(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo

Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2018 - Part 1


June 2018 - part 2 <--- July 2018 - part 1 ---> July 2018 - part 2


July 14, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Five Benrinnes
I’ve tried quite a few 1990s and 2000s Benrinnes recently and I’ve found almost all of them really quite good. It’s one of those distilleries that I think people are sort of ‘discovering’ as bigger names start to trail off from the indy scene. And no bad thing either, it’s often characterful distillate. Let’s try five of them today. We’ll start with the older, lighter ones first by way of an aperitif and work forwards from there.


Benrinnes 14 yo 1982/1997 (43%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #95/1171/4, 460 bottles) Benrinnes 14 yo 1982/1997 (43%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #95/1171/4, 460 bottles)
Benrinnes was still producing its own malt and doing a partial triple distillation at this time. Colour: Gold. Nose: oooh! A lovely waft of waxes, shoe polish, potpourri, quince, lemon jelly and some slightly dusty old sherry notes. A little chocolate and dark roast malt as well. Noses really quite beautifully. Mouth: perhaps a tad weakish. Some notes of cold darjeeling tea, a more ‘problematic’ dustiness, coal dust, some soft camphor, green tea, cereals, a lick of cardboard, maybe a few tropical fruits which is rather pleasant and redeeming. Still a few waxes and balms around. Finish: a bit short and on metal polish, green pepper, light cardboard and dry cereals. Perhaps a tad of OBE in this one already? Comments: The nose is lovely and delightfully old style, but the palate feels a tad soft. Not sure if the bottle the sample came from was open for a long time? Or maybe this one is already starting to display some OBE? Anyway, it’s still fairly enjoyable because of the overall character, one for the tumbler and an old episode of Doctor Who (or Inspector Derrick if you’re in Turckheim).
SGP: 461 - 78 points.


Benrinnes 15 yo 1982/1998 (43%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #3225, 650 bottles) Benrinnes 15 yo 1982/1998 (43%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #3225, 650 bottles)
Serge already tried this one, but it was from a mini and all the way back in the heady days of 2005 when Whiskyfun was in short digital trousers. Also, it’s distilled on exactly the same date as the 14yo. Colour: light amber. Nose: similar as expected but more concentrated on quince, citrons, a few prunes - a more active sherry cask perhaps. A little pine resin, menthol and a few scattered waxes. More light tropical fruits as well. Camphor and cough mixtures as well. Globally similar to the 14 but it feels more concentrated and punchy. Mouth: better! Weightier, more textural and fattier. Lots of olive oil, gloopy hardwood resins, beeswax, furniture polish, pine cones, mint tea, asparagus and soft earthiness. Some canvas and hessian as well. Finish: much longer than the 14. Fruitier, all on nervous notes of dried citrus peel and crystalised tropical fruits. Banana chips, some ointments and polished hardwoods. A sleek waxiness in the aftertaste. Comments: what a difference a cask can make. Although, I also really love how the Benrinnes character comes through loud and clear in both examples, it’s just that in this one it’s brighter and more polished - worth 10 more big fat points in my wee book.
SGP: 661 - 88 points.


Benrinnes 19 yo 1997/2016 (50.2%, The Maltman, sherry finish, cask #05014, 294 bottles)

Benrinnes 19 yo 1997/2016 (50.2%, The Maltman, sherry finish, cask #05014, 294 bottles)
The Maltman label is bottled by the Meadowside Blending Co in Glasgow whose owners are formerly of Hart Brothers. By this point Benrinnes had stopped malting but were still doing partial triple distillation. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a curious convergence of honeycomb, fresh putty and rubber. Some mushroom powder, damp earth and a little tobacco leaf as well. Feels as though the sherry isn’t entirely integrated, but it’s very pleasant nonetheless. Some overripe banana, a touch of soot and camphor. With water: some wild flowers, hessian, cheesecloth and a touch of mustard powder. Still rather dusty - is dustiness a Benrinnes ‘thing’? Mouth: the wood feels a bit aggressive here; pencil shavings, sawdust and dried cranberries alongside dusty cereals, cornflour and slightly sour butter. A bit strange really. With water: gets a tad acrid, oilier and with a few notes of yellow flowers, overripe oranges, tea tree oil and hummus. Finish: decent length but becoming more acrid and drying. White pepper and flints with some carbon paper and chalkiness. Comments: I think this is a case of a finish that didn’t integrate too well, and probably a cask which could have been quite nice if just left for a few years longer. Ach, who am I to say. Not without a few unusual charms though.
SGP: 351 - 79 points.



We started this tasting with a pair of ‘same day distillation’ Benrinnes, so why not bookend it in similar fashion with these two...



Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2017 (55.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2017 (55.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: well, this is different... buttery cereals, geraniums, pink foam shrimp sweeties, green banana, olive oil, a scattering of dried herbs and some grassy, cactus notes. Juicy fruit bubblegum in the background as well. Rather good. With water: soft minerals, talcum powder, bath salts, a splash of ointment and even a light salinity. Mouth: green and white fruit syrups; lychee sorbet, soft waxes, pineapple jelly, very light hessian, lemon oils and things such as nutmeg, blood orange and pink peppercorns. Gets better as you go along. With water: a wonderful and much ‘fuller’ fruitiness. Lots of citrons, quince, waxy lemons, lychee, kumquat, star fruit, elderflower champagne and banana. Very lovely. Finish: Long, slightly drying with aspirin and ink, then preserved lemons, white pepper and a few fruit cordials. Comments: As I said, some of these Benrinnes are very good. This one just seems to get better and better with time and water.
SGP: 641 - 88 points.



Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)
I’m going to go out on a limb and hazard a guess that this is a sister cask... Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty similar really. Perhaps a notch sweeter and simpler, although you still have this foam confectionary aspect. Maybe add some lanolin and a few extra drops of ointments. A throat sweet? Same overall quality and style. With water: this talcum powder note again which I rather like (perhaps it’s nostalgia), mineral oil, camphor and some cider apple. Mouth: some cloves, a little more olive oil, some fresh linen, still rather fruity but this one has a more distinct floral edge; chamomile, wildflowers and Earl Grey tea. With water: a little more linear and straightforward perhaps, some coconut, tea tree oil, a brittle waxiness and a little lime oil. Still globally pretty similar. Finish: long, lemony, oily, some vanilla sweetness, orange peel and some floral fragrance in the aftertaste. Comments: I find both of these 97s pretty similar in terms of quality, hard to pick out too many differences really. Although the first one edges it for me, but only just...
SGP: 641 - 87 points.



Thanks Dirk!  



July 13, 2018


The wee duos, today Glen Grant by G&M

Gordon & MacPhail have always been Glen Grant specialists, and we’ve already tried many old glories. But this short session will rather focus on young ones…

Glen Grant 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label, +/-1985)

Glen Grant 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label, +/-1985) one star and a half
Not all 15s have been great in my book, but some were. It’s to be noted that the 100°proof version was rather more famous. These also came in many shades, this one’s rather pale. Colour: gold. Nose: rather dry, with quite a lot of toasted oak and bread, then hay and burnt grass, then a feeling of burnt caramel and high-volume supermarket ‘chocolate’. Well what some call chocolate. Not thrilled so far… Mouth: a tad bitter, rather too roasted, burnt, not exactly pleasant. Now I agree anything could happen with old bottles, but it’s also true that several of these 15s have crossed my path in the past, and I can’t remember any that’s been stellar. All have been quite bitter and dry, if I remember well. Finish: short and very dry. Comments: just for the record, this is very unimportant.
SGP:261 - 68 points.

Glen Grant 2008/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label)

Glen Grant 2008/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label) Three stars and a half
This one should be much fresher. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it is a little cake-y as well, and perhaps a little burnt, but some very nice walnutty sherry keeps it brighter. Breakfast cereals, pecan pie, Ovaltine, stewed apples… Mouth: very good malty malt whisky, with classic oranges, millionaire shortbread, more cereals (or Weetabix), various cakes, some unexpected rancio… The 43% vol. rather feel like 46. So, solid body. Finish: rather long, a tad drier again, but that’s all pretty fine. Toffee, burnt raisins and caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: some young Glen Grant with G&M’s house style (as far as Glen Grants are concerned). So with more chocolaty sherry than in the OBs, I would say.
SGP:451 - 83 points.

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


July 12, 2018


A wee box of Irish

Because we’ve got a few that we need to taste. That’s a good reason, don’t you think?

Peaky Blinder (40%, Sadler’s, Blended Irish, +/-2017)

Peaky Blinder (40%, Sadler’s, Blended Irish, +/-2017) Two stars
This is a Gold Medal Winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2018, you understand. Is there a reason to feel reassured? And not sure what came first, the TV series or this branded whisky, well I’m not sure I’d like to know.  Colour: gold. Nose: it’s fair, with a kind of earthy maltiness, then rather overripe apples, cider, and a little toasted oak. This faint sweetish sourness that’s pretty Irish in my book. Mouth: fair, in the same league as that of Midleton’s main brands, just a tad more oaky and drying. Black tea, cocoa powder… Finish: medium, rather drying. More black tea. Some welcome notes of pears and pineapples in the aftertaste. Comments: humble and certainly not too bad. I have to say I’ve never watched the TV series, is it good?
SGP:441 - 72 points.

Dingle ‘Batch N°2’ (46.5%, OB, Irish single malt, 2018)

Dingle ‘Batch N°2’ (46.5%, OB, Irish single malt, 2018) Two stars
Dingle is a genuine distillery, not a non-producing one (as can be seen elsewhere). It was established in 2012, and this is the first expression of Dingle I’ve ever tried. Always a thrill!  Colour: gold. Nose: definitely not of those smooth Irish that reek of fruits and breakfast cereals, as this is rather bready, doughy, porridge-y, with strong notes of ale, then fresh pancakes, broom, and just a wee touch of flint, possibly from some timid sherry wood. Mouth: still young and perhaps a little too bready, while the oak’s already quite dominant. Some European oak at play here? Allspice, cardamom, sawdust, sour cherries in the background… Finish: medium, a tad yeasty. Sour dough, spices, sour fruits. Fresh tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: I have the feeling that the wood was rather too fast and the distillate a little too slow. But I’m sure that’s just me…
SGP:341 - 72 points.

County Louth 14 yo 2003/2017 (51.5%, Valinch & Mallet, Irish single malt, sherry hogshead, cask # cask 173001)

County Louth 14 yo 2003/2017 (51.5%, Valinch & Mallet, Irish single malt, sherry hogshead, cask # cask 173001) Four stars
This should be Cooley. Well it is Cooley. Colour: gold. Nose: these do not display the extreme fruitiness that’s to be found in older indie Irish malts, but this very one’s very fruity though, rather on oranges at first, then ripe papaya covered with custard and just a few drops of coconut water. Very nice notes of stewed rhubarb. With water: H2O brings out wee metallic touches, as well as a little shoe polish. Mouth (neat): classic fruity Cooley, with some bubblegum, wine gums, orange sweets, then tropical fruits, although that’ not as extreme as in, for example, the old Bushmills. Blood oranges. With water: good, classic, blueberries, oranges, kiwis… Finish: medium, sweet, fruity. Pastry. Some soft tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: all very good fruity Irish.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

Irish Whiskey 12 yo 2004/2016 (54.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon)

Irish Whiskey 12 yo 2004/2016 (54.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon) Four stars and a half
This wee German bottler usually selects good whiskies and rums, even the young ones. Colour: straw. Nose: fresher, fruitier, and more tropical than the 2003. For example, I’m finding more maracuja and mangos, pink bananas, papayas… In short, it’s one of those ‘fruit-salady’ Irish that always benefit from bourbon wood, while I’m not sure they enjoy sherry. With water: a little earth and green tea, all most enjoyable. A little fresh white bread. Mouth (neat): creamy, citrusy, very bright and tense, this is almost some kind of mineral limoncello, which reminds me of some young Rosebanks from… a long time ago. Very good. With water: dangerously drinkable! Grapefruit, lemon and orange juices, plus a drop of barley syrup and two or three crushed mint leaves. Finish: medium, very fresh, wonderfully fruity. Comments: top notch fruity spirit from just the right kind of cask. Perfect tango.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

Green & White 12 yo (60%, McNeill’s Choice, Irish single malt, 2016)

Green & White 12 yo (60%, McNeill’s Choice, Irish single malt, 2016) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: stronger, obviously, perhaps more vegetal (asparagus), very faintly acetone-y, with touches of pencil shavings, elderberry flowers… A little hard to assess, and that’s the very high strength. With water: custard, apple juice, hints of hand cream, walnut skins… Mouth (neat): very sweet, pretty simple. Lemon and apple syrups – and a lot of alcohol. With water: very good, fruity, a tad simple, with a drop of crème de menthe over apple and watermelon juices. Finish: medium, sweet, simple. Grassier aftertaste. Comments: another very good one. Extremely close to the 2004 at times, even almost identical, but I just liked that one better. Just ‘a feeling’, but since this is my blog, I say it is my prerogative.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

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


July 11, 2018


Braeval and Braes

Why would that be crazy to do a fairly large Braeval/Braes session? Because it’s a little name? Because the distillery’s not very pretty? Because Pernod never quite thought it would be a good idea to bottle some themselves? What’s sure is that at WF, we do like little names, because little names sometimes bring big whisky! (and some big names – no names - are slowly becoming constantly boring and disappointing anyway)… Good, let’s do, say five Braes/Braeval.

Braeval 15 yo 2001/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # 11562, 377 bottles)

Braeval 15 yo 2001/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # 11562, 377 bottles) Three stars and a half
If this is a sherry butt, it’s at least seventh-fill, given the colour. Colour: white wine. Nose: Braeval’s often very malty and cake-y, and this is no exception. Ovaltine, chicory, Mars bar, then more porridge, sour beer, pancake, Alsatian Eierkuacha… Right, right, that would be some kind of crêpe made out of eggs, milk, flour, and beer. Mouth: very good, malty, bready, with perfect oranges and apples bringing a solid foundation… It’s not a very complex malt but the maltiness is just perfect. Finish: rather long, rather more citrusy. Comments: this solid Speysider reminded me a bit of Mortlach at some point. How strange, must be me…
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Since we’re at DL’s…

Braeval 20 yo 1997/2018 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill sherry butt, cask # 12399, 652 bottles)

Braeval 20 yo 1997/2018 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill sherry butt, cask # 12399, 652 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this time there is a little sulphur/struck matches, then treacle toffee, millionaire shortbread, a Mars bar again, Ovaltine… Something slightly sour as well, towards Greek yoghurt, lassi… I think I liked the 15 a little better – so far. With water: no, cancel that, it loves water and gets wonderfully earthy and musky at the same time. Puréed chestnuts. Mouth (neat): excellently malty and cake-y, with once again a lot of Ovaltine (professional writers won’t quote brands, but I’m an amateur so I do not care!) then a perfect marmalade-y side, raisins and prunes, Demerara sugar… Very nice, really very nice. With water: very good, chocolate, coffee, chicory, brown sugar (how come you taste so good…)... Finish: long, with a wonderful maltiness and perhaps a little more meat. Dried beef and chocolate. Comments: very good, perfect chocolaty notes. Do not underestimate Braeval – what’s more Braeval loves sherry.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 18 yo 1997/2014 (53.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 216 bottles)

Braes of Glenlivet 18 yo 1997/2014 (53.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 216 bottles) Two stars
So, no sherry this time (finely observed, S.!) Colour: white wine. Nose: some kind of flinty porridge, I would say. Dump oatcakes, chalk, cut grass, grapeseed oil… How do you write ‘austere’? With water: sour cream, new sneakers, gym socks, baby puke… Ooh that makes you feel good… Mouth (neat): grass and sunflower seeds, drinking clay, more grass, even more grass, more chalk… This baby reminds me of some very extreme newmake-y Speysiders that Cadenhead used to have under their ‘small cream label’ series (our description, not theirs). Glen Speys, Glendullans at 66% vol… In short ueber-extreme stuff that may have killed a few whisky lovers in the 1990s. With water: there, saccharine, barley syrup… Finish: medium, grassy and sugary. Comments: the good old times reloaded. Gracias! But were these casks legal?
SGP:461 - 71 points.

Braeval 22 yo 1994/2017 (55%, The Single Cask, cask #165641, 155 bottles)

Braeval 22 yo 1994/2017 (55%, The Single Cask, cask #165641, 155 bottles) Four stars
Just having a look at Master of Malt’s website (they have this bottle) and am reminded of the fact that 1994 was the year the distillery changed its name from Braes of Glenlivet to Braeval. Thank you, MoM! Colour: gold. Nose: ah, this is really nice. Spearmint, lime juice, lemon juice, then fresh baguette, Golden Grahams, cakes, and just touches of charcoal. Really very nice, the spearmint makes wonders. With water: more custardy and porridge-y. A little more fresh oak as well. Mouth (neat): unusual and very good. Cherries, lemons, quinces, almonds, apricots, melony vanilla, malt… I think this is excellent. With water: simpler but still good. Apple juice, ginger ale, sweet IPA, barley water… Finish: same. Don’t add too much water. Comments: pretty impressive. Excellent malt whisky – I would like to emphasize on the word ‘malt’.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Ideally, we’d have an old one now…

Braes of Glenlivet 27 yo 1989/2017 (54.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, 144 bottles)

Braes of Glenlivet 27 yo 1989/2017 (54.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, 144 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes, barley, bread, brioche, kougelhopf, panettone, orange blossom water, macaroons, mint leaves, rhubarb, wormwood… Mind you, this is a wonderful nose! Huge complexity. With water: well, not too sure it needed water. Not many whiskies don’t swim, but this one’s one of them. Tends to become plankish and sawdusty. I’m sure you see what I mean. Mouth (neat): pretty perfect maltiness, grass, pine needles, moss, grapefruit skin, angelica, and this fresh mint that we already found in the nose. Perfect. With water: takes water better on the palate than on the nose, but H2O remains kind of superfluous here. Pass. Finish: medium, with this cake-y fruits plus fresh mint combo that just rocks. Comments: I was ready to go up to 90 before I added the first drops of water. Superb nonetheless.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

See, no little names. Had I not tried the very loco Cadenhead, I’m sure the average score would have been higher than that of any proper Macallan session. Speaking of which, watch this space…
PS: Cadenhead are even more loco than we think. If 1994 was the year when the owners switched from Braes to Braeval, why would they have called a 1997 ‘Braes’? Answers on a postcard…

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


July 10, 2018


The wee duos, today Linkwood

Some flowers to be expected, maybe…

Linkwood 20 yo 1997/2018 (51.7%, Jack Wiebers Whisky World for Whisky Ship Luzern, Great Ocean Liners, bourbon, cask #731)

Linkwood 20 yo 1997/2018 (51.7%, Jack Wiebers Whisky World for Whisky Ship Luzern, Great Ocean Liners, bourbon, cask #731) Five stars
Ocean liners on the Luzern lake… Colour: white wine. Nose: very lovely barley-y and very malty nose, fresh, with some true vanilla, melons, sultanas, Turkish delights (maybe roses, actually, which can be quite Linkwood), heather honey… With water: it’s now full of pollen and flower nectar. Dandelions aplenty! Mouth (neat): lovely citrusy arrival, full of oranges and pink grapefruits, then a huge, and I mean really huge honeyness. We’re drinking honey, literally. With water: same, just even easier. Or rather say we’re rather geared towards mead now… Finish: medium, extremely meady/honey-y. Comments: in fact, I just adore anything that would come out of a beehive. Except stings, yeah…
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Linkwood 11 yo (60.9%, Chorlton Whisky, 2018)

Linkwood 11 yo (60.9%, Chorlton Whisky, 2018) Four stars
A small outturn and a fair price, exactly the opposite of what some bigger players are doing. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is younger than the JWWW but profiles are similarly honeyed. Isn’t it as if many distillers have started to make their spirits more ‘precise’ since ten or twenty years? Well in this case, we’re clearly going towards mead rather than fresh honey, and then towards caramelly beers. A famous black one from Ireland springs to mind. Hops. With water: sour dough, honey, raw malt, fresh basil. Mouth (neat): it is really rich, but it’s displaying the same well-chiselled orange-y honeyeness as in the J. Wiebers. Also a little maple syrup, over peeled oranges. With water: very good, fresher, on beautiful oranges plus, indeed, a grassier kind of honey. Finish: long, a tad leafy, and more lemony at the same time. Comments: a very good drop, clear and perfectly well composed. I think the owners could launch a whole new Linkwood range and believe the distillate would deserve it.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

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


July 9, 2018


Funny world whiskies

That is to say whiskies that are not Scottish. You say that’s 1980 thinking? You may be right…

Mackmyra ‘Mack’ (40%, OB, Sweden, +/-2018)

Mackmyra ‘Mack’ (40%, OB, Sweden, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Found this little NAS in a French supermarket (rather high-brow, called Monoprix). The name reminds me of that joke about a vatting of Mackymra and Kavalan called… ahem. Yeah, or Talisker and Oban, right. And there’s a funny sticker on the bottle that mentions both a ‘Climate Friendly Distillery’ and a ‘Gravity Distillery’. Very boho… Colour: pale gold. Nose: pear eau-de-vie matured in oak, with a little vanillin thrown in for good measure – together with a few drops of IPA. Absolutely not unpleasant, just pretty light. Mouth: indeed, pretty light, starting well, in a very IPA-y way, I would say. Sweeter hops, cake, some pepper from the oak, touches of cinnamon, and always quite some pears. Finish: a little short, but indeed, quite pleasant, simple, a tad too oak-forward for me but still fine. Comments: some friends from Zlatanland had been kind of warning me, but frankly, I think this is a fine – albeit a tad boho-y – dram.
SGP:431 - 78 points.

Lac’Holl 8 yo (42%, OB, France, Alsace, lot #1217, 2017)

Lac’Holl 8 yo (42%, OB, France, Alsace, lot #1217, 2017)
Gilbert Holl in Ribeauvillé is the pioneer of Alsatian whisky. Like most, if not all whiskymakers in Mittelleuropa, he’s mainly making eau-de-vie and also uses his still(s) to make whisky from time to time, which is why most are a little too thin and too fruity. He’s also a brewer! Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, rather noses like if it was some kind of service berry spirit, or holly, or perhaps even easy tequila mixto, or Schweppes, or some kind of gin… but not quite whisky! Not that this is unpleasant, mind you, it’s just a different spirit, even if grains have been used. Mouth: sweet, a tad soapy and gingery, then peppery, a tad hard. Cloves, caraway, ginger, bitter oranges, cologne… Finish: medium, on the same notes, more or less. Comments: really not too sure. But the output is very low, so little harm was done to mankind.
SGP:630 - 45 points.

Lac’Holl 15 yo (42%, OB, France, Alsace, lot #0917, 2017)
Same label, different age. The age statement’s located on the back label. Oh and Mr. Holl started to make whisky in 1993! Colour: straw. Nose: very similar, just a tad more buttery and vanilla-ed, and with a little less ‘gin’. Mouth: a little difficult again, with this soap and ginger combo that’s not obligatorily ‘a pleasure to sip’. Notes of ale. Finish: medium, with more soapy elements. Comments: I think I liked the younger sibling a little better, for it was a little fresher.
SGP:530 - 40 points.

Millstone 2013/2016 (52.56%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, peated, PX, cask #2627, 334 bottles)

Millstone 2013/2016 (52.56%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, peated, PX, cask #2627, 334 bottles) Four stars
We’ve already tried some rather fantastic Millstones by Zuidam, but this young monster could be, well, monstrous… Colour: reddish amber. Nose: well well well, it’s peated PX, and I like it, while in theory, I shouldn’t. Fig bread forgotten in the oven, blood oranges, some kind of earthy caraways, burnt raisins, more figs especially dried ones, and above everything, two tons of gingerbread. With water: vegetal earth, pumpernickel, two drops of used engine oil. Make that Veedol. Mouth (neat): a tad extreme, but indeed I like it. Some kind of smoked gingerbread covered with liquorice and burnt raisins and figs. A tad thick(ish) but PX is PX (well said, S.) With water: gets very cake-y and once again, gingerbready. Finish: long, rather on chestnut honey, with some ginger. Comments: like when you watch a movie with Vin Diesel and you end up enjoying it. Except that I feel no shame this time.
SGP:654 - 85 points.

Amrut (61.4%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, India, bourbon cask, cask #BA24-2016, 172 bottles, 2016)

Amrut (61.4%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, India, bourbon cask, cask #BA24-2016, 172 bottles, 2016) Four stars
We’ve already tried a few excellent Amruts by Blackadder. Colour: light gold. Nose: a creamy vanilla and some ripe small berries, plus some white chocolate and a rather delicate coconutty side (while coconut may also kill a nose when in excess, as we’re seeing more and more often). With water: more of all that, plus a welcome earthy barleyness. Some absent-minded taster could believe this is a blend of ex-bourbon Arran and Bruichladdich. Mouth: very good, almost Scottishly barley-y at first, getting then more tropical, mostly on papayas. But it’s very strong. With water: very good, more citrusy this time, which is exactly what we were expecting. Tangerines and papayas. Finish: medium, with a wee mentholy side. Comments: just wondering if Blackadder did buy new fillings, and whether this was aged in Bangalore or not. High quality malt whisky.
SGP:541 - 86 points.

Yamazaki ‘Distiller’s Reserve’ (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2017)

Yamazaki ‘Distiller’s Reserve’ (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2017) Three stars
The NAS with ‘1923’ in big figures on the neck label, and a high price (65 to 90€ in France). Colour: light gold. Nose: vanilla and rosehip tea (mizunara?), plus a little sawdust, then custard and a little sour dough and fresh croissants. And sandalwood. Not unpleasant, just not very deep. Mouth: seriously, it’s good whisky, no doubt about that. Oranges, papayas again, a feeling of Fanta and Schweppes, then rather a lot of coconut, from some active oak I suppose. The strength works well. Finish: medium, a tad oaky perhaps, but otherwise nicely mentholy and eucalyptussy (I know). Sawdust and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather good surprise, this not just oak-flavoured baby whisky. Not quite on par with the totally stunning ‘Age Unknown’ from the late 1980s (WF 94), but indeed age unknown and age undisclosed aren’t exactly the same thing.
SGP:551 - 81 points.

Kavalan ‘ex-bourbon-oak’ (46%, OB, Taiwan, +/-2017)

Kavalan ‘ex-bourbon-oak’ (46%, OB, Taiwan, +/-2017) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: simple and perfect. Oranges, vanilla, a little earth, and little pastry, some barley, some sweet ale, a touch of mango. Ultra-classic ex-bourbon maturation, flawless if not totally mindboggling. Mouth: very good, I think. Once again, it’s pretty simple, but everything falls into place, oranges, vanilla, mangos, maracuja, marzipan, frangipani… Indeed, very good. Finish: medium, fresh, not too bourbon, excellently mastered. Comments: I wasn’t ready to go this high – and indeed there’s no age-statement, not even some cryptic codes that I could see - but I can’t think of anyone who’d dislike this very perfect vatting. Single casks are one thing, but doing this kind of vatting is a more difficult game. Success!
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Good, a very last one…

Lost Spirits ‘Bohemian Bonfire’ (59%, OB, USA, French oak, +/-2017)

Lost Spirits ‘Bohemian Bonfire’ (59%, OB, USA, French oak, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
We’ve tried several ‘lost spirits’ already (abominations, leviathans, calafias, umamis, pumas…) and always thought they were funny, and never, ever ‘bad’. Sometimes disturbing or even upsetting, sometimes disrupting (disruptive whiskies, any industry people’ grail!) … Well not too sure about his very one, and the way they’re making it remains a tad unclear as I’m not ready to spend two hours reading ‘the Web’… But let us see if it’s very ‘flash’ or not. Colour: pale gold. Nose: love these noses that some people dislike. Bread, oak, pepper, ginger, agave, allspice… no, indeed, agave, I’d swear there is some mezcal inside! Now I wouldn't bet on that… With water: wonderful nose! Lemony mezcal and various distilled herbs. Mouth (neat): we’ve left whisky territories. Soap, ginger, toasts, oatcakes, oregano, rubber, lemon, perhaps even a little garlic, parsley, maître d’hôtel butter… This is rather insane, in fact. With water: no no no, too much soap! Finish: rather long, spicy. Ginger liqueur. Comments: absolutely adored the nose, really, but the soapiness on the palate is really ‘too much’. In my book. But these lost spirits will always make us laugh, which is always good.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

No last-minute dram after that one, this is it!

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


July 8, 2018


The usual bag of rum

… Always looking for proper malternatives, randomly this time again (but you’ll see, we failed)…

Contrabando 5 yo (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)

Contrabando 5 yo (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)
So many things look wrong here, the name, the ABV, the provenance, the design, the word ‘solera’, the word ‘superior’… Don’t we feel it coming? Colour: gold. Nose: not too bad, there’s a lot of vanillin and maple syrup and sadly, later, cheapo fruit syrups and liqueurs. Banana liqueur, perhaps? Mouth: too sweet, but we knew this would happen? Cheap syrups, more vanillin, probably glycerine, burnt caramel… Ugh! Now we’ve put worse sweetened rums into our mouths, haven’t we. Finish: short, sugary. Comments: in fact it’s not too excessively doctored, and provided you’ve got a few ice cubes, I’d say you could try to down a glass or two. Not good, but maybe not totally within the terrifying Diplopapa territories, phew.
SGP: 730- 59 points.

Saint James ‘Reserve’ (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2018)

Saint James ‘Reserve’ (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2018) Two stars
We’ve tried several very good Saint James already. In France these are very easily available. Colour: gold. Nose: typical fruity Agricole (as opposed to grassier ones), well balanced and, above all, very raisiny. Demerara sugar, sultanas, bananas flambéed, crystallised oranges, then these whiffs of hay that are often to be found in good agricoles, IMHO. Lovely easy nose, not too complicated. Mouth: starts with quite a lot of caramel and fudge, perhaps a tad sweetish (burnt sugar), gets then more cane-y, with more grassiness and liquorice. There’s more and more liquorice, actually, which can get a tad tiring. Finish: medium, sweet, with a kind of blend of liquorice and raisins. Raisin cake. Comments: very decent, but perhaps not quite a sipper. Depends on what else you’ve got on the shelf, I suppose…
SGP:631 - 76 points.

While we’re at it…

Saint James 12 yo (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2016)

Saint James 12 yo (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2016) Three stars and a half
Remember you should trust the ages on these bottles of French rum. A 12 here may be much older than a 23 elsewhere! Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s properly aged and in truth, some parts remind me of some very good, albeit slightly commercial Cognac. Toasted oak and bread, fudge, raisins, stewed peaches, then more and more fennel and aniseed, which is very peculiar. I’m also finding the kind of liquorice that already was in the Reserve. Mouth: very good, rather fresh, starting with some mint and, indeed, liquorice, and rather unfolding on burnt cake, dried apricots and freshly squeezed oranges. There’s also quite some coffee and chocolate, then cinnamon. The body’s pretty perfect. Finish: long, rather pastry-like, with the liquorice-y side adding some backbone. Some black-tea-ish oak in the aftertaste. Comments: way above the Reserve, and already quite complex.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Saint James ‘Heritage’ (40%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2017)

Saint James ‘Heritage’ (40%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2017) one star and a half
Ouch, NAS and the overused word ‘Heritage’, should I get my gun? Now with rum, NAS is better than fake ages, I agree. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much easier, narrower, and obviously younger. I should have tried this one first, my bad. Nice touches of fresh cane juice, though, a little vanilla, blond raisins… But this is all extremely light. Mouth: light and a tad rough at the same time, slightly spirity, becoming a little too grassy. I doubt this could be seen as a sipper. Finish: short, a little spirity. Comments: move along, not much to see here, so much for heritage - but we’ve seen this happen elsewhere many times before, haven’t we.
SGP:430 - 69 points.

Good, let’s do the splits, so to speak…

Rhum des Plantations Saint-James 1932 (47%, OB, Martinique, 1950s)

Rhum des Plantations Saint-James 1932 (47%, OB, Martinique, 1950s) Four stars
Imagine how rare this is! We’ve had a 1939 while on Islay (don’t ask) and it had been great (WF 89) while the ultra-rare yet very well-known 1885 had fetched WF 92. So, this is the second oldest Saint James I’ve ever tried, and I have to thank the Rummaniacs as well as Luca for this. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: we’re in old Sauternes territories, with many grilled herbs and small berries, raisins, this very specific kind of roastedness that remind us of botrytis, dried porcinis, then grilled beef covered with baked fruits, especially bananas and papayas. Behind all that, many old books forgotten in your basement, and a very discreet garage-y side (old tyres). Touches of burnt oak, marzipan, hazelnut cream… This is a movie rum, it keeps evolving, becoming more complex by the second. More empyreumatic notes after five minutes or so, plus some burning pinewood. Mouth: incredibly hot at first, then kind of fading away, rather on burnt (caramel, bread), gets then a little too dry and bouillony, as if it had lost a little flesh. But the bones, I mean the spices keep it standing on its feet, with a rather dry cinnamon and nutmegy profile. Some very dry black raisins, covered with liquorice liqueur and, perhaps, overcooked jams. Dry at time, sweeter another time. Finish: medium, grassier again. Vegetable soup, Maggi, parsley, with a dollop of chestnut honey thrown in. Some saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: isn’t it amazing that this was bottled at the right strength? Some very moving old rum that kept very well, even if the nose was a good two steps above the palate, in my humble opinion.
SGP: - 87 points.

Good, four Saint James in a row, this wasn’t too ‘random’ after all. But that’s been safer…

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


July 7, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
A pithy yet totally stupid title. This weekend marks the final iteration of the Dramboree festival on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland. If you aren’t here, well, I’m sorry you missed it. It’s been six years of a very special brand of fun, daftness, tomfoolery, japes, friendship and, last but not least, numerous excellent whiskies. A celebration of excellent people and myriad malts cobbled together each year with inimitable panache by Jonny McMillan and Jason B Standing.


It has always possessed a seemingly impossible sense of intensity and all-out ‘plunge in the loch’ relaxation. It probably means different things to different people after six years, but the chance to drop out and dislocate from everyday life is a powerful shared motivation amongst attendees and, perhaps best of all about each year the festival has happened, everyone attending has seized the opportunity whole heartedly. Let’s try a random selection of drams from the dram table by way of a mini farewell celebration...  


Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2018 (66.2%, Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection for The Whisky Exchange, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900135, 299 bottles) Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2018 (66.2%, Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection for The Whisky Exchange, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900135, 299 bottles)
There’s a few such high octane Glenlivets out by Signatory at the moment, most seem to be receiving glowing reviews. Let’s see... Colour: deep amber. Nose: hot - understandably - but full of chestnuts, walnuts, gingerbread, wet leaves, old wines, damp earth and celery salt. A modern style of sherry that’s big, punchy and superbly clean. With water: dried cranberry, wild strawberry, moss, earthen floored cellars, turmeric, black pepper and a touch of mint tea. I find it really excellent, perfect power and concentration in balance. Mouth: strawberry syrup, red liquorice, sticky toffee pudding, walnut oil and some damp sack cloth. With water: golden syrups, lime oils, hardwood resins, a lick of tar, some pressed wildflowers and potpourri. There’s a lot of peppery spice but also a rather elegant herbal aspect underneath. Finish: long and full of slightly salty old sherry, preserved lemons, mineral oil, more walnuts, some crushed pecans, dark brown sugar and old rhum. Comments: What’s not to like? Clean, powerful but well matched by the range and intensity of flavour. I like it a lot - although it does need water...
SGP: 661 - 88 points.


Bladnoch 25 yo 1990 (60.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #50.85, ‘Conversations with my son’, refill barrel, 144 bottles) Bladnoch 25 yo 1990 (60.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #50.85, ‘Conversations with my son’, refill barrel, 144 bottles)
The society have bottled numerous 1990 barrels of Bladnoch over the past couple of years. Most of them excellent in my experience. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I’m sorry Serge, but we have ‘struck Kumquat’. Thankfully it’s also wrapped up in satsuma, lemon jelly, old Calvados, sweet Perry (pear cider), apple turnover, spiced mead, buttery waxes and some honeyed porridge. A wonderfully syrupy and ‘textural’ Bladnoch. With water: gets really quite aromatic and mentholated now with notes of tea tree oil and eucalyptus resin. Runny honey, naptha, white pepper and sweet plum wine. Mouth: many cooked garden fruits, some camphor, excellent vanilla custard, prunes, quince, candied oatmeal, orange oils and five spice. With water: some young Sauternes; lots of candied citrus peels, pears baked in sugar, lime jelly and vapour rub warmth. Finish: Long, slightly sooty, some lemon peel, sandalwood ash and buttery toast. Comments: I really love this style, it feels extremely ‘Bladnoch’, if you know what I mean. Yet another great one by the SMWS in this series of casks; I’ve yet to find a dud.
SGP: 641 - 89 points.


Of course, it’s never only Scotland which is represented on the Dramboree table...  


Yoichi ‘2000s’ 2000-2009 (57%, OB, -/+ 2010) Yoichi ‘2000s’ 2000-2009 (57%, OB, -/+ 2010)
A marriage of Yoichis distilled throughout the first decade of the millennium. Colour: pale gold. Nose: lightly smoked barley, a hay loft, some sooty carpet, citrons, damp chalk, wet sack cloth, paraffin, lamp oil and quite a few mineral notes. With water: orange cocktail bitters, paprika, black pepper and some salty sandalwood. Mouth: peatier than the nose suggests. Lots of sooty waxes, smoked fabric, bath salt minerality, struck flints, dry earth, tobacco leaf and camphor. Excellent. With water: oilier and more ‘fat’. Olive oil, herbal jellies, ointments, pink peppercorns and jasmine tea. Quite a potent wee beast. Finish: Long, lemony, olive oily, grassy, mineral and with a surprising barley sweetness in the aftertaste. Comments: A solid wee Yoichi. Underrated. Probably.
SGP: 463 - 87 points.


Redbreast 2001/2017 ‘All Sherry Single Cask’ (60.2%, OB for Master Of Malt, 582 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: strawberry wine, many various cough sweets, coal dust, some dried marjoram, cherry sweeties, brandy snaps and a few sods of damp earth. Rather powerful and peppery as well. With water: toastier and breadier; notes of toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Some lemon oil, raspberry liqueur and chopped mint. Mouth: golden caster sugar, buttermint sweets, olive oil, agave nectar, rosewood, lanolin and bitter chocolate. Becomes increasingly chocolatey with time. Also quite some tobacco - of the pipe variety. With water: some cinnamon bark, strong green tea, herbal bitters, cola cubes and a touch of hessian. Becoming more earthy, medicinal and bitter with time and water. Finish: Long, rather intensely herbal - Jägermeister, Fernet etc - lots of bitters, dry earth, black tea and bitter chocolate. Comments: It’s all well and good, but I don’t find it as thrilling as older Redbreasts. I think this pure pot still style works better in gentler wood.
SGP: 551 - 82 points.


There’s also always a few old glories...  


Glendronach 8 yo (43%, OB, Ruffino import, 1970s) Glendronach 8 yo (43%, OB, Ruffino import, 1970s)
These bottlings are always totally brilliant in my book, high expectations here... Colour: another world! Passionfruit, clay, limestone, lemon balm, guava, pink grapefruit and mineral notes of beach pebbles, flints and then evolving more towards hessian, dunnage, damp sack cloth and mineral oil. Really just sublime, aromatically spectral old malt whisky. I should also mention pineapple, white stone fruits, rosewater and many subtle waxy notes. Mouth: perfection at 43%. Tropical fruit syrups, cannabis resin, hoppy America IPA and more of these wonderfully deft and playful mineral qualities. Some pear drops, a glimmer of peat, olive oil, tar resin, herbal toothpaste, lime zest, wood ashes... a totally stunning old whisky. Finish: Long, waxy, herbal, lemony, tropical... totally sublime whisky! Comments: If I’m honest, it’s the kind of whisky that really puts so many contemporary distillates to total shame - and I mean that about the small ‘craft’ guys as much as the big names. World class distillate!
SGP: 752 - 92 points.


Mannochmore 18 yo (66.0%, OB, Manager’s Dram, bottled 1997)

Mannochmore 18 yo (66.0%, OB, Manager’s Dram, bottled 1997)
A well-known monster... Colour: deep gold. Nose: hot sandpaper, burning wax, hessian, white pepper, fruity chilli, paprika, Vicks rub. A big angry beast of a dram. Let’s add water quickly... with water: pummace, turmeric and other dry earthy notes. Dried bay leaves, new leather, ointments and ink. POW, as they say. Mouth: a mad mix of cement, waxes, chalks, white fruits, aspirin, olive oil, cooked asparagus, granite. Mineralic madness, but, I rather like it. It’s a whole galaxy of character and class away from Loch Dhu. With water: vase water, old rope, more interesting waxy and mustardy qualities, vegetable stock, oatmeal... the madness goes on. Finish: Long! Punchy, peppery, a touch of dunder funk, some melon. Bonkers whisky! Comments: It’s long been affectionately regarded as something of a wild child whisky, it is far from technically perfect, but I can’t help but sway to it’s daft charms. Funnily enough I find it more of a palate than a nose whisky.
SGP: 472 - 85 points.



Caps thoroughly doffed to Jason and Jonny (and friend).  



July 6, 2018


Tomintoul, four of them

Tomintoul, said to be the gentle dram for gentle people (right and why are you having some then, S.?)

Tomintoul 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2016)

Tomintoul 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars
We’re having this fairly recent OB first because of its lower strength. I have to say I don’t think I ever found an official Tomintoul that totally amazed me. Even that legendary ‘perfume’ bottle from the 1970s! Colour: gold. Nose: it is soft, it’s got a wee bit of gingery oak suggesting some re-racking has taken place, then rather touches of earth and apple compote, as well as a small spoonful of yoghurt sauce or something. Or wild porridge, oats, even pumpernickel… Mouth: starts a wee tad ‘chemical’ (what I sometimes call Fanta-y), gets then a little oaky, sour, and cardboardy. Some sour fruits too… Finish: short, with some white pepper on top of those sour fruits. Comments: really not my cup of malt, this little Tomintoul. But we know there are some much better ones, including some by the owners!
SGP:441 - 70 points.

Tomintoul 20 yo 1996/2017 (48.5%, Cooper’s Choice, bourbon cask, cask #101)

Tomintoul 20 yo 1996/2017 (48.5%, Cooper’s Choice, bourbon cask, cask #101) Two stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: gosh this one’s bizarre! Iodine, carbonilium, rotting oranges, cardboard, sour fruits again, apples, seaweed smoke… Wondering if this wasn’t an ex-peater cask. Certainly not a ‘gentle dram’. Mouth: rather nicer. Haribo’s best, lemon drops, bubblegum and marshmallows, wine gums, then some kind of smoked oranges, malt, a wee drop of ginger liqueur, pink pepper… It’s a funny dram, you could believe someone blended Auchentoshan with Laphroaig. 95 vs. 5%. Finish: medium, fruity and medicinal at the same time. Strawberry toothpaste, chicory and malty biscuits. Comments: this one reminds me of the earlier days of independent bottling, when you could still stumble upon some very whacky single casks, that were bottled for the sake of variety.
SGP:641 - 76 points.

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 11 yo 2006/2018 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 666 bottles)

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 11 yo 2006/2018 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 666 bottles) Four stars
Three barrels were blended together. If Cadenhead decided to release some 11 yo Tomintoul, there must be a reason; let’s try to find it… Colour: white wine. Nose: understood. Brioche, toasted cakes, sponge cake, lemon jelly, amaretti, peppermint, pine smoke, tobacco smoke. With water: some damp chalk or clay or plaster or fresh concrete. Mouth (neat): yeah, better have them fresh and vibrant. Earthy lemons, some kind of spicy fudge, a wee drop of tequila, perhaps a touch of celeriac and other earthy roots… With water: peppers and rooty herbal liqueurs. Some agave syrup in the background. Finish: medium, rather spicy. Limoncello and Ginger liqueur. A touch of green oak and Swiss cheese (!) in the aftertaste. Comments: not too sure about what came from the spirit and what came from the wood, but the whole worked out just fine. CAD should have a ‘Smart Batch’ series. This wee Tomintoul would have made for a proper member, even if it’s a tad loco at time.
SGP: 551- 85 points.

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 11 yo 2006/2018 (56.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 252 bottles)

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 11 yo 2006/2018 (56.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 252 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: narrower, more mineral, kind of sooty, and certainly pretty austere. It’s having a hard time after the small batch, but water may help… With water: varnish, fresh paint… Erm… And pears and white cherries. The freshness of youth. Mouth (neat): lemon and grass juices. There. With water: a tad wider, limoncello-y, fresh, well chiselled, and very quaffable. Not some very complicated spirit, but it delivers once water’s been added. Williams pears. Finish: medium, clean, on earthy lemons, I would say. Comments: what we sometimes call barley eau-de-vie – which is positive! The small batch was both more eccentric, and more complex.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Gentle, Tomintoul???

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


July 5, 2018


Three Caperdonich 1994

Sadly, Caperdonich’s a name that the new generations will never hear of. Remember Glen Grant #2? Apparently there aren’t many left at the indies (or at the brokers) while as for the glorious early 1972s, they seem to be gone gone gone.  

Caperdonich 21 yo 1994/2016 (59.6%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, hogshead, 200 bottles)

Caperdonich 21 yo 1994/2016 (59.6%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, hogshead, 200 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s sharp and a bit narrow, on green apples, green barley, lime, and rhubarb. Very blade-y, apparently, but water may change that. With water: perhaps a little banana skin, and a little chalk? Mouth (neat): a perfect, simple, well-made, fruity Speysider. A whole fruit salad, with rather more citrus than usual. Green apples and pears as well. With water: pears win it. Finish: medium, more citrusy again. It keeps hesitating between citrus and green apples and pears, in other words. Comments: sadly not quite in the style of the glorious, say 1972s, but quality remained pretty high. Very fine fruity (orchardy) distillate.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Caperdonich 22 yo 1994/2017 (49.8%, Maltbarn, 201 bottles)

Caperdonich 22 yo 1994/2017 (49.8%, Maltbarn, 201 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: interesting, this one has quite a lot of sunflower oil, fresh hazelnuts and almonds, fresh barley, wee whiffs of fresh putty… Yes you got it, it’s quite fresh and differently fruity. Mouth: a tad unusual, with touches of citric peat at first, then good ale, vanilla, a wee touch of aniseed, some white peaches, and some kind of sweet mushroom. I find it rather complex, even if these notes are short. My bad. Finish: medium, with a lovely grassy earthiness and notes of orange squash. The fresh nuts ‘straight from the trees’ are still there as well. Comments: a tad more complex than the previous one, and with less pears. Both were very good nonetheless.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Caperdonich 20 yo 1994/2015 (53.5%, Single Cask Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #96540, 254 bottles)

Caperdonich 20 yo 1994/2015 (53.5%, Single Cask Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #96540, 254 bottles) Four stars
This one from the older boxes that we often need to build proper tasting flights. Colour: pale gold. Nose: totally in the style of the Hunter Laing, with just a tad more ale-y notes. Mouth: same comments, this is very good. White cherries, perhaps, maraschino… On top of all the rest. Finish: rather long, fruity, with a good oily and very barley-y texture. Nice touches of almonds – which goes well with the cherries. Some almondy beer, does that exist? Most probably… Comments: all extremely fine.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

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


July 4, 2018


A sack of Miltonduff

What’s good with the fact that some bigger names are getting very hard to find at the indies, is the subsequent fact that those indies now need to issue more ‘smaller’ names instead, while those smaller names aren’t always any less good. Capice? Miltonduff’s a good example.

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 11 yo 2006/2017 (56.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 300 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 11 yo 2006/2017 (56.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 300 bottles) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: porridge, eaux-de-vie and syrups, this is possibly third fill, not that we’ve got anything against that. Pears and apples, muesli, williams pear eau-de-vie, all that. With water: a wee sourness. Lime, red currants, craft ale. Mouth (neat): this feeling of barley eau-de-vie that we always enjoy. Gooseberries. A little simple, but good, fruity. Touches of white pepper. With water: water works and makes it a tad more cake-y. Nice touches of blackcurrants. Finish: medium, on more or less the same flavours, with perhaps a little more ale. Craft ale, naturally. Comments: good pure malt whisky without much cask influence. There’s not always only wood in whisky.
SGP:441 - 82 points.

Miltonduff 19 yo 1995/2014 (56.3%, Pearls of Scotland, bourbon, cask #2599, 228 bottles)

Miltonduff 19 yo 1995/2014 (56.3%, Pearls of Scotland, bourbon, cask #2599, 228 bottles) Three stars and a half
This one slipped through my fingers when I got it. Colour: gold. Nose: more cask influence, vanilla, wee whiffs of camphor, butter pears, hints of patchouli, some kind of sweet curry… It’s a very nice nose. With water: really, sour beer, artisan cider… Nice fermentariness (what?) Mouth (neat): a little harsher, very green, sweet and bitter at the same time. Harsh green pears, cheery stems, a touch of peat smoke (from the cask’s previous content?), a pleasant sourness. Gueuze lambic this time? With water: much, and I mean much rounder, and orange-y at that. Got very good, I think. Finish: rather long, on cider, apple juice, grass juice… A touch of honey in the aftertaste. Comments: all good, nice style.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 20 yo 1994/2015 (51.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 366 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 20 yo 1994/2015 (51.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 366 bottles) Four stars
Indeed I may have been procrastinating a bit with my Miltonduffs… Colour: pale gold. Nose: isn’t it funny that there would be this wee metallic touch that rather belongs to Cadenhead’s ‘old dumpies’? And that many whisky lovers enjoy a lot? Marzipan, bread loafs, peaches, rainwater, oranges. One question, does Miltonduff have its very own style? With water: rather wonderful, waxes, oils… Mouth (neat): excellent. Limoncello, icing sugar, camphor, cough lozenges, citrons… Really, excellent. With water: a tad closer to the barley, but the citrusy side remains quite big. Very good. Finish: medium, fresh, citrusy. Peppermint in the aftertaste. Comments: some sides reminded me of some Rosebanks. Very lovely whisky.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Another 1994, perhaps…

Miltonduff 1994/2016 (60.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Series, first fill sherry, cask #15221)

Miltonduff 1994/2016 (60.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Series, first fill sherry, cask #15221) Four stars
A very dark baby this time. Colour: office coffee. Nose: chocolate. Gravel and some Mars bars crushed together, with some Maggi, bitter cocoa, lovage, walnut wine, and, well, just litres of oloroso (in the cask). With water: oh perfect, this is some kind of smoked ristretto, with a little cocoa thrown in (please excuse me, my Italian friends!) Mouth (neat): massive, huge, tremendous… and a bit tiring, perhaps, but nothing is impossible for a willing heart, don’t you agree? Bitter oranges, chocolate, ground coffee, umami, cardamom. A lot of cardamom, and clove. With water: it’s funny that it would get this rounder, chocolaty… In a way, we’re back to those Mars bars. Finish: very long, extremely chocolaty and pretty peppery. Nice touches of oranges in the aftertaste, ala Dalmore. Comments: this, is a proper sherry monster. I’m all for it, even if it’s a true wrestler.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

They’re good, these Miltonduffs, aren’t they?... Let’s find a much older one…

Miltonduff 39 yo 1978/2018 (44.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 104 bottles)

Miltonduff 39 yo 1978/2018 (44.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 104 bottles) Four stars
Isn’t it so very Cadenhead to issue a 39 yo instead of waiting until it’s 40 and grab a few more bucks? Colour: gold. Nose: the wonders of refill would, this is bright as a button. Marshmallows, liquorice allsorts, wine gums, and dare I add, Red Bull? (don’t shoot, don’t shoot!) Underneath that, proper fruits, gooseberries, rhubarb, tangerines… Mouth: really very strange. It’s not that it went off, but it sure got rather ‘deviant’. Notes of Swiss cheese, vin jaune, tobacco, coriander, cumin, Kikkoman, green apples (the ones that you aren’t meant to eat), notes of tinned fish (mackerel filet in wine vinegar?) Things tend to settle down though, while it would rather go towards acidic coffee. Finish: rather long, very herbal and sappy. And cleaner, calling for another measure… Comments: the wackiness that can only stem from very old whiskies. Quite a journey.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Last call…

Miltonduff 35 yo 1982/2017 (49.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon, #72.56, ‘Maturing in style’, 154 bottles)

Miltonduff 35 yo 1982/2017 (49.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon, #72.56, ‘Maturing in style’, 154 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s rather all on almonds, marzipan, barley syrup, buttered caramel, beeswax and paraffin. Yet a different style. Whiffs of Vicks and eucalyptus after that, honeysuckle, wet earth, and a little garden peat. Mouth: starts rather buttery, almost a little feinty without being feinty. Then we have artichokes and plasticine, which is a little bizarre indeed. Tends to become a little drying, with some white pepper… Finish: long and peppery, with bitter oranges as well. Comments: a rather lovely nose, for sure, but the palate was a little more difficult, I would say. As strange as the 39 years old by Cadenhead, but a little less complex.
SGP:361 – 83 points.

That’s enough Miltonduff if you ask me. See you. Oh by the way, if you ever come across the old bulky 13 yos at auctions (named Milton-Duff), don’t hesitate, it’s magnificent whisky.

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


July 3, 2018


Two AnCnoc and one Knockdhu

Indeed, that’s the same distillery. As can be seen elsewhere, the owners tend to hide the ages of their young whiskies, while the independent bottlers do not, which gives them a great advantage in my book. Now, I never take those things into consideration when tasting and scoring my whiskies…

AnCnoc ‘Barrow’ (46%, OB, +/-2017)

AnCnoc ‘Barrow’ (46%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
In the same series as all the other ‘devices’ NAS bottlings, rutter, flaughter, cutter, stack, tushkar… All pretty good except when a tad too rough, thanks to some unmentionably young age? Oh and at least, we all know what a barrow is! Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: very young fresh peater, millimetric, clean, barley-y, with some green grass smoke and touches of lemon. It’s not that there’s anything singular here, but the combo sure works. Much pleasing. Mouth: good, sweet and peppery at first, then almost chilli-driven for a few seconds, then much more on cough syrups. Eucalyptus, lemon juice, menthol, mouthwash… Finish: rather long, with a few green tannins (which we hadn’t expected given the extremely light colour), and this feeling of smoked lime juice, also common elsewhere. Cloves and nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather greener, almost cardamom-y  kind of peated AnCnoc.
SGP:455 - 83 points.

AnCnoc ‘Peatheart’ (46%, OB, +/-2017)

AnCnoc ‘Peatheart’ (46%, OB, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Not to be mistaken for the ‘Peatlands’ expression. That’s the problem with all these names instead of ages, it all tends to become rather hazy after the first few. This one’s heavily peated (40ppm in the malted barley). Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed it seems to be smokier, more porridge-y, more farmyardy, as well as more lemony. Gets then very mentholy, almost chartreuse-y, which is very nice in my book. Pine resin, genepy, absinth, verbena… Love this style. Mouth: feels very young, and perhaps a tad thin this time, despite the thick layer of peat smoke. A lot of lemon, green pepper, ashes… The spirit itself tends to shy away, quite bizarrely, leaving a feeling of having just eaten some green pepper. Finish: medium, green, peppery. Comments: could be a lack of integration (so cask time). Who knows… (well the owners do). Doesn’t feel three times peatier than the rather lovely barrow, which I liked better.
SGP:365 - 79 points.

Knockdhu 11 yo 2006/2018 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, hogshead, 792 bottles)

Knockdhu 11 yo 2006/2018 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, hogshead, 792 bottles) Four stars
This from three hogsheads. In general, I find that’s the perfect set-up, unless the three casks are exactly the same that is. Colour: white wine. Nose: this is traditional Knockdhu/AnCnoc, without peat, and with rather a lot of flints, gravel, crushed leaves (including green tea), and grapefruit skin. You got it, it’s a bit austere… With water: touches of bonbons, other than that same very flinty profile. Raw malt and chalk. Mouth (neat): very good, very malty, very ‘old-skool’. A fat mouth feel, some chalk, some paraffin, some bitter lemon (even bitterer than regular lemons), some oatcakes perhaps… With water: swims greatly, like they do at the Football World Cup in Russia these days… No, wait, those don’t swim, they just dive. Anyway, a great young, bodyful Knockdhu. Do you say ‘bodyful’? Well I’ll shamelessly do that from now on. Finish: long, even chalkier, verging on ashes. Comments: always a pleasure to stumble upon such a flavourful little whisky that could have gone unnoticed.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

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


July 2, 2018


Two indie Speyburn

That is right, Speyburn. It’s another name that’s gaining some lustre and traction these days, mainly thanks to the owners, but also thanks to a small group of die-hard fans whose headquarters seem to be located in or around Drumnadrochit (according to New Scotland Yard).

Speyburn 28 yo 1989/2018 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, 528 bottles)

Speyburn 28 yo 1989/2018 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, 528 bottles) Four stars
This one from two casks. Colour: straw. Nose: barley water and hoppy beer, then crystallised lemons and tangerines, plus a touch of camphor. The freshness and the brightness both are impressive, we’re far from some ‘average’ cake-y maltiness. Mouth: yeppy! This is very good, rather on orange squash at first, then on white chocolate fingers, juicy fruits, and some green tea in the background. Soft all-spice. Finish: medium, very nice. Rather lime and cardamom this time. Comments: I have no quarrel with this excellent Speyburn. After Deanston, it seems that Speyburn too is starting to catch more (and a better) light. And as usual, the indies are doing a fair share of the workload.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Speyburn 12 yo 2005/2018 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry, 387 bottles)

Speyburn 12 yo 2005/2018 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry, 387 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a load of vanilla at first, then another load of white chocolate. I know they say ‘sherry’, but this really feels like virgin US oak. With water: same, more or less. Plus orange blossom bread, panettone,     touch of olive oil… Mouth (neat): very creamy mouth feel. Golden raisins, oranges, India pale ale, Golden Grahams, Twix, and stuff. With water: same, plus olive oil once again. I mean, sweeter olive oil, grissini… Finish: medium, on exactly the same flavours. No changes, it would just fade away… Comments: frankly, this was surprisingly good. Same score in my book, and when I update my secret Distillery Ranking (last update was in 2013) I’m sure Speyburn will skyrocket from ‘Cru Bourgeois’ to ‘Cru Bourgeois Supérieur’. At least!
SGP:651 - 85 points.

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


July 1, 2018


Rums at random again

As it says…

Caraïbes (40%, Compagnie des Indes, blend, +/2018)

Caraïbes (40%, Compagnie des Indes, blend, +/2018) Three stars
A wee blend of rums from Guyana, Trinidad, and Barbados. Lovely label and bottle. Colour: white wine. Nose: all is fine. Pineapples, cane juice, one little olive, a few old coins, and more pineapples, both tinned and fresh. Works very well, this is a rather lighter side of the ‘light English style’. Mouth: it’s good, it’s not challenging, it’s not too complicated, and you could improve some very average series by Netflix by just sipping this while watching the episodes. Sweet pineapples, cane syrup, banana liqueur… Finish: medium, really very sweet. Comments: feels a bit ‘dosé-ed’, Plantation-style, but balance has been preserved. The better easy side of rum, I would say.
SGP:630 - 80 points.

Diamond 13 yo 2004/2017 (61.2%, The Rum Cask, Guyana)

Diamond 13 yo 2004/2017 (61.2%, The Rum Cask, Guyana) Three stars and a half
We’ve had all kinds of Diamonds, some superb and some rather ‘meh’, as they say on Facebook. Colour: straw. Nose: hurray, it’s a heavily petroly one. Rotting tropical fruits, olive oil, capers, diesel oil, brine, lime juice. Now maybe that’s the high strength, maybe is it rather gentle after all… With water: well, it is pretty gentle! Plasticine, cane juice, ink, chalk… Mouth (neat): ever tried kerosene blended with nail polish remover? Me neither, but I imagine that would be a bit like this. Just a bit. With water: yeah there, smoked pears. Not the first time we’re having this in Diamond, if I remember well. It’s OK. Finish: medium, rather brine-ier, with crushed sardines and anchovies covered with cane syrup. I know, that sounds a bit weird – well it is. Comments: not bad at all, quite the contrary, but it hasn’t got the magnitude of most other ‘original’ Demeraras.
SGP:452 - 83 points.

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2017 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Belize, 397 bottles)

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2017 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Belize, 397 bottles) Three stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: typical soft bananas with coconut and white chocolate, plus some clear floral touches, around ylang-ylang and perhaps lilies of the valley. A rather sinful nose, but not quite a devilish one, I would say. Mouth: Travellers are making some good rum, easy and quite complex at the same time. Sure they’re not the Ardbegs of the rum world, but remember not everyone enjoys Ardbeg. So, custard, coconut water, praline, cane juice… Finish: medium, sweet, easy… Comments: some easy rum of good quality. In my book it’s sitting right between the high-class authentic rums and the disgusting concoctions some shameless brand-builders are putting out these days for good people who do not listen to their dentists. Neither would they listen to their diabetologists, by the way.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

Appleton Estate 8 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2016)

Appleton Estate 8 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2016) Three stars
Frankly, I thought the older Appletons were brilliant, but the newer expressions are rather uninspiring in my opinion. Any resemblance to what’s happening in the whisky world… is not casual. Colour: gold. Nose: nice, but a tad thin, lacking depth. Cane juice, biscuits, a drop of maple syrup, a touch of preserved pineapples and mangos… It’s really all very nice, it’s just a tad weak. Hello?  Mouth: fair and good, for sure. Good liquorice (#1) and caramel, plus sultanas and, well, more liquorice. Really heavy on liquorice. Also heavy honeys such as chestnut and oak honey. Finish: surprisingly long, thick and very liquorice-y. Comments: rather a better one. Not sure it’s all 100% natural, but there you have it…
SGP:631 - 80 points.

Foursquare 10 yo 2007/2018 (64.4%, Excellence Rhum, Barbados, cask #14)

Foursquare 10 yo 2007/2018 (64.4%, Excellence Rhum, Barbados, cask #14)Three stars
Seen the strength? Assassin! Let's say a little prayer… Colour: gold. Nose: I seem to be able to nose humidors, balsa wood, green bananas, hay… And well, I’m rather proud of myself. With water: pencil shavings, wallflower, grated coconut, marzipan. Mouth (neat): sweet oak and cane juice. That is all this far. With water: good, for sure. Cinnamon cake, liquorice drops, honey sweets, ginger and incense… Then pepper and ginger. Finish: long, with emerging pineapples, as they say on Cuba (making this up, really). Comments: really very good, it’s just lacking a little depth, as if the distillate had been a little ‘superficial’, or as some may say, ‘not enough pot still’, while others would add that that doesn’t matter, at all. Endless debates and intrigues, typical Facebook stuff. This is neither the place nor the time.
SGP:641 - 80 points.

Port Mourant 10 yo 2008/2018 (62.2%%, Excellence Rhum, Guyana)

Port Mourant 10 yo 2008/2018 (62.2%%, Excellence Rhum, Guyana) Four stars and a half
Love it that these excellent bottlers would have felt the need to tell us that this was ‘cask strength’. Totally love it. Colour: white wine. Nose: kills the Foursquare. Stunning cucumbers, olives, brine, lime, carbon, plasticine, lanoline, rhubarb juice… You see… With water: new tyres galore! We’re at a tyre dealer’s, while a new shipment just arrived. Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu! We’re drinking perfume now. That was not the plan, was it? With water: no, wait, things get better, but it’s rare to encounter such a blend of all things brine-y (olives and stuff) with all things tarry (tar, rubber, tyres, cologne, new leatherette…) Extreme rum, less gentle than other Port Mourants /Morants I’ve been acquainted with. Finish: extremely long and tarry. Comments: watch the young Port Mourants! Whether the wooden part of the stills has anything to do with this style, I couldn’t tell you, but what’s sure is that this is Guyana at its most Jamaican.
SGP:454 - 88 points.

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

June 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2018 (52.9%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, hogshead, 210 bottles)
WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Royal Brackla 60 yo 1926/1985 (40%, OB, James Buchanan, for Japan, 60 decanters)
WF 92

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Kilkerran 8 yo (55.7%, OB, 2017) - WF 91

Favourite malternative:
Hampden 10 yo 2007/2018 (64.1%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 290 bottles) - WF 90

June 2018 - part 2 <--- July 2018 - part 1 ---> July 2018 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Linkwood 20 yo 1997/2018 (51.7%, Jack Wiebers Whisky World for Whisky Ship Luzern, Great Ocean Liners, bourbon, cask #731)