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Angus MacRaild


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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2015 - Part 1



June 2015 - part 2 <--- July 2015 - part 1 ---> July 2015 - part 2


July 12, 2015


Tasting a rye that, I hope,
won’t become extremely rare

I know, I know, the heatwave is over in Alsace. But you see, I also had a lot of work, travels, days off abroad… So we’ll need a little more time to come up with a proper stock of new tasting notes and session. On the other hand, I don’t like to let little Whiskyfun remain un-updated for too long, so since I’m in Brittany just now, I rushed to one of my favourite little whisky shops, ‘Whisky & Rhum’, in the lovely city of Rennes, and bought this for you. I mean, for us…

Only rye

Glann ar Mor ‘Only Rye’ (46%, Celtic Whisky Compagnie, single malt, France, 2015) Four stars This is very interesting, it’s one of Glann ar Mor’s latest – and last - bottlings, distilled from malted rye in Pleubian, Brittany. It’s also so sad that that the little Formula One of French whisky will stop working on August 15 this year. Ha, bureaucracy and lobbies, always a nasty combination! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got this breadiness that I love so much, and I cannot not think of Sonoma’s rye whiskey. So wholegrain bread, ginger, fennel seeds, salted butter caramel, a touch of brioche, this very peculiar soapiness that’s often to be found in good ryes – and that’s not really soapy, rather soap-like, in a good way. I also find touches of lavender flowers (again, not lavender eau-de-toilette, or air-freshener). I find this very aromatic and really très beau. I mean, very nice. Mouth: creamy, oily, bready, and, above all, very spicy. Much spicier than most American, Canadian, or even European ryes. Very good stuff, provided you enjoy heavy liquorice, caraway, cumin, ginger, poppy seeds, and nutmeg. And cardamom. What also works very well is the sweetness that coats all these spices, the buttered caramel, the faint saltiness, the lavender sweets, the zesty grapefruits and tangerines… Finish: long, with this feeling of pumpernickel covered with Monsieur Bordier’s (oh forget) salted butter. Or his seaweed-flavoured one. Also love the citrusy signature. A minimal touch of sawdust. Lovely bready/spicy retro-olfaction. Comments: one the very excellent young ryes out there. Love good rye. Let’s only hope it won’t become a collectable bottling – if you see what I mean. This just cannot end. SGP:471 - 87 points.



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Yokota Hiroyuki. Track: and explosive Always There. Love the Coltrane quote! Please visit his website and buy his music...

July 5, 2015



July 3, 2015


Young Americans four by four, part four

Let’s go on if you please. Today we’ll have one craft, and then we might try to find some more ‘commercial’ bottlings. Nothing wrong with commerce, mind you…

St. George 'Lot 14' (43%, OB, USA, California, Single Malt Whiskey, 2014)

St. George 'Lot 14' (43%, OB, USA, California, Single Malt Whiskey, 2014) Three stars We had Lot 13 last year and really enjoyed it, even if that one did not quite have the ‘immediacy’ of other powerful crafty Americans (WF 81). Colour: straw. Nose: starts with funny whiffs of geranium (flowers, not stems!) and a wee cologne-y side, before blood oranges and cereals get in the game, as well as some ginger cookies, perhaps. And once again, I find a muscaty side and notes of marc de gewurz. Also fleur de bière (distilled hoppy beer). A little eau-de-vie-ish. Mouth: very sweet and fruity. It is distilled beer, after all. A feeling of Californian IPA, Lagunitas and colleagues. Tinned litchis, grappa... I really like the fact that they haven’t tried to bury all that in full-blown vanilla-ed oak. Finish: moderately long, all on ales and sweet beers. Slightly bitter hops in the aftertaste – but not sure there is any. Comments: I really like the honesty in this. It’s fresh and close to the raw materials. Score unchanged. SGP:631 - 81 points.

Blanton's Original 'Single Barrel' (46.5%, OB, USA, bourbon,  barrel #325, +/-2014)

Blanton's Original 'Single Barrel' (46.5%, OB, USA, bourbon,  barrel #325, +/-2014) Three stars Sour mash bourbon by Buffalo Trace, made with corn, rye and malted barley. The price is fair. Colour: gold. Nose: the oak’s rather loud, and I even find it a little planky, but what’s behind it is to my liking, with some maple syrup, yellow flowers, triple-sec and the faintest touch of coconut. No excessive varnish either. Mouth: creamy and spicy, with a hint of lavender, then rather stewed fruits (cranberries, rhubarb, apples) and quite a lot of cloves and cinnamon. Perhaps strawberry drops – and some custard, ‘of course’. Finish: rather long, with Provence herbs (thyme, rosemary) and more cloves again in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s a spicy bourbon, without any excessive sweetness. Should be easily mixable. SGP:561 - 82 points.

Evan Williams 'White Label' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon,  +/-2015)

Evan Williams 'White Label' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon,  +/-2015) Two stars and a half Heaven Hill’s ‘budget’ high-strength bottling. 100 proof US, baby, and fully corn-driven (around 80%). Colour: full gold. Nose: totally vanilla-ed, in a pleasant way. Corn syrup aplenty, cakes and cookies, butterscotch, and even more vanilla, with hints of pear and pineapple sweets. Does the job. With water: vanilla cake, a little dust. More vanilla cake. Even more vanilla cake. Mouth (neat): Jell-O, Haribo bears and all marshmallows of the creation, plus a little sawdust (well, quite some sawdust) and vanilla. It’s a little rough, perhaps? With water: gets very sweet, even more vanilla-ed, with a good fruitiness, and always this sawdust in the background. Cinnamon cake, tea. Finish: relatively long, oaky. Toasted cake. The aftertaste is a little drying (sawdust!) Comments: honourable! And the price is low. SGP:630 - 78 points.

Wild Turkey 'Rare Breed' (56.4%, USA, bourbon, +/-2015)

Wild Turkey 'Rare Breed' (56.4%, USA, bourbon, +/-2015) Four stars This by Austin Nichols. It’s said to be 8 years old on average, and ‘small batch’, which may mean nothing. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very ‘bourbon’, that is to say rather smooth, rounded, caramelly and fudge-y, with plenty of cakes, vanilla, raisins, toffee and brioche. Very easy despite the high strength. With water: some rather lovely tea-ish, earthy oak. Swims extremely well. Mouth (neat): creamy and honeyed, oaky and spicy, and again, extremely ‘bourbon’. Honey, maple syrup, Cointreau, cinnamon mints, pipe tobacco and a touch of aniseed (pastis). Sort of French, in a way, but let’s remember that Wild Turkey used to belong to Pernod Ricard until around three years ago. They sold it to Campari for around US$ 600.000 – not sure that was a smart move, was it? With water: fruity, softly oaky, smooth, honeyed… Many tinned fruits, especially pineapples and pears. And it’s quite complex. Finish: good length, soft as silk, honeyed, fruity… Comments: very ‘average’, in the very best sense of that word. My favourite today, no doubt. SGP:630 - 85 points.

We’ll try to go ‘craft’ again next time…

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



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: the much missed Cornell Dupree. Track: Plain Ol' Blues. Please buy his music...

July 2, 2015


Young Americans four by four, part three

Let’s go on with this. Today we’ll have variants of the babies we tried yesterday or the day before. It’s going to be ‘crafty’…

Rock Town 'Bourbon' (46%, OB, USA, Arkansas, +/-2015)

Rock Town 'Bourbon' (46%, OB, USA, Arkansas, +/-2015) Three starsThis is their ‘standard’ release bourbon. 81% corn, 9% Wheat, 9% Malted Barley. Hold on, 1% is missing! All grains are grown locally. Oh and we’ll try to add some music by Black Oak Arkansas, quite loved that band back in the 1970s, my dad used to bring me back their records from the US, as you couldn’t find them in France. But we’re digressing again… Colour: gold amber. Nose: the oak’s loud. I’m rather less fond of this style, which seems to be totally oak-driven, although I wouldn’t say the distillate is weak, not at all. It’s just that this is gentler than the rye-fuelled babies, and that you’d rather like maple syrup, vanilla, and pencil shavings. Mouth: good, solid, oaky, vanilla-ed, creamy, slightly spicy. I find it a little plankish, but on the other hand, some toasted cake and cinnamon cake do make up for that. Finish: less personality, less idiosyncrasies, this is rather UMC young bourbon, I’d say. Well crafted, just less interesting. But I enjoy mucho the caramel. Comments: in fact, I like the ‘Young Bourbon Whiskey’ version, which is younger, rather better. How bad is it, Doctor? SGP:551 - 80 points.

Dad's Hat 'Vermouth Barrel Finish' (47%, OB, Pennsylvania Rye, USA, +/-2014)

Dad's Hat 'Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey' (45%, OB, USA, Pennsylvania, +/-2014) Three stars The vermouthy version was very fine, let’s check this one. According to the very excellent people at K&L, this is ‘made from 80% rye, 15% malted barley, and 5% malted barley’. Ahem, that could be the Mai Tai effect ;-). Colour: gold (lovely colour). Nose: same feelings, it’s a milder, easier version of Dad’s Hat. Soft breads, soft breads, and soft reads. Leaven, gingerbread, sweet brioche, violet and lavender ice creams (you should really try them, really. Go to Provence!)… There’s also a discreet earthiness – an asset, for sure. Mouth: cancel that, this works a treat. Rye aplenty, breads, cakes, pastries… It’s like visiting a baker friend early in the morning while he starts working (and you’ve just left the nightclub). Orgeat, spicy bread, caraway, cinnamon, geranium syrup (ever tasted that?)… Finish: long, spicy, a tad drying once again. It’s probably hard to come up with a great finish when you’re using very active oak on some young distillate. The craft distiller’s dilemma, as FZ would have said. Comments: very great effort nonetheless. There is some depth to this young baby. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Let’s find another young one… Oh, this!

Willet 4 yo 'Single Barrel Rye' (55%, OB, USA, +/-2015)

Willet 4 yo 'Single Barrel Rye' (55%, OB, USA, +/-2015) Two stars So, we’ve tried quite a few old Willetts, and they have been great. But we’ve heard that following bottlings have been ‘sourced’ (oh the very horror), while newer distillates have been made in-house. Not too sure, and I do not want to spend hours online trying to separate the wheat from the chaff (so to speak). Hell, let’s just drink this! Colour: gold. Nose: oh? There’s an estery sweetness that’s not too pleasant. Reminds me of Indian whiskies – not Amrut or Paul John, mind you. Molasses, oranges, overripe apples, toasted bread. Not too sure… With water: and sweet beer. Mouth (neat): ah, now we’re talking. It’s small chat, but it’s chat. Fruit drops, hay, apple juice, spicy oak, Mars bar. A much thinner body after the rye-driven whiskies. With water: good easy sweet fruity. The youth comes out (more). Finish: some vanilla. Comments: not a very rye-y rye, I’d say. We’re kind of far from the old Willetts. But things may happen in the future. SGP:440 - 73 points.

One to go… Let’s have some fun!

Early Times 'Fire Eater' (35%, OB, USA, cinnamon liqueur with whiskey, +/-2015)

Early Times 'Fire Eater' (35%, OB, USA, cinnamon liqueur with whiskey, +/-2015) Some dreadful packaging that would make Stevie Nicks cry and Jeb Bush apply for French citizenship, we must be in Fireball territories! Jesus Mary and Joseph, we’re not joking, I am trying this. Colour: straw (eh? Ran out of caramel?) Nose: oh my oh my oh my. Cinnamon liqueur, cinnamon cake, cinnamon mints, Wrigley’s cinnamon-flavoured bubblegum and cinnamon syrup. Just not genuine cinnamon. Mouth: I guess there’s more sugar than in Coca-Cola. I know why only 35% vol., that’s because saccharin took all the room. Now, seriously, on plenty of ice, and provided you enjoy sweet cake-y cinnamon (bordering on crystallised ginger), this ain’t too bad. Fireball is – excuse me, was – even worse. Finish: long, cloying, sugary, horrible. Ginger-from-a-suburban-Chinese-restaurant. A dentist’s worst nightmare. Comments: a waste of whisky. Coz there’s genuine whisky in this, am I not right? Let’s protect our young people, and prohibit these sugary monstrosities! SGP:922 - 26 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Terje Rypdal with Miroslav Vitous and Jack DeJohnette. Track: Sunrise. Please visit his website and buy his music...

July 1, 2015


Young Americans four by four, part two

Today we’ll make sure we’re staying in the USA, and try to avoid American whisky sourced in Canada! Yeah well, we may well fail and not even notice…

Koval 'Four Grain' (47%, OB, USA, +/-2015)

Koval 'Four Grain' (47%, OB, USA, +/-2015) Three stars and a half This Chicagoan whisky is made from a mash bill of oat, malted barley, rye, and wheat and aged in new oak for a couple of years. And it is organic! Colour: pale gold. Nose: unusual, dry, kind of smoky and yet it’s not smoky, with notes of cinnamon cake, ashes, wholegrain bread (sunflower, acorn squash), then putty and fresh paint, which isn’t unpleasant at all. Also a bit of leather and something carbolic. Globally bready, but not as bready as other, more extreme young American whiskies. Mouth: I find this excellent, sure it’s very young, but this bready and spicy profile just works for me. Gingerbread and pepper, cardamom, toasted bread, nutmeg (a lot), cinnamon cake, ginger tonic, Campari… Gets a little rough, but after all it’s barely two. Is it two? Finish: long and spicy. Nutmeg and cardamom in bitter orange juice. Comments: I really like these characterful spicy styles. Indeed, in this kind of case, age doesn’t matter much ;-). SGP:461 - 84 points.

Another one at 47% vol…

Dad's Hat 'Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey' (45%, OB, USA, Pennsylvania, +/-2014)

Dad's Hat 'Vermouth Barrel Finish' (47%, OB, Pennsylvania Rye, USA, +/-2014) Three stars A vermouth barrel finish? As they say, LOL. Apparently, this baby was aged for six months in new quarter casks, and finished for three months in vermouth. So it’s a toddler, isn’t it. Colour: orange amber. Nose: fun stuff! High rye, orange liqueur (triple sec), sweet bread, amlou (that’s a great mixture of argan oil, Atlas honey and almonds made in Morocco by the Berbers), gingerbread, spiced honey and… spiced honey. Almond cake. It doesn’t play it quiet, but I don’t think you could do much better within just nine months. Mouth: sweet, creamy, very rye-y, spicy… The oak’s a tad loud for my taste, but other than that, I enjoy this American pumpernickel. Oak extracts, cloves, cinnamon, black bread, orange zests… Sadly, it tends to become drying, that’s probably the new oak. Finish: long, spicy, oaky. Strong black tea without sugar. Comments: only the finish and ‘the end of the middle’ were too drying, what happened before was very enjoyable. Hats off to them (ooh that’s clever, S.)! SGP:451 - 80 points.

Rock Town 'Four Grain Sour Mash Bourbon' (46%, OB, Arkansas, USA, +/-2015)

Rock Town 'Four Grain Sour Mash Bourbon' (46%, OB, Arkansas, USA, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Another ‘four grain’ whiskey. Earlier bottlings by Rock Town had been pretty impressive. In this case, some rye’s been added to the mash bill and the ‘sour mash’ technique’s been used. Colour: orange amber. Nose: same family of aromas, that is to say honey, spices, and Seville oranges. In fact this one’s rather breadier and more honeyed at the same time, it’s almost liquid cake. Balance is just perfect. Mouth: very creamy, spicy and honeyed, with touches of lavender sweets, orange drops, a bit of fudge, then various breads, as expected. Warning, I may quote pumpernickel again! Tends to become a little drying, just like the Dad’s Hat, but the additional breadiness makes for compensation. Some liquorice. Finish: long, spicy, with cloves, caraway, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Oh and bread. Comments: impressive (very) young whisky. What I like best in these is the fact that they’re so un-boring. SGP:451 - 83 points.

One last, very intriguing one…

Dry Fly 'Triticale Whiskey' (44%, OB, USA, Washington state, +/-2015)

Dry Fly 'Triticale Whiskey' (44%, OB, USA, Washington state, +/-2015) Three stars and a half What is triticale, you may ask? It’s a hybrid of Wheat and Rye. And Dry Fly? It is a craft distillery in Spokane, Washington. This whiskey was not sourced from out-of-state factories! So no fakery here… Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is much smoother (am I the only one to like the word smooth?), rounder, with more custard, fudge and brioche, and even a feeling of warm butter croissant early in the morning. After that arrival, we’re rather finding quinces, white bread, and a fistful of golden barley. Opening a new pack of Kellogg’s best (so to speak). Maybe drops of ale – IPA! Mouth: smooth (yeah!), easy, spicy and creamy, starting with acacia honey and cereal biscuits, and going on with sweet spices, caraway eau-de-vie, touches of aniseed, poppy seed, vanilla… Finish: of good length, spicy, a little drying again (young whiskeys ex-hyperactive oak cannot not get drying, can they), with an unexpected sweeter signature. Violet sweets? Comments: a gentler American craft whisky. Quality’s simply very high again. SGP:441 - 83 points.

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

June 2015

Favourite recent bottling:
Glen Garioch 23 yo 1990/2014 (56.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #7939) - WF 90

Favourite older bottling:
Bowmore 12 yo ‘Bicentenary’ (43%, OB, for Germany, 1979) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (54.7%, OB, batch 4, 2015)  - WF 90

Favourite malternative:
Domaine de Courcelles 1972/2014 (47%, 'OB', Guadeloupe, Rumhouse Switzerland) - WF 91



Block Today: SOUL JAZZ. Performer: Freddie Hubbard. Track: a very smooth Dream Weaver. Please visit his website and buy his music...

June 2015 - part 2 <--- July 2015 - part 1 ---> July 2015 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only