time. Well done Signatory Vintage. SGP:561 - 90 points.

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

As they do every year in summer, Pete and Jack the buggers have gone to St Tropez...

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some plain and pure percussive extravaganza with Madlib and Mamão aka Jackson Conti and their Nao Tem Nada Nao (from the album Sunjinho). Please buy Jackson Conti's music...

Jackson Conti

July 2012 - part 1 <--- July 2012 - part 2 ---> August 2012 - part 1


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



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

Bowmore 20yo 1965/1985 (48.5%, Intertrade, sherry, 75cl)

Bowmore 1995/2012 (56.8%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12018, 225 bottles)

Caol Ila 1979/2012 (52.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS12022, 280 bottles)

Caol Ila 33 yo 1979/2012 (53.7%, The Whisky Agency & The Nectar, refill hogshead, 241 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 26 yo 1983/2009 (50.4%, Mo Or Collection, oloroso sherry butt, cask #171, 885 bottles)

Glentauchers 30 yo 1981/2011 (56.5%, Signatory, refill butt, cask #1057, 321 bottles)

Springbank 31 yo 1967/1998 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry, ref #1314)