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Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2012 - Part 1

May 2012 - part 2 <--- June 2012 - part 1 ---> June 2012 - part 2


June 11, 2012


MM 15

  Off to Scotland
to celebrate
the Malt Maniacs'
15th Anniversary.

There will be 25 of us, sharing drams, stories and camaraderie around tables, barrels and stills. Maybe you'll hear from us, maybe you won't, but we'll be back. If all goes according to plans.


Tasting a few more Clynelish


Clynelish 1997/2006 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, re-coopered hogshead)  Three stars For a nice apéririf. Jean Boyer excel at bottling young, easy-drinking drams that are fully distillate-driven. Colour: white wine. Nose: as waxy and rather smokier than the 'average' young Clynelish, with then quite some lemon squash and just touches of brine and menthol. Then a little hay. Extremely fresh. Mouth: it's quite big at 43% vol., maybe a little harsher now, with this slight soapiness that pre-dates the trademark waxines in my experience, when the whisky's still a notch immature.  Other than that, lemon and brine again. Quite a lot of salt, actually - right, a saltiness. Finish: long, a tad acrid and more vegetal. Grass, bitters… Comments: a restless baby that's maybe a tad difficult on the palate if you're no dedicated Clynelish freak. SGP:372 - 80 points.


Clynelish 1997/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6864) Four stars I prewied this baby in April and liked it a lot. Colour: white wine. Nose: a different beast, more mature after six extra-years, rounder,  with more vanilla but otherwise we still have this big waxiness and lots of lemons, porridge, fresh bread and clay and gravel. Maybe a little less fruity than other expressions from 1997? Mouth: we're close to the Jean Boyer but this is a little more complex. Seemingly peatier as well,  almost Talisker-like at times, peppery, salty, lemony, grassy… It's also quite earthy. Finish: long and peppery, with notes of orange drops in the aftertaste as well as even more pepper. Comments: pretty austere and you have to like that. I certainly do. SGP:373 - 86 points.


Clynelish 15 yo 1997/2012 (53.5%, The Whiskyman, refill sherry hogshead, 90 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale white wine. Nose: Textbook Clynelish from the late 1990s, rather sweeter and rounder than the previous ones. That translates into more fresh fruits, mostly oranges and even touches of pineapples, but of course the waxy notes are well there in the background, together with a little black pepper, grass and a few cls of brine. The fruitiness adds dimension I must say. With water: wet wool and dogs come out (I'm sorry, dogs).  Also fudge, caramel. Mouth (neat): it's big, very waxy and, above all, very zesty and salty. White tequila and lemon, or maybe rather Schweppes? Touches of wasabi as well, chillies, earthy tea, roots… Excellent. With water: becomes rounder, with a little honey now. Honeydew. Finish: long and zesty, very 'Clynelish'. Comments: it's the make we like. SGP:463 - 88 points.

Clynelish 14

Clynelish 14 yo 1997/2012 (50.5%, The Whiskyman, 'All you need is whisky', 160 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: we're very close, obviously. This one might be a notch softer and rounder, with added touches of jelly beans and a little strawberry liqueur. Other than that, it's almost the same whisky on the nose, which cannot be bad news. With water: quite different this time, it's more the grain that comes out. Mouth (neat): again, very little differences, maybe this one is a notch earthier this time. The pepper's even bigger as well, which gives it a bitterish peat-like profile that not everyone will enjoy as much as I do. More for us ;-). With water: they converge again. More or less the same whisky, although this one might have become smokier. Not too sure… A little bubblegum as well. Finish: sadly, yes. Comments: another fine example of a make we like. SGP:463 - 88 points.

Good, maybe we could have a last 'Belgian' Clynelish from Dominiek's racing stable…


Clynelish 1989/2012 (53.5%, Thosop by The Whiskyman, bourbon barrel, 138 bottles) Five stars Mmm, these 1989s tend to be hard to beat. Colour: straw. Nose: yeah well, this is pretty perfect. It's big, starting sharpish - as it should - and literally exploding into myriads of tinier notes including rocks, wax, coal smoke, lemon, hessian, grapefruits, cigar ashes, cough syrup, oysters, dry white wine (Champagne?), leather… And others. With water: an old box of Lusitanias by Partagas. Amazing. Mouth (neat): perfect. It's got everything, it's almost like a vatting of several epitomical vintages (wot?) A bit of 1972's tropical fruits, 1983's perfect waxiness, 1995 or 1997's austere grassiness and lemons (see above)… Again, it's just perfect. With water: got grassy and more austere, kind of smoky and tarry. Grapefruits and oysters in the background. Finish: long, sharp, zesty, grassy, with more pepper and brine in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely hard to beat indeed, and we're not far from pre-Brora Clynelish. SGP:463 - 92 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more blues with Canada's John Campbelljohn doing Mississippi Queen. Slides pretty well. Please buy John Campbelljohn's music.


June 8, 2012


Speyburn going up

I need to try more Speyburns, esp. old ones...


Speyburn-Glenlivet 16 yo 1967/1983 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy) Five stars Moon Import had a great 1967 in their ‘The Sea’ series around 1988 (WF 90). Colour: white wine. Nose: rotten, and quite pleasantly so! I mean rotting and overripe fruits, apples, pears, oranges… Then a metallic touch as often with these old dumpies, plenty of linseed and graphite oils, leather, putty, Barbour grease and a great smokiness. Keeps improving with further breathing, becoming almost Ardbeg-like, with a massive smokiness. Old camphor, pu-erh tea, tarmac... Great! Mouth: fab! This baby might well become my favourite Speyburn ever (but I’ve hardly tasted more than fifteen Speyburns so far…) Big, nervous attack on liquorice and smoked ham, then more lemons and grapefruits, many herbal teas and many liqueurs, verbena, absinth… Wow! The power is amazing, and so is the complexity. Also a magnificent acridness, oh so un-modern. Finish: extremely long, almost too much, citrusy, smoky, tarry, sooty… Comments: what a great little monster of an oldie, huge malt whisky. Undoubtedly my fav Speyburn so far! SGP:374 - 93 points.


Speyburn 1975/2012 ‘Clan cask’ (55,8%, OB, sherry butt) Five stars A bottling that's exclusive to the distillery's consumer club, aka the Speyburn Clan. Sorry, couldn't find any pictures yet… Colour: amber. Nose: it’s a fairly leathery sherry that talks first, with some flints, chocolate, roasted chestnuts, walnuts and bacon, then more wood varnish, thuja wood, a jar full of cigars and a little wood smoke. A little balsamic vinegar as well. Works very well so far, with a very enjoyable fino-ish profile. With water: ham and pencil shavings, with a rather big rancio growing, well, bigger and bigger. The oak’s not very typical of a sherry butt but that’s not an issue, this nose is very nice. More leather, mint and cinnamon after twenty minutes. Mouth (neat): vivacious and all on oranges at first sips, Grand-Marnier, juice, squash, liqueurs, dried… The wood’s spices are soon to kick in, with quite some white pepper and ginger, cocoa powder, then touches of aniseed (ouzo, pastis) and liquorice… It’s quite unusual and that’s great. The sherry isn’t of the bold, jammy kind at all. With water: more soft spices from the wood, bourbon-style. It’s even a little rye-ish. Finish: long, spicy, sweet, kind of oriental. More menthol and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: not a typical sherry butt - at all – but it’s excellent whisky. The oak sings loud but it sings in tune. SGP:462 – 90 points.

PS: this is funny, a friend was saying that putting pictures of cats when I don't have or can't find any pictures of a bottling was very unprofessional. Well, that's the whole point, I'd hate that this unlikely little website would start to look too professional. Besides, cats are hot all over Facebook, aren't they?

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the Jordanian jazz bassist Yacoub Abu Ghosh with Egypt's Tamer Abu Ghazaleh on vocals do Mushtaq. Please buy these good people's music. Oh, the track is on 'As Blue as the Rivers of Amman'.


June 6, 2012


Tasting independent sherried Springbank

The good people at Malts of Scotland also have a new youngish Springbank and we need no other excuses to have two or three other indie sherried Springbanks as aperitifs before that new baby. Yes that’s lame…


Springbank 10yo 1995/2006 (46%, The Alchemist, for Potstill Vienna) Three stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s rather a clean Springbank, I think more in the style of the 1960s or 1970s, with a kind of sherry that’s rounded and all on raisins, chocolates and prunes. There’s also very little sulphur if any, while I came across many sherry casks that had massive amounts of sulphur at the time. So, a rather smooth, clean, jammy Springbank so far. Nice whiffs of mint and liquorice in the background, sultanas, a little rum (Demerara), Havana cigar… All very appealing. Mouth: a little more disjointed, with this feeling of rotting oranges and sulphur that were to be found in several sherry casks five or ten years ago. Having said that, the rest is most pleasant, with dried figs and dates, raisins, liqueur-filled chocolate and then just a little salted liquorice. A little plastic/paraffin and lemon squash as well. Finish: long, a tad bitter now, and maybe a tad chemical as well (industrial orange juice – no brands needed I guess). Vegetables, red wine. Comments: typical youngish sherried Springbank from that era – yup that’s not so long ago. Amazing how they improved everything since back then. SGP:462 - 80 points.


Springbank 16 yo (46%, Kingsbury, Japan, single cask, Valdespino oloroso cask, +/-2009) Four stars I think this was fully matured in sherry, not just finished, contrarily to what I could read here and there. Colour: dark amber. Nose: same style as the Alchemist, maybe a notch more complex, more on mineral notes and more on tobacco and coffee. There’s also wonderful notes of blackcurrant and blackberry jellies and a little more liquorice, lovage, soy sauce... Brilliant nose! Mouth: extremely heavy, thick, concentrated, kind of acrid. Maximal extraction here, wondering whether there was any wood left after 16 years ;-). Anyway, very spectacular but probably not for everyone. Cooked wine, heavy jams, overinfused black tea… well, you get the drift. Let’s see what happens with water, I’m curious…  With water: a greenness appearing, which was to be expected. Green tea, crème de menthe (do you know Get35?) Finish: long, heavy, quite woody now. More strong tea and liquorice wood. Comments: hard to tell. Some parts are brilliant, but some others have the elegance of a ‘80 911 Turbo, if you see what I mean. Oh well… SGP:572 - 86 points.


Springbank 1985/1996 (50%, Moon Import, Dovr-toutes-mares, casks #40/1, 40/2, 40/32, 40/4, 1100 bottles) Three stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: a much drier, more phenolic profile although the sherry’s just as big as in both the Alchemist and the Kingsbury. Rocks, coal, gunpowder, a lot of new leather (brand new perfecto – not at my age anymore ;-)), soot and something metallic, while raw barley is never too far despite the heavy sherry. With water: very, very, and I mean very funny, with notes of liquorice allsorts, marshmallows, blood oranges and pomegranate – and probably many other funny sweet things. Baked ham and pineapple? Mouth (neat): we’re somewhere between the Alchemist (with its chemical side) and the Kingsbury (with its hyper-extractive side). In short, this is another monster. A lot of pepper too, cough, cough… Bitter oranges, strong tea, leather, menthol, raisins… You almost need a spoon, such is this baby’s thickness. With water: the chemical side grows bolder – no good. Swims like the engine of a ’76 Corvette (while we’re into crappy car analogies). Finish: no thanks. Quite chemical. Comments: a true rollercoaster of a young Springbank, with very high peaks and low bottoms. So to speak. SGP:461 - 81 points.


Springbank 1998/2012 (51.5%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, 212 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: ah, we’re back to normal Springbankness despite a sherry that’s not exactly shy. Starts a little butyric, with notes of asparagus and, well, butter, then ale, grass, plums, stout… It’s rather dry I’d say, and certainly ‘wild and natural’. Goes on more on bitter oranges and leather, walnuts, a little mustard or horseradish, wax, peat… In short, rather ‘modern Springbank’, which is just great in my book. With water: more of that plus raw wool, leaven, a little brine, seaweed. Perfect. Mouth (neat): pure Springbank for Springbank freaks. I tend to like the ones that have no sherry at all a little better but this is brilliant, wild, muscular, lemony, flinty, phenolic, salty… A nice little beast, fast and furious (drop TV altogether, S.) With water: works! More lemon, minerals, smoke, riesling… A perfect ‘wine malt’ that needed little wine. I know what I’m trying to say. Finish: long, sharp, pleasantly narrow, leaving your palate as clean as a baby’s. Comments: I simply am a fan of this style. It’s got something of the latest official 10yo '100 proof'. SGP:373 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: they're one of these newish rock bands that we enjoy at WF Towers, they're called the Alabama Shakes and they're playing Hold on (from the CD 'Boys & Girls'). Please buy the Alabama Shakes' music.


June 4, 2012


Tasting four independent Glenfarclas
plus the new 1953

You just cannot not be aware of the new Glenfarclas 1953 and yes we'll re-try it, but first let's have a few apéritifs, that is to say four old independent Glenfarclas from Cadenhead's (either directly or undirectly)...

GF 14

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 14 yo 1980/1994 (59.5%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: raw, grassy, naked, spirity,  flinty… And really punchy. We're extremely close to the spirit here, with minimal oak influence and, to tell you the truth, little maturity but that may change with water. With water: an extreme flinty/grassy profile.  Wet gravel, wool, grass, raw barley,  muesli… Mouth (neat): ha-ha, this is excellent.  Raw around the edges but beautifully grassy, with a lot of apple peelings and fresh walnuts,  touches of coriander, sweet mustard and then more sweet apples.  Big, classy spirit. With water:  as naked yet great as malt whisky can be. More muesli, touches of lemons and tangerines, barley sugar, liquorice… Perfect in its very own style. Finish: long, a notch more peppery. A sweeter liquorice. Comments: a great little brute! High quality distillate that needs no push up bra - I'm sure you see what I mean. SGP:551 - 87 points.

GF Sam

Glenfarclas 1977/1993 'Coilltean' (46%, Samaroli, 25th Anniversary, 696 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: a very interesting one, without any sherry, starting all on cut apples, vanilla custard and then mint and aniseed, which really lifts it. Becomes grassier over time, with a smokiness that never stops growing - unusual indeed.  Also something waxy/farmy ala Clynelish, humus, moss… It's very 'naked', yet complex spirit, very different from most other Glenfarclas we know although I'm sure there are one or two in the Family Casks series that are similar. Mouth: excellently fruity and, again, 'naked', starting on fruit salad with a little ginger and cinnamon and then, once again, quite some mint and smoke (cigar). Also more aniseed, a little curry, calvados, sweet barley, cider… Very nice complexity. Finish: long, sweet, fruity, 'orchardy'. Touches of sweet mustard in the aftertaste. Comments: a big, unusual, fully distillate-driven  Glenfarclas. Quality's very high. SGP:641 - 89 points.

GF 73

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1973/2004 (44.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: perfect bourbon maturation. Plums, vanilla, tangerines, sweet barley, hay, wormwood, menthol, eucalyptus and a little sawdust, then more sand and old papers.  Mouth: punchy, vanilla and fruits-driven spirit of perfect age, although there might be a little too much bitter,  greenish oak taking control. Becomes drying but the sappy/herbal tones are quite nice (Jaegermeister). Finish: long, more herbal/bitter.  Touches of strong white rum in the aftertaste. Comments: some parts are excellent but maybe the oak became a notch too dry and dominant towards the finish. SGP:561 - 86 points.

GF 71

Glenfarclas 29 yo 1971/2001 (47%, Cadenhead, Chairman's Stock, Bourbon hogshead, 198 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: magnificent at first nosing, superbly fragrant. A walk in the meadows in the middle of July or something like that. Nectar, juicy plums, kumquats, quinces (very vivid), then more tropical fruits, also zwetschke,  humidor, apricots, hawthorn, lemon grass… This is insanely complex. Excuse me but wow! Mouth: utterly perfect. All fruits and all spices on a bed of humus, mushrooms and old pu-erh tea.  Need I say more? Finish: long, just a tad greener and more tannic, but I love these notes of fresh almonds and walnuts. Comments: that was to be expected,  Cadenhead always had some great Glenfarclas.  I even forgot to ask you to call the anti-maltoporn brigade, even if the slightly drying/oaky finish will prevent this baby from climbing even higher up my scale - but all the bottles from the Chairman's Stock are great anyway. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Glenfacrclas 1953

Glenfarclas 58 yo 1953/2012 (47.2%, OB for Wealth Solutions, Poland, cask #1674, 400 bottles) Five stars The oldest official Glenfarclas ever.  I've helped select this baby from the four last 1953s remaining at the distillery and that's why I won't score it, I'll only publish these tasting notes, thanks for your understanding ;-).  Colour: gold. Nose: it's very expressive, starting with a slightly metallic fruitiness that's very enjoyable, rather towards mangos and passion fruits, with a combination of mint, eucalyptus and camphor roaring in the background. There's also a little bacon and maybe beef jerky, a little liquorice, cherry stem tea and rather more a whole fruit salad than the usual dried fruits/fruitcake.  Touches of 'good' gunpowder and humus as well, earth. It's impressively fresh at this point and we're very far from other 'old sherry monsters'.  Well, it's no sherry monster.

Mouth: the oak's much more obvious on the palate, with a feeling of pepper plus green curry and quite some ginger at first sips, sweet mustard…  Then more salmiak, liquorice wood, black tea and touches of 'acidic' coffee (Ethiopia?), as well as some smoked ham again, or something such as smoked beef like they make in Spain. It's a very lively kind of oak, rather fresh, that even adds a pleasant sourness that suggests lemon juice - but which isn't quite. A little leather too. In short, the oak's quite distinct but it's also distinctive and never quite invading. Finish: rather long, with that lively sourness leaving it nervous and fresh, 'riesling-like'. Comments: it's the freshness that's impressive on the palate, while the nose was frankly fantastic but that's often the case with very, very old whiskies. The problem always lies on the palate and, well, I think there isn't any here. Mastered oak. SGP:572 (sorry, no score, but it's five stars 'of course')

(With thanks to Kasper, Luc and Konstantin)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: I think this is kind of funny, it's Cuban born Manuel Barrueco playing Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert on the guitar. It's the well known Part II-c and, well, it works! Please buy Manuel Barrueco's music...


June 1, 2012


More news from Feis Ile

Bowmore tasting notes by the FF also known as Famous Fergus, a new taster that our Belgian reporters have hired on Islay.


Bowmore ‘SpringTide’ (54.9%, OB, oloroso sherry casks, 2012) Four stars Nose: jammy, orangey, tinned mandarins, cinnamon, mulled spices, a whisper of cloves, old sweets shop, Christmas currant cake. Palate: more smoke now, sweet smoke, slightly medicinal, fairly soft. Finish: good length, slightly metallic, like chewing a coin, pleasantly tannic like an Assam tea. Comments: the taste is very interesting. Not overly complex. A very drinkable dram. Fergus 87.


Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ (46%, OB, 2012) Four stars and a halfNose: very coastal sea breeze sharp lemin zest (I guess that would be lemon – or Lemmy Kilmister? Lemmings? – Ed.). Butterscotch. Natural toffee. Freshly baked lemon pie. Palate: sweet oily coastal notes and dry peat mixed with vanilla. Very rounded. Finish: nice sweet classic smoke and dryness. Comments: great classic showing the true class of this fine distillery. Geert 90, Luc 88, Fergus 90, Angus 88, James 91.

Kilchoman 2008/2012 ‘Feis Isle’ (58.5%, OB, sherry finish, casks #100-103) Nose: butterscotch, meaty, cranberry, game sauce, farmy, oxtail broth, slightly bacon, old madeira, creosote, dried herbs, hay, earthy. Palate: concentrated. Syrupy. Nice. Sweet and rich with a touch of sour cream. Finish: Medium finish with a fine layer of salt. Comments: fine dram. Not a classic Kilchoman because it is quite different but great with venison. (No scores provided – shall we fire our reporters? – Ed.)


Bonus: not content with quaffing a lot of Islay whisky, our dedicated team have taken some cooking lessons with Martine Nouet (which is well recommended!)


Whiskyfun fav of the month

May 2012

Favourite recent bottling:
Talisker 34 yo 1975 (45.1%, OB, cask #4982, 250 bottles, 2011)  - WF 94

Favourite older bottling:
Tamnavulin 35 yo 1966 (52.6%, OB, for Japan, Matthew Forrest, Cream Sherry Butt, cask #3807, 472 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Tomatin 1991/2012 (54.8%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #51)  - WF 87

MUSIC - Recommended listening: they've got a great sound and lots of power, they're called The Delta Saints and they're playing Bird called Angola (from their eponymous CD, as they say). Please buy the Delta Saints' music.

Delta Saints

May 2012 - part 2 <--- June 2012 - part 1 ---> June 2012 - part 2

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



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

Clynelish 1989/2012 (53.5%, Thosop by The Whiskyman, bourbon barrel, 138 bottles)

Glenfarclas 29 yo 1971/2001 (47%, Cadenhead, Chairman's Stock, Bourbon hogshead, 198 bottles)

Glenfarclas 58 yo 1953/2012 (47.2%, OB for Wealth Solutions, Poland, cask #1674, 400 bottles)

Speyburn 1975/2012 ‘Clan cask’ (55,8%, OB, sherry butt)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 16 yo 1967/1983 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy)

Springbank 1998/2012 (51.5%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, 212 bottles)