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

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


June 13, 2013


Tasting three Dufftowners

There are many distilleries in Dufftown. The active ones are Balvenie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenfiddich and Mortlach. Other famous ones that are either silent or demolished were Pittyvaich and Convalmore, not to mention the legendary Parkmore. As for Kininvie, not too sure whether it's working or not these days. Anyway, let's have these three Dufftowners...

Singleton of Dufftown 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012)

Singleton of Dufftown 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012) Two stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: shy, with a little cardboard and teabags (say English breakfast), then quite some hay and a little roasted malt. Wakes up a bit after a few minutes, with now orange peel and just wee whiffs of wood smoke. Very light in any case, so far. After fifteen minutes: much more vanilla fudge and warm butter. Mouth: fudge, caramel, café latte, cappuccino, fudge, caramel, café latte, cappuccino, fudge, caramel, café latte, cappuccino, fudge, caramel, café latte, cappuccino... Was that clear enough? Finish: a little short, on... guess what? Comments: a very decent all-rounder but I think the Singleton of Glen Ord is much more to my liking. SGP:441 - 75 points.

Images of Dufftown 1988/2013 'Clock Tower' (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, 254 bottles)

Images of Dufftown 1988/2013 'Clock Tower' (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, 254 bottles) Three stars and a half What could this be? The two Dufftown distilleries that are never, or very rarely bottled by indies are William Grant's Glenfiddich and Balvenie, so it may be one of those. Or Kinninvie? Who knows... Colour: straw. Nose: very unusual, with big grassy notes and then soot and shoe polish. Cider apples, green grapes, bicycle inner tubes, then quite some porridge sprinkled with lemon juice. Sharp yet kind of locked. With water: fresher and curiously waxier. Fresh barley, overripe apples... Mouth (neat): some pears, both fresh/ripe and as drops, as well as pear jam... And pears sometimes suggest G... Or not. Quite some liquorice too, a little vanilla, sweet barley... It's all firm and quite 'nervous'. With water: pear cake! Finish: medium, fresh, with pears, plums, herbal tea (chamomile) and notes of sponge cake. Comments: I wouldn't swear it's 'G', but this baby's very pleasantly pearish. Now, there are plums too... SGP:541 - 84 points.

Mortlach 17 yo 1995/2012 (56.4%, The Whisky Cask, hogshead)

Mortlach 17 yo 1995/2012 (56.4%, The Whisky Cask, hogshead) Four stars I've got a lot of Mortlach yet to taste, we'll try do a very large Mortlach verticale one of these days. Colour: gold. Nose: once again it's a rather grassy one, or is it as much locked as the 'Images'? Freshly broken branches, herbs, maybe mint, apple peelings, maybe one or two fresh white asparagus... With water: more sweet oak, with a bourbony side now. Vanilla and maple syrup galore, all that being pretty nice. Also tobacco and honey arising. Mouth (neat): more body and a bigger oiliness than in the 'Images'. More grass too, even more liquorice, maybe touches of pineapple... With water: good, firm, natural, sweet. I enjoy these hints of beeswax. Quite some apple juice too, a little mint... Finish: of medium length, more barley-ish. Sweet barley that is. A lot of apple juice in the aftertaste. Comments: I quite love this one. SGP:551 - 86 points.



Block Today: FRENCH POP. Performer: Marie Möör. Track: Beau Masque (rare, recorded around 1995, with the stunning sax of Barney Wilen). Please buy Marie Möör and Barney Wilen's music...

June 12, 2013


Nine Linkwood in a rough and ready way

Let's see how far we'll manage to go. Sadly, I haven't got any pre-war Linkwoods anymore, G&M's were superb! But with regards to the apéritif, I think I've got an idea...

Linkwood 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, +/-1985)

Linkwood 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, +/-1985) Two starsI love the old '100 proof' versions. This one might be lighter... Colour: gold. Nose: hold on, this is pretty impressive. Superb combination of yellow flowers such as dandelions, pollen, light honey, yellow plums and then more ripe plums, quince jelly and even bergamots - make that earl grey tea. Hints of coal smoke as well, very old skool. Lovely, lovely nose. Mouth: nah, what a shame. It's not that it's weak or even tea-ish, it's that it's got these notes of burnt cake and caramel that were often to be found in some whiskies at the time. Kind of blendish, with also a little too much paraffin, lavender and cardboard. Although I have to say it tends to improve, but the caramel remains too loud. Finish: quite short. Toasts and caramel. Geraniumy aftertaste. Comments: Indeed, what a nose! SGP:341 - 72 points.

Linkwood 2000/2012 'Summer Orchard' (46% Wemyss Malts, sherry butt, 762 bottles)

Linkwood 2000/2012 'Summer Orchard' (46% Wemyss Malts, sherry butt, 762 bottles) Three stars and a half Refill sherry according to the colour :-). Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: very new-maky but that's no problem since it's very nice new make. No wood, no vanilla, no spices and no herbs, it's all a large bag full of apples, cherries, rhubarb, gooseberries and, indeed, barley and fresh white bread. Yeah, yeah, baguettes... The name was well chosen! Mouth: how fresh and fruity! Many eaux-de-vie, barley water, orange blossom water, apple juice, marshmallows... This one's full of youth and that's an understatement. Finish: of course it's not the longest but it's so clean... Williams pears. Comments: drop vodka, buy this. Serious. SGP:731 - 84 points.

Linkwood 1991/2012 (46%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, first fill sherry)

Linkwood 1991/2012 (46%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, first fill sherry) Three stars and a half My compatriots from Jean Boyer already had some very nice Linkwoods in the past. This one did a great job at the MM Awards 2012. Colour: amber. Nose: Linkwood's floral tones (once it's mature ;-)) mingle very well with a light and fruity sherry and this is a good example. We have cigarette tobacco, dried figs, raisins, a little mint, even a little camphor, very ripe gooseberries and just a little chocolate. Works very well. Some hay as well. Mouth: it's a little kirschier, so to speak, with also a little more leather and cigar tobacco, but the dried figs and raisins remain underneath. A faint flintiness as well, as often in first fill sherry. Finish: medium length, with more spices, especially cloves and nutmeg. A rather smoky aftertaste - that came from the cask. Comments: another lovely one despite the wee touches of sulphur here and there. Loved the raisins. SGP:542 - 83 points. So sherry, you said?...

Linkwood 1993/2012 (52.8%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Van Wees, cask #6817, 224 bottles)

Linkwood 1993/2012 (52.8%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Van Wees, cask #6817, 224 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: very, very, and I mean very same-ish despite the higher strength and the different vintage. Camel cigarettes, raisins, figs, maybe a little strawberry jam, eucalyptus... With water: lovely whiffs of a northern forest after an autumn rain. That's right, mushrooms but also more dried figs and quinces and dates and raisins. Mouth (neat): excellent! More different from the 1991 this time, this one's rather earthy and rooty, with more mint as well, some earthy tea old pu-erh style, and of course all the raisiny notes that are mandatory in this context. With water: yup. Maybe just a little too much wood/cardboard but I'm sure that would go away, should we have more time. I'm sorry... Finish: rather long, with a little more leather and rather less dried fruits. Black tea. Comments: I think G&M filled some great first fill sherry casks in the last two decades. No flints, no gunpowder. Yup, and no struck matches. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Linkwood 1989/2001 (46%, Caledonian Selection, cask #3194)

Linkwood 1989/2001 (46%, Caledonian Selection, cask #3194) one star and a half Not much news from Caledonian Selection/liquid Gold Enterprise these days... Colour: gold. Nose: very typical of the youngish Linkwoods that one could find at the indies' ten years ago or so, that is to say all on chocolate, light toffee, caramel, toasted brioche plus a little floral side. Meadow flowers. Add a few oranges and you get a nice-ish, rather undemanding profile. Nah, it's really nice. Mouth: ah yes, it's one of these flowery Linkwoods. Rosewater and cologne - or rather rose-flavoured Turkish delights - plus millionaire shortbread and something slightly soapy that rejoins the flowery/perfumy side. Also raisins and honey, oriental pastries... Right, that's the rosewater. Finish: pretty long but these perfumy notes tend to become tedious. Comments: some sides were quite great but all this perfume is too much. SGP:641 - 68 points. Let's have a go at another 1989...

Linkwood 1989/2004 (58%, NMWL Norway, hogshead, cask #1835, 50cl)

Linkwood 1989/2004 (58%, NMWL Norway, hogshead, cask #1835, 50cl) Three starsColour: straw. Nose: it does have these hints of roses and maybe dandelions, but the rest is all very typical, with some barley water, overripe apples, orange cake, corn syrup and fresh pastries such as Danishes and, well, croissants au beurre. Mais bien sûr! With water: hay, barley and croissants again. Nothing to write home about but it's still kind of pleasant. Mouth (neat): full, fresh, very sweet and very malty. It's powerful but it's downable if you only take two or three drops at a time. Vanilla and sponge cake plus hints of liquorice allsorts. No geraniums, no lavender, no violets. And no Chanel, Brad. With water: became really good, with more pears and even hints of bananas flambéed. Finish: pretty long, malty. Vanilla and butter pears, a little white pepper and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: not a huge personality but it's so much better than the Caledonian! SGP:541 - 81 points.

Linkwood 1984/2011 'Eleanor Whisky' (49.2%, The Whiskyman)

Linkwood 1984/2011 'Eleanor Whisky' (49.2%, The Whiskyman) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: this is obviously older and indeed it's more delicate, more complex, subtler... It's a good example of what age does to whisky. Time is simply irreplaceable, whatever some impulsive distillers are trying to make us believe these days. But back to this baby, it's wonderfully composed, with some light mead, some light honey (and honeydew), bags of dandelions (I often mention dandelions, they really reek of nectar), a little putty, mint liqueur, orange blossom, earth, fresh mushrooms, maybe a little rainwater... As I said, it's all quite subtle. Mouth: superb! Sure the oak's just a little too loud for my taste - just a little - but other than that, this is a perfect blend of honey, spearmint, Grand-Marnier and maybe even dried litchis. Finish: long, with more oranges this time, while the oak did not become any bigger, even in the aftertaste. Comments: we're bordering perfection. A very elegant Linkwood, just a tad feminine - not unlike Eleanor. Yes, of course that's a huge compliment. SGP:651 - 89 points. Hum, I liked this 1984, let's have another one...

Linkwood 28 yo 1984/2012 (48.5%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead)

Linkwood 28 yo 1984/2012 (48.5%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: right, I should stop tasting very similar whiskies together, because as is often the case, we're having a whisky that's so close to the previous one that it's extremely hard to find differences. Maybe added touches of pineapple, and maybe not. Maybe a little more vanilla as well, maybe not. Mouth: honestly, both whiskies are undistinguishable. Right, maybe this one's a notch earthier but we could down three litres of each and still quibble about nuances and variations. That wouldn't be maltoporn, that would be malturbation (you first read that here ;-)). Finish: ditto. Comments: a twin or a shared cask. We won't complain, it's great whisky. SGP:651 - 89 points. Time to tackle the 1970s...

Linkwood-Glenlivet 14 yo 1979/1993 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Linkwood-Glenlivet 14 yo 1979/1993 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Five stars Yeah yeah, from an oak cask ;-). Many true monsters have been bottled in this 'small white label' series. Colour: mahogany. This screams first fill sherry. Nose: it's so powerful that it's hard to nose. Say kirsch straight from the still and wheelbarrows of flints. With water: calmer but not tamed. Wild unaged eaux-de-vie - yes eau-de-vie needs ageing - but also luscious dried fruits, cigar humidor, old balsamic vinegar, crème de menthe... Really restless and I'm sure bringing it down to 15% vol. wouldn't change much. Right, we won't try that... Mouth (neat): stunning! Sure it's 'in your face' but it's also ridden with old Demerara rum and dark chocolate from the best plantations (no, forget about the last part). So chocolate filled with rum so far... With water: oh, it does not swim too well I'm afraid, it got a little cardboardy and that wouldn't go away. But other than that, all these dried fruits are wonderful, and so are the notes of chicken stock and parsley. Finish: very long. Say more on oranges. Comments: one of these wild beasts indeed. Old style sherry, nothing beats that. I'll go for a shy score because of the way it stands water on the palate. SGP:662 - 90 points.
Good, I have older Linkwoods but I think it would be hard to 'climb' over the 1979. So, dismiss!

(and thank you, Ivar and Konstantin)

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer (avant-garde lovers ahoy!): François Tusques. Track: Le Musichien. Please visit François Tusques' website and buy his music...

June 11, 2013


Another little bag of Glens

Tasted 'individually', not compared. I still believe that when tasting whisky or spirits or wine, only comparison is reason but I' not saying I'm always reasonable. Oh well...

Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (55.2%, OB, batch 2, 2013)

Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (55.2%, OB, batch 2, 2013) Four stars and a half I haven't got Batch #1 at hand anymore but I sure loved that one (WF 91). Colour: pale amber. Nose: I think the mildly sulphury side is bigger than in batch #1, while it's globally less 'wham-bam-watch-my fruits' as far as I can remember (well I've got my tasting notes), but on the other hand I really enjoy this combination of leather, raisins and tobacco. With water: the sweet side comes to the front. Honey, figs, maybe quinces... Also a little ham, herbs, earth... Mouth (neat): nah, this is quite superb. Rich and perfectly balanced at the same time, without being cloyingly sweetish. It's even kind of zesty and zingy, with all these pink grapefruits that we already found in batch #1. With water: the best part. Lovely honeyed and fruity profile. Finish: long, with much more liquorice. Comments: maybe not as totally stunning as #1 but it's still great in my opinion. What's sure is that it's not identical, where #1 was fruity this one was grassier and reversely. More fun! SGP:552 - 89 points.

Glen Scotia 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.1%, Whisky Spirits, Whisky Seasons, April)

Glen Scotia 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.1%, Whisky Spirits, Whisky Seasons, April) Three stars The Germans have had quite some good Scotias in recent times. Colour: pale gold. Nose: peaty! Not as peaty as Ardbeg of course but the peat smoke is obvious, somewhat Longrowy. Definitely coastal, with seaweed, then brine and raw wool, notes of chalk, lemon, soot, cut grass... A surprise, but good or not? Not too sure yet. With water: not the best swimmer ever, it got very narrow, grassy and kind of dust. Adios! Mouth (neat): very zesty. Peat again, lemon, green spices... It's quite sharp so far. With water: little changes, maybe more liquorice, pepper and lemon? Swims better on the palate. Finish: quite long, mineral, sooty and grassy. Comments: nice but austere, austere but nice. Complicated pleasures... SGP:372 - 80 points.

Glenlivet 15 yo 1996/2012 (52.1%, Signatory for The Whisky Castle, first fill sherry, cask #165162, 212 bottles)

Glenlivet 15 yo 1996/2012 (52.1%, Signatory for The Whisky Castle, first fill sherry, cask #165162, 212 bottles) Four stars I think the Whisky Castle in Tomintoul was the first true whisky shop I've ever visited. That was thirty years ago or even more... Kind of. Colour: deep amber. Nose: classic average sherried nose, and when I say 'average', I'm not meaning mundane. So yeah, as classic as sherried whisky can get. Prunes, chocolate, coffee and just touches of game and ham, plus drops of beef stock and a tiny-wee flintiness. Add a little leather. With water: nice touches of green tea, grass and more ham. And walnuts from the sherry. Mouth (neat): fun! This is pretty muscaty this time, which doesn't happen too often. Between Samos and some PX's. Sweeter than expected after the dryish nose, and very good. Quite some liquorice too, bags of raisins... Good body. With water: it's really got something of the old young sherried Macallans from 15 years ago, only with more leather and grass. Finish: long and more on coffee and chocolate. Comments: much to my liking, even if the spirit hasn't got much to say. SGP:461 - 86 points.

Glenrothes 1988/2013 'Ginger Spice' (46% Wemyss Malts, sherry butt, 660 bottles)

Glenrothes 1988/2013 'Ginger Spice' (46% Wemyss Malts, sherry butt, 660 bottles) Three starsColour: gold. Nose: it's very different from both the officials and most of the OBs, because the sherry is quite discreet and so are the expected garden fruits. Instead, we have wax, walnuts, grass, paraffin and just touches of orange zests. I have to say it's an unsexy style that I like. Mouth: different this time, with many more fruits, both fresh and in syrup, while the advertised spiciness isn't quite invading. Indeed, I rather get mint and liquorice rather than straight ginger and that's good news to me. Although, indeed, a little ginger tends to emerge after a while, just a little... Finish: medium length. Fruit salad with a few mint leaves and just touches of curry powder. Comments: the problem with these middle-aged Speysiders is that they don't always display much character, but what's sure is that this baby's very loyal and honest. So 'very, very pleasant', but maybe a tad boring. Zzz zzz zzz... SGP:541 - 82 points.



Block Today: PROG ROCK. Performer: Gong. Track: You Never Blow Y'r Trip Forever (from You, 1974). Please visit the website and buy the music...

June 10, 2013


Tasting two ex-bourbon Strathmill

There's a little more Strathmill around these days, thanks to the ever-engaging indies. But we'll have only too of them today, both ex-bourbon...

Strathmill 21 yo 1990/2012 (54.1%, James MacArthur, bourbon wood, cask #101112)

Strathmill 21 yo 1990/2012 (54.1%, James MacArthur, bourbon wood, cask #101112) Colour: gold. Nose: raw and rough, very grassy, aggressive, spirity, cologne-y... Will that do? Seriously, it's a hard one and it even tends to become dusty and new-plastic-like. We're expecting miracles from a few drops of water... With water: whaaah! More plastic, paraffin and... do you remember carbon paper? Mouth (neat): weird. Some parts are nice (the lemon and the barley) but it's still got these notes of burnt plastic. With water: better. Apple juice with a few drops of lemon. Sunflower oil, sawdust. Does not improve much after a few minutes - I'm afraid. Finish: shortish, grassy and dusty. Comments: not much pleasure to be had in my opinion, this what we call a challenging dram. Next time we'll have a great one by James MacArthur - and there are many. SGP:271 - 64 points.

Strathmill 36 yo 1976/2012 (46.5%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, bourbon, 210 bottles)

Strathmill 36 yo 1976/2012 (46.5%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, bourbon, 210 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: very shy, but not uninteresting.  I get hints of old clothes in an old wardrobe (in an old attic), old potpourri, a little dust, old wood, then almonds, dried flowers, a little olive oil, a little banana skin... It's all whispering but it's very elegant. I'm using my usual nosing glasses (tulips) but I'll try this baby from a cognac 'fishbowl' (aka the 1000 watt amplifier) next time, should be fun. Mouth: there's too much oak, and yet it's very pleasant, which does not happen very often. In fact all that oak translates into quite a lot of coconut liqueur, butter cream and ripe pineapples, which may make this baby the oldest readymade cocktail ever. Arriba! Finish: moderately long, with, this time, hints of curaçao and I swear I'm not making this up. Some kind of mai tai? Comments: it's not often that excessive oak works well, and sometimes heavy coconut and pineapple can wreck an old whisky (and a young one even more so), but I think this one's quite spectacular. Seriously, very good stuff. Oops, forgot to add that there's also quite some café latte. SGP:561 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Abdullah Ibrahim. Track: a fab soulful duet with Carlos Ward on Don't Blame Me. That was on 1983's 'Zimbabwe'. Please visit the website and buy the music...

June 7, 2013


Two easy 10 yo Balblair

Shouldn't we expect a joyful, fresh and uncomplicated fruitiness made in Edderton? I've been to the distillery last week and it was all most pleasant, even if the modernisation of the visitor centre may have erased a part of the place's romantic side - which I had enjoyed so much seven or eight years ago.

Balblair 10 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-2005)

Balblair 10 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-2005) Colour: gold. Nose: this baby is surprisingly woody at first sniffing, with some sawdust and vanilla, then more honey and apple pie. It's relatively old school, lightly so if you see what I mean. Would rather go on with more fresh fruits and thus in modern 'official' direction. Peaches and gooseberries. Anyway, a nice fresh nose. Mouth: very light this time, but the fruitiness comes out. More apples and oranges this time, then the oak gets louder, with this feeling of sawdust yet again. Some nutmeg and cinnamon too. Finish: quite short, grassier and a little drying. Comments: my definition of a 75-points malt. I think this baby ought to be sipped on ice to tame the surprisingly big woodiness. SGP:341 - 75 points.

Balblair 2002/2012 (46%, OB)

Balblair 2002/2012 (46%, OB) Colour: white wine. Nose: less oak than in the G&M and more fresh fruits straight away. Naked fruits, I'd say, gooseberries, apples, cherries and touches of Belgian fruity beer, between gueuze and kriek. You know, these Belgian beers that our Belgian friends hate so much ;-). Quite some muesli too. Mouth: fruit galore, with good body and a white-oak profile behind all that. Apple juice, berries, then more chamomile tea and maybe other teas, peaches (and peach skin), then the custard comes more to the front, together with some cinnamon. Wood spices. Finish: medium length, with good balance between the fruits and green spices. Touches of bubblegum. Comments: it's young and not ueber-complex but the fruitiness is most pleasant. Sort of refreshing - and I like the fact that they don't seem to do much wine finishing. Thank you! SGP:441 - 81 points.

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



Block Today: SOUL BLUES. Performer: Etta James. Track: the unbeatable I'd rather go blind. Please buy Miss James' music...

June 6, 2013


Official Springbank 1963
vs. indie Springbank 1963

Proportionally, I believe there used to be more old bottlings on WF in the old days but as new whiskies and bottlers pop out every day, it's true that I tend to taste more new ones - again, proportionally. A shame? Not too sure since some distilleries improved their makes in the latest two decades, but let's not lose all of our good habits and have these two old Springbanks today, even if both are now almost unavailable and vey pricy. Ah, the good old days...

Springbank 1963 (46%, OB, tall black label, 75cl, +/-1985)

Springbank 1963 (46%, OB, tall black label, 75cl, +/-1985) There are various vintages in this series, especially 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965… We’ll soon have the 1975 as well. Colour: full gold. Nose: this is fabulous. Complex right from the start, with this perfectly balanced combination of fruity and phenolic notes that are only to be found in old Highland Parks beside Springbank, in my experience. At random, we have quinces, metal polish, apricot pie, various honeys, wax polish, tobacco, leather, a little brine, liquorice, plums, figs, mint, dates, eucalyptus, camphor, incense, wood and peat smoke, sandalwood, coal… Actually, there’s everything. Glorious and subtle, one of the best from the roaring sixties. Mouth: it’s great that there isn’t much sherry involved as this wonderful palate proves that the venerable distillery recently got back to their older style. All for the better! There’s this very peculiar weirdness that’s so exactly beautiful, with a greasy and oily side, there’s also a lot of brine mixed with lemon juice, some leather, bags of dried fruits, motor oil, a little fudge, herbal teas aplenty, a pleasantly bitter sappiness and then the trademark bitter oranges. Oops, forgot to mention fresh peppercorns. Finish: maybe not the longest ever but it’s got this Chartreusy side that’s so entrancing. Herbal liqueurs and spices plus smoother dried fruits. A wee soapiness in the aftertaste but that’s 100% normal here. Comments: it’s so great that Springbank, together with Cadenhead’s, started to bottle many of their whiskies at 46% so early! True pioneers. SGP:552 - 93 points.

Springbank 31 yo 1963/1994 (52.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry wood)

Springbank 31 yo 1963/1994 (52.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry wood) That’s right, its only a semi-independent Springbank as the old bottlers from Aberdeen have been taken over by J & A Mitchell & Co., owners of Springbank, in 1972. Colour: coffee with bronze hues. Nose: so close, and yet so far from the OB! Heavier, punchier, thicker, maybe less elegant in a way, with more oaky tones, more liquorice, more red fruits and their jams (raspberries, yes!), more Demerara sugar and rums, rather more smoke as well, more sherry obviously, more chocolate… And less elegance. Yet, it’s magnificent. With water: oh yes it is. Fab sherry, with now more mineral notes, flints, Iberico ham, old books, mushrooms (morels?), chocolate, leather polish… Amazing now. Mouth (neat): smashing concentration, with more meat and mint this time, bitter chocolate, a lot of liquid tar, chestnut honey, black raisins, menthol… Then old Demerara rum again and bitter oranges. What a show. With water: you have to get the amount of water right because too much of it will make it drying and, well, wishy-washy, but otherwise we have a superb dry oloroso, with more prunes, oranges, chocolate, liquorice, coffee and cinnamon. Something of some very high-end old Cognacs. Finish: long and very chocolaty. Also coffee ‘improved’ with orange liqueur. Comments: careful with water but otherwise, this baby’s absolutely stunning. I think we forgot to call the anti-maltoporn brigade, haven’t we? SGP:563 - 95 points.

PS: A blend of both 1963s is orgasmic.

(Olivier, merci encore)

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



Block Today: PSYCH JAZZ (?). Performer: Mother Gong. Track: Space Tango (from Tree in Fish, 1994). Please visit buy Mother Gong's (and Gong's) music...

June 4, 2013


Tasting some of the best of Dalmore

The rather noisy recent marketing stunts by the brand may well have turned away a good proportion of the whisky geeks (and caught the attention of the general public, wealthy or not) but Dalmore remains a very interesting distillery to visit, not only because of the very unusual flat stills. Indeed, in my experience the spirit can be exquisite! I was there a few days ago and could bring back some 'Distillery Exclusive', time to try it along two other Dalmores.

Dalmore 1996/2012 'Cromartie' (45%, OB, 7500 bottles)

Dalmore 1996/2012 'Cromartie' (45%, OB, 7500 bottles) Four stars This one was first matured in bourbon wood, then oloroso sherry casks from Gonzales Byass. Colour: full amber. Nose: chocolate ganache, and plenty of that. It's not exactly winey, there's rather a cognacqy side (rancio) and then the trademark orange marmalade that goes so well with all this chocolate. Becomes more and more complex after a few minutes, with more raisins, figs and very aromatic spices. Cloves and caraway seeds. Also whiffs of old wine cellar, cigarettes. I have to say I like this nose quite a lot. Mouth: rich, almost Port-like, with some black and white pepper right away that connect well with some bitter chocolate, Seville oranges and then more cardamom and cinnamon. Also some liquorice. It's still a notch rough at just 15 or 16 years but the finishing doesn't show as such. Finish: now it does a bit, there's a wee grapey greenness. Nothing too serious though. Comments: a very good surprise. Probably among the best of what you can do with a finishing in wine wood - even sherry wood. SGP:561 - 87 points.

Dalmore 1995/2012 'Distillery Exclusive' (57.6%, OB, 650 bottles)

Dalmore 1995/2012 'Distillery Exclusive' (57.6%, OB, 650 bottles) Four stars and a half This version was 'finessed' - finished - in matusalem shery casks. Colour: full amber. Nose: strong, almost overpowering. I get massive amounts of chocolate, both white and 'milk', plus some very obvious notes of Rivesaltes, including this rancio again. Maybe a little game as well? With water: rounder, smoother, raisiny in a very nice way. More sweet and lush than the Cromartie, more rounded, even curvaceous, so sexier. Ha! Mouth (neat): punchy and rich, not aggressive, fruity (yes, oranges) and only moderately winey. There are some herbs in the background that prevents it from becoming a little cloying or phat. With water: a blend of Nutella and Yquem. Not kidding ;-). Finish: not the longest and again, a grapiness comes out, between apple and, well grape skins. Maybe a slight dustiness too but it's all okay, even if it loses points at this point (well done, S.!). Comments: a notch richer and rounder than the Cromartie. Should go well on some natural vanilla ice cream too ;-). SGP:651 - 88 points.

Dalmore 1963/2001 (48.1%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, oloroso sherry, cask #5753)

Dalmore 1963/2001 (48.1%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, oloroso sherry, cask #5753) Five stars A very rare indie Dalmore that's almost 40 years old! Colour: mahogany. Nose: a-ma-zing. Glorious fruit jams, all of them. Blackcurrants, grapes, strawberries, oranges (natürlich), probably also litchis, prunes, then it gets more floral, with peonies and roses, then we have chocolate - albeit less chocolate than in the OBs -, some tobacco, old sherry, walnuts, wood polish... It's endless and well in line with the old 50 yo 1926, the stunning mother of all these ultra-shiny and very infuriating new old official decanters that are to be found in airports. Stunning nose. Mouth: wwwaaaahhh! One of the richest malt whiskies ever (I think). An hair-rising maelstrom of fruits, chocolate, spices and 'phenolic stuff', with bags of liquorice and pipe tobacco, all that inlaid with crystallised and dried fruits. An impressive masterpiece, please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: waves and waves of the same flavours, with just a little more green spices, as almost always with this kind of profile. Comments: we're in the very same territories as with the very best old Macallans. Only a slightly greeny aftertaste makes it lose one or two points. SGP:672 - 93 points.

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



Block Today: CUBAN JAZZ. Performer: Paquito D'Rivera. Track: Chuco. Please visit the website and buy the music...

June 3, 2013


A short verticale of Dailuaine

We'll have three lightly, or even totally unsherried Dailuaines today. It'll be interesting to se if we can still find sulphury tones, not talking about rotten eggs of course. Let's go.

Dailuaine 12 yo 2000/2012 (56.2%, Silver Seal, sherry cask, cask #9201, 348 bottles)

Dailuaine 12 yo 2000/2012 (56.2%, Silver Seal, sherry cask, cask #9201, 348 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: indeed there are whiffs of struck matches but I have to say they perfectly complement the bags and bags of light dried fruits, muscat raisins, plum jam, figs... It's a light and fruity style of sherry so far, with even quite some vanilla. I cannot not think of some straw wine (vin de paille). With water: it's the malt that comes out, together with more walnuts from the sherry, I presume. Mouth (neat): there are touches of rubber beside all the orangey and raisiny notes, the whole becoming even a little too leafy and grassy for my taste. Schweppes? A little prickly. The rest is very fine, between apple peeling and orange zests. With water: became more 'normal', with more bitter oranges, but the Scweppesy touch didn't vanish. Finish: quite long, on even more bitter oranges. Comments: a big dram. Some parts were quite brilliant (the raisins) but others have been a tad more difficult (the rubber). Not my favourite Silver Seal, but that may be due to the fact that there are so many great ones. Wasn't that too PC? SGP:561 - 79 points.

Dailuaine 20 yo 1992/2013 (54.1%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, bourbon barrel, cask #3127)

Dailuaine 20 yo 1992/2013 (54.1%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, bourbon barrel, cask #3127) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: no matches, this is clean and fruity, full of vanilla, yellow plums, apples, apricots and Balvenie-ish honeycomb. Also touches of marshmallows, great in this context. Maybe the easiest Dailuaine I've ever come across ;-). With water: swims like a champ! Became very aromatic and complex at the same time. Old roses? Patchouli? Incense? Vetiver? Mouth (neat): a syrup! Apple liqueur and liquorice wood, litres of honeydew, touches of cider apples and quite some candy sugar. It's a big dram but it keeps fresh despite the liqueury arrival. Add drops of ginger liqueur. No, glasses of ginger liqueur. With water: excellent. Some kind of Cointreau+ginger liqueur. Fun! Finish: long, all on the same notes. Comments: a great example of how good American oak can make some good Scotch great. Agreed, there are also a lot of examples of just the opposite. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Dailuaine 30 yo 1982/2013 (52%, Chieftain's, hogshead, cask #3893, 282 bottles)

Dailuaine 30 yo 1982/2013 (52%, Chieftain's, hogshead, cask #3893, 282 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: funnily enough, this is ten years older but much akin to the 1992. Maybe it's a notch more on vanilla, and a little less on plums and apricots but otherwise, both profiles are extremely similar. Custard. With water: touches of cooked asparagus, new tyres and new plastic but funnily enough, all that works very well. A characterful old spirit. Mouth (neat): big sweet oak, which works well. Bags of ginger just like in the 1992, white pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. The oak's quite talkative. With water: smoother, rounder, with a lot of American oak, just like in the 1992. Same style, more or less. Finish: long, a tad leafier. A little menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: I really enjoy Chieftain's latest offerings - the ones I could try of course. I'm feeling they're kind of cleaner and straighter than before, despite the obvious newish oak. SGP:561 - 85 points.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



  Today: GNAWA. Long time no gnawa music and I've got complains. Not. Performer: Hassan Hakmoun and Zahar. Track: Soutanbi. Please visit their websites and buy their music...

June 2, 2013


Tasting two 1990 Aultmore. Night and day, in a way.

It’s not that Aultmore is such a big name but theses two babies from the very same vintage should be very, say contrasting, as one is quite light in colour while the other one is as dark as the darkest coffee. Quite.

Aultmore 22 yo 1990 ‘Attraction’ (52.9%, McNeill's Choice, refill hogshead, +/-2013)

Aultmore 22 yo 1990 ‘Attraction’ (52.9%, McNeill's Choice, refill hogshead, +/-2013) Three stars Mr McNeill’s quite a character! Colour: straw. Nose: starts just a wee bit sulphury and rubbery (no ‘sherry’ sulphur of course) but it’s soon to turn into a fruitier and sweeter dram, with a combination of ripe apples and marshmallows, a profile that’s quite attractive indeed. More custard and fresh walnuts after that, even fresh asparagus, as well as a little lemon. With water: becomes much fresher, very ‘young fruity Speyside’. Apples and sweet barley, perhaps a little muesli. Mouth (neat): punchy, lemony and bubblegumy, with quite some pepper roaring in the background. Peppered marshmallows? All that is rather unusual, thus interesting. With water: a little more honey but otherwise it does not change much. Sweet barley, apples, white pepper. Finish: a tad short and, as usual, rather drier. Tea. Comments: a very fine typical unsherried Speysider. SGP:441 - 82 points.

Aultmore 1990 (57.9%, Jack Wiebers, Brass & Mining Collection, +/-2013)

Aultmore 1990 (57.9%, Jack Wiebers, Brass & Mining Collection, +/-2013) Four stars Colour: dark amber/coffee. Nose: extreme chocolaty and coffee-ish sherriness, very dry. Also bags and bags of old walnuts, with a good box of used matches also thrown in. So it’s probably that very polarising style again but I swear there isn’t any cooked cabbage, rotten eggs or straight mercaptan. Honest! With water: same, only with more flints. Also pipe tobacco – and a lot – and soy sauce. Within this specific style it’s quite perfect. Mouth (neat): heavy sherry, leathery and almost as peppery as the McNeill’s. A lot of dry sherry, bitter chocolate, heavy liquorice and unsweetened coffee. Artichoke liqueur. Water should bring out more sweetness… With water: indeed, more sultanas and strong honey (chestnut). Finish: long and very dry again. Coffee, cloves and liquorice wood. Comments: some Glendronachs are like this. Big dry sherry, really to my liking. SGP:362 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Billie Holiday. Track: Sometimes I'm Happy (from her last recording, 1959). Please buy her music...

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



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

Bowmore 12 yo 2001/2013 (52.9%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill butt, 484 bottles)

Bowmore 11 yo 2001/2012 (53.6%, Maltbarn, sherry, 175 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 1996/2013 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 307 bottles)

Glencadam 39 yo 1973/2013 (44.1%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 221 bottles)

Littlemill 24 yo 1988/2013 (50.3%, The Whisky Agency, refill bourbon hogshead, 309 bottles)