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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2023 - Part 2

July 2023 - part 1 <--- July 2023 - part 2 ---> August 2023 - part 1


July 31, 2023


Craigellachie, abundantly

There is a lot of Craigellachie available at the moment, probably a consequence of the extreme scarcity of certain names among independent bottlers. Imagine a beginner who would come to visit a spirit merchant these days; the logical conclusion he would draw would be that the most sought-after and therefore the most prestigious distilleries in Scotland are Ledaig, Ben Nevis, Caol Ila, Benrinnes, Tomatin, indeed Craigellachie and a few others. And perhaps he wouldn't be entirely wrong...
Having said that, we may need several days…

Brumont, makers of some of the very best
Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh




Craigellachie 14 yo 2007/2022 (46%, Canmore, bourbon hogshead, 352 bottles) Four stars
I really like it when they bottle at 46%, I really do. This is a new range by independent bottlers and spirit brokers Charles Edge London. Colour: white wine. Nose: as many apples, pears, greengages, gooseberries and peaches as in vicar's orchard. Then biscuits, soft breads, beignets and acacia flowers. There is something both perfect and simple, almost Vivaldi-esque in this nose. Mouth: same feeling, word for word, with just a little more grass, grist and sourdough. Perfect tension leading to green peppercorn and lime juice. Finish: medium indeed with green peppercorn and lime juice, plus some artisan ale and a salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: after all, malt whisky is distilled ale, in some kind of way. I found this one excellent, if a tad robust.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Let's see what would happen if you added a little armagnac…


Craigellachie 13 yo 'Finished in Bas-Armagnac Barrels' (46%, OB, 2022) Four stars
I have to say I've never spotted any 'barrels' in Armagnac, they rather use +/-400 litre casks. Bah I suppose the words 'barrel/barrique' are been used rather liberally, no big problems with that. Colour: white wine. Nose: we're extremely close to the lovely 14 years old, with just a few raisins thrown in, but it never gets 'raisiny' as such. It is just a little sweeter/rounder, very moderately so. Orchard fruits and brioche, plus acacia and elder flower; what more does the people want? Mouth: the similarities are even more obvious, with this softer lemon, lemon tarte (with meringue please) and jut touches of tonic wine, with a faint fizzy/peppery aspect coming out after one minute. Finish: same. Lime juice and beer, I know some friends do enjoy that combination. They would usually add lemon syrup, or just lemonade (hence making a panaché). Comments: I'm not sure you could detect the armagnacness If you weren't in the loop from the beginning, but once again, it's an excellent drop. We should keep some to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Ault Alliance. Yeah I know, that'll happen in 2095, but with advances in medicine, we could well make it…  
SGP:551 - 85 points.


Craigellachie 13 yo 2008/2022 'The New Star' (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, for the UK, refill hogsheads, casks #308452, 308459, 308505, 917 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this one's tighter yet, more on sauvignon blanc, with tomato leaves, lemon, elder flowers again, gooseberries, asparagus… And just a touch of rubber. 'Bicycle inner tube' as we used to say while the Tour de France was on. Some chalk too, you could believe this is a glass of Sancerre indeed. Granted, some very heavy Sancerre. Mouth: we're so close to the others, once more… It's just that we enjoy this even tarter, tighter, tenser style even (a little) more. Kiwi and rhubarb sherbet. Finish: long, very lemony, also with a little fennel, cress, aniseed, grapefruit… Comments: same ballpark, obviously. It's all only a matter of individual taste here.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Hold on, I've got an idea (oh, no…)


Craigellachie 14 yo 2007/2022 '1st Fill Pacherenc Barrique' (52.3%, Brave New Spirit, Cask Noir, cask #315065, 262 bottles) Four stars
Pacherenc (its real name is Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh) is a white wine from the southwest of France, which is produced more or less in Armagnac country. Unless the label tells you it's dry (sec), it is a sweet wine, mainly made out of petit and grand manseng. Think sweet Jurançon… I believe Craigellachie takes these wines pretty well. Colour: straw. Nose: this time the sweetness feels, this one being more floral and fruity. There are red berries (cranberries, raspberries) and some peonies and lis, a slice of ripe banana, bits of mango and guava, linden and honeysuckle…  It seems that the Pacherenc did add an extra-layer as far as aromas go. With water: add a few rubbed mint leaves, which always works. Mouth (neat): a very tiny touch of sulphur, absolutely not unbearable (really not), plus banana and elderflower liqueur. Some apricot jam and some honey, that's the manseng grapes speaking out. With water: gets a tad muscaty. Touches of rose jelly, litchi, ripe red gooseberries, geranium candies… Finish: medium, sweet and clean, never dissonant. Comments: a love marriage, after all? Try to find some dry/sec Pacherenc! Some say it doesn't travel well, but that's pure codswallop. I still liked the Eadie's blady side a little better.
SGP:641 - 85 points.


Craigellachie 13 yo 2009/2022 (53.8%, Whisky AGE, hogshead, cask #305227, 299 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: I see. This is a rather fatter one, with some sunflower oil, plus fresh barley, sunflower seeds, broken branches, chalk, sourdough… In a way it is very elementary, very close to the grains, to the soil, to the fertiliz… no. With water: no changes, pure sunflower oil. Plus, perhaps, banana skins. Mouth (neat): perfect simplicity. Barley sugar, grist, chalk, limoncello, and repeat. A lot of barley sweetness. With water: more sweet barley, a handful of gummy bears, perhaps a little agave syrup, plus sprouted seeds, alfalfa, soy, quinoa, also carrot juice... Say Sausalito, 1978. A little Armistead-Maupin-esque. Finish: medium, simpler. Says goodbye with more sunflower oil and a bit of papaya. Comments: always in the same region as far as intrinsic quality's concerned. It's a perfect distillate, a first-class filler I would say.

SGP:551 - 86 points.


Craigellachie 10 yo 2011/2022 (60%, The Single Cask of Scotland, Kirsch Import Exclusive, sherry butt, cask #900093, 510 bottles) Four stars
Younger, stronger, that's the story of our lives my friend, don't you agree? Colour: light gold. Nose: a higher oak impact, which translates into much more vanilla and mango cream, praline, roasted peanuts… Chouchous, as we say. With water: asparagus and artichoke getting louder. Mouth (neat): very rich, with some cigarette tobacco (chewing your untipped Craven 'A' – gosh they'll close this poor little website for good one day), propolis, lemon marmalade, lemongrass, passion fruits… With water: it keeps the lemony side on the palate. A tiny touch of rubber too, which is connected to that bee's propolis we had found before. Finish: medium, without any further changes. Comments: the price here is very fair, I've seen it at 55€ in Germany. Yeah, the price of neighbours Macallan's 30 years old back them (and we were complaining – already!)

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Last one, we'll go on tomorrow…


Craigellachie 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.1%, Alambic Classique, Special Vintage Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #2116, 299 bottles) Four stars and a half
Some very good stuff at Alambic Classique's lately. Colour: straw. Nose: we're in the open, wandering throughout meadows, barley fields and farmyards with a light heart and a tranquil mind. Right, a lot of chalk, sourdough, leaven, wee touches of baby vomit (nothing negative, we need more babies in Europe!) fermentation, beers, pot ale… With water: it's cleaner now. Lemon cake, weissbeer, muesli... Mouth (neat): ah splendid! Citrus chiming in with flying colours (and acidity). Stunning citrons. With water: perfectly doughy and citrusy. Finish: medium, on cakes. Lemon cake with bits of candied zests inside. Custard in the aftertaste. Comments: one that good people having faith in the future may want to cellar for two or three decades. I'm not saying a whole palette, uh.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

See you tomorrow…

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2023

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Glen Grant 63 yo 1959/2023 'Mr George Legacy Third Edition' (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3665, 368 bottles) - WF 93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Clynelish 20 yo 1983/2003 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #26.28) - WF 93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Islay Single Malt Peated (50%,, Hart Bros., +/-2022) - WF 88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 58' (51.6%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 3, Petite Champagne, 2023) - WF 93

Serge's thumbs up this month:
Yamazaki 2009/2021 'The Essence of Suntory Whisky' (53%, OB, Volume 5, Golden Promise) - WF 91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Maja 12 yo 'Anejo Autentico' (40%, OB, El Salvador, +/-2022)  - WF 49

July 30, 2023


  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

We are 21, Session 3

Down to the 19th century
(A Short Celebratory Verticale of Six Top-Notch Cognac)

We went down to beyond 1900 last time – although that Comtes de Mareuil 1893 was a little tired, WF 86 – but since this is our 21st anniversary, we'll try to dig even deeper into History. Now remember that, I strongly insist, we're always trying cognacs or any other spirits from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast.


Let's see what we have on the table today, and perhaps try to have one expression per decade, from the 1980s down to the… well, we'll see… Oh, and since we used to talk a lot more about music in the early days of this somewhat anarchic website, let's see if you can identify the names of the emblematic musicians from each decade, whose pictures I will add under each cognac... Answers at the end, but first, just a little apéritif in the form of a brand new XO done in partnership with a not-so-unknown house.... Good vibes here...

Apéritif please...

Mona Moore 'XO' (42%, OB, Hi Wine & Spirits and Vallein Tercinier, Cognac, 2023) Five stars
This is a brand new XO, not readily available yet (sadly), composed of cognacs aged between 18 and 25 years old and produced by VT. Remember, in order to qualify as an XO, the minimum age of the youngest component must be of compte d'âge 10, so actually 11 years old (yes, it's complicated). What's more, before 2018 that used to be only 6, in any case I believe this new baby could as well have been called 'XXO' (Extra Extra Old, now legit I believe, minimum 14 years). But enough mathematical subtleties, poetry must rule, let's taste this Mona Moore… Colour: deep gold. Nose: in all softness, but with roasted nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, some black turon) and chestnut honey with touches of liquorice, it's then rather geared towards heather honey, gorse, dandelions, one mint leaf, as well as the traditional ripe peaches and melons in the Fruit and Vegetable Department. Touch of coffee too. Very 'VT' (Vallein Tercinier, not Vendanges Tardives, mind you). Mouth: many stewed fruits, old boy's jam, even a hint of strawberry jam, then a wonderful, slightly sour (cherries) rancio that would remind us of some very, very old Pineau. Coffee and liquorice coating it all. Finish: medium, with some welcome tiny touches of old oak and tobacco, cinnamon rolls, plus hints of pepper and clove in the aftertaste. Comments: while many XOs are being bottled at 40%, the wee kick brought by the extra-2% vol. here makes a lot of difference. Wonderful middle-aged cognac bearing a very high drinkability index, with some sides reminding me of a certain Distillery in Craigellachie. Not Craigellachie Distillery. Could have been 30 or 40 just as well. Certainly my favourite recent XO, easily between 90 and 91, but because this is our 21st anniversary and since this excellent cognac's average age is 21 as well, it's going to be, tah-dah..…  
SGP:651 - 91 points.


Bons Bois 1980/2023 (58.2%, Grosperrin for Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai series, 58 litres)

Bons Bois 1980/2023 (58.2%, Grosperrin for Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai series, 58 litres) Four stars and a half
Grosperrin really are the kings of Bons Bois and Fins Bois; remember those lesser-known appellations are much harder to source than the usual Grande and Petite Champagne. But naturally, Grosperrin also have some stunning GCs and PCs… or Borderies of course. Colour: deep gold/light amber. Nose: some lovable varnish and paint, in the style of the best heavy bourbons. Good fun indeed. Acidic juice (lemon), white peaches, then new leather jacket, furniture polish; fermenting figs, liquorice and back to new varnish (at Ikea's). Love these kinds of profiles. With water: a little gentler and rounder, but it's still got this wonderful rustic varnish that makes me think of some … say Van Winkle. Mouth (neat): high-intensity arrival, a bit oaky (takes your tongue as if with a pair of pliers), very resinous and piney, with a lot of varnish again. Probably a little brutal, although we've often experienced this with high-strength cognacs, but to be honest I believe almost no one was drinking their cognac at such high degrees until very recently. With water: there, and voilà. Still a lot of pine resin and heavy liquorice, and some varnish of course, and I'm sure my old grandpa wouldn't have enjoyed this, but as a whisky guy I'm much pleased. Wonderful liquoricy tannins. Finish: very long, also with tart green apples and even more liquorice. Comments: the samurai on the label makes sense, it is a fighter.
SGP:373 - 89 points.


Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L79' (52.2%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 2, Petite Champagne, 2023)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L79' (52.2%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 2, Petite Champagne, 2023) Five stars
From Mr. Piton's stock and part of a brand new series by Kirsch Import. It's good fun that French bottlers such as Nine Zero would use Japanese samurais on their cognacs, whilst our German friends would rather display French musketeers. We are the world… Colour: full gold. Nose: you see, this Petite Champagne is a little grassier, and certainly a little less varnishy, more on classic orchard fruits, especially plums and peaches. Greengages seem obvious to me, nectarines as well, fresh moist prunes, spearmint, and a tiny and wonderful whiff from a little bouquet of freshly cut violets (but absolutely not in the style of Bowmore 1985!) With water: not much to say now, this is perfect. It has everything, and all is neatly arranged, in the right order. Mouth (neat): impeccable concentration, many stewed fruits, jams, herbal teas and honeys, plus liquorice… but we'll remain seated while trying it with a little H2O. With water: it is an extremely cognacqy cognac. Once again, everything (fruits, herbs, spices, soft younger rancios, nuts, yada…) in the right order. Finish: vine peaches and heather honey as the signature. Comments: in fact there isn't much to say, this is just perfect. Good, I'll still add that it reminds me of some old official Highland Parks, perhaps the dumpies 'round black label'. Or was it 'black round label?'. Must be that heather honey…
SGP:661 - 92 points.


Mauxion 'Lot 60' (62%, Private bottling for Geert Lagast & Raf de Ruysscher, Petite Champagne, 2022) Five stars
Did you know that our Belgian friends snap up 90% of our best single estate cognacs? It's not an official statistic, but according to the archives of Whiskyfun, it's certainly accurate. What's more, 1960 is 'my' vintage, and 62 my age. Pure coincidence but I'm super-glad there are/were some wonderful spirits from that year, as the wines are usually… flat dead, except for a few wonderful Sauternes and other sweet wines.. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there, it's entered another dimension, full of autumn leaves, mushrooms, precious spices and ointments, old liqueurs and jams, old honeys; did you know that you could still eat some honeys that were harvested in the time of the pharaohs? The 62% don't even feel, mind you, which reminds me of some of G&M's super-old 'livets of Glen G. With water: cancel that, it's more like old Macallan of the same origin. I'm dead serious. Stunning ripe peaches and preserved ones. Mouth (neat): boy is this fat, heavy, jammy and piney. To be honest the 62% vol. do feel now. So… With water: and bonjour figs, dates, sultanas, quinces, honeys, apricot nectar and beeswax. It is just a little grittier (than the aforementioned Macallans). Finish: long, with absinth, peaches and honey having taken centre stage. Comments: I'll say it again (and again), in my book old aged spirits do converge. The 1979 was just a tad more assertive (love conceptual words in tastings).
SGP:661 - 91 points.


Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 58' (51.6%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 3, Petite Champagne, 2023)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 58' (51.6%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 3, Petite Champagne, 2023) Five stars
More mousquetaires ! Just don't tell the Gascons of the pays d'Armagnac that you've put D'Artagnan on a bottle of… cognac. Now I'm sure it can be resolved over a small glass or five of Ténarèze... or Petite Champagne indeed for that matter. Colour: deep gold. Nose: no surprise here, this goes down to the core of fresh old cognac, this time with stunning pears poached in Sauternes (not a 1960!) plus extraordinary morello cherries, almond liqueur and, hold on, kirschwasser? I swear to Vishnu that I am not making this up. With water: small mushrooms, a touch of paprika, fig wine, tiny bits of old wood, old bachelor's jam, lemongrass, peach syrup, and a bucket of Bellini (made with Bollinger). Oh yeah, that's champagne with fresh peach purée. Mouth (neat): pine essence, black assam, sour cherries (once you've got them in your mind, you're dead), more almonds, sorb eau-de-vie (that's close)… With water: the old wood is adding some piney essences and old pu-her, but peaches and cherries keep it playful and even refreshing. Kind of. Finish: long, with some mentholated liquorice by way of signature. Comments: this one never felt demijohnned (you know we're afraid of nothing, vocabulary-wise). Which means that it could well be… hold on, 2023 – 1958 = 65 years old. Just a kid!
SGP:661 - 93 points.


Prunier 'Lot 42' (40.8%, OB, Wine4You, The Purist, Fins Bois)

Prunier 'Lot 42' (40.8%, OB, Wine4You, The Purist, Fins Bois) Five stars
Not too sure when this was distilled exactly. If that was before November 11, 1942, that was still 'Free France' (not sure you already had to wait until December back then) as the southern part of the country had not been invaded by the German troops yet. After November 11, it was 'Occupied France'. And provided they had kept the wines for a few years (should that be allowed back then) and only distilled them after September 2, 1944, it was 'Freed France'. Complicated vintage… Colour: gold. Nose: it went for the small herbs, fruit peels, leaves, mint leaves, mosses, small citrus, with touches of 'other woods', beech, sandal, balsa… It's probably the low strength rather than the long ageing that made it softer, more complex, more 'chamber music' than Led Zeppelin. Although I'm sure some LedZep exegetes would argue that Kashmir is chamber music… Mouth: it's this fragility that is very charming, it's gone towards grassy tropical fruits, oak balms (but that does not exist, does it) and herbal teas. Hay is obvious, mint tea – with pine nuts! - too. Charming. Finish: not that short, just give it time. Very amiable. Touches of 'plane mangos' and orange juice. A few sultanas in the aftertaste. Comments: indeed a charming very old little cognac that likes to play hide and seek with you. These are always difficult to fit into a vertical tasting, due to their low alcohol contents. This baby did very well, but blind, it would be more challenging, to be honest.
SGP:661 - 90 points.

And so we said six… Let's take a big leap into the past!


Château Jousson 'Sélection 1875' (OB, Fine Champagne, magnum, +/-1950) Five stars
An estate that used to be located in Angeac-Champagne, which is situated in Grande Champagne, just south of the city of Cognac (only 10km). The brand name appears to belong to Distillerie du Vieux Chêne, but I haven't seen any recent bottlings anywhere. This is a  magnum that Angus poured at his wedding (Angus, please divorce and re-marry your dear wife many times over the next years). Imagine, 1875, Keith Richards was still pretty young back then, while they hadn't even invented the Harmony Meteor yet! Colour: light coffee. Nose: magnums keep better, even with spirits. Having said that, this is total old-school cognac, with many more raisins, rancio, figs, dates, dried pears, prunes and mead than in contemporary estate bottlings (we're not talking about the very average large-volume blends that never make it into WF Towers). Tiny bits of mushrooms, marrow, moss, some gravy, fruitcake… But some parts may stem from OBE. Mouth: oh, brilliant! Not all very old bottles keep this well, but remember it was a magnum, while I'm sure the original juice was first-class too. Many many smaller flavours, dried fruits of all kinds, Japanese dishes, Chinese dumplings, assorted sauces, pestos (pesti?), wines (not only grape wine), wine sauces, dried berries (raisins, longans, goji), balsamico, Worcester sauce… Let's stop now, this list would be endless. Finish: probably not as eternal as this old cognac, but saltier, more on sweet meat dishes, quenelles, game sauce… All that with an unexpectedly shiny, rocketing liquorice as the signature. Comments: imagine, 1875, that's the year of Bizet's Carmen. And when our friend Benjamin Disraeli was PM, he who said that he loved bad whisky 'because one gets so bored with good whisky'. Nah, TBH, actually, he said that about wine. Stunning old cognac, you could drink a whole… magnum. Thanks and cheers, Angus.
SGP:562 - 92 points.

The musicians were...

1980: Joe Zawinul (Weather Report). 1970s: Chet Baker. 1960s: John Coltrane. 1950s: Miles Davis. 1940s: Duke Ellington. 1870s: Georges Bizet. Indeed, piece of cake.

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


July 29, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland

We are 21, Session 2
Ardbeg and Laphroaig






While Serge's heart lies on the east coast, in Brora, mine ultimately belongs to the West of Scotland - usually to be found lingering around Islay, Skye and one or two places in between. As such, I thought my own wee celebration of Whiskyfun's 21st birthday could be just a neat pair from two of my favourite distilleries. But seeing as this is a celebration, we'll make them heavy hitters, indeed, any excuse etc…







Laphroaig 30 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, +/-1997)

Laphroaig 30 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, +/-1997)
One of the very early batches I believe. Colour: deep gold - a darker batch. Nose: there are many various flavours you can say about these older Laphroaigs, but - as with something like Pinot Noir - sometimes it's easier just to say: 'Old Laphroaig'! An extraordinary and perfectly integrated display of tropical fruits combined with very gentle medicinal aromas and the most gorgeous and elegant, drying peat smoke. You could add smoked teas, grapefruit peel, a few iodine drops and these wonderful, subtle notes of waxed hessian and camphor. Mouth: the sherry in this batch is stunning and very obvious here, hugely rich, waxy, fruity and with some darker fruit notes such as sultana and fig coming off the back of the sherry, which is also stunningly resinous, earthy and salty with some beautiful tobacco notes too. Perfectly engaging and mouth-filling at 43%, treads a perfect tightrope between power and grace. Finish: long, warming, full of dry, brittle and elegantly peppery peat smoke, more tiny inflections of iodine and crystallised exotic fruits and tropical fruit teas. Comments: a very special whisky for me emotionally for many reasons, but one of those rare instances where I believe the technically quality of the whisky itself more than matches that emotional power. We've often lamented these being bottled at 43%, but I wonder if that hasn't actually been something of an asset here? The sheer elegance, effortlessness and class of this whisky is thrilling.
SGP: 665 - 94 points. 



Laphroaig 10 yo (90 US proof / 45%, OB, Julius Wile Sons & Co New Hyde Park NY, circa 1980)

Laphroaig 10 yo (90 US proof / 45%, OB, Julius Wile Sons & Co New Hyde Park NY, circa 1980)
It seems fitting that we have a USA bottling, now that Whiskyfun is legally allowed to drink in America. I wrote notes for this one already, but, you know, different batches etc… Yes, that seems like a good excuse… Colour: gold. Nose: ok, I was being slightly frivolous about batches in my above comment, but I do definitely recall the previous bottle I wrote notes for being much more sherried than this. Instead, this is pure old Laphroaig. Passion fruits and mangos laced with medicines, bandages, seawater, then pink grapefruit and tiny notes of dried seaweed and sandalwood. Poetically coastal, fresh and full of this very particular elegant and gentle peat smoke that drifts in and out between all the fruit and seashore aromas. Truly, a beautiful nose. Mouth: definitely a less sherried batch. Very much on lime, citron peels, grapefruit, passion fruit and exotic fruit teas with hints of fennel and natural tar. Also many coastal things and a general feeling of soft seawater and umami / salty qualities. A softly earthy and tarry flavour of peat that feels drier and more organic than the modern manifestation. Also wonderfully and complicatedly medicinal. Finish: long, outstandingly salty, precise, full of crystalline peat smoke, preserved tropical fruits and tiny notes of dried seaweed, mineral salts and impressions of hessian in the aftertaste. Comments: the impression I am always left with after trying these old Laphroaig 10s is that of the purity and power of the distillery character that shines through - you just could not be drinking any other whisky in existence. One of the all-time great flavour profiles in Scottish single malt whisky. Certainly a different take than the more sherried version I tasted before, but for me same score.
SGP: 764 - 94 points.



Ardbeg 19 yo 'First Witch' (51.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Macbeth', 1800 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 'First Witch' (51.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Macbeth', 1800 bottles, 2023)
Quite a thing for an indy bottler to be able to release a 19yo Ardbeg with an outturn of 1800 bottles!  PX sherry is mentioned in relation to this one, but not too sure if that's full term or a re-rack. Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: the sherry shows! We are on wonderfully sweet and syrupy tar extracts and resinous fir woods, also salted almonds, some slight leathery funkiness and peppery peat that feels nicely sweet. With water: gathers complexity now with more fir woods, fennel, aniseed and cola syrup. Also more tar and salted liquorice. Mouth: wonderfully on tars, coconut, herbal cough syrups, medicinal balms and medicinal tinctures. A sweet and syrupy peat that feels nicely textural and yet still pretty salty. More salted almonds and flavours reminiscent of bacon frazzle crisps and bacon jam. With water: you could almost believe this is 1970s Ardbeg with these magnificently fat and gloopy sweet peat flavours, dominated by sweet herbal cough syrups and old honey liqueur impressions. Some smoked herbal teas as well. Wonderful! Finish: long, camphor and tar ridden, peppery and sweet peat galore in the aftertaste. Comments: it's pricy, but this is a hugely impressive bottling and a great composition.
SGP: 567 - 91 points.



Ardbeg 17 yo 1973/1991 (55.4%, Dun Eideann, Donato Import, cask #3933, sherry, 450 bottles)

Ardbeg 17 yo 1973/1991 (55.4%, Dun Eideann, Donato Import, cask #3933, sherry, 450 bottles)
Always wanted to try this one! Colour: deep amber. Nose: immediately I get this stunning impression of sarsaparilla and root beet, this very rooty kind of medicinal profile that comes from a perfect fusion of old school, heavy Ardbeg peat and a brilliant sherry cask. A style which only a handful of whiskies in the world would seem to possess. You could also list such things as damp pipe tobaccos, dried out old herbal liqueurs, pure tar extracts and dried exotic fruits. Also the most brilliantly salty, gamey and earthy sherry fusing with all this beautiful peat. Enough! Madness! With water: becomes even drier, earthier, fatter and with a more peppery peaty perhaps. But this is still a total dominating and breathtaking peat and sherry bomb. Mouth: it's the singularity of this profile which is so striking. Pure old school sherry and peat fused at the hip in a way which is pretty hypnotic and captivating. Stunningly salty, immensely on umami, old leather, balsamic, pickled walnuts with touches of brine and anchovy paste. Also these very dried out dark and exotic fruits. With water: gets fruiter but also rootier and earthier once again, some root vegetables, some soot, lashings of tar, camphor and drops of pure iodine. Finish: extremely long, and devastatingly brilliant. Comments: I think we could add this one to the pantheon of sublime sherry and peat bombs of the past. Looks like Serge enjoyed this one a lot back in 2011, but I think it's perhaps worth even one more point…
SGP: 568 - 95 points.





July 28, 2023


Whiskyfun is 21

We are 21, Session 1

Let's have some Celebratory Clynelish 2010, 1993, 1990, 1983, 1965 and 1950



Indeed today, we are celebrating our 21st anniversary. Which means that this vintage website and its cavern-era technology that makes us the envy of both Silicon Valley and the whole world are now older than most whiskies and other spirits we taste. No good for those avid taxpayers at Google but at least the readers of Whiskyfun don't come here by chance and after all, over the past few months, we got mentioned for example in Time Magazine, Le Figaro, The Telegraph and countless large and smaller websites of superior quality.


All while we don't even write about cocktails (we stopped doing that around fifteen years ago, so we've never become real influencers, have we). And our figures remain high, with many million visits a year (I believe so, have to check our statistics, haven't done that for many, many months, perhaps one year). What's more, we also keep feeding our wee page in the very excellent Whisky Magazine & Fine Spirits and go on doing three or four destructured tutored tastings (a.k.a. masterclasses, ha) a year at the poshest whisky festivals.

That being said, a trend that seems important to me is that we are now receiving and therefore tasting more 90-point or more rums and cognacs or armagnacs than whiskies that would also fetch such high scores, though there are at least five times more whiskies reaching the door of Château Whiskyfun. In essence, there may well be more superstars these days within these malternative categories, which, moreover, are attracting more and more malt enthusiasts. It's true that the countless NAS (Non-Age Statement) whiskies spiked with PX, STR or new oak (or Laphroaig, tequila, zinfandel, mezcal, pineau, beer, kombucha… maybe not kombucha) not to mention the often jaw-dropping prices don't help much. In my opinion, no NAS should be worth more than 100 euros, the whiskies – and rums - being usually much younger than they would like us to believe. And no, the fact of doing triple-oak, quintuple-cask or funny stories won't change anything about that. Victorian rebranding also seems to me to need to be used with more caution. But after all, it's not really my business and at WF, we still love them all, whisky is all about people and sharing anyway (isn't it).

Good, as we have often done on the occasion of our anniversary celebrations, we shall now enjoy some carefully selected Clynelish, vertically... and try to aim high in terms of final vintages. Cheers!

Plenty to celebrate in Scotland! (photograph Marcel Van Gils)

Secret Highland Distillery 2010/2020 (51.9%, Liquid Art, bourbon, 174 bottles)

Secret Highland Distillery 2010/2020 (51.9%, Liquid Art, bourbon, 174 bottles) Five stars
This one had slipped through my fingers. Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah. I'll say it again, what a shame that the indies have to use 'secret names'. No good. This is a perfect young Clynelish for example, rather waxier than other 2010s at that, so all credit to Liquid Art (they deserve it anyway) and peanuts for the distillery. Perfect grapefruit, paraffin, lemongrass, papayas, limestone, sauvignon blanc, honeysuckle, plus a little beach sand. Honestly, If I were the distiller, I would be proud to see my name on this wee bottle. With water:  Barbour grease, new rubber bands, Scotch tape, new electronics, chalk, porridge, elderflowers… Mouth (neat): one of the best styles of tenners out there, together with Springbank and Ardbeg. Lovely rustic sourness, overripe apples, rhubarb, cactus juice (or agave), some saltiness, polishes… With water: Clynelish can take a lot of water, it'll never fall apart and this is just another example. Finish: long, perfect waxiness, lemons, wee rubbers, small berries, one whelk (I'm sorry, whelks) and.. well, Clynelish. Comments: always glad to see that they never lost the original recipe up there in Brora (but we had no doubts). Extraordinary ten-years-old, a shame that they only had one hundred-and-seventy-four bottles.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Candlekitty 12 yo 2010/2023 (57.1%, Whisky Sponge, Decadent Drinks, refill barrel)

Candlekitty 12 yo 2010/2023 (57.1%, Whisky Sponge, Decadent Drinks, refill barrel) Five stars
Did you notice the 100°proof? A very conceptual label on this one, but between us, you could put a portrait of Trump or Putin on any such Clynelish and still get away with it. Didn't Aristotle state that the liquid always transcends the design anyway? Colour: white wine. Nose: a tad less oak, a little less roundness, a notch more refillness (what?) Other than that, same whisky and no-one will ever complain. Certainly not me. With water: no elderflowers this time, rather chalky apples and sorb. Mouth (neat): fresh tart lemons, grapefruit skin, waxes, green gooseberries, yuzu, brine… Even olives. Olives are the Jimmy-Pages of any spirits (IMHO). With water: ah there, this firmness, this inscrutable brutality to which we surrender (S, better drop those old cigarettes that you just found in your son's drawer). Finish: long and amazing. Top-four distillate, as ever. Remember, HP, Clynelish, Ben Nevis, Springbank. But don't ask me to rate the distillers themselves, there are some real unpleasant individuals among them. I agree, what a surprise. Comments: marvellous Clynelish yet again, I could have gone even higher than…
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Secret Highland 10 yo 2010/2020 (52.4%. Boogieman for 10th anniversary Passion for Whisky, Holland, 128 bottles)

Secret Highland 10 yo 2010/2020 (52.4%. Boogieman for 10th anniversary Passion for Whisky, Holland, 128 bottles) Five stars
LOL. Quite a few funny bottlers have already been reusing this old official (then G&M) label. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's even tarter than the Candlekitty and remains shock-full of Clynelishness. Sublime fresh plaster, grist, porridge, paraffin, shoe polish and apple compote. With water: back to barley, mash and beer. Mouth (neat): wow. Top of malt-whiskydom. Incredible mezcalness, olive oil, green lemons… With water: astounding fresh tropical fruits, grapefruits, waxes and raw barley… Finish: just perfect till the end. Comments: astounding bottle, nearing the 91-line yet again. But it is 'secret', so it could as well be Glenmorangie or Wolfburn. Of course I'm joking…
SGP:662 - 90 points.

Please, that's enough 2010…

Highland Single Malt 27 yo 1993/2020 (54.4%, Thompson Bros., 20th Anniversary of Dornoch Whisky Bar, refill hogshead)

Highland Single Malt 27 yo 1993/2020 (54.4%, Thompson Bros., 20th Anniversary of Dornoch Whisky Bar, refill hogshead) Four stars and a half
Naturally, we have no proof that this would be Clynelish, as the kitten on the label could well be there only by chance. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we're close to the waxes, polishes, fresh breads, dandelions, rosehip tea, beeswax, also old metals, coins, copper… Didn't this one disintegrate a little bit? Let's check that. With water: no, it did not, it just went totally waxy, in a beehive-y kind of way. Something of an antique malt whisky. Mouth (neat): orange skins, peppery waxes, pizza oil, tarragon… Not your usual Clynelish for sure. With water: some saltiness, coming out, anchovies, sardines, old Sancerre, oysters… Could it be something else, after all? Hey why not some unpeated Caol Ila, a.k.a. Highland Caol Ila? I have to confess I am a little lost. Finish: medium, salty, very coastal, fully on waxy sardines, should that exist. Comments: humbling whisky that's playing it cat and mouse. I told you, it's about cats.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Clynelish 25 yo 1990/2015 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Cask Ends, barrel, cask #1008)

Clynelish 25 yo 1990/2015 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Cask Ends, barrel, cask #1008) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: fully on all kinds of oils, lamp oil, engine oil, sunflower oil, even frying oil, then beeswax, mangos, grapefruits, melon skins, beech ashes… Just between us, It's funny that Cadenhead would have bottled this, considering how it could have overshadowed Springbank. My own opinion, naturally. Mouth: no, wait, I'm getting it, it's rather kind of flawed, but we still love it. Sour citrus juice (whose bottle had been opened last week), passion fruit ice cream, whacky vegetable (oxidation?), gherkins, lime, English champagne (joking, love you all)… Finish: medium, with a lot of green peppercorns, plus lemons and old waxes. Comments: very moving, let's say It's like admiring a painting of the Virgin and Child slowly deteriorating in an ancient Tuscan church.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Highland Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (47.5%, Vintage Bottlers, Secret Series 1, sherry cask, 325 bottles)

Highland Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (47.5%, Vintage Bottlers, Secret Series 1, sherry cask, 325 bottles) Five stars
The honourable bottlers would give you the coordinates (58.0245° N, 3.8661° W), in case you'd be in for shrimp mayonnaise with a few lettuce leaves and a pint of lager at the Royal Marine Hotel… Colour: gold. Nose: mangos and passion fruits speaking out first, then stewed rhubarb, with meringue and custard on top. Pink grapefruits, perhaps kiwi. It is one of those pretty tropical Clynelishes, already making your mouth water… Mouth: fully in line with the nose, exotic, tart, citrusy, perhaps a little mono-dimensional but in a way, that's an asset as it would stress the purity of this juice. Moderate beeswax, no shoe polish, and something that would really remind us of Rosebank this time. Pretty sherbety. Finish: medium, more on passion fruit, mango and grapefruit, plus a little yuzu in the aftertaste. Comments: the sherry was not really noticeable. In the folding-chair, as we sometimes say. A superb, rather easier old Clynelish to have for dessert, perhaps.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Clynelish 20 yo 1983/2003 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #26.28)

Clynelish 20 yo 1983/2003 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #26.28) Five stars
From a bottle that I was having in my own cellar and that went then abroad, only to be caught by Angus who served it on the occasion of his wedding. Are you following me here? What I'll add is that in my book, Clynelish 1983 is very close, albeit pretty different, to Clynelish 1971-1974. Ma certo! Colour: light gold. Nose: pfff. Grand cru. Too young. Top of Whiskydom, dominant, extraordinarily pure, all on slate, chalk, paraffin, leek, asparagus, the whackiest guavas, woodruff… Holy Suzy, would you please call our friends at the AMPB? That's the Anti-Malt-o-Porn-Brigade, naturally. With water: some immaculately pure waxiness. Mouth (neat): wow-oh-wow-oh-wow. Citrusy peppers and waxes to the 10th power. With water: just grand. Citrus peel, waxes, light coastal saltiness, dried fruits. Finish: long, but please never drown these, use water very parsimoniously. Peppers in the aftertaste. Comments: the only other item that would be as spirit-driven as this would be a Molotov cocktail – or a north-Korean rocket.
SGP:652 - 93 points.

Clynelish 29 yo 1965/1994 (52.1%, Whyte & Whyte for the Spirits Library, USA, sherry cask, cask #667, 750ml)

Clynelish 29 yo 1965/1994 (52.1%, Whyte & Whyte for the Spirits Library, USA, sherry cask, cask #667, 750ml) Five stars
Right, 'Old' Clynelish, so Brora before it became Brora, the crème de la crème of malt whisky in my book, gathering waxes and mineral and organic smokes as if there was no tomorrow. Luckily there was to be a tomorrow, thanks to some drought on Islay and to the very wise board of the D.C.L. Let's add that 'Whyte & Whyte' used to be the American arm of Signatory Vintage and that we've already tried this cask under the latter brand name. But hey, you're never 100% sure the whiskies will be exactly the same, as crossing the Atlantic alone could well have changed a few aspects. You're right, probably not, but any excuse is a good excuse in whisky terms… What's sure is that this 'W&W' bottle is extremely rare. Colour: light gold. Nose: by Jove, I've never found this many kinds of waxes and polishes in any whisky. Incredible nose, I'm also reminded of some very old vintages of white Château Margaux (Pavillon Blanc). An old shoe-shine box, really, plus marrow and many ueber-tertiary aromas, either floral or mineral. The waxiness is incredible, we're also reminded of any great old Sauternes that went dry. With water: quince jelly, shoe polish, Conolly leather polish, Barbour grease, almond oil and pistachio butter. Between us, give pistachio butter to all Russian soldiers and the war in Ukraine is over. Mouth (neat): it literally flattens the taster, being massively waxy and metallic. Perhaps a tad difficult at this stage. With water: no, it just needed a few drops of water. Ground nuts of all kinds, plus marrow and leek soup. Finish: same. Comments: astounding whisky, but not the same as the last time I tried it (from a Signatory bottle, well I believe we've downed a few over the decades). Remember whisky does change/evolve/mature/improve/deteriorate in glass, even if often very, very slowly.
SGP:563 - 91 points.

Wait, don't we need a proper signature whisky?...

Ainslie's King's Legend 'Old Special' (no ABV, OB, UK, blend, dark brown glass, +/-1950)

Ainslie's King's Legend 'Old Special' (no ABV, OB, UK, blend, dark brown glass, +/-1950) Four stars and a half
Clynelish's main blend, together with the often whackier 'Royal Edinburgh'. There was also a spring-cap version, but this one bears a twist cap. It is 'Guaranteed Absolutely Pure'. Colour: golden. Nose: meaty soups and pineapple syrups, I would say, then quince jellies, liqueurs and syrups, tajines, pansies, gorse, copper… It's evolved for sure, all aromas having become, say a little fuzzy, but pleasure is intact. Mouth: oh wow. It is incredibly smoky – although that would be coal rather than peat -  also salty, fermentary, with 'old fruits', soups, chutneys, some kind of honey mead for sure (chouchen)… It is rather a malty soup. Astounding spices, turmeric, paprika, chocolate… Finish: rather long, saltier yet, soupy, with some cabbage and leek soup, eggplants, turnips… To be honest this is not the easiest part. Comments: glass was not stable back then, neither was it coated as it is today. I'm not sure I should have actually swallowed this old blend in fact, but as everyone knows, the whisky industry has always been a paragon of ethics and respect, so I did it with gratitude, a clear conscience and a light heart, for our Common Cause.
SGP:573 - 88 points.

(Hugs to my compadre Angus, The Auld Alliance crew, Hun, KC, Morten, Tim and Tom – you're forever young, guys.)

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


July 27, 2023


From France to Tasmania


At Distillerie des Menhirs, makers of Eddu (Radio France)


As usual we'll kick this off from France, where things are getting a bit boring as it's been at least three weeks since we've had any demonstrations, lootings, black blocs, or rampages. There are even tourists who are starting to complain...



Eddu 'Tourbé 2nd Edition' (43%, OB, France, 2023)

Eddu 'Tourbé 2nd Edition' (43%, OB, France, 2023) Three stars
Hold your horse, it's only been finished in some ex-peater cask, it's not a proper peated buckwheat whisky by Distillerie des Menhirs. But could you smoke buckwheat? I suppose the answer is yes… Colour: white wine. Nose: a feeling of smoked pears and peaches, with a little rubber and cumin. White currants, prickly pears, a little turmeric… It's nice, for sure. Perhaps on ice, with Breton oysters? Mouth: the peat is louder on the palate, there's even a curious feeling of… Ardbeg? Good saltiness, edible seaweed, wakame, nori, samphires (not seaweed, I know), more pears, more turmeric, gin… I seems that peat and buckwheat do kind of like each other. It was smart to bring this down to 43% vol. Finish: medium, well balanced, with a little honey and golden raisins. Light peat and gin and tonic  in the aftertaste. Comments: it's good, I'm sure it would be a star on ice. Will try that tonight!
SGP:553 - 82 points.

Since we're in Bretagne, a proper peater please…

Kornog 5 yo (58.5%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, oloroso finish, 274 bottles, 2023)

Kornog 5 yo (58.5%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, oloroso finish, 274 bottles, 2023) Four stars
Bourbon, then oloroso. Remember Kornog is a proper peater, it's not some peaty in-cask blend. Colour: straw. Nose: a hint of burnt butter at first, then bicycle inner tube, mirabelle eau-de-vie, drops of bitters, nocino, amaro, flint… The 58.5% don't even really feel. Class young Kornog. With water:  porridge with inside, a nip of.. young Kornog. Garden centre (where they store the clothing, watering cans, rubber boots, garden hose…) No peat monster. Mouth (neat): very punchy, very citric, pretty rubbery. A very distinctive style, you would almost call it a retsina of malt whisky. Quite. With water: more peat, limoncello, two cream eggs, salty fudge… Finish: rather long, still with these rubbery notes that I really enjoy. Otherwise salted lemons and just peat and pepper. Comments: rubber's absolutely not a flaw in this case. Rather loved this. Moderate olorosoness.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

To Alsace and then to Germany…

Distillerie de Strasbourg 'Esprit de Malt' (45.1%, OB, France, 2022)

Distillerie de Strasbourg 'Esprit de Malt' (45.1%, OB, France, 2022) Three stars
A brand new distillery in one of the capitals of Europe, with a spirit that's only 10 months old, but I've already heard good things. It is organic while they're sourcing the wash from a local brewery called Bendorf, which, says my son Arthur who's much more a beer guy than yours truly, is producing good beer. Colour: white wine. Nose: good, it is not just distilled beer, which can be too light and too fruity. Believe me, I've tried to make some myself several times. Nice vanilla, kougelhopf (of course), soft doughs, mirabelles, acacia beignets… Mouth: all good, really, with more vanilla, preserved peaches and plums (tinned greengages), breads, minimal oakiness (just a little sawdust) and some apricots. Finish: medium, similar, again a little sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm getting mirabelles while I love mirabelles. I'm sure it'll 'digest' the sawdust over the years. Glad to have a future malt whisky from Strasbourg, hoppla!
SGP:541 - 80 points.

Brigantia 2016/2022 'Schwaben Whisky' (45%, OB, Germany)

Brigantia 2016/2022 'Schwaben Whisky' (45%, OB, Germany) Three stars and a half
From Steinhauser on the Bodensee/Lake Constance. Apparently, this was aged on a boat that sails on Lake Constance. The weather can be quite rough, I've already been caught in a massive storm while on the lake, it was pretty intense. Brigantia is housed in a Cardhu-style bottle. Colour: white wine. Nose: like! Muesli and overripe apples, amaretti, a little sour cream, porridge… Mouth: good stuff, with some chocolaty oakiness, good malt, roasted chestnuts, Nutella (with apologies to the honourable distillers)… High quaffability ratio. Finish: medium, with some tea tannins, more chocolate, some malty beer. Comments: its good, I enjoy this chocolaty side, it must have come from the wood they've used.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

To England…

The English Vintage 2010/2022 'Heavily Smoked' (46%, OB, England, Small Batch)

The English Vintage 2010/2022 'Heavily Smoked' (46%, OB, England, Small Batch) Three stars
From St. George. Hold on, what's the difference between 'peated' and 'smoked' on these bottles? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: light smoke, nice crispiness, oysters, lemons, smoke indeed, a little rubber, some sourdough. Mouth: very good, just a little ashy and drying at first. Feels finished in peater wood, but then again, that often works. Not too sure. Nice pink grapefruits. Finish: rather long, rather drying, but good. Ashes in the aftertaste. Comments: feels smoked as ham, bacon, sausages, fish or even paprika or oysters can be smoked. As I may have said before, after all, chefs do smoke just anything as well these days.
SGP:444 - 82 points.

In a way, the latter reminded me of the one that started it all, Glenfiddich 'Caoran', remember that one?

The Lakes 'The One - Sherry Cask' (46.6%, OB, England, blend, +/-2022)

The Lakes 'The One - Sherry Cask' (46.6%, OB, England, blend, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
We're in Cumbria. It's just a blend and it's only finished in sherry, but you just never know… Colour: amber. Nose: chocolate, roasted chestnuts, chicory coffee, hazelnut cream, walnut cake, pecan pie, brownies, brandy de Jerez… I suppose you got it at this point. Mouth: exactly the same. Let me copy-and-paste for you, chocolate, roasted chestnuts, chicory coffee, hazelnut cream, walnut cake, pecan pie, brownies, brandy de Jerez… Finish: medium, this time with a little polish and walnut skins. Sour sherry, amontillado… Comments: whichever the recipe they've used, that worked. But since it's a blend, may I ask what they've blended? No quibbles though.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Good, let's spend our last Air France Miles…

Hellyer's Road 18 yo 2004/2022 (58.4%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, Australia, cask #4022.03)

Hellyer's Road 18 yo 2004/2022 (58.4%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, Australia, cask #4022.03) Four stars and a half
Tasmania's Hellyer's Road is always incredible. Now, for how much longer can we continue to import bottles of whisky from the other side of the world? What does Greta say? Colour: gold. Nose: curry, ginger, vanilla, turmeric, kumquats, hay. With water: lovely chalk, sourdough and grist. We stay close to the raw ingredients, that's fine. Mouth (neat): greater than on the nose, absolutely smashing in fact. Gingery smoke, salty sauvignon blanc, ginseng, shoe polish, bamboo shoots, grapefruit… With water: careful, water can flatten it. Possibly not the best swimmer ever, but after all, the straight-line distance between Tasmania and France is over seventeen thousand kilometres. So, by swimming… Finish: long. Citrons, ginseng, turmeric, grapefruit. Comments: it's a little tough when whiskies above 55% do not take water with grace and confidence, but this is obviously another perfect Hellyer's Road.
SGP:563 - 88 points.

(On hold, there may have been some mismatch with the references)

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


July 26, 2023



Summer Duets
Today Glengoyne
OB vs. IB

Glengoyne engaging in guerrilla marketing at the Islay Festival in 2004. Right behind, their yacht "Taora" where quite a few non peated drams were consumed. (WF Archive)

Glengoyne's main selling point used to be that it was the least peated or smoky malt whisky in Scotland. Well, kind of. The consequences, I would suppose, is that they had to be extra-careful with the refill wood they were using. Anyway, we've had many totally brilliant Glengoynes in the past and we deeply hope we'll find more, even if these two should not be total high-rollers…



Glengoyne 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glengoyne 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars
They've had an okayish 15 'distiller's gold' five years ago (WF 80), while we've last tried the regular 15 ten years ago, which had been much, much more to our liking (WF 87). Colour: straw. Nose: beeswax and ripe apples in abundance, candles, mirabelles, croissants, grist, semolina, maize bread, plus hazelnuts and breakfast tea. English tea, naturally. Mouth: excellently malty and orangey, with kougelhopf and panettone, raisin rolls, almonds, finger biscuits, Jaffa cakes, cassata and amaretti… Well this is truly first-rate. Finish: pretty long, perfect, on pastry and raisins. Drop of Cointreau in the aftertaste. Comments: I'll keep my high score. Plus, I think it's a fab beginner's malt for friends, relatives and neighbours, together with some of the official Glenrothes (or some BBRs, G&Ms…) No problems whatsoever with the low strength, it takes it well.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Please an indie of more or less the same age…

Glengoyne 14 yo 2008/2022 (55.1%, Hunter Laing, First Editions, refill barrel, cask #HL9265, 223 bottles)

Glengoyne 14 yo 2008/2022 (55.1%, Hunter Laing, First Editions, refill barrel, cask #HL9265, 223 bottles) Four stars and a half
I believe this one was done for our awesome friends in lovely Switzerland. It's as clear as… say glacier water. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: same traits, just more power, a tad less cake, and a notch more fresh fruits and IPA. With water: it's a very waxy distillate, do they also have gunge growing in the receivers? Sunflower oil, a little white chocolate, roasted maize, apple juice, fresh almonds and hazelnuts… Mouth (neat): it's really a clean distillate, this time more on citrus and Jell-O. With water: no, cakes are back, together with sultanas, citrons, quinces, hay, barley and cane syrups… Finish: long, perfect, citrusy, appropriately fat and waxy, with some welcome grassiness in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect distillate, at the core and the bone of unvarnished maltiness. It will not surprise you that we are big fans of this style.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

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


July 25, 2023


Four Top-Notch Unrevealed Islays

Islay's Port Askaig Hotel and a part of the harbour on a glorious day (photo Port Askaig Hotel)

Port Askaig

Quite a while back, a good friend who's part of the whisky industry told me that after all, we can indeed mix (they say 'blend') whiskies without displaying either their composition or their age or vintage, because after all, that's what the prestigious champagne houses do, whose products are nonetheless blends. True, but we mustn't forget that a single varietal is more appreciated in Champagne, or at least a Blanc de Blancs or Blanc de Noirs, even more so a vintage (millésimé), and even more when it is a Premier or Grand Cru with its name displayed. I believe champagne, like cognac for that matter, is therefore the perfect counterexample. But let's pop corks and proceed in good faith...



Big Peat 'The Smokehouse Edition' (48%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, Feis Ile 2023)

Big Peat 'The Smokehouse Edition' (48%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, Feis Ile 2023) Four stars
This one was 'finished predominantly in red wine casks'. Which reminds me of some Port Ellen Pomerol finish of old, or of some Laphroaig Portwood. Or of some Hawaiian pizza… But then again, there is no doubt that our Scottish friends have greatly improved their methods since that famous Port Ellen Pomerol, which they perhaps made at the time just for the joys of a little alliteration (it wasn't DL). Colour: gold, not red. Nose: very peaty and coastal, not full of peonies and raspberry jam. And pretty earthy and camphory, not ridden with cassis buds and geranium. In short, good integration, no dissonances and with respect for the Islayness. I think we're relieved. Mouth: there's more wineyness on the palate, goji, raspberries, salted strawberries, candied cherries, plus bay leaves, Timut pepper, blood oranges, and always a 'big peat' on top of it. Once again no real dissonances in fact. Quite curiously, it works… Finish: long, with more pepper, more goji berries, some leaves (tomato) and some lapsang souchong. Comments: it remains a variation in my book – and there shouldn't be any Port Ellen indeed. I believe it is as good as it could be, given the recipe. So, which red wine? Terroir? Varietals? Vintage? Type and origin of the oak? Barrique? Pièce? Foudre? Egg?...
SGP:756 - 85 points.

Peat Bog 'Sherry Cask' (55.8%, The Whisky Cask, 2020)

Peat Bog 'Sherry Cask' (55.8%, The Whisky Cask, 2020) Five stars
This is a single malt – but does that actually matter when you do not know which one (discuss at will…) I remember we had tried one that had been difficult, but that was almost ten years ago. The Whisky Cask is an excellent German house, I'm sad I had to miss Limburg this year. Colour: full gold. Nose: awesomely tight, on walnuts from the sherry and salty, peated lemons from the make. Some stunning umami in the background, plus mint sauce. Exceptional nose. With water: heeeeeey! But this is wonderful indeed! Wee touches of patchouli, marijuana, borage, tiger balm… Mouth (neat): quite superb again. Gritty, tannic walnuts, grapefruit juice, seawater, juniper… I think it's uncommon to find this much citrus in a sherried peater, even in Caol Ila. Love it. Also coffee and chocolate, in moderate amounts this time. With water: still love it. It became a tad more rustic, grassy… But all in all it remains brilliant, full, wonderfully compact. Finish: long, with salted marmalades, lime juice, grapefruit… Comments: imagine, this is just some humble undisclosed NAS… Very grand little whisky (?), they should tell us more about it. Ausgezeichnet. Ell earned score, no typo.  
SGP:566 - 90 points.

Port Askaig 2010-2012/2023 'Nouvelle Vague' (56.8%, Elixir Distillers, 2023)

Port Askaig 2010-2012/2023 'Nouvelle Vague' (56.8%, Elixir Distillers, 2023) Four stars
A single malt, as always, from three hogsheads plus a new oak cask. Love the multi-vintage trend (Sponge, Rhum J.M., now Elixir…) now as for the name, it's got nothing to do with the band 'Nouvelle Vague', it's rather about French cinema, Truffaut, Godard (who was Swiss), Chabrol, Resnais… Colour: white wine. Nose: the expected 'sweet peat', ashes and rubbers, crabs and clams, seawater and kelp, apple peel, a little menthol… With water: with rubber bands and pencil erasers, we're back at school. Mouth (neat): fatter than usual, creamier, coating, with cream eggs and sunflower oil, drops of Jaeger, some kind of allspice liqueur, some chilli… With water: some cocoa powder on the tip of your tongue, probably from the new oak. A tad boosted but that goes well with this distillate, which I always find heavier than people think. A lighter Islay, yeah right. Finish: long, with wood oils, ointments, grapefruit skin, strong green tea… Comments: I'm more a refill kind of guy (oh come on, you know what I'm trying to say), but indeed this one works like a charm, even if ¼ new oak might be a kind of limit, as we've seen elsewhere with some disastrous 'all-new-oak' bottlings. No, no name.
SGP:576 - 86 points.

Good, an old one as #4, what do you say?

Secret Islay 31 yo 1990/2022 (51.6%, Archives, refill hogshead, cask # 4404338, 249 bottles)

Secret Islay 31 yo 1990/2022 (51.6%, Archives, refill hogshead, cask # 4404338, 249 bottles) Five stars
A Pelargopisis Gouldi on the label! Why not a Williamsonis Bessi next time? Colour: straw. Nose: these are just great. Pristine lime juice and seawater, a little olive oil, timid mangos, fennel, dill, kippers, camphor, limoncello, a tiny wet dog (a chihuahua – we're sorry, chihuahuas)… It's not huge, but it is rather complex. With water: chalky mud, crushed slate, raw wool, green tea (Gunpowder-style), eucalyptus, myrtle liqueur… It is all wonderful. Mouth (neat): even better, more assertive than on the nose, with some high-impact lemony menthol and camphor, nettle, dandelion, mezcal, olives, chalk, peat smoke of course, kippers, peppered winkles… With water: it is so good, it is so good… Love these small nuts, pine nuts, sesame, and all this perfect salty citrus. On sushi! Finish: rather long and totally perfect. Acrid, gritty, green aftertaste but I like this a lot. Green tannins, artichoke, rubber… Comments: a wee tad old-Hakushu-y at times, should that ring a bell. Hold on, don't both Hakushu and Laphroaig belong to Suntory anyway? In any case, we've tried a few and I think this one retained a larger part of its fresh peatiness. Not talking about Hakushu here… Very grand.
SGP:667 - 92 points.

The Peat Bog was incredible, the Archives too but that was to expected. Pelargopisis Gouldi, you say…

(Thank you, Tim!)


July 24, 2023



Summer Duets
Today independent Glenlivet

Let's see what we have… (many, actually)… eenie…



Glenlivet 12 yo 2004/2016 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #2.104, Declaration of the heart, refill bourbon barrel, 216 bottles)

Glenlivet 12 yo 2004/2016 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #2.104, Declaration of the heart, refill bourbon barrel, 216 bottles) Three stars
This one might be a little anecdotal… …. …. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: fully on a box of sugar cubes, cane syrup, tutti-frutti eau-de-vie, barley syrup… I'm not sure this one's ready for Netflix, but water might pull more action, let's see… With water: mud, porridge and grist, plus sugars. Mouth (neat): raw grass and eau-de-vie, plums, grass, plums, grass… tough boy for sure. Did they make it with their wee 'moonshiner' still? Declaration of the heart? Well, there is not a single ounce of empathy in this one, we are down to the bone. With water: same. Grass, apple juice, aspartame. Finish: medium, on the same notes. Comments: what we enjoy in this one is its plain, rustic, naked, modest honesty, and the fact that no one ever decided to finish it in any silly wine casks, which is probably what the other 99% of the profession would have done.
SGP:441 - 82 points.

Speyside 29 yo 1992/2022 (44.8%, Vintage Bottlers, Secret Series 2, 266 bottles)

Speyside 29 yo 1992/2022 (44.8%, Vintage Bottlers, Secret Series 2, 266 bottles) Five stars
A little sparrow told us that this would be Glenlivet. Colour: straw. Nose: this will be very quick. Walking throughout a western orchard, nosing apples, plums, gooseberries and rhubarb. Add droplets of pink grapefruit juice and fresh-squeezed oranges. Simple, utter, plain perfection all around. Mouth: in the style of 1972. Ripe apples and plums, mead, acacia honey, mirabelles, drop of agave syrup. Finish: medium, clean, fruity, with a little maracuja and vanilla this time. Comments: should you have paid for this tasting note, I believe I'd have had to reimburse you. Stunning fresh old Glenlivet, but where are the others?

SGP:641 - 91 points.

(Merci, Lucero)

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


July 23, 2023


Just more rum!

… While I'm noticing that many rum makers are doing more and more seasoning a.k.a. aromatization a.k.a. finishing using just any casks they can put their hands on these days, just like whisky makers have been doing for around twenty years now (and Glenmo, then Balvenie and the Classic Malts even earlier). What's funny is that these types of casks come in waves, it's almost working like the fashion industry.

Engenho Novo Distillery
Engenho Novo Distillery (William Hinton)

So peated Islay, ruby/tawny Port and Pineau des Charentes seem to be particularly trendy this year, all over the world, they're almost the equivalent to semi-transparent knitted sweaters or fringed mini-dresses. All while they all also keep the usual rum in whisky, whisky in rum, rum in cognac, whisky in cognac and so on… Or even cognac in bourbon! Oh and in mizunara! Naturally, my favourites remain rum in rum, whisky in whisky and cognac in cognac. And when distillers rather talk about fields, varietals, yeasts, fermentations, stills, cuts… Or even about their moussrs! But let's kick this off with one of those lovely and unusual agricoles from the Portuguese island of Madeira (think Christiano Ronaldo).



William Hinton 6 yo (40%, OB, Madeira, agricole, +/-2023)

William Hinton 6 yo (40%, OB, Madeira, agricole, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
This from the Engenho Novo Distillery while Indeed, some Madeiran rums do benefit from a protected appellation 'agricole', just like Martinique – and unlike many 'fake' agricoles that are currently made in several countries around the world. Only the 40% vol. sound a little stingy here… Colour: copper. Some wine wood, probably. Nose: this feeling of smoked gooseberries, roasted chestnuts, absinth, mead, toasted oak, then rather cinnamon rolls and a little caraway. It's very idiosyncratic, as they say. Mouth: good fun, between cachaça, smoked pastis (no, really) and indeed, toasted oak. Clove, caraway and lapsang souchong, then a little mustard sauce and walnut wine. Finish: medium, with a little oak extract, black tea, a little aniseed again, clove, mustard… We're reminded of some very dry Madeira wines. And sauce Madère, as we say. Comments: surprisingly excellent at only 40% vol. Love sweet mustard. We had tried a 3 yo a few months ago that we didn't like this much, and that's an understatement.

SGP:562 - 84 points.

White Peak 'Cask Aged Rum Batch 02/23' (45%, OB, England, Wire Works, American Oak, 2022)

White Peak 'Cask Aged Rum Batch 02/23' (45%, OB, England, Wire Works, American Oak, 2022) Two stars and a half
We've already tried some malt whisky from Derbyshire's Wire Works/White Peak Distillery and had thought it was excellent (WF 87). Now they also make rum, deemed as 'agricole-style', which I think is the proper way of labelling this kind of rum, even if it's a little hard to fathom how they would get some fresh sugarcane or cane juice to Derbyshire. Deep-frozen? Fermentation is very long, 14 days, which is perfect. Colour: golden straw. Nose: it's a different style of rum, it is not Neisson or Bielle, I'm rather finding a lot of bread spices, gingerbread, wisteria and jasmine, perhaps a little rye, cinnamon cookies, Christmas spices… All that would suggest that some pretty active oak has been in use. Mouth: indeed, it's spicy, if not spiced, with some rather heavy oak impact indeed. Gingerbread filled with caramel and fudge, toffee, ginger candies, cinnamon mints… Well rather funnily, I find it closer to the Madeiran agricoles than to the French ones. It feels very young. Finish: very long, with more ginger, cinnamon, some coffee and some toffee. Oak tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: it's certainly very fine but I think I prefer their excellent whiskies.
SGP:361 - 79 points.

Maja 12 yo 'Anejo Autentico' (40%, OB, El Salvador, +/-2022)

Maja 12 yo 'Anejo Autentico' (40%, OB, El Salvador, +/-2022)
It's rather telling that they would need to state that those twelve years are 'authentic', unless they just mean that it's a proper 'anejo'? My Spanish is too lousy… We had tried the 8 yo a while back and it had been a little meagre (WF 69). El Salvador's Cihuatàn rums are in a whole different league in my humble opinion. Colour: orange gold. Orange hues always suggest heavy caramelisation in my book. Nose: easy, typical Spanish-style rum, as most countries in south and central Americas are making. Light, molassy, not unpleasant, with some caramel indeed, a few yellow flowers, some corn syrup, pancake sauce, then more and more proper maple syrup. I like this because of that, it awakens our inner child. Mouth: oh no, it's very light, sugary and cloying when not brought down to a maximum of 6 degrees Celsius. Very tough at 20°C. Finish: medium, sweet and sour. Nescafé with a lot of white sugar. Comments: they must be working for the ice machine lobby.
SGP:820 - 49 points.

Trinidad 5 yo (46%, Rum Nation, +/-2022)

Trinidad 5 yo (46%, Rum Nation, +/-2022) Three stars
This from the rum arm of our friends at Wilson & Morgan, I suppose it's stemming from T.D.L. Colour: proper gold. Nose: quite light too but much more elegant, with dandelions, buttercups, honeysuckle, tiny whiffs of walnuts, sesame oil and marmalade, plus a small mineral side, perhaps slates? Also overripe apples and tarte tatin. We have a classy wee nose here. Mouth: a little bit sweet, towards pineapple liqueur, so it does feel mildly 'arrangé', perhaps – which it is not, obviously – the whole remaining pleasant, really. Touches of coconut too, this is almost a full-strength pina-colada. One of the best pina-coladas if you ask me. Finish: medium, a little sweet, but clear and fresh. Maple syrup, pineapple liqueur, coconut water. Comments: they managed to keep it clean and kind of pure. Rather in the style of some rums by Plantation, but less sweet. The price is very fair.
SGP:730 - 80 points.

Speaking of T.D.L….

TDL 20 yo 2003/2023 (62.3%, The Whisky Jury, Trinidad, cask #13, 257 bottles)

TDL 20 yo 2003/2023 (62.3%, The Whisky Jury, Trinidad, cask #13, 257 bottles) Five stars
Remember TDL stands for Trinidad Distillers Limited, who are the makers of Angostura in Port of Spain. Colour: gold. Nose: fully on mango liqueur, mango syrup, preserved mangos, fresh mangos and mango jam. You may add a few slices of ripe bananas, papayas and pineapple. This is spectacularly fruity while that's probably an understatement. With water: forgot to mention mango ice cream. These pink bananas too are spectacular, and so are the ripe guavas that are adding touches of wackiness. What a fruit monster! Mouth (neat): bombastically fruity. Sure it's a little strong but it does remind me of some early-1970s Benriachs, for reasons hard to explain. With water: a little more on peel, skins, barks, pips and stones, but it swims extremely well. Touches of fresh mint and liquorice, which often pop out of very fruity spirits in my experience. Finish: long, incredibly fresh and fruity. And mango-y. Comments: when AI will have taken over, this is the kind of 'fruity rum' it'll produce for us. Hopefully. It is extremely spectacular, while I'm sure no 'additives' have ever been added and so no corners ever cut. Madness.
SGP:851 - 91 points.

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2021 (55.3%, The Duchess, Guyana, cognac cask, cask #14)

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2021 (55.3%, The Duchess, Guyana, cognac cask, cask #14) Five stars
Not a session without a Demerara! This one from the Port Mourant still, matured for two years in the tropics, then in Europe. The cognac cask was one of Hine's. Colour: gold. Nose: goodness gracious, this is perfect diesel oil blended with engine grease, anchovy brine, clay, Dutch liquorice (no wonder here), green bananas and black tapenade. With water: pure cane juice coming out, wet ashes, something basaltic, vinyl… And the smell of an old lamp amp on eleven. Quite. Mouth (neat): it's very tart, almost brutal, pungent, blade-y, full of salted liquorice and concentrated lime juice. Some ashes. With water: more salt, more brine, seawater, more anchovies, olives, sardines, cod brandade… Finish: long, on lemon and salt, plus olives and liquorice, and a little sweetness in the aftertaste. Mangos again? Comments: I'm not sure I got the cognac, but I sure got the greatness.
SGP:563 - 91 points.

Let's end this journey in Jamaica, as we almost always do.

New Yarmouth 27 yo 1994/2022 (67.1%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Woodes Rogers)

New Yarmouth 27 yo 1994/2022 (67.1%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Woodes Rogers) Four stars and a half
Well, I had though the golden age of piracy was right today… They should also do a series listing tax shelters, cryptos and data farmers and brokers! And perhaps a few distillers too, ha… Colour: copper gold. Nose: perhaps a little strong, but there is a feeling of smoked bananas and mangos (once more), plus charcoal and pinewood smoke… But we shan't push our luck. With water: there, fresh paint, almond oil, fish paste, olives… Mouth (neat): oranges and mangos kept in coal tar for a very long time, or something like that. Pretty brutal. With water: sweeter. Candied pineapples, bonbons… Finish: long, more on oranges and orange cordials, triple sec… Comments: absolutely one of the better New Yarmouth in my book, even it's got very little skunky funkiness, which would make it a tad un-Jamaican in my book. But remember they don't like it when we use words such as funk and skunk or whatever.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

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


July 22, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland

Three Scapa

Always a pleasure to try Scapa. Overall, I find that it is a tad more elusive than its louder neighbour, with some batches showing big Orcadian heft, while others take a gentler, more 'heather honey' path. Which in fact is arguably just as 'Orcadian', in the grand scheme of things I suppose.


Scapa 19 yo 2003/2022 (56.7%, OB, exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill barrels)

Scapa 19 yo 2003/2022 (56.7%, OB, exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill barrels)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: resinous woods, dried exotic fruit chunks such as papaya and pineapple, then more clear notes of heather flower and crystallised honey. There's also an underlying medicinal quality that gives the impression of wormwood and tiger balm. With water: becomes fresher and greenery, with crushed nettles, rubbed lime skin, green apple and gooseberry. It also feels more coastal now too. Mouth: rather creamy with the first fill American oak being quite obvious without being excessive, so lots of coconut milk, gorse flower, crushed nettles, eucalyptus and various subtle herbal sweetnesses and mead. With water: a little more mentholic and herbal, with impressions of mint tea and chamomile. Also dried yellow flowers, wintergreen, lovage and a wee earthy turmeric note. Finish: medium in length, on pithy citrus rinds, sandalwood, chamomile tea sweetened with honey and some green pepper. Comments: there are clearly some benefits to being bought over by Pernod Ricard, I would count this bottling as one of them. Do they have some humble refill hoggies full of the same distillate though?
SGP: 651 - 88 points.



Scapa 1980/1995 (55.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #17.15)

Scapa 1980/1995 (55.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #17.15)
Picture of the previous bottling of the same batch. Colour: straw. Nose: there's that Scapa heather honey and freshness straight away and in abundance. Sea air, sandalwood, linens, beach driftwood, honeycomb, heather ales and even some nice hints of sourdough starter and other assorted beers. Rich and characterful but without anything too assertive or dominant - a touch balancing act to pull off. With water: cereals, chalk, linens, citrons and lighter notes of waxes and tiger balm. Mouth: nice sharpness of citrus rinds and fruit teas, followed by salted honeys, wood resins, nectars, pollens and more mineral impressions of clay, soot and some very light medicinal touches. With water: gets more textural and rather emphatically oilier and fatter in the mouth. Pretty superb now with water, some juicy minerality (what!) and more of these softer medicinal tones. Finish: medium, peppery, lightly minty, some bandages and citrus teas. Comments: I am 100% charmed by this humble wee Scapa. Character and power, but without leaning on any one key component to delivery that profile. Watch these old Scapas, they are very clever and fascinating wee whiskies.

SGP: 462 - 89 points.



Scapa 17 yo 1970/1987 (56.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade)

Scapa 17 yo 1970/1987 (56.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: power without peat, is how I often feel about older Scapas, and this is no exception. A lot of mechanical oils, grass, stuck flints, soft hints of seawater and also some crystallised honey notes - which also feel very typically Scapa. A rather detailed and tautly structured nose that speaks to a pretty chunky and complicated style of distillate. With water: eucalyptus, wormwood, old style ales and also roots, stocks, embrocations and things like ink and oily toolboxes. Hugely charismatic, but also in some ways rather evasive and hard to pin down. I love it - needless to say. Mouth: heather honey, waxes, medicines, soft coastal touches and also this nicely leathery, mouth-coating texture. Fat, full-bodied, old style malt whisky, of a very Orcadian in my view. I love these rather elegant mineral and mechanical intrusions that start to emerge with time. Also some notes of citrus teas and bandages. With water: more accessible now, also broader and fatter! A big, oily, mouth-filling dram that's dominated by dried out heather honey, medical ointments, dried herbs, roots and gentle coastal impressions. Finish: long, slightly mentholated, ever so slightly tarry and peppery, more ink, soot, wormwood and camphor. Comments: these old Scapas really are beasts that require time to tame. The epitome of characterful but also quite challenging and difficult old style whiskies. Not for the faint of heart, but it's a style I'm an utter sucker for. The kind of bottling that you could easily spend 3-5 years trying to dissect via micro-dramming and endless tinkering with a pipette.
SGP: 462 - 91 points.




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


July 21, 2023


summerSummer Duets
Today Glen Grant
old and very old

Angus is Mr Glen Grant at WF, I believe he's tasted more of them than anyone at the Distillery. Right, perhaps not as many as the very engaging Dennis Malcolm, their irreplaceable master blender extraordinaire. I for one will be content with these two…

Young men at The Whisky Show London 2022



Glen Grant 24 yo 1998/2022 (56.1%, The Whisky Blues, for The Antelope Macau, Exclusive Bottlings Series, hogshead, cask #6439, 239 bottles)

Glen Grant 24 yo 1998/2022 (56.1%, The Whisky Blues, for The Antelope Macau, Exclusive Bottlings Series, hogshead, cask #6439, 239 bottles) Four stars and a half
I have to say we haven't tried many whiskies for Macau this far. And to be honest, we've never been to Macau (booo!) Colour: light gold. Nose: Glen Grant became a fairly thinner whisky over the years (even if they've been using purifiers for decades), but this one's displaying a rather wonderful chalkiness, plus some green and yellow fruits, especially green pears. Greengages and mirabelles are there too. Quince and woodruff syrups as well. With water: perhaps notes of gueuze on top of all that? Mouth (neat): extremely good, partly citrusy, with many orchard fruits, plums and apples… It's just a tad strong to express its full potential, or so it seems. With water: n'import' nawak, as we say in French (which, basically, means B.S. in a more urban style). Water won't change much, it would just make more vanilla stand out, while we believe vanilla is perfect as long as you don't feel it. It's like salt or sugar, you know. Better keep this Glen Grant neat or add only a drop of H2O. Finish: long, clean, grassy, peely, fruity. Lime and lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: it's absolutely excellent, but you cannot quite push it.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

A much older one please…

Glen Grant 63 yo 1959/2023 'Mr George Legacy Third Edition' (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3665, 368 bottles)

Glen Grant 63 yo 1959/2023 'Mr George Legacy Third Edition' (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3665, 368 bottles) Five stars
Charlie MacLean, who's ten times smarter and twenty times more skilled than 'that diminutive and all-too-modest Sun God of whisky writing' (whoops!) and, goes without saying, than us, wrote in the accompanying brochure that 'George Urquhart was the father, the originator of the current success and appreciation of Scotch Malt Whiskies.' At WF and by rule, we always believe and trust Charlie. Colour: luminous gold (yep). Nose: G&M have had many deep-sherried Glen Grants, most extremely dark and thick, so this is an exception as what we're rather getting is pine resin, embrocations, thyme essence, sauna oils, thuja wood, balsa, lemongrass, wormwood… With water: pinewood smoke, beach bonfire, Barbour grease, castor oil, ski wax… And old Meursault. Right, perhaps not 63 years old Meursault… unless, wait, wouldn't that be a 1959 then? Vintage of the Century as everyone knows, but let's move on… Mouth (neat): exceptionally mentholated, piney, thymey indeed, oily, with some old varnishes, linoleum, concentrated lemon juice, melissa extracts… With water: glorious. Not a matter of respect and deference at all, it's just utterly brilliant whisky indeed. Superb waxiness, which is very 'older Glen Grant' indeed. Finish: long, coating, oily, piney, perfect. Comments: you have to remember that G&M have always been filling their own casks. I remember we had visited the bodega in Jerez that used to supply them. The name escapes me but I remember G&M were the only bottlers who were still requesting 'the bunghole on the side' and not the much industrialised 'bung on the top' that fits palletised warehouses but wrecks oak-and-air contact ratios just for the sake of profitability. Great old whisky (and indeed it's still older than yours truly).
SGP:571 - 93 points.

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


July 20, 2023


Vatted peaters from the Scotchlands

It's a growing category. When we started this online madness it was all about being 'malt' maniacs, almost a counter-culture WRT the extremely dominant blended Scotch category. And twenty or thirty years later, here we are, tasting more and more… blends. What a glorious, joyful, sometimes hopeless mess indeed… Speaking of mess…

St Margaret of Scotland, stained glass, Aldeburgh church, Suffolk

St Margaret



Zaubertrank 'Batch 2' (46%, Signatory Vintage and The Whisky Druid, blended malt scotch, 2022)

Zaubertrank 'Batch 2' (46%, Signatory Vintage and The Whisky Druid, blended malt scotch, 2022) Four stars
I thought last year's batch #1 was excellent and very smoky (P = 6).  Colour: golden straw. Nose: I don't have batch #1 at hand anymore but my feeling is that this one is rather cleaner, more on lemons, oysters and seawater, with a little granny smith and a very clean peat smoke, some charcoal ashes, going towards almond milk in some way. In other words, I find it a little Caol-Ila-y. Mouth: not that similar, there might well be some peaters from the continent in there. I mean, from Scotland's mainland. A little leafier, spicier, with also more stewed fruits. Smoked bacon and Texan chili sauce. Finish: rather long, sweet yet spicy. Some kind of transcontinental barbecue sauce, no? Comments: very good, I just hate it that I hadn't kept some of Batch #1. Anyway, an excellent magic potion, perhaps a little rounder than its older brother.
SGP:656 - 85 points.

An Islay 8 yo 2014/2023 (53.3%, The Collaboration, Whisky Shop Neumarkt, first fill bourbon barrel, 247 bottles)

An Islay 8 yo 2014/2023 (53.3%, The Collaboration, Whisky Shop Neumarkt, first fill bourbon barrel, 247 bottles) Four stars
This is for our neighbours in Switzerland exclusively. And here we go, I had thought it would be a blended malt, but it is an unnamed single malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh, coastal, with a refined smokiness, crabs and oysters, those ashes, seaweed, lemons, touches of granny smith and fennel… With water: typically gristier, muddier and chalkier. No worries, all good things. Mouth (neat): excellently fresh, balanced, with some mint, aniseed and mezcal. Yep. And, most probably, the Paps of Jura through the windows. With water: lime and ashes plus some saltiness. We could make some Scottish margarita out of it, I suppose. Finish: still very fresh and tight, but with a little green apple liqueur, as they have in Spain (manzanita). Comments: very lovely, refreshing, extremely 'perfect'. It does not feel too young either. Bonus for the cleanliness, as always.

SGP:566 - 86 points.

Campbeltown Journey (46%, Hunter Laing, blended malt, +/-2022)

Campbeltown Journey (46%, Hunter Laing, blended malt, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
We've already tried a few other ones in this series, they were good. Possibly an opportunity to try some Glen Scotia-led blend with less oak impact (less modern re-racking/finishing) than in the recent OBs, but who knows… Colour: white wine. Nose: it's very coastal, surprisingly coastal in fact. A lot of fresh kelp on a beach, plus some fresh peaches and melons, in a pretty Bruichladdich way. A little barley syrup. Mouth: rather orange squash, pink grapefruit, IPA, then indeed peach syrup and liqueur, plus gummy bears. Finish: medium, a tad fatter and more mineral. Leafier, bitterer aftertaste, more pepper. Comments: I can't figure out if there isn't a little bit of smoke in there. Very good young drop, a little fatter without being too fat.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

St. Margaret of Scotland (54.5%, Queens & Kings, Mr Whisky, blended malt, +/-2015)

St. Margaret of Scotland (54.5%, Queens & Kings, Mr Whisky, blended malt, +/-2015) Four stars
A.K.A. Margaret of Wessex. I was having this one, it was for Germany. Colour: white wine. Nose: not too far, pretty coastal too, fatter, with this pastis, aniseed and liquorice. I'm rather fond of this nose. With water: church candle; how serendipitous indeed (oh come on, S.). Mouth (neat): good! Lemongrass, tart smokiness, seawater, white pepper, touch of jenever and caraway… With water: plain lemony smokiness on top of a waxy structure. Finish: same for rather a long time. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: extremely all right, you could believe they've mingled some young Islayers and some Campbeltowners together, then added some discreet fillers.
SGP:554 - 85 points.

Sirens 'Batch 3' (50.7%, Whic, blended malt, oloroso hogshead finish, 319 bottles, 2023)

Sirens 'Batch 3' (50.7%, Whic, blended malt, oloroso hogshead finish, 319 bottles, 2023) Four stars
Colour: dark gold. Nose: peat smoke and sherry. Very classic combo, with some bacon, old walnuts, fireplace ashes, raw honey, raisins and coal tar. With water: earthier, with some mead, more and more shoe polish, old copper…  Mouth (neat): same, word for word, plus pepper, bay leaves and leather. With water: 'smoked lemons' at the helm, plus walnut skins. Finish: long, a tad more leathery. Comments: apparently, this is another Islay + Mainland peat combo. The Zauberflöte, I mean the Zaubertrank with some more sherry.

SGP:566 - 85 points.

Last one please, let's make it an unpeated one coz we need a rest…

Tasglann 25 yo 1990/2015 (52%, OB, William Grant & Sons, Rare Cask Reserves, blended Scotch, Velier 70th Anniversary, 920 bottles)

Tasglann 25 yo 1990/2015 (52%, OB, William Grant & Sons, Rare Cask Reserves, blended Scotch, Velier 70th Anniversary, 920 bottles) Three stars and a half
What's inside? No ideas but one would guess that they've used William Grant stocks, so possibly Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Girvan grain, and perhaps Kinninvie as the latter started distilling right in 1990. But who knows… Colour: gold. Nose: mirabelles and quinces mean Balvenie, apples and pears mean Glenfiddich, and vanilla and coconut mean Girvan. Not too sure about what Kinninvie means. But that's all pure speculation, all we're going to say is that this is a lovely, rather straight nose. Please add croissants, custard and cinnamon rolls. No peat. With water: tiny herbs and berries making it through, that's always for the better. Mouth (neat): oranges and kumquats all over the place, pepper and cinnamon too, marmalade as well, plus a vanilla-ed thinness that may suggest that quite a lot of grain whisky was added, rather inexplicably (to us). With water: same feeling, a little too much thinness while I'm pretty sure that's the grain. Coconut is the enemy. Finish: medium, sweet, grainier yet. Orange squash. Comments:  very good, naturally, but I find it surprisingly blendy (S., it IS a blend.)
SGP:631 - 83 points.

July 19, 2023


Balmenach, we're back (again)

We just couldn't leave it with that extremely biting 2005 by Cadenhead. I believe this one has better credentials…

Balmenach Distillery (International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)



Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo 2004/2019 (49.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo 2004/2019 (49.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half
I believe it is always interesting to try whiskies bearing a natural lower strength, as 'something must have happened'. Colour: white wine (a clue?) Nose: holy featherless old crow, this is pure riesling or perhaps Grüner Veltliner. This note could well become one of the shortest I've ever written (don't look so glad.) Mouth: a very tight, but rather petrol-less riesling is back, while someone in Campbeltown may have squeezed half a ton of lemon and lime and poured the resulting juice into this hogshead. Which, you're right, may explain why the strength is this low. Finish: long, very bladey, pretty fantastic. Awesome spearmint in the aftertaste, with even something kind of stalky. Comments: another world after yesterday's last Balmenach.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

Was it really about the lower strength?

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo 2004/2019 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo 2004/2019 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Three stars and a half
Indeed, a 5-degree difference is huge in tasting conditions. Colour: white wine. Nose: chalk is back, grist, porridge, apple peel, green melons, grass… But there is also a pleasant vanilla-y roundness. With water: typical mud, white bread, cucumber sandwich (oh the horror in real life, rather nice here), fresh brioche… Mouth (neat): very tight, very chalky, very lemony, very grassy, with rather a lot of green rhubarb and granny smith. With water: a little rounder, with ripe small berries, white currants, gooseberries… Finish: medium, more on lemons and a little white pepper. Comments: nowhere as thrilling as the Veltliner-Glenlivet – I mean, the previous 2004 – but it's still all good. Having said that, you'd easily understand why one would decide to use more PX seasoning or else on these kinds of batches.

SGP:561 - 83 points.


Balmenach 9 yo 2013/2022 (59.5%, Alistair Walker's Infrequent Flyers, Or Sileis & Whisky Dive & Joecy, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #804890, 670 bottles)

Balmenach 9 yo 2013/2022 (59.5%, Alistair Walker's Infrequent Flyers, Or Sileis & Whisky Dive & Joecy, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #804890, 670 bottles) Four stars
Colour: dark amber/office coffee. Nose: it's pretty unusual, reminding me of that old cocktail called 'Death in Paris' (La Mort à Paris) at first. That's 1/3 whisky, 1/3 gin and 1/3 pastis. But it's soon to move to better known pasture, with puréed chestnuts, cherry liqueur, peonies, orange blossom water, umeshu, Korean plum wine (Maesil-ju)… In short, all things we rather love. Doesn't a good glass of whisky always make you travel? With water: rubber, tyres, lacquer, plus all the rest that was already there.  Mouth (neat): thick, sweet and spicier. Chocolate and dried damsons, slivovitz, molasses, pepper liqueur, marmalade, cinnamon, hoisin… With water: we tamed it. Glazed chestnuts, sweet mustard, gravy, triple-sec, sesame oil… The orangey liqueur would tend to try to take over, with is no bad news. Finish: long and curiously saltier. A touch of pastis indeed in the aftertaste. Note to self, use what's left in a good sauce, but don't tell anyone. Comments: a little bit on the heavy side, but it would tell you many stories. Have I mentioned tar and chocolate?
 SGP:662 - 87 points.

2013, all right then…

Balmenach 8 yo 2013/2022 (56.6%, Navigate World Whisky, Partners by LMDW, refill octave, cask #11128-176A, 54 bottles)

Balmenach 8 yo 2013/2022 (56.6%, Navigate World Whisky, Partners by LMDW, refill octave, cask #11128-176A, 54 bottles) Three stars and a half
A neat wee bottling for South Africa. A refill octave, that's more or less like a first fill barrel, no? No. Colour: full gold. Nose: close to roots, mushrooms, moss, liquorice wood, then stewed fruits, apricots, some kind of wilder artisan nougat, cassata, candied fruits and really a lot of angelica… That's very nice. With water: oranges and clove, mushrooms, vanilla, liquorice wood, touches of turmeric and ginger… Mouth (neat): extractive, heavy, spicy, close to some kind of Texan sweet chilli sauce when neat. Chutneys and more candied fruits, plus cinnamon mints chiming in then. This sure isn't Evian. With water: gets even thicker and more extractive, that's the octave effect (even when refill, apparently). Oak spices, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, lactones…  Finish: really long, really spicy. Comments: the very definition of an oak-driven malt whisky; not exactly my cup of tea but in its own genre, I say it's a success.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Balmenach 13 yo 2004/2018 (51.2%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon, cask #BL418, 266 bottles)

Balmenach 13 yo 2004/2018 (51.2%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon, cask #BL418, 266 bottles) Three stars and a half
I still can't get an older expression of Clynelish by Hidden Spirits out of mee head. Colour: white wine. Nose: waters, metals and embrocations at first (from the cask's previous content, perhaps?) then bread doughs, grass, porridge and chalk. Very discreet. With water: same. The naked truth in your glass. Green apples, lemons, crisp bready maltiness… Mouth (neat): in the style of the Cadenhead's, that is to say a tad rustic, grassy, chalky, lemony, leafy… With water: some tropical fruits coming out (well, green bananas, don't expect a pina colada), plus lemon liqueur, barley syrup, a wee bit of vanilla fudge from the cask… It's become gentler, easier, and really good. Finish: medium, malty, rooty and earthy. White pepper and zests in the aftertaste. Comments: maybe not Coltrane but top filler, only good things to say.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Balmenach 19 yo 2002/2021 (55%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 160 bottles)

Balmenach 19 yo 2002/2021 (55%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 160 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: barley sugar, sweet breads, croissant, sunflower oil, ripe apples. All that in perfect sync. With water: grist, porridge and chalk. Mouth (neat): good malt, lager, muesli, tart apples, grass, grapefruit, leaves, rucola… With water: some sweeter fruits, tangerines, starkrimsons, pink bananas… Finish: medium, with a little pepper otherwise fruit peel and cider apples. Comments: how many times have we already used the word 'filler'? Very good but pretty austere, needs to be intellectualised a wee bit. Not by me.

SGP:451 - 84 points.

Balmenach-Glenlivet 12 yo 2004/2017 (54.4%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles)

Balmenach-Glenlivet 12 yo 2004/2017 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles) Three stars
Really emptying the BA box now. That's Balblair, Balvenie and Balmenach. Oh, and Banff. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pure cut grass, melon skin, prickly pear, chalk, grist and plaster. With water: grist in majesty. No pun intended, I swear to… whomever. Mouth (neat): very good lemons and apples. Leaves and grasses all around them. With water: good cider, good muesli, not that much grass, perhaps a little coconut. Finish: medium, leavy, grassy, with some white pepper and a little ginger. Comments: young and pretty flawless, but one would almost hope for flaws.

SGP:551 - 82 points.

We should stop doing these kinds of tastings, not all malt are Ben Nevis (no sugar!?) Good, perhaps just a last one that was distilled BTFI. That's 'Before The F*****g' Internet'.

Balmenach 23 yo 1988/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #1150, 440 bottles)

Balmenach 23 yo 1988/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #1150, 440 bottles) Five stars
Still made under United Distillers' flag. A very crazy series, well too early, the idea was to gather malts from just all and every Scottish distilleries. Mind you, that was twelve years ago, already! They even had some Ladyburn… We had never tried this Balmenach, but I believe the whole process is now close to completion at WF Towers, after , err, twelve years. Colour: white wine. Nose: yes, bandages and ointments, chalk, crushed slate, paraffin, leatherette, sauna oils, vinyl, grist, sourdough… Some sherry-less action, at last! Mouth: superbly medicinal, complex, bandagey, with oils of all kinds, ditto vanilla, hardwoods, then fruit peel, melons, lemon, apples… It's just fantastic. Finish: probably a little good OBE already. A fattish, waxy feel ala HP. No, this is well Balmenach. Amazing medicinal aftertaste, between eucalyptus and olive oil. Comments: bang-bang, winner! Now go find these bottles…
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Thank you, Tom and other friends)

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


July 18, 2023