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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2013 - Part 1

June 2013 - part 2 <--- July 2013 - part 1 ---> July 2013 - part 2


July 14, 2013


Two 29 yo Tormore. Some strange stuff.

Tormore is another name that’s got more exposure in recent times. In the old days, you had some stunning young ones for Italy (white label, Dreher) but then the indies issued many unlikely casks in my opinion. But Tormore is back since a few years, maybe we’ll have more fine examples today…

Tormore 29 yo 1984/2013 (51%, Archives, barrel, cask #3669, 90 bottles)

Tormore 29 yo 1984/2013 (51%, Archives, barrel, cask #3669, 90 bottles) Four stars I have no experience with Tormore 1984. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a little spirity for a few seconds, with a kirschy side that I had found in other Tormores if I remember well, but then there’s an orangey explosion, so to speak (no politics of course). Blood oranges, Seville oranges and even rotting oranges, which ain’t bad I assure you. And pepper, capsicum and ginger. It’s actually quite wild, water should work well. With water: the putative son of Imperial and Glentauchers. Make what you like out of that. Mouth (neat): oak-aged Cointreau or Grand Marnier, with quite a lot of pepper and nutmeg. It’s a very spicy Tormore. With water: more fruits, it becomes a little simpler. Apple cake, a little ginger, even wee touches of chillies. Finish: rather long, a little more chocolaty. Spicy aftertaste (nutmeg, cinnamon…) Comments: quite some unrest in there! It’s fun to follow, even if – or maybe because – everything isn’t fully square. Big dram. SGP:661 - 87 points.

Tormore 1982/2011 (55.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for LMDW, refill sherry, cask #16320)

Tormore 1982/2011 (55.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for LMDW, refill sherry, cask #16320) Three stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: heavy chocolate and heavy struck matches. The colour wasn’t dark but this smells like an utter sherry monster. Asparagus, cauliflowers, orange zests… Let’s let it breathe a little longer… yeah, no, it remains matchsticky (S.!) After twenty minutes: yeah! More leaves, herbal teas, earth, mushrooms, cigars… This is nicer indeed. With water (why are many G&M whiskies getting more cloudy than others when diluted?): dead leaves everywhere, together with a little tobacco smoke and walnuts. Vin jaune. Mouth (neat): now we’re talking! Rich, spicy, beautifully gingery. I don’t know where that comes from but it’s plain and pure speculoos or gingerbread liqueur. The honeyed side is brilliant too. With water: same, this is excellently spicy and gingery. This baby should go well with foie gras ;-). Finish: long, spicy, quite tannic, not unlike some excellent black tea. The aftertaste is a td too bitter for my taste, though. Comments: not an easy one for sure. It’s actually the exact opposite of an easy whisky. For once, it’s the palate that’s on another planet, the nose is quite, yeah, I’ll say it, sulphury. SGP:552 - 84 points.

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



Block Today: BRAZILIAN. Performer: WF favourite Egberto Gismonti. Track: the sweetest music ever written by Man (at least in the Nordeste style) the extraordinary Genesis. Please buy Egberto Gismonti's music...

July 13, 2013


At last, two Alsatian gentians!

(Shh, I can hear you)

I often quote gentian eau-de-vie in my tasting notes but I know it’s an uncommon spirit in many parts of the world, that’s why I’ve decided to have a go at two of them, just for the record. Gentians are almost always distilled from a maceration of the roots of yellow gentian in neutral spirit (usually apple eau-de-vie), but I’ve heard that a few crazy guys still make it by letting roots ferment in water. The yield is much lower in that case, and the prices much higher, but it’s very hard to find. Well, that’s all I think I know about gentian. Ah, yes, it’s also supposed to be an excellent digestive.

Gentiane Jaune

Gentiane (40%, OB, Miclo, Lapoutroie, France, +/-2013)

Gentiane (40%, OB, Miclo, Lapoutroie, France, +/-2013) Two stars Colour: white. Nose: typical gentian, but that says nothing because gentian is always extremely aromatic. You could have a tiny glass in one corner in the room and manage to smell it from… the neighbours’ house. A lot of damp earth, roots of course, some antiseptic, bandages, a little cinchona and, well, gentian. Maybe touches of bergamots. It’s globally a very medicinal spirit, much more medicinal than any Scottish peater. Maybe that’s why so many people don’t like gentian ;-). Mouth: light and maybe a little too smooth and sugary, as if the distillers had added white sugar – but I guess that would be verboten. It’s hardly stronger than that strange yellow cordial called Suze, do you know it? A small saltiness. Finish: long because gentian is always very long (don’t try a young Auchentoshan after a gentian!) but actually shortish for a gentian. Comments: acceptable but it’s too light for me. Of course, any gentian hater will love it for the very same reasons. SGP:580 – around 70 points.


Gentiane (45%, OB, Metté, Ribeauvillé, France, +/-2010) Four stars Colour: white. Nose: globally similar but this one’s harsher, not only because of the higher strength. More on earthy tones, less on medicinal ones. Maybe a faint soapiness and touches of gin, then bitter almonds. It’s less easy but maybe a little more complex. Also something of mescal, agaves… Mouth: another world after the Miclo. More astringent and even acrid but that’s what you’re looking for when sipping gentian, with a huge earthiness, some carvi, juniper berries and a curious feeling of rye whisky. Serious! Huge grasines too. Finish: very long, with unexpected touches of sultanas. It’s even a little muscaty, which makes the aftertaste pleasantly smoother. Having said that, it’s bigger spirit than, say any Ardbeg. Comments: one of my favourite gentians but Metté are well-known for their high-end spirits. And they would distil just anything, coffee, oranges, asparagus, whatever! Just not malted barley ;-). SGP:491 - around 86 points.

BONUS: a Swiss gentian. Another country that distils a lot of gentian, actually most probably more than the Alsatians.

Berg Enzian (43%, OB, Kindschi, Davos, Switzerland, +/-2010)

Berg Enzian (43%, OB, Kindschi, Davos, Switzerland, +/-2010) Three stars You may have a little fun while visiting the distillery’s website. Do not forget to turn your speakers on! Colour: white. Nose: probably the cleanest and the nearest to bandages, embrocations and tiger balm/camphor. In a way, it’s the most extreme but it’s still an enjoyable spirit. Other than that, earth, roots, even celeriac… Nah, all that is very nice. Mouth: well, we’re somewhere between Metté and Miclos. It’s got plenty of body but there’s also a faint soapiness that’s maybe a little disturbing. Very discreet, no big deal. Hints of vegetables too, not only celeriac, also turnips. Gin, mescal… Finish: incredibly long for a spirit that was bottled at 43%. Almost interminable. Bitter aftertaste. Bitterness is part of any gentian but maybe it’s a little excessive here. Comments: still very fine. By the way, gentian is also superb as a 1:10 dilution in chilled Perrier. SGP:490 - around 82 points because remember, I’m a sucker for gentian. And now, let’s make a long break before we taste any whisky… And glasses should be changed!

(with thanks to Lukas and Philip)



Block Today: ALSATIAN FOLK (to go with the gentians - with much moderation). Performer: Les Horizons. Track: Accordéons d'Alsace. Please visit Alsace ;-).

July 12, 2013


Tasting two very unusual islanders

These two whiskies have absolutely nothing in common, except that both were matured on an island, even if only partially in the case of the Indian.

P&M 7 yo 2005/2012 (42%, OB, France/Corsica)

P&M 7 yo 2005/2012 (42%, OB, France/Corsica) Two stars and a half Mashing and fermenting are done at the Pietra Brewery (hence the P in the name) and distilling happens at Mavela Distillery (hence the M in P&M). It's a single malt, aged in Corsican white wine barriques (Domaine Gentile in Patrimonio). There’s been much discussion in the past around the right or not to be called ‘whisky’, as Pietra is a beer that’s made out of both malt and chestnut, which isn’t a cereal. But that should not count here as this is well single malt whisky according to the label. So no chestnuts in the mashbill, I guess…. Colour: deep gold. Nose: extremely unusual indeed, starting all on bitter oranges and myrtle. There’s a lot of myrtle in Corsica, I’m wondering if they did not add a few drops of the liqueur that’s made out of myrtle here… Most probably not, but the resemblance is striking. I have to say it’s a very nice herbal nose, but it doesn’t smell much of ‘whisky’. No obligatorily a problem, mind you! Also genever. Mouth: exactly the same feeling, it’s very herbal. Gin, myrtle again, bitter oranges, some mint, a little eucalyptus liqueur (not an easy drink, I can tell you), quite some oak, tea… It’s a biggish dram, very different. Oily mouth feel. Finish: long, maybe a little too astringent, tannic… and always very grassy. The bitter oranges are back in the aftertaste, together with bitter almonds. Comments: I think this one calls for ice, and of course it’s better when sipped in Corsica (as long as I Muvrini are not playing ;-)). I quite like it despite – or because – its unlikeliness. SGP:471 - 78 points.

Amrut 'Herald' (58.4%, OB, barrel, cask #3030, 219 bottles, 2013)

Amrut 'Herald' (58.4%, OB, barrel, cask #3030, 219 bottles, 2013) Four stars This new baby was matured for 4 years in Bangalore and then 4 years on the much cooler island of Helgoland in northern Germany. Colour: gold. Nose: maybe a bit blocked in comparison, perhaps because of the ueber-aromatic Corsican? I get some sawdust and some tinned pineapples and even oranges, but that’s pretty all so far. That’s quite normal at such high strength. With water: it does not change much but it became easier. I don’t think it’s one of the fruitiest Amruts out there, and maybe it’s spent a little too much time in active wood – already. But things may be different on the palate… Mouth (neat): very Amrut, thick, creamy, very citrusy… It’s also aggressive and pungent but that should be the high strength. So, with water: haha, we tamed the b****d. More lemon and grapefruits, this feeling of fruit salad that’s very ‘Amrut’ and then various ‘acidic’ herbs, coriander, rhubarb stems, sorrel and such. Sweet vanilla. The oak’s noticeable but it’s not in the way of the spirit at all. Finish: long, fruity, sweet. A little more spices in the aftertaste (pepper). Comments: just exactly excellent but it needs quite a lot of water in my opinion. They ‘could’ have bottled it at 46 or 50% but hey, not my business. Great drop anyway. SGP:651 - 87 points.

(thank you Sophie, Sylvie, Christophe and Dominique)



Block Today: JAZZ ROCK (well, not exactly). Performer: Ronald Shannon Jackson. Track: a pretty harmolodic What Spirit Say. Indeed some whiskies say that. Play out on eleven please, then please visit his website and buy his music...

July 11, 2013


Two summery Imperial and a challenge

I’ve decided to write my 9,000th tasting notes exactly when WF will be 11 years old (it’s good to have goals in life, isn’t it) but I’ve been a little too prolific in recent weeks and that’s why I’ll slow down and only have two whiskies at a time until the end of July. So stupid… Anyway, today it’s two Imperials.

Imperial 17 yo 1995/2013 (50.3%, Liquid Sun, refill bourbon hogshead, 291 bottles)

Imperial 17 yo 1995/2013 (50.3%, Liquid Sun, refill bourbon hogshead, 291 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: perfect fruity and fresh start, very ‘Imperial’ but without too much complexity. So yeah, it’s rather and easy/sexy one, with even touches of roses and perfume. And pineapples, oranges, apples and maybe litchis. Very, very easy – which is good in summer, of course. Much more vanilla after a few minutes. With water: more of same, just even easier. Mouth (neat): well it’s one of these super-easy middle-aged Imperials, with even a sexy tropical side, in a way. I’m meaning coconut and pineapple, probably from active American oak. Easy and good, sometimes even a little liqueury. With water: insanely easy, it’s pure fruit juice, with just a little sweet tea thrown in. Easy-sexy indeed. Finish: maybe a notch short but so clean and fruity… Comments: don’t leave this anywhere near the children. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Imperial 17 yo 1995/2012 (53%, Whisky-Doris, 10th Anniversary, hogshead, 132 bottles)

Imperial 17 yo 1995/2012 (53%, Whisky-Doris, 10th Anniversary, hogshead, 132 bottles) Four starsColour: pale gold. Nose: I had feared this baby would be just the same whisky as the Liquid Sun, it’s not. There’s more vanilla cream, more fresh butter and more acacia honey in this one, and almost none of those nice perfumy touches. Yet, I also seem to find a little mullein (syrup or eau-de-vie). The ever reliable Wikipedia says that’s Verbascum Thapsus. Maybe also a little yoghurt/yeast, which works pretty well. With water: as often, both whiskies converge once diluted. Provided you’re using the same water of course ;-). Mouth (neat): sweet and rounded and extremely easy. Fruit liqueurs aplenty, with just a few spices such as nutmeg and white pepper. You have to be careful when tasting this kind because it goes down without notice. With water: same, sweet, easy, fruity, just a notch rougher than it’s sibling (hints of green oak). Finish: same, easy, not very long, clean, sweet, fruity… Comments: I like this one just a wee notch less, but not enough to come up with a lower score. I should at a ‘-‘ after the score or use halves, but that would be… arrr, er… SGP:651 - 85 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: another fabulous blower, Mr Charles McPherson. Track: For Heaven's Sake. Please visit his website and buy all of the music...

July 10, 2013


Los cheapos - four blends

Are there too many expensive or rare or unavailable whiskies on WF? Maybe, and that's why today we'll try to compensate for those biases again with a few 'los cheapos' for the vulgum pecus (that's not you and me, is it!)

Bell's Original (40%, OB, +/-2012)

Bell's Original (40%, OB, blend, +/-2012) Colour: pale gold. Nose: alcohol and burnt caramel, then a little cardboard, overripe apples, breakfast cereals and regular caramel. Roughish around the edges, not very pleasant when nosed unmixed. Mouth: it’s okay, I’d say, despite the weakness. Totally boring but I doubt anybody ever had the idea of drinking the regular Bell’s neat, without ice (or Coke, orange juice, cranberry juice, Schweppes, lemonade or anything designed to improve this very humble Scotch). Now the, notes of burnt cardboard are hard to stand. Finish: short, carbdoardy. Burnt, er… stuff. Bitter. Comments: seriously sub-Johnnie Red. Not exactly flawed, so not worth les than 50 points in my book, but I say this shouldn’t be tried naked (the whisky, arfff, I’m trying to adapt the jokes to the quality of the whiskies I try). SGP:221 - 65 points.

Clan Campbell (40%, OB, +/-2012)

Clan Campbell (40%, OB, blend, +/-2012) Two stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: even less aromatic than the Bell’s. Cardboard, oatcakes, burnt caramel, papers, vase water, cellulose, sawdust… No interest whatsoever, but it’s actually quite harmless. Or should that be innocuous? Mouth: there’s something that I did not find in the Bell’s and that’s not rare in cheap blends: plasticine. On the other hand, the maltiness is pleasant, there are even touches of sherry, figs, raisins… And tarte tatin. It’s actually pretty good whisky once you’ve forgotten about the plastic/paraffin. And it’s less thin than the Bell’s. Finish: rather short, malty, with roasted nuts. Comments: I think it’s solid blend. Would deserve 75 without the plasticine. SGP:331 - 70 points.

Lauder's (40%, 0B, +/-2012)

Lauder's (40%, 0B, blend, +/-2012) Colour: straw. Nose: this one is a grassier blend, with also more honey and smoke. Better composed, it seems. A pleasant earthiness. Also a little flour, tapioca, corn syrup, white rum… Nosable, I’d say. Mouth: hmm, I’m split. On the one hand, there’s a good smokiness and some rather complex notes of oils and putties and such, but on the other hand, it’s weak, disjointed, even watery. Oh, and there’s also a little soap, which is the utter enemy of any civilised Scotch in my opinion. Finish: well the soap got bigger and comes with bitter herbs. Very strong green tea, also brown sugar. Indeed, disjointed. Comments: this weak baby had its moments but some parts are a little hard to enjoy. No, very hard to enjoy. A shame because the bottle is nice! SGP:222 - 50 points.

Islay Mist 'Deluxe' (40%, OB, +/-2012)

Islay Mist 'Deluxe' (40%, OB, blend, +/-2012) All right, I agree this isn’t fair, like Black Bottle, Islay Mist has long been a peaty blend for malt drinkers. But is it still good? Let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: there is some peat, and it’s even pleasantly maritime, but sadly, the rest is weak, thin, flat and extremely cardboardy. I’ve had many a great Islay Mist in the past, but this is very disappointing. Unless it all happens on the palate… Mouth: it’s ultra-young Laphroaig that plays the leading part, and whilst ultra-young Laphroaig can be superb, it has to come with power or it’s just too flat and dry. That’s exactly what happens here, peat is even a handicap in this context. Yes, Serge speaking. Eating smoked carbon paper or something like that. Finish: not short thanks to the peat, but too sooty and ashy, without any fruits or else to make it a little more… pleasant. Comments: very disappointing, but let’s remember this is the cheaper Islay Mist. I think they’re still making older versions that should be much better. We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope, said Martin Luther King. SGP:144 (how unbalanced!) - 35 points.

Okay, I think I we’ll go on tasting harder to find malt whiskies if you don’t mind ;-).

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: WF favourite Mr Pepper Adams. Track: Lovers of their time. Let it unfold for the sheer beauty of the baritone! Please visit the website and buy the music...

July 9, 2013


Tasting Lomond not from Loch Lomond

There’s a fairly new Glencraig by Cadenhead but most sadly, I haven’t got any other yet-untasted Glencraig to go with it, and no new Mosstowie or Inverleven either. Yes we’re talking Lomond stills… But wait, maybe I’ve got an idea… Why not a Scapa? Indeed, Scapa use or used an old Lomond still as a wash still. Let’s simply settle for a recent bottling such as the popular 16 yo if you don’t mind.

Scapa 16yo (40%, OB, +/- 2013)

Scapa 16yo (40%, OB, +/- 2013) Two stars and a half This bottling has dedicated fans while other friends find it a little bland. I’ve tried it several times in the past but let’s check if the new batches stand on their feet. Colour: gold. Nose: immediately very malty and buttery, with a saucerful of porridge (not secrets) and then more honey, sweet beer, hay and cider. Maybe a little mint.  It’s a very nice, fresh nose but will it be big enough on the palate? Mouth: nicer than I recalled, certainly a little fatter, mainly on apples, peelings, cider and such. Also touches of pears and lemon. Sadly, it tends to become thinner after just ten seconds and a bigger honey note is not enough to give it the oomph it lacks. A little caramel? Finish: short, even evanescent. More or less on caramel and some sort of hay/grass. Comments: very nice profile, fresh and perfectly balanced, but it’s simply too thin at 40% vol. in my opinion. I’m sure this would be superb whisky at 45 or 46%. SGP:331 - 79 points.

Glencraig-Glenburgie 31 yo 1981/2012 (50.8%, Cadenhead, bourbon, 186 bottles)

Glencraig-Glenburgie 31 yo 1981/2012 (50.8%, Cadenhead, bourbon, 186 bottles) Four stars The name stresses the fact that indeed, Glencraig used to lie within Glenburgie Distillery. Cadenhead already had several very good 1981 Glencraig in the past. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: as close to white eau-de-vie as malt whisky can be, and I must say I like this since we’re rather on small berries such as sorb and elderberries than on ‘straight-ahead’ fruits. There’s also a feeling of sugar cane and juicy raisins, then much more cigar tobacco, leaves, maybe a little patchouli… and gingerbread. Unusual, fun and, well, very nice. Water doesn’t change much to it. Mouth: excellent gin-fizz or gin and tonic. Seriously. Clean, fresh, with little oak (no wonder it’s almost white) but a perfect fruitiness, wider than in the nose. For example, there’s a lot of grapefruits but no bubblegum like in younger ultra-naked whiskies. In short, a perfect zestiness. Finish: good length, with more lemon, grapefruits and ginger tonic. Comments: one of the youngest old whiskies if you see what I mean. And it’s perfectly mature. Worth checking – and Glencraig is very rare. SGP:441 - 87 points.

(with thanks to Peter)


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback in St. Tropez
(the buggers are on holidays again)



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Claire Martin. Track: Gettin' high (not with whisky, haha). Please visit Claire Martin's website and buy her music...

July 8, 2013


Tasting three Bunnahabhain
from the 1970s

In my experience these Bunnahabhains from the 1970s are relatively gentle and easy, even at around 50% vol., so I've univocally decided not to use any water today. Mind you, good whisky-compatible bottled water is becoming expensive! Pfff...

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1978/2009 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, ref #5120, 566 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1978/2009 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, ref #5120, 566 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: it's a fairly mineral one at first nosing, it's even a little chalky. Quite some grass too, clay, then more walnuts, cigarette tobacco and leaves, probably from the sherry. Nice but a little too dry at this point, lacking the kind of subtle and fruity... er, fruitiness that old Bunnahabhains often display. Mouth: slightly rough but there's more happening now. A kind of rather spicy sherriness, with some burnt raisins, toasted bread, blackcurrant leaves or buds, then more chocolate. Maybe prunes as well... yeah, prunes. Finish: rather long, with this chalkiness again and then more bitters, cinchona, bitter oranges... Comments: very good, maybe just not polished and luscious enough for an old Bunnahabhain. Interesting bitterness on the palate. SGP:361 - 84 points.

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1974/2009 (47.3%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 250 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1974/2009 (47.3%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: isn't it quite striking how the early 1970s are very different from the late 1970s at many distilleries? Indeed there are many more fruits here, it's actually a large fruit salad, with pears (but not too much!), oranges, gooseberries, melons, bananas, peaches... What's more, the oak's quite light, there's just a little cinnamon and the usual white pepper. Maybe a little fresh coriander too? Nice and clean, pleasantly uncomplicated. And that's not just the bourbon wood. Mouth: even more fruit salad on a bed of vanilla, honey and white pepper, with only touches of ginger. So bananas, peaches, ripe pears, a little coconut, passion fruits... Well there are tropical fruits but it remains globally 'western' as far as the fruits are concerned. Finish: good length, the oak's starting to show more but all that is under control. Rather easily. Comments: one of the fruitiest ones. Excellent, just not immensely complex in my opinion. Bah, it goes down very well... SGP:651 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973/2013 (50.6%, Archives, butt, cask #3463, 156 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973/2013 (50.6%, Archives, butt, cask #3463, 156 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh, this is interesting! There are many fruits again but also an added layer of mineral and earthy tones that add much depth. Apples and gentian roots, pears and moss, peaches and pipe tobacco, coconut and leather... Also mangos, touches of smoke, maybe earthy celeriac? Very fine! Mouth: it's the fruity side that took over on the palate, and this time it's very citrusy, with plenty of blood oranges, then grapefruits and a fistful of fresh hazelnuts. Big fruits! Very lovely, and there's even a little salt starting to show after a few minutes, which makes it kind of coastal. Well, more coastal than other old Bunnahabhains, did it mature at the distillery? Finish: long, clean, zesty and zingy. Just what the doctor ordered (you can do better, S.) Comments: there's a Littlemillness in this old Bunnahabhain. We won't complain. The sherry's discreet and that's a euphemism. Who cares! SGP:741 - 91 points.

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



Block Today: NO IDEA HOW YOU CALL THIS. Performer: Nicky Skopelitis. Track: Ekstasis 2/10. Please buy his music...

July 7, 2013


Malternatives, various rums
from various countries

While we were having rum, we could as well have two or four (or six) more in spite of the numerous complains I got (I'm kidding). This will be a mixed bag as we'll fly to Brazil, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad. And then whisky will be back on WF. Thanks for your understanding ;-).

Brazil 1999 (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #4/4, 450 bottles, +/-2013)

Brazil 1999 (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #4/4, 450 bottles, +/-2013) Two starsColour: gold. Nose: this seems to be more nervous than other recent Plantations at low strength. We're also rather more on oranges and corn syrup as well as on grass and a little cardboard, the whole being rather dry. Not very fragrant, I'm curious about the palate. After ten minutes, much more sweet liquorice (allsorts). Mouth: very sweet and quite sugary. Pear juice and drops, maple syrup and candy sugar. It's very easy and undemanding, despite nice touches of curry that arise after a few seconds. Finish: relatively short, always on pears with a little nutmeg and white pepper. Wee touches of rubber. Comments: good rum, it's just a little too 'un-whisky' for me. And easy, fruity drop. SGP:620 - around 70 points.

Barbancourt 15 yo 'Estate Reserve' (43%, OB, Haiti, +/-2013)

Barbancourt 15 yo 'Estate Reserve' (43%, OB, Haiti, +/-2013) Two stars The regular 4 yo *** was to my liking, so this should be special. It's rum rhum agricole. Colour: gold. Nose: interestingly enough, we aren't that far from the Brazilian, although this one has more bananas and sugar cane. A little toasted bread too, cocoa powder, bitter chocolate... It's an elegant nose, no sweetish extravaganza - at all. Mouth: the wood is much more obvious in this one, it's even a little acrid and bizarrely earthy. Chewing tobacco, a lot of pepper and even chilli. This dryness came unexpected. Finish: long and peppery. Comments: a style of its own, I believe no cousin from Martinique or Guadeloupe taste like this. I mean this dry. I quite enjoy it, having said that, I wouldn't say it's wood soup. SGP:370 - 75 points.

Westerhall Estate 10 yo 2003/2013 (48.6%, Sansibar, Grenada, single cask)

Westerhall Estate 10 yo 2003/2013 (48.6%, Sansibar, Grenada, single cask) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: it's a relatively light rum again, rather sweet, starting on overripe apples and orange liqueur (triple-sec type), with the sugar cane coming to the front later on, together with touches of overripe bananas. Easy and fresh so far. Mouth: there's definitely more happening in this one, it's saltier and grassier, also with more menthol and olives, then grapefruits and lemons. Somewhere between Jamaica and Guyana - not too sure where Grenada is I have to say. Let's check that... Right, it's in the Caribbean, not far from Venezuela. It's in the Commonwealth, I guess that's why I find some Englishness in it. Finish: long and spicier, with some pepper and quite a lot of nutmeg. Comments: this is really to my liking. It's a kind of slightly lighter Demerara, I'd say. Rum geeks, don't shoot! SGP:551 - around 82 points. Speaking of Guyana...

Uitvlugt 15 yo 1998/2013 (63.2%, The Rum Cask, Demerara, Guyana, cask #40)

Uitvlugt 15 yo 1998/2013 (63.2%, The Rum Cask, Demerara, Guyana, cask #40) Three stars More rocket fuel! But these Uitvlugt at very high strength (maybe it's tropical ageing?) can be stunning... Colour: gold. Nose: frankly, it's a bit blocked. I get weird things (lorryloads of cut grass) and I'm sure that's me. So... With water: this is funny and very unusual. Peonies in rum? And lilies of the valley? Mouth (neat): liquorice on fire. Quick... With water: good, we're now extremely close to raw sugar cane, it's even got a feeling of rhum agricole. Vegetables, grass, liquorice... Works well. Finish: long, very much on sugar cane. Comments: it's a challenging rum and you have to be a champ with a pipette. But then, its fun! SGP:451 - around 82 points.

Mount Gay 12 yo 2000/2013 (53.7%, Duncan Taylor, Barbados, cask #15)

Mount Gay 12 yo 2000/2013 (53.7%, Duncan Taylor, Barbados, cask #15) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: hey-hey, as Neil would say! Now we're really talking, this is ridden with salty liquorice, brine, black olives and pitch, and after thirty seconds almond oil and... barley sugar (!) I love this nose so far. Very aromatic but certainly not inelegant (some would say not who..ish, how shocking). With water: tar, rubber and liquorice. What's not to like? ;-) Mouth (neat): perfect heavy rum, very salty and grassy, with an extreme side. Pot Still? (I didn't do my homework, sorry, I'm in a rush these days). Anyway, love this. With water: perfectly grassy, salty, brilliantly acrid and difficult... I know, I know... Finish: very long and very briny. Comments: Duncan Taylor's latest rums have all been quite brilliant, great job up there in Huntly! SGP:372 - around 86 points. Look, I think we'll have a last one, another one by DT.

Trinidad 20 yo 1991/2012 (54.8%, Duncan Taylor, cask #298)

Trinidad 20 yo 1991/2012 (54.8%, Duncan Taylor, cask #298) Four stars The distillery isn't disclosed, let's hope it's Caroni! If it's very medicinal, it is Caroni. Colour: gold. Nose: it's not medicinal, but it's very tarry/pitchy. Heavily smoked lapsang souchong tea, bicycle inner tubes, coal... Very dry, water is needed more than ever. With water: just the same, water wouldn't change one iota. Mouth (neat): heavy, not medicinal, more on thick orange liqueur with zests of lemon thrown in. Works well, it's got a lot of zing despite the thickness. With water: here you go, more tar, more liquorice, more grassy... er, stuff, and more cough syrup! Finish: long and a tad saltier. No, very salty. Brine. Comments: if it's Caroni, it's not the most spectacular cask ever, but it's great rum and, above everything, a perfect malternative. SGP:561 - around 87 points.

Good, let's move to safer territories in the coming days. Yes, that would be Scotland...

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



Block Today: BRAZILIAN JAZZ to go with rum. Performer: Paula Lima. Track: As Famosas Gargalhadas Do Yuka. Please visit Paula Lima's website and buy her music...

July 5, 2013


Malternatives, a bag of sweet Cuban rums and one bonus

Summer's still over Alsace! Get this, we haven't got any rain since three days - at time of writing! Let's celebrate with more rum, starting with yet another old unavailable apéritif. If you don't mind... And then we'll add rums to rum until we feel we're done.

Bacardi 'Carta Blanca Superior' (OB, for France, 1940s?)

Bacardi 'Carta Blanca Superior' (OB, for France, 1940s?) Two starsWhat's sure is that this baby's pre-Fidel. No ABV on the label. Colour: gold. Nose: well, if I had to compare this very political oldie with other rums - which is the whole point, isn't it - I'd say this one's smoother, rounder, more honeyed, gentler, lighter, more undemanding and more, say commercial. It's very easy and totally uncontroversial, if I may say so.  Only distant whiffs of sugar cane. Mouth: easy, soft, maybe a little chalky - but that may come from bottle ageing - and certainly chocolaty. Rum-filled chocolate, maybe a little coffee as well. Satisfactory. Finish: short, a little sugary. Comments: quite good but it's light and easy 'commercial' rum. The fact that it's a wonderful old bottle - maybe even an historical one - doesn't make the slightest difference. In short, good but nothing más especial. SGP:330 - around 70 points. Let's try a more modern Cuban now...

Cuba 1998 (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #2/4, 450 bottles, +/-2013)

Cuba 1998 (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #2/4, 450 bottles, +/-2013) Two stars I think this baby was finished in cognac casks. Why not. Colour: full gold. Nose: it's a light and fresh rum, and I seem to detect notes of white peaches, possibly from the cognac casks. Other than that, we have some sugar cane, some honeydew (it's a little sappy), then more vanilla and sultanas. As I said, it's an easy and clean/fresh nose, exactly the opposite of, say the Hampden that we had earlier. Or Caronis, the Demeraras and such. Lightness! Mouth: strikingly sweet and almost syrupy. Feels arranged, with some pineapple liqueur, more vanilla, various honeys... Would go well on vanilla ice cream. Pear drops. Finish: a little short but a little more complex now. Chlorophyll? Comments: certainly very good but it's not quite my kind of rum. Probably more for lovers of good sweet and syrupy rums. SGP:620 - around 70 points. And while we're having some sweet Cubanistas, let's tackle Malecon if you will...

Rum Malecon 21 yo 'Reserva Imperial' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013)

Rum Malecon 21 yo 'Reserva Imperial' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013) Well, this is made using the 'metodo tradicional cubano' but it's not Cuban despite its name, it's made in Panama. Indeed, the Malecon is La Havana's well-known seaside avenue. Reminds us of the fake cigars that are made here and there using famous Cuban brand names. Colour: orange amber. Nose: it's quite coffee-ish and pretty dusty at first nosing, with also whiffs of damp earth that do not goo too well here. Having said that, it tends to improve over the minutes, with more humus and... er, cigars. Also chestnuts, freshly sawn oak and chocolate. Pretty nice, in fact, but the devil usually lies in, or on the palate. Mouth: nope. Coffee liqueur, chocolate liqueur, sugar. Too sweet and weak for my taste, this is no good malternative, but I'm not saying rum geeks wouldn't love it! Actually, I have no ideas... Finish: good length but the oak's chocolaty tannins tend to come out. Black pepper. Comments: simply a style that I do not enjoy. Serge, drop Cuba or Cuban-style rum! SGP:540 - around 65 points. And now, to match my action to my words, another Panamanian ;-)...

Panama 8 yo (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #1/2, 450 bottles, +/-2013)

Panama 8 yo (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #1/2, 450 bottles, +/-2013) Two starsI know it's not fully logical to have an 8yo after a 21, but Plantation's a much better name... Colour: amber. Nose: ... and this is a much nicer whisky. Even if it's Cuban-style, it's got these English-style notes of olives, tar, motor oil and pine sap that I usually enjoy. Rubber boots, tarmac, sugar cane and even a little ham. Pitch. We're in the navy! Mouth: right, this is quite sweet again - too sweet indeed- but balance is achieved. Liqueurs of all sorts, honey, jams... Makes your tongue stick to your palate. Well, all that is a little excessive but it's not totally unpleasant. Finish: good length, sweet, with some oak in the aftertaste. Comments: not my style, but it's more to my liking than the Malecon. It's just that I couldn't swallow more than a teaspoonful. It's me. SGP:730 - around 75 points. Phew, that was a hard session. There might be more sugar in these rums than in Coca-Cola, which says a lot. Well, the rums might be less lethal...

BONUS: I know some distinguished readers are not too much into rum, so I'm also posting notes for one nice and hopefully interesting whisky...

Balvenie 'Tun 1858' (50.4%, OB, for Taiwan, 2012)

Balvenie 'Tun 1858' (50.4%, OB, for Taiwan, 2012) Four stars and a half It's basically the same idea as the famous Tun 1401. I don't think the casks' ages are disclosed on the label, so it's fully 'NAS'. All we know is that it's 3 butts and 6 hogsheads or barrels (called 'traditional whisky casks' on the tube's label), probably all quite old while Tuns 1401 usually have younger whisky inside if I'm not mistaken. I've read that the oldest cask here is a 1966, and that the price is quite hefty (around 1000 Euros?) Colour: full amber. Nose: what's striking is the big influence of the sherry, and yet the distillate still shines through, with yellow plums, apricots, oranges and maybe touches of tinned pineapples. And let's not forget acacia honey and plain nectar. The oak spices are becoming a little louder after a few seconds, with quite some cinnamon Mouth: sweet and quite mellow, well between sherry and pure Balvenieness. There's a most enjoyable kind of freshness despite the very raisiny sherry. Mirabelle jam, honey, marmalade, brioche, orange cake, maybe touches of cassis jam... Finish: long, with an oakiness that got bigger and makes it just a little drying. Walnuts, nutmeg and cinnamon. Fairly tannic aftertaste. Comments: isn't it a bit bizarre to advertise the cask numbers but not the vintages? Anyway, a very fine old tipple, it's only in the finish that the oak's becoming a little loud in my opinion. SGP:561 - 89 points.

July 19 update: by law, the bottlers cannot put multiple vintages or ages on the labels (SWA regulations). The casks used in Tun 1858 were 3 European oak 1970, 1971 and 1973, and six American oak 1966, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1975. Thank you Sam.

(with thanks to Patrick and Ho-cheng)



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: another wonder from Alligator Records, Long John Hunter. Track: Irene. Please visit Mr Hunter's website and buy his music...

July 4, 2013


Malternatives, three Jamaican rums

Because summer's back in early Alsatian July. We'll first have a very old one by a Dutch merchant, as a kind of apéritif, and then two indies by some whisky, er, indies. One that could be rocket fuel according to its strength, and the other one that spent a lot of time in wood.

Jamaica Rum 'Special Reserve' (Levert & Schudel, Haarlem, Holland, early 20th century)

Jamaica Rum 'Special Reserve' (Levert & Schudel, Haarlem, Holland, early 20th century) Three starsA wonderful old label! Colour: orange amber. Nose: lovely, a little simple but certainly not weak, starting all on sultanas and light honey, with then more hay and candy sugar. Yet, it's not sugary at all, it's just quite simple so far. Little sugar cane, it was most probably molasses-based. After ten minutes, a little mint and liquorice that add a little more complexity. The honey's getting bigger too. After fifteen minutes: isn't this gewurztraminer? Roses? Beauty cream? That's funny but all that fades away. After twenty minutes: it's dead. Mouth: hey, it kept its power, although it probably became drier than it originally was. It really feels '40% vol.' A sucrosity (or would that be a sugariness?) at times but there's also some liquorice, these black olives that I sometimes find in these rums... It only gets a little disjointed after a good five minutes. Quite an achievement. Finish: not too long but more on menthol and cough drops. Maybe a little turpentine-y now. Ha! Comments: good old spirits never die. It's not utterly splendid rum but the way it kept its head high all these years is impressive, even if the nose tends to vanish. SGP:362 - around 80 points.

Hampden Estate 12 yo 2000/2013 (62%, The Rum Cask, Jamaica, cask #45)

Hampden Estate 12 yo 2000/2013 (62%, The Rum Cask, Jamaica, cask #45) Four stars This is pot still rum, probably fatty. Colour: white wine. Nose: the Port Ellen of rum! I mean, there's just as much tar in this rum, also linoleum, olives and liquorice. It's the kind of heavy profile that I enjoy, maybe also because it's kind of close to malt whisky. Yup, malt whisky from Islay. The sugar cane only becomes louder after a good ten minutes. Burnt sugar. No peat ;-). With water: same plus sea water. PE! Mouth (neat): you would think you could handle this for a fraction of a second, and then it's a kind of tarry tsunami that happens. Violently tarry and acrid, is this freely on sale? With water: remains tarry, grassy, fat, oily... And the salted liquorice kicks in. It's really like a heavy peater from Islay, either you love it, or you just can't stand it. The latter does not apply in my case. Finish: very long, even saltier. And olives, a little lemon zest... Comments: you need a long rest after this baby, but what a ride. The only thing it lacks is a little complexity, but who cares? Complexity is for sissies (wot???) SGP:662 - around 87 points.

Jamaican Rum 30 yo 1982/2012 (50.8%, Liquid Sun, 263 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 30 yo 1982/2012 (50.8%, Liquid Sun, 263 bottles) Three stars This one might come from Long Pond Distillery - or not. Colour: gold. Nose: it's much subtler than both the very old bottling and the heavy Hampden. We have tobacco, banana skin, café latte, polished wood (precious wood, rosewood and such, maybe thuja as well), then a feeling of tar and motor oil again just like in the Hampden but all that's lighter here. Quite some grass too. With water: between cigars, marmalade and more thuja wood. Unexpected williams pears. Mouth (neat): it's a strange one now, very different from all the rums I could try so far. There's quite some green oak, a feeling of cedar wood, cinnamon cake, some kind of mustard, liquorice, tar liqueur (we've opened a bottle of early 20th century Clacquessin tar liqueur with my friend Angus a while back, expect some wacky tasting notes soon...), also liquorice wood, other roots - isn't this ginseng powder? - and nutmeg, cinchona... I must say it's got something of some Italian bitters. With water: we're getting nearer to malt whisky while the oak's getting also even louder. Finish: quite long, very dry. Bitter chocolate. Drying, tannic aftertaste. Comments: this one is more complex, but it may have lost focus as a result. The oak's quite, say, thundering. SGP:481 - around 80 points.

(with thanks to Ron)

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Japan's fabulous Masabumi Kikuchi. Track: to go with the rums, Caribbean Blue. Please buy Mr Kikuchi's music...

July 3, 2013


Malternatives, this is tequila day

Just like other golden spirits, the best tequilas can easily compete with most malt whiskies, provided you enjoy agave, no need to say. It's also interesting that after rum, some adventurous whisky people are starting to delve into single cask tequilas these days. Let's have two today - because I haven't got more interesting ones anyway ;-)).

Casa Noble 5 yo (40%, OB, tequila, anejo, +/2007)

Casa Noble 5 yo (40%, OB, tequila, anejo, +/2007) Three stars This is single estate tequila, from a golden and black decanter while another Casa Noble anejo we had - and enjoyed - in 2011 came in a black and silver decanter. Carlos Santana himself is one of the main owners of the company. Colour: straw. Nose: starts extremely aromatic, very cologne-y and almost soapy but that's part of this style and, in a way, it's no soapy spirit. I mean, whisky lovers may find it soapy, but I'm sure tequila freaks won't agree. Oh well, I know what I'm trying to say! Anyway, there's also some kind of dill, lavender, something slightly geraniumy and then Toulouse violets. So yeah, it's very floral. Mouth: sweet, a tad weakish in the arrival and it will remain relatively narrow, but the spicy and peppery style works well despite some tannins that are a tad in the front. Dutch genever. Finish: the spices do their work but the rest is a little weak. Rather oaky/gingery aftertaste, hinting at European oak indeed (I know it's European oak). Comments: excellent spirit but I cannot not feel that the oak's a little loud and maybe not perfectly integrated. The spirit itself is wonderful. SGP:380 - 81 points.

Arette 6 yo 2006/2013 (50%, OB for Svenska Eldvatten, El Blano Distillery, single cask, Early Times barrel)

Arette 6 yo 2006/2013 (50%, OB for Svenska Eldvatten, El Blano Distillery, single cask, Early Times barrel) Four stars These single barrels or casks are in the 'Gran Clase' category. I've already tried one back in 2010 and it was wonderful (WF 87-ish). Colour: straw. Nose: this one is more restrained, less wham-bam than the Casa, and probably much more grassy and earthy. Very nice notes of moss, humus, fennel, agaves (obviously) - well, it's cactusy - juniper berries and then vanilla. There's a little sawdust but that goes well here. Maybe also caraway. Mouth: wham! It's a bigger, punchier, almost aggressive and even acrid spirit. There's a lot of oak again but it does echo the spirit, while bigger and bigger notes of salmiak or salted liquorice arise. No wonder this cask went to Sweden ;-). I have to say I'm a sucker for salmiak myself. Grassy background, on raw ginger and even horseradish. Also something unusual, maybe rose geranium liqueur? Have you ever tried that? Finish: long, green and spicy. Oh, and liquoricy. More salt in the aftertaste. Comments: it's tequila for big boys. Would challenge many an Islayer. SGP:280 - 87 points.

(with thanks to Carsten)


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Oliver Nelson. Track: Stolen Moments. That's the 1975 version, maybe even better than the original. Please buy his music...

July 2, 2013


Two Auchroisk

Not much to say about this little-known Speysider, I'm afraid. It can be a little rubbery at times in my experience, but I've hardly ever tried twenty of them.

Auchroisk 1999/2010 (46%, Captain Burn's, France)

Auchroisk 1999/2010 (46%, Captain Burn's, France) Two stars A brand owned by Armagnac people Ryst-Dupeyron, in Condom (not kidding). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a totally naked, almost new-maky whisky, ridden with porridge, damp oatcakes and overripe apples and pears. Not too bad so far, but the problem is that too much gravel and dust start to rise, after a few seconds. Mouth: malt, malt and more malt, coated with vanilla and corn syrup. Cornflakes. Then a little more cinchona/ginger, with a faint feeling of ginger tonic. Not much happening. Finish: decent length. Ovaltine. That's the malt speaking. Comments: decent and boring. Malt for cocktails? SGP:441 - 70 points.

Auchroisk 22 yo 1990/2013 (49.8%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry)

Auchroisk 22 yo 1990/2013 (49.8%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry) Three stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: ah yes, this is well one of these rubbery Auchroisks, also full of walnut liqueur, then soot and wax polish. Apple peelings, earth and roots. It's a bizarre dram, very unusual in its roughness, some parts being similar to what we already experienced with the 1999. The jury's still out, I'd say. Mouth: the cask does all the talking, with bitter oranges, coriander, sweet chilli sauce, two or three speculoos... The good news is that a very unusual but very pleasant fruitiness lies in the background, between litchis and longans. Did that come from the sherry? We also have this earthiness that we already found in the nose. A little gentian eau-de-vie. Finish: long, more complex. Orange and caramel liqueurs and a slight feeling of Bailey's. Don't shoot! Some honeydew and more herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: probably not a racing whisky but its unusualness makes it worth trying. It was a good sherry cask. SGP:561 - 83 points.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



Block Today: AFRICAN. Performer: Ethiopia's Aster Aweke. Track: Teyim. Please buy her music...

July 1, 2013


A little Banffing today

Ah, Banff! This one too is becoming rarer and rarer. We'll have two of them and then see if we go on, depending on the results. Maybe we could do some kind of randomised verticale?

Banff 1975/2013 (42.9%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13023, 201 bottles)

Banff 1975/2013 (42.9%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13023, 201 bottles) Five stars MoS already had a rather superb 1975 last year (WF 90). Colour: white wine, so very pale for a 37/38yo malt. Nose: hell, yes! Which distillery was the queen of fruit+mustard? That's right, Banff. Granted, this is sweet mustard (maybe blueberry flavoured?) and the fruits are all sour, in a way, but that is superb in the very context. Chinese plum sauce for Peking duck? Other than that, we have herbal teas (lime blossom, orange blossom) and apples, tinned pineapples and quite some white chocolate. Spectacularly different so far. Mouth: for just a fraction of a second, I had thought the oak had taken over, but then the fruits kicked in, together with an unexpected saltiness (coz yeah, there's no salt in whisky, only a saltiness). Fantastic passion fruits, bananas, raspberries, oranges, peaches... The oak's spices remain delicate and pleasantly cinnamony, I'd say. Very good body at barely 43% vol. Finish: okay, the oak got a little louder in the finish, but it's still of the cinnamony kind, not too drying. And, above, all, it's still wonderfully fruity. Comments: old glories never die (try harder next time, S.) I could have gone one or two points higher with just a little less oak in the finish/aftertaste. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Banff 32 yo 1976/2009 (47.1%, Cadenhead, 123 bottles)

Banff 32 yo 1976/2009 (47.1%, Cadenhead, 123 bottles) Five starsCadenhead had quite a bunch of great 1976s in the past. There's no reason why this one shouldn't be just as good. Colour: gold. Nose: this baby's gentler and easier on the nose, rounder as well, with more vanilla and classic fruits such as apples, yellow plums, quinces, apricots, kumquats... Add touches of mint, eucalyptus, some earth, humidor, maybe a few mushrooms (the spicy ones such as the rhodopaxillus - oh forget about that)... Some honey too... Lovely, really lovely. Mouth: it's the same whisky as the 1975, really.  A little more oomph thanks to the higher strength, maybe an added zestiness (lime), probably a slightly lower complexity... But what a fantastic fruitiness altogether. Oh, and there's a little mustard too, even some kind of wasabi sauce (the one they make with ginger and sesame oil, it's a killer). Finish: long, lemony, nervous... Wonderful. Comments: very same high quality as the 1975. No reasons to come up with a different score. SGP:661 - 90 points.

Goody good, I think a randomised verticale was a good idea, if I may say so, let's go on...

Banff 24 yo 1977/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 306 bottles)

Banff 24 yo 1977/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 306 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's a much harsher, more vegetal one. The mustard and the wasabi are in the front, while it's also oddly medicinal, as if this was an ex-Laphroaig cask. So a lot of antiseptic, aspirin tablets, then sour wood, even cheese, gherkins... Well, this nose suggests either a brilliant palate, or a wreck. Let's see... Mouth: none of the above but it's still strange. Big mustard, pepper, wasabi, grass, then nicer notes of pineapple and maybe litchi... Also green tea, green peppercorn... It's a strange one indeed. With water: no changes, except that the oak gets louder. All this is very green! Finish: long and peppery. Oh and yes, the mustardy side remains prominent. Dustier and soapier aftertaste. Comments: the harder side of Banff. Spectacularly difficult but some parts were very interesting. SGP:461 - 78 points.

Banff 34 yo 1974/2009 (50.4%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, Bourbon cask, cask #0431, 213 bottles)

Banff 34 yo 1974/2009 (50.4%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, Bourbon cask, cask #0431, 213 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: ... and the full fruitiness is back! We're pretty much within the same territories as with the MoS and the CAD, that is to say with this unusual yet wonderful combination of sweet mustard and overripe fruits, including pineapples. I don't feel I need to say more. With water: yes! Swims like a champ, becomes more complex, with roses, sandalwood, incense, sultanas... Mouth (neat): once again, the oak's a tiny-wee tad loudish, but the fruity and peppery/mustardy backbone does stand that, easily. Cider apples aplenty. With water: little development this time. Finish: good length. Dried longans and sultanas, and much less mustard than elsewhere. A curiously mineral and lemony aftertaste. High-end Sancerre? Comments: I feel this baby deserves one extra-point because it's a notch more complex. Another great Banff. Well, one of the greatest IMHO. SGP:561 - 91 points.

Banff 24 yo 1976/2001 (53.7%, Blackadder, hogshead, cask #2247, 256 bottles)

Banff 24 yo 1976/2001 (53.7%, Blackadder, hogshead, cask #2247, 256 bottles) Four stars This baby could be harsher and rougher... Colour: pale gold. Nose: I sometimes write stupid things! (who said indeed, who?) On the contrary, it's rather rounder, certainly more honeyed, going on with touches of ripe bananas, plums and then quite some vanilla. And, above all, no mustard or very, very little so far. With water: some cardboard coming through, as well as, wait, isn't that mustard? No magnificent swimmer but it does not sink. Mouth (neat): powerful, with a little mustard this time, and then a growing pepperiness. All that on a bed of mirabelle jam and orange marmalade. With water: excellent! Peppered oranges and pink grapefruits. Or these fat ones called pomelos. Finish: long, between citrus fruits and the oak's cinnamon and pepper. Good and clean. Comments: does Banff need 30 years? Anyway, this baby isn't my favourite ever but quality's high, no doubt about that. SGP:551 - 87 points.

PS: it could be that this was the last time we could line-up five untasted Banffs in a row. Sob sob sob... But I hope Cadenhead still have some casks!

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

June 2013

Favourite recent bottling:
Bowmore 1999/2013 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage for Le Gus’t, France, barrel, cask #800293, 236 bottles)  - WF 90

Favourite older bottling:
Springbank 31 yo 1963/1994 (52.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry wood) - WF 95

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (55.2%, OB, batch 2, 2013)  - WF 89



Block Today: BLUES (sort of). Performer: Najma Akhtar and Gary Lucas. Track: Special Rider Blues. Please visit the website and buy the music...

June 2013 - part 2 <--- July 2013 - part 1 ---> July 2013 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphab

Banff 34 yo 1974/2009 (50.4%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, Bourbon cask, cask #0431, 213 bottles)

Banff 32 yo 1976/2009 (47.1%, Cadenhead, 123 bottles)

Banff 1975/2013 (42.9%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13023, 201 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973/2013 (50.6%, Archives, butt, cask #3463, 156 bottles)