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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild



Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2020 - Part 1


May 2020 - part 2 <--- June 2020 - part 1 ---> June 2020 - part 2


June 13, 2020





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
More assorted single malt pairings
Another raid of the sample stash, two by two as usual. 


Milton-duff-Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, German import, -/+ 1980)

Milton-duff-Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, German import, -/+ 1980)
I find these batches a little variable, but many can be pretty good. Colour: pale gold. Nose: definitely an older style, lots of wet grains, cooked vegetables, mashed, slightly overripe fruits and things like dried banana chips in mixed nuts. Perhaps a tad milky as well. Mouth: not the most inspiring. Rather flat, teaish, touches of cardboard, some flabby green fruitiness like pear skin peelings. Touches of glue and damp grain. Some decent power from the ABV carries it over the finish line though. Finish: short, rather rough and sharp with some bready and cooking oil notes. Comments: Not the most inspiring old Miltonduff we’ve had over the years I’m afraid. Living up to its name I would say. 
SGP: 431 - 69 points. 



Miltonduff 8 yo 2009/2018 (62.1%, The Whiskyfind ‘Filmnik - District 9’, cask #701586, bourbon barrel, 240 bottles)

Miltonduff 8 yo 2009/2018 (62.1%, The Whiskyfind ‘Filmnik - District 9’, cask #701586, bourbon barrel, 240 bottles)
District 9 is a dystopian science fiction film about aliens that crash land on Earth while searching the galaxy for whisky investment opportunities. Or maybe that’s something else. Anyway… Colour: bright straw. Nose: kind of hyper modern in some ways with these rather light and sweet - almost fizzy - notes of bubblegum and glazed fruits. Barley sugar, vanilla foam, sweetened whipped cream and buttermilk. Obviously the cask was pretty active here. Indeed, in time you get some freshly ground green pepper as well. Although, I would say the cask activity shields us quite well from the high abv. With water: still rather spicy but it becomes warmer, gentler and rounder. More earthy too with these notes of bread, pinecones and turmeric. Mouth: Ouch! Very hot and peppery straight away. Lots of pepper of various shades. Nutmeg and powdered ginger, and cinnamon pastries. All very spicy and pungent. With water: much better, although still pretty sugary and spicy and prickly. Some hints of green chilli, cloves and more cinnamon. Finish: medium, lots of cooking oil, chilli, green pepper and some hints of something like spiced porridge? Comments: I am a big fan of the labels and concept behind this wee Filmnik series but the whiskies can often be quite whacky. I will set them a challenge, seeing as they always pick a film released in the year the whisky was distilled, for your next release guys, the film has to be ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ (the remake with Mr Keanu Reeves doesn’t count I’m afraid). God’s speed! 
SGP: 661 - 79 points. 



Glen Elgin NAS (43%, OB ‘White Horse’, for Japanese market, -/+ 1990)

Glen Elgin NAS (43%, OB ‘White Horse’, for Japanese market, -/+ 1990)
Colour: gold. Nose: rich, syrupy and rather fat with this kind of polished maltiness. Quite straightforward but very clean and balanced with plenty of evidence of the raw materials on display. Some sweeter biscuity notes of gingernuts and digestives, then wee touches of camphor and leather. Very easy and attractive. Mouth: quite fulsome with a lot of shoe polish, bold cereals, malt extract, freshly baked breads, light metallic touches, mineral oil, balsa wood and clay. A kind of vague but alluring waxiness as well; feels impressively textural. Finish: good length, getting drier, earthier and more towards leaf mulch, mushrooms, tobacco and more leathery notes. Comments: Something of a surprise, rather full bodied, rich and extremely satisfying to quaff. It’s not particularly complex but it feels very well composed and is the kind of dram you could very happily nurse in a tumbler while binge watching nonsense on Netflix. It’s also a good reminder that Glen Elgin used to be a rather more full bodied malt. 
SGP: 562 - 85 points. 



Glen Elgin 12 yo 2006 (55.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #85.51 ‘Elbow grease and bath salts’, refill hogshead, 278 bottles)

Glen Elgin 12 yo 2006 (55.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #85.51 ‘Elbow grease and bath salts’, refill hogshead, 278 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it is indeed a lighter style of distillate, but it’s also rather more expressive with lots of warm greenhouse aromas, trampled ferns, cut grass, green apples, vase water, geraniums and pollen. With a little time it develops a more biscuity backbone and a little more malty sweetness. Sunflower seeds, dried herbs, hay and freshly laundered fabrics. I have to say, I find this humble Glen Elgin rather complex, in an un-showy kind of way. With water: straighter and more fully on plain, crisp cereals. Un-sweetened breakfast cereals, putty, chalk, limestone, gravel and more crushed flowers and greenery - even some aloe vera. Mouth: very in keeping with the nose, lots of greenery and sharp green fruits. Gooseberry, Granny Smith apple, sour cider, yeasty bread dough, malt extract, hibiscus, lime tea and dried lavender. Again this mix lightness and complexity in a rather humble presentation. We’re almost on pure distillate here with all these barley eau de vie vibes. With water: dried flowers, turmeric, pollen, rice wine, dried tarragon, mineral oil, pastis, lemon peel, verbena and wee sooty touches. The texture and other facets remain light and deft. Finish: medium and rather full of plain cooking oils, cereals, tiny citrus notes, yeast and malty qualities. Comments: Humble is the word here. Very impressed by this quietly complex and extremely pure wee Glen Elgin. Very different to the old OB, but pretty much exactly the same quality I think. 
SGP: 351 - 85 points. 



Macduff 10 yo (50.2%, The Boutique-y Whisky Co ‘Batch 8’, 1160 bottles)

Macduff 10 yo (50.2%, The Boutique-y Whisky Co ‘Batch 8’, 1160 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather rich, biscuity and with a sort of greasy sweetness. Cooking oils, some dried herbs, some fruity muesli with a bit of runny honey through it. There’s also a slightly suggestion of rubber and new leather underneath as well. Rather ‘Macduff’, if you see? With water: greener, more peppery, more earthy, more of these putty notes, playdough, crushed green asparagus and turmeric. A little odd. Mouth: feels a bit disjointed on arrival, these rubbery notes are heavier and more dominating now. Also more of this greasiness and slightly artificial sweetness. Feels as though there may have been some re-racking going on. Graphite, putty, wine gums and some vegetable cuppa soup. With water: cleaner and more classical, also a little easier. Quite a few notes of barley water, various old man beers such as bitter and stout, touches of camphor and more putty and light earthiness. Finish: medium, doughy, oily, greasy again, very faintly medical and with some slightly overripe oranges and suggestions of concentrated orange juice. Comments: Hmmm, the nose showed promise but I find this Macduff a bit hard word to be honest. It’s characterful distillate, but it’s not particularly a character I want to spend a lot of time with. 
SGP: 562 - 75 points. 



Macduff 1982/1994 (60%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #6.17)

Macduff 1982/1994 (60%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #6.17)
Colour: straw. Nose: quite different, a leaner, more directly medical and punchy profile. Lots of chalk, herbal toothpaste, tiger balm, malt extract, shilling beers, camphor, lamp oil and some rather punchy herbal cough medicines. It’s also getting more minty as we go along, spearmint and mint tea. I find this style still rather unusual but undeniably more attractive and interesting. With water: greener, fresher, slightly more mineral and with a lot more cut grass, cactus, crushed fern, nettles and vase water. Almost a crisp young Loire sauvignon. Mouth: wow! Really a lot more mentholated, medicinal and even rather peaty in some ways. Minty chewing gum, waxes, putty, citronella candle, limoncello and hessian. Herbal jellies, mineral oil and pine sap. Quite bewildering and somewhat extreme whisky, but this is undeniably a lot of fun. With water: once again, greener, more crisp, direct and chiselled. Very sharp, almost tart with green acidity, brittle minerals and things like struck flints, chalk, aspirin and dry cereals. Finish: long, green, tart, cereal, lemony, mineral, lightly mentholated with eucalyptus, freshly muddled herbs and various cupboard medicines. Comments: Pretty whacky stuff. But unlike quite a few of these more recent bottling of Macduff - which I think are just plain difficult - this has some real charm behind its weirdness. Worth trying if it ever crosses your path. 
SGP: 353 - 86 points. 



Glenlossie 42 yo 1975/2017 (44.3%, Cadenhead Single Cask ‘175th Anniversary’, hogshead, 138 bottles)

Glenlossie 42 yo 1975/2017 (44.3%, Cadenhead Single Cask ‘175th Anniversary’, hogshead, 138 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: one of these old Speysiders that has morphed into a beehive - wax, pollen, honey and all. Pure acacia honey spread over warm brioche, a little bite of rye spice, ginger biscuits dunked in Earl Grey tea and then things like citrons and some very delicate earthy notes. Quite straightforward in some ways but very beautiful! Mouth: superbly rich, resinous, honeyed and almost like cannabis resin. Lots of eucalyptus, mint julep, beeswax, pollens, furniture wax, heather ale, mint leaf, hints of very old mirabelle eau de vie from glass and tiny notes of dried tarragon and toasted fennel seed. Earthy, lightly peppery and getting more complex and superbly elegant, also quite bit richer and with many more notes of breads and savoury pastries. Not tired at all. You do feel the wood but it’s really morphing into this stunning peppery and herbal liqueur profile you get from very good quality refill after many years. Finish: medium, very honeyed and full of fruit salad juices, peaches in syrup, nectars, pollens, concentrated herbal cough medicines, waxes and various lightly tannic fruit teas. Comments: A rather sublime old glory captured at just the right time I’d say. I’ll never tire of this combination of sweet honey, waxes and drier fruit notes. 
SGP: 651 - 91 points. 



Glenlossie 33 yo 1984/2018 (56.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #2533, refill sherry butt, 530 bottles)

Glenlossie 33 yo 1984/2018 (56.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #2533, refill sherry butt, 530 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: a wonderful mix of chestnuts, truffled risotto, dried wild mushrooms, black tea, miso and herbal cocktail bitters. Elegant, wonderfully balanced and complex. A wee paean to good refill sherry wood. Gets a little more earthy and nutty with time, walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts with a few more dried herbs and some cured game meats. Maybe a splash of café latte too. With water: more savoury, more notes of breads, soft wood spices, bitter dark chocolate, balsamic, black coffee, cinnamon bark and some rather leathery touches of camphor, praline and hessian. Mouth: quite a big arrival but well presented in a very silky texture. Really velvety notes of chocolate, coffee cake, green walnut liqueur, black olive tapenade and herbal cough syrup. Tarragon, dark fruit chutney, lime curd and some very old Calvados. Again the word that springs to mind is: balance! With water: again this evolves the complexity very well and it becomes drier, spicier and a little more bitter. More coffee, dark chocolate, walnuts, black olives, soy sauce and various cocktail bitters and dried herbs. Finish: long, rather leathery, bitter herbal medicines, black pepper, pu erh tea, walnuts, rancio and Irish coffee with cream. Comments: I think top quality refill sherry plus time has really equated to the epitome of balance and complexity in this instance. It’s the depth and evolution of flavour which is most striking here. Same quality as the Cadenhead I think, but they are very different styles I would say. Another total gem in this series. Can’t wait for the Signatory 32nd anniversary series later this year! 
SGP: 561 - 91 points. 



Glenglassaugh 40 yo 1978/2018 (40.9%, Signatory 30th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #258, 154 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 40 yo 1978/2018 (40.9%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #258, 154 bottles)  
Colour: deep gold. Nose: a mix of herbs, honeys and slightly lactic waxy notes. In addition these notes of candied nuts, chocolate lime sweets, sweetened coffee, milk chocolate, digestive biscuits dunked in milky tea and subtle aromas of pollen and candied citrus fruit peels. In time it also becomes more herbal with things like mint tea and touches of cannabis resin. Perhaps also some vase water and pressed flowers. It’s pleasant but feels a tad tired. Mouth: quite a soft arrival, again on candied nuts, sorrel, dried mint and some rather toasty cereal notes too. More of these milky tea and soggy biscuits vibes. Chocolate covered Brazil nuts, lime pith, desiccated coconut, treacle pudding and some sweet coffee cream liqueur. You do start to feel the low abv a bit much here. Finish: medium and on milk chocolate, Earl Grey tea with milk, more mixed nuts, candied peels, breakfast cereals and some orange liqueur. Comments: Some parts are very quaffable in a simple ‘nice old whisky’ kind of way, but I think it has perhaps just sat too long in the cask. This low abv, milky tea vibe is a bit much. Still, every great series needs a weak link in the chain. 
SGP: 451 - 77 points. 



And so, we bid farewell to ‘old shiz’ and enter the realm of peat…



Glenglassaugh 2011/2018 (53.5%, Bramble Whisky Company, 1st fill sherry, 376 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 2011/2018 (53.5%, Bramble Whisky Company, 1st fill sherry, 376 bottles)
I don’t know much about cocktails, but I do know that if you find yourself in Edinburgh and in the mood for boozy potions, then it is to Bramble, or one of its sibling bars such as The Last Word or The Lucky Liquor Co, that you should swiftly take yourself! Colour: coppery gold. Nose: you couldn’t really be further from the 1978 if you tried. This is immediately all on gruff, leathery, earthy modern peat smoke. Lots of tar, burnt bracken, hot car tyre, gentian distillate, ground black pepper and hessian sack cloth. Some black olives in brine sloshing about in the darkness. It’s really a collision of powerful peat and pretty active modern style wood, which cannot help but bring to mind the notion of ‘an unstoppable force meets an immovable object’. However, for whatever reason, it works pretty well I think. In time you get these notes of graphite oil, mechanical fluids and singed sawdust. With water: ahh, everything settles very nicely. There’s more smoky cohesion, kippers, tree bark, smoked coffee and pure tar. Mouth: the screech of Aston Martin tyres! This kind of clean hot rubber vibe mixed with pure kerosene, pencil shavings, black pepper, salt and malt vinegar crisps and potatoes baked in wood embers. Rather mad but a lot of fun. I time there’s some young balsamic vinegar glaze, green olives and herbal toothpaste. Some brake fluid in the mix as well. With water: smoked olive oil, smoked tea, hot smoked salmon, smoked chillies - smoked everything really! Tabasco on an oyster, sweetened iodine, herbal cough syrup, wholegrain mustard and long cured meats. Finish: rather long, tarry, this light rubbery note back again, more soot, kippers, meats and coffee. Comments: Where to begin? I think the problem here is that this is not really my cup of malt, but that’s a very personal judgement. It’s very much the kind of dram that lovers of this rather monolithic, modern peated style will guzzle like it would re-open the pubs. One thing is for sure, it is a huge amount of fun, but perhaps the kind of thing you need to be in the mood for. Anyway, please support great bars like Bramble when they are eventually able to re-open. 
SGP: 577 - 82 points.  



I think we need a short break after that. One or two months should do it…



Aerolite Lindsay 10 yo (46%, Atom Brands, 2019)

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 yo (46%, Atom Brands, 2019)  
A funny bottling from Atom that is an anagram of ’ten year old Islay’ and apparently hails from one Islay distillery after maturation in 70% bourbon barrels, 25% Spanish oak ex-sherry quarter casks and 5% ‘mystery casks’. The label also mentions ‘peat smoke-breathing dragons’. Let’s hope no one tells the SWA as I’m pretty sure that would not be permitted under their current production regulations. It’s possible the good folks at Atom were also smoking something. Colour: white wine. Nose: clean, coastal and fresh. Smoky grist, barley, heather, soot, wet rocks and sheep wool. Modern, clean, peaty Islay whisky in other words. It’s just a little unremarkable perhaps. Some nice lemony notes emerge in time. Mouth: rather autolytic and slightly yeasty. Smoked biscuits or something like that. Again this sheep wool oiliness, some carbolic acidity, heather ale and more smoky/sooty notes. Touches of lemon juice and a light tarriness. Finish: decent length, coal embers, heather smoke, peat and some peppery and briny notes. Comments: Yes, it all sounds a tad silly. But the whisky is perfectly quaffable and pretty typical modern Islay single malt. For the £45ish price tag I think it’s a fair drop. Let’s all buy some so we can keep those good folks from Tunbridge Wells in suitably jazzy narcotics! 
SGP: 465 - 84 points.



Islay #3 13 yo ‘Batch 4’ (48.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1479 bottles)

Islay #3 13 yo ‘Batch 4’ (48.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1479 bottles)
There seem to be some rumours floating in the digital ether that this could be Laphroaig. Colour: white wine. Nose: Indeed, this has that rather meandering bassline smokiness that feels rather ‘Laphroaiggy’. Lots of squid ink, iodine drops, seawater and coal smoke. Dried seaweed, salted white fish, malt vinegar and a very attractive peppery tarriness. Simple, pure and very attractive. Mouth: wonderful arrival, all on soft, greasy peat smoke. Natural tar, petrol, iodine, TCP, lemon juice and seawater. Also kelp, green olives in pickling juices and preserved lemons in brine. Some grizzly kiln smoke accumulating in the background. Finish: long, sooty, deeply earthy, salty and with this rather herbal and rooty peat smoke. Lightly kippery and with some lingering malt vinegar notes. Comments: No nonsense here. This is a terrific wee dram that, quite frankly, reeks of top notch modern Laphroaig from refill wood. Love the purity balanced with the sense of restrained power. 
SGP: 468 - 89 points.  



Big, hearty thanks to Andy.





June 11, 2020


Naked Glenm*rangie

That’s to say Glenm*rangie without any excessive oak, wine, and even without a brand name. In my view too many OBs have become too ‘branded’, too ‘commercial’, and quite possibly not as good as they used to be in the old days. It’s also true that official Glenmos have fallen off our radar quite some years ago already as most new ones were NAS and kind of randomly flavoured; that’s what we call the Doritos syndrome. And frankly, I believe I’m not going to shed any tears, especially since the IBs are doing a great, if anonymous, job. It’s just that the indies have to be a bit cryptic and clue-y, if I may say so, since they can’t use the name of the Distillery.

Westport 1997/2014 (55.4%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #3291)

Westport 1997/2014 (55.4%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #3291) Four stars and a half
A ‘teaspooned’ Glenmo with that lovely retro label from BB&R’s. Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah, perfect. No official bottling will ever let this wonderful tart, all lemon-driven style shine through. Luminous lemongrass, balm, kiwis, lemons, basil, coriander leaves, with this wee chalkiness in the background that’s always great news when it appears. Also touch of liquorice and touch of aniseed. And no wine and no vanilla, h.u.r.r.a.y. With water: indeed, there is a little vanilla now, but that would be proper natural vanilla and not exactly vanillin. Great nose when reduced too. Mouth (neat): incredibly lemony, citrusy, tense, with a little sharper honey coating all that. Excellent indeed. With water: superb, grassier, with quite some menthol and liquorice, a little aniseed again, and simply artisan limoncello made by a proper Italian mamma. Always the best. Finish: long, with unexpected touches of golden raisins. Perfect green tea in the aftertaste, as well as limoncello again. Comments: there’s been quite a few Westports a few years back and I don’t think they’ve all been magical, but this one was just perfect.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Secret Highland 34 yo 1985/2019 (47%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 256 bottles)

Secret Highland 34 yo 1985/2019 (47%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 256 bottles) Five stars
No one, absolutely no one, is saying that this is Glenmorangie, but between us, I believe the gentleman on the label looks a bit like Dr Bill, no? Colour: gold. Nose: more oak influence, obviously, so rather less of Glenmo’s usual tense purity (when no one’s murdered it). We’re rather reminded of a softer old Speysider, such as an early-to-mid 1970s Glen Grant or something like that. Overripe apples, acacia honey, then anything from a beehive, especially wax, a little grated coconut, various herbal teas (chamomile first), while it would then rather display tiny waxy spices, sunflower oil, camphor, shoe polish, old embrocations, old cigarettes (forgotten old pack in a drawer)… I find it really complex, with no aroma really standing out. Mouth: excellent, with a tiny smokiness at first sips (re-racking in an ex-peater cask at some point?) but that would fade away, leaving room for an ‘English five O’clock tea’ (with heartfelt apologies to all our friends in Scotland), scones, earl grey, biscuits, marmalade, milk chocolate, citron jelly, Cointreau, Mandarine Impériale, touch of mint once again, touch of earth… Finish: medium, soft, pretty much on ‘a tea in the Sahara’. With roasted pine nuts inside! Jammy citrus back in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, complex, very elegant.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Unblended Highland Malt 35 yo 1985/2020 (46.1%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 232 bottles)

Unblended Highland Malt 35 yo 1985/2020 (46.1%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 232 bottles) Five stars
Even if the label is quoting ‘the fifteen hens of pain’ and ‘a certain doctor’s bitch’, given that this is a Whisky Sponge bottling, it could actually be anything from some pre-Bolsonaro cachaça to some Liechtensteiner elderberry liqueur, via Melania’s favourite – and much needed - antidepressant syrup and Wladimir Wladimirowitsch’s preferred peppered vodka. A-ny-thing, including Glenmorangie indeed. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s pretty different, probably a little straighter, more ‘constructed’, and certainly more on roasted nuts and cakes/biscuits. For example, I’m really getting loads of warm praline and tarte tatin, so in a way you could say that we’re closer to the old officials (some ‘private’ single casks for example). Lovely notes of cider, quince tarte, pears poached in Sauternes (this is no joke) and croissants. After all, aren’t the owners French? I mean, the owners of Glenmo! Mouth: we’re a little closer to the TWA on the palate, with good quantities of spearmint, stewed peaches, triple-sec, then rather more tea this time (a little more oak, perhaps)… In other words, the tea’s been kept in the teapot for a longer time. More liquorice wood coming through after a good minute, and even ideas of Belgian trappist beer. No, all trappists aren’t Belgian. It’s not very strong but I do feel, deep inside, that it would benefit from a few drops of water. With water: indeed, and rather mucho. More menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, pine sweets (I know for a fact that the Sponge loves his mountain pine sweets from the Vosges mountains), then slightly burnt apricot pie and even mango cake. Finish: medium, slightly burnt in a good way, mentholy, pine-y. Orange drops in the aftertaste.


Comments: do not down this one without water just because the strength is not very high, that would be a tragic mistake. Water makes it win two more points in my book. By the way, we’ve heard from some high-ranked source in Edinburgh that the WhiskySponge crew will add a free limited-edition Kate Bush CD to any delivery, so do not miss this, well, this unmissable opportunity!
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Merci François)

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


June 10, 2020


A few Glen Ord

Indeed why not try to do a big phat Ord – Glen Ord – Glenordie session for a change? Oh and I promise we’ll carefully avoid any unnecessary play on words.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 'Signature' (40%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2018)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 'Signature' (40%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2018) Two stars
I thought the first versions were a little weak, Ord ought to be quite big! But you know, NAS plus empty words (reserve, old, rare, signature... )… Colour: gold. Nose: soft porridge, tea, earthy wood, vanilla cream… hello? Mouth: nope, a flattish whisky, rather cardboardy, without much substance. Now it’s not ‘bad’, it’s just not very inspiring. Finish: short, peppery. Powdered tea. Comments: not undrinkable, but there’s no fun to be had here. Quick quick quick…
SGP:341 - 70 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
This should be nicer, this will be nicer. Colour: orange gold (caramel). Nose: once again, a lovely nose, on high-end teas, touches of black earth, some artisanal cider, a little chocolate, coffee, and just a drop of malt extract. A feeling of tea and coffee blended together. I have to confess I never tried that, did you? Mouth: totally kills the Signature, as expected. This time we’re having a perfect espresso, with a few drops of plum spirit and Cointreau thrown in. Balance is cool, length is cool, and even if it does get drier, we would never reach the dreadful cardboard-stage. Finish: medium, a tad vegetal, malty, with a drop of soy sauce over tobacco and chocolate. And coffee. Comments: I think I like this little 12 better than last time. A double-magnum would make for a proper lockdown dram (formerly known as a desert-island dram).
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Climbing up the ladder…

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
I absolutely adore these green-blue (turquoise?) bottles Diageo are using here. Yep, for Johnny Walker too. They remind us of wartime glass that could never be totally white. How timely! Colour: orangey gold. Nose: I think I like the 12 a little better, is was fresher and better chiselled, while this one’s more on wooden stuff. Having said that there’s also some nice menthol, as well as whiffs of old wine cellar, mushrooms, saltpetre, musty old cardboard… Mouth: rather awesome, earthy, pleasantly musty, with notes of old fino, orange cordial, beeswax… This is the kind of combo that just works, but we’re just starting to feel that those b****y 40% a.b.v. do make for a serious handicap when the spirit is this good. The NAS, sure, the 12, maybe, but a 15? Nah, that’s cheap, almost stingy… Finish: short to medium, on maple syrup, caramel, brioche, cigarette tobacco… Comments: an excellent drop. But the strength? It’s like cutting off Robert Plant’s microphone right in the middle of Achille’s Last Stand! (my preferred LedZep tune). But let’s move on…
SGP:451 - 83 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
An eighteen years old Ord at 40%? That’s like an Aston Martin with a Mercedes engine… hold on, right, okay… Colour: orange gold. Nose: citrons and guavas, who could be against that? A drop of asparagus soup too, nobody will be against this either. After that, some regular maltiness and a little ale. A pleasant nose for sure, but the noses are seldom problematic. Mouth: it’s okay for a little while, with good oranges, Jaffa cakes, chocolate… but it would lose steam and almost nosedive after thirty seconds, becoming drying and a little cardboardy. Some curious notes of stale mead. Finish: short, cardboardy, drying. Not the best part. Yesterday’s tea in the teapot. The aftertaste is a little nicer. Comments: a malt that’s full of promises, but as is the case with many large-volume OBs I’m afraid, it does not quite cover the distance if you ask me. The lovely 12 and 15 over it just anytime!
SGP:351 - 77 points.

Good, no serious ‘connoisseur’ OBs by Diageo in sight, let’s rather lean towards the indies…

Ord 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles)

Ord 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles) Three stars and a half
We’re expecting nature. Raw nature. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: stones, flints, white peaches and pears, yoghurt, sheep’s wool, chalk… This couldn’t be any rawer, really. Not that we’re complaining mind you, they have a nice distillate at Ord… With water: sameish, just a tad fruitier. White calvados from Domfrontais. Did you ever try good white calvados? Mouth (neat): pure Williams pear eau-de-vie. Really, I’m not making this up, Williams pear. Bon-Chrétien Williams. How funny. With water: very good, very pear-y. Calvados aged in stoneware – not sure that would be legal having said that. In amphoras? Finish: long, even more on apple and pear spirit. How funny, must be a matter of molecules. Comments: pears, that’s supposed to be ethyl decadienoate, according to our common friend Wikipedia. Very good fun here.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Wait, we even have it as a younger spirit…

Ord 10 yo 2008/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 234 bottles)

Ord 10 yo 2008/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 234 bottles) Three stars
Indeed, same strength. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ah, this is a tad earthier and even more rustic. So a little less fruity. With water: a tad more sweet oak, caramel, shortbread… Mouth (neat): good, raw, yet crystalline fruity young malt whisky. Barley and pears. No quibbling. With water: some sour notes. The 11 was better. Finish: rather long, raw, even a little brutal. Comments: the 11 anytime, even if this is still quite good. Natural whisky with some new-make-y sides.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

A note to my tasting buddies: this is a very dangerous kind of session, because you could easily quaff ten centilitres of each, trying to detect nuances, if not straight differences. Do not! But maybe another 2008?...

Glen Ord 10 yo 2008/2019 (61.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #77.56, Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 235 bottles)

Glen Ord 10 yo 2008/2019 (61.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #77.56, Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 235 bottles) Four stars
Sure it’s got a name, but that one’s totally crazy so I didn’t even dare mention it. Right, it’s ‘Sporran jangler’. Seriously, WTF? Are there still bits of carpet to smoke up there in Leith? Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah right, this is more on pure barley, stones, apples… But careful Eugene, the strength is very high here. With water: malted barley and crushed chalk, then apple and pear juices. Crushed aspirin tablets. Mouth (neat): someone wants to kill me, apparently. Ueber-raw eau-de-vie running from a proper early-XXth century middle-European pot still fitted with a shortish copper column. Indeed I speak from experience. With water: ah wow! It’s doing the peacock’s tail now, going into many directions, citrus, tart herbs, lemons, limestone, sauvignon blanc… That’s all very cool, we just had to wait. Finish: rather long, with a lot of tension and verticality. See what I mean? Comments: very good, just a tad too intellectual. Me say this, me happy.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Since we’re at the (formerly) honourable Society…

Glen Ord 27 yo 1991/2019 (41.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #77.53, ‘A delectable confection’, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 127 bottles)

Glen Ord 27 yo 1991/2019 (41.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #77.53, ‘A delectable confection’, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 127 bottles) Three stars
Right, right, an older one… Colour: straw. Nose: not so fast! Coconut water, fresh putty, oil paint, hessian, teak oil… It’s all pretty pleasant on the nose, but it’s also suggesting that the wood took over. The palate will tell… Mouth: do you like coconut balls and old bourbons? That’s what you’re getting here. Some very old bourbon, ridden with coconut, vanilla, orgeat and marzipan. There is some kind of perverseness at play here, we’re off the beaten tracks anyway. Seriously, I’m even finding preserved pineapples! Finish: medium decadent, coconutty. Comments: it’s a matter of gusto and opinions. Nothing rational to be found in this dram, even a score is superfluous in this context. But we’re on a never-ending mission, you know…
SGP:351 - 80 points.

I agree, time for a last one – and quickly at that…

Ord 14 yo 2005/2019 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 300 bottles)

Ord 14 yo 2005/2019 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 300 bottles) Three stars and a half
300 bottles, that’s a nice round number. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: no, I mean yes, it’s fine, it’s just very elementary. Plums, muesli and barley. Ripe greengages. There. With water: a barley field, perhaps. And a hint of champagne. I’m serious, many good champagnes do nose more or less like this, especially blanc de blancs. That’s right, chardonnay. Mouth (neat): sweet barley, fruit creams and jams. Apple compote. With water: yes, good, average in the best sense, barley-y and on very ripe apples. Finish: rather long, malty, good, and rather bready. Drops of sourer teas. Comments: it’s all a matter of presence and oomph, I suppose. This, id a pretty good one in those respects.
SGP:351 - 83 points.

And now another… no, that is enough. Stay tuned ans safe, see you.

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


June 8, 2020


Some Irish of a certain quality

Rather from the higher echelons, shall we say, and possibly from Northern Ireland. What border?

Teeling 14 yo ‘Brabazon Series 03’ (49.5%, OB, Irish, single malt, Perdo Ximenez, 10000 bottles, 2020)

Teeling 14 yo ‘Brabazon Series 03’ (49.5%, OB, Irish, single malt, Perdo Ximenez, 10000 bottles, 2020) Four stars
We haven’t tried #02, but we thought #01 had been pretty pretty good. What’s more, it’s perfect that they would have added the age statement this time, while since the finishing period in PX lasted for 3 long years (in whisky making, years are always longer), this is more double-maturation than a simple finishing. All cleared then, let’s proceed… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s absolutely not one of those hastily PX-ed whiskies that are invading our shelves, with rather some perfect walnut cake, a rum-raisin combo, a rather lovely kind of earthiness that you would also find in some high-end pipe tobaccos or teas, and then a feeling of prunes soaked in old armagnac. That’s all pretty ‘meta’, with this impression of whiskey – rum – brandy blend that would just work in this case. It’s even a little troubling, shall we say, but will this happen on the palate as well? Mouth: clearly and purely Irish this time, the whisky’s won it, with the usual and much expected tropical fruits, mangos, then rather tarte tatin and mirabelle jam. A handful of sultanas too, then a touch of hops and flowery/fruity herbal tea. More leaves and grass appearing after a short while, together with touches of cloves, caraway and nutmeg. Notes of proper old PX. Finish: rather medium, with some muscovado sugar, more cloves, and our friends the ripe mirabelles. Leafier aftertaste (tea). Comments: just excellent. Great work with ‘proper’ PX, I think, with even a wee feeling of V.O.R.S. that I just forgot to mention before.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Let’s find one that’s similarly aged…

Irish Single Malt 16 yo 2003/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Agency, barrel)

Irish Single Malt 16 yo 2003/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Agency, barrel) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: bonbons, fruit syrups, especially pears, then touches of pineapple. Feels young, a tad too eau-de-vie-ish, and not totally dissimilar to some Scottish grain whisky. Feels more Irish pot-still than single malt this far, but let’s dig deeper… With water: not quite. A little grist? Mouth (neat): it’s troubling that you could feel where this would be going, should you allow this juice to remain in wood for ten or fifteen years. It’s bizarrely a little immature at 16 years old, a little too eau-de-vie-ish in other words, but potential is there, as the pros say. With water: similar feelings. Passion fruit syrup, pear, pineapple drops… Finish: medium, on the same notes. Grassier aftertaste. Comments: it’s true that this naked baby had to struggle after the excellent Teeling, while the original juices may have been very similar. Great work with that PX, really (yes, Serge at the keyboard).
SGP:630 – 80 points.

Let us insist…

Irish Single Malt 21 yo 1998/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 208 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 21 yo 1998/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 208 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: typical hops, wisteria, gorse, then mangos, passion fruits, green bananas, and then wee whiffs of engine oil, garden bonfire and balsa wood. Impeccable this time. With water: metal polish and fruit peel, plus a smart assortment of oily and resinous aromas, around putty. Like. Mouth (neat): it’s utterly great that a 1998 would be as fantastic as the famous 1988-1992s (and thereabouts). Tangerines grapefruits, passion fruits, lemon, etcetera. Touch of lavender honey. With water: and it takes water extremely well. I’d swear it could swim to the Kildalton shore, which isn’t that far away after all. Remember what they say, ‘if you can’t see it, it's raining; if you can, it’s going to rain.’ Finish: medium, and this time again, a tad grassier and leafier. Comments: around ten further years will make it reach 90-91, piece of cake. But would that be worth it? I guess the answer would be ‘no’.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Let’s see… (that feels so ‘arranged’, S….)

Irish Single Malt 29 yo 1990/2019 (48.5%, The Whisky Agency, barrel)

Irish Single Malt 29 yo 1990/2019 (48.5%, The Whisky Agency, barrel) Four stars and a half
I’ve been told, mind you, that the gentleman on the label is absolutely not someone who’s just tried this little Irish whisky. Phew. Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s obviously subtler, with tiny herbs, ointments, herbs, peelings, leaves, nuts, a touch of camphor, moss, putty again… But it’s also a tad more fragile than the 1998, which was rather more ‘evident’ and without any headache. Not saying this one’s more tiresome but there, I’m sure you see what I mean. Mouth: much bigger and fruitier this time, with first bags of blueberries, then oranges, papayas, mangos… And acacia honey, barley syrup, Demerara sugar, tea, a touch of varnish… Quite funnily, it tends to become stronger over time, even a little rough(ish). Finish: rather long, kind of young, but of course, excellent. Comments: I think my heart is torn between the 1998 and the 1990. In that case, one way out, have another whisky…
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Back to Teeling’s…

Teeling 28 yo 1991/2020 (46%, OB, 4000 bottles)

Teeling 28 yo 1991/2020 (46%, OB, 4000 bottles) Five stars
An intriguing flat bottle that looks a bit like a bourbon’s, no? Or, indeed, a Canadian’s. Having said that, we had a few 27s (right, two of them) and I have to say they were all totally stellar. This 28 was finished in Sauternes for no less than eight (8) years, which ‘may’ sound a bit superfluous since the juice was probably ueber-fruity in the first place, but let’s see what happened… Colour: deep gold. Nose: some old ‘B’ that would have been taken back to European pastures. I mean, what I’m finding is rather all around orchard fruits, greengages, plums, perhaps banana skins indeed, but also fresh walnuts, melons… In other words, no mango and maracuja extravaganza this time. Interesting (and lovely, as expected)… Mouth: what an unusual brew! Where else would you find patchouli, green tobacco, apple peel, walnut peel, pistachios, zucchini and dried mushrooms, and only then some brighter fruitiness? Around guavas and elderflower syrup, perhaps. A few pencil shavings as well (where those château barrels?) then various herbal teas, then coffee dregs, crude cocoa powder and very black tea.  Finish: pretty long and very bizarrely, much more on the ‘usual’ tropical fruits, before the cocoa and the cedar shavings would strike back in the aftertaste, together with some menthol. Comments: this is clearly not one of the utter tropical fruit bombs that we’ve learned to love, but on the other hand, it’s extremely coherent and complex. Oh and it feels older than 28, perhaps even 40. Seriously. Gle mhaith!
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Good, we could try to find a wee one just for the road, what do you think?

A Drop of The Irish (59.6%, Blackadder, hogshead, cask #DI 2018-1, 333 bottles, 2018)

A Drop of The Irish (59.6%, Blackadder, hogshead, cask #DI 2018-1, 333 bottles, 2018) Four stars
We’ve tried an earlier cask just one month ago and found it very good, if a little raw. Well, very raw. Colour: light gold. Nose: vanillas aplenty, then maple syrup and acacia honey. Whiffs of camphor coming from the background, also café latte, Golden Grahams and other kinds of cornflakes. I’ll say it, I love this rather regressive side. Perfect drop indeed. With water: extremely viscimetric, water generates more legs than they have at the Crazy Horse Saloon. As for the aromas, we’re having toasted brioche and caramelised popcorn. I told you, it’s regressive. Mouth (neat): fantastic, just a little, cough, cough, strong. As we used to say while in lockdown, ‘may cure COVID-19’. With water: excellent. Cider, sorb eau-de-vie, melons, greengages, green tea and then more and more peelings while it’s getting frankly grassy. I’m even wondering if there aren’t touches of peat. No? Finish: long raw and good. Espresso in the aftertaste. No, of course no sugar, this is not starbucksfun. Comments: a super great drop that’s very easy, but it calls for moderation, otherwise we’d soon be in the same situation as that of Percy in Black Adder Series One (remember we said we’d try to quote Black Adder every time we try a whisky by Blackadder?)
So, Percy: Only this morning in the courtyard, I saw a horse with two heads and two bodies!
Edmund: Two horses standing next to each other?
Percy: Yes, I suppose it could have been. 
SGP:552 - 86 points.

P.S.: yes, I suppose you could replace Percy with Boris.


June 6, 2020





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
More closed distilleries 
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there’s more of these examples of silent distilleries knocking about my sample shelf. Or, ‘Ghosted’ distilleries as the Johnnie Walker Blue Label department at Diageo would probably like us to say. Let’s begin in the lowlands… 


Glen Flagler ‘All Malt’ NAS (70 proof, OB, 1970s)

Glen Flagler ‘All Malt’ NAS (70 proof, OB, 1970s) 
I am indebted to Mark from the excellent Cheaper By The Dram for this and another sample for today’s session. I’m sure you all know that Glen Flagler was a short lived malt produced by a pair of pot stills within the old Moffat grain distillery and owned by Inverhouse. This non age statement version is scarcer than its 5 and 8 year old siblings. Now, having said all that, I couldn’t tell you whether this is a ‘single’ malt, or what would at that time have been called a vatted malt - blended malt in today’s lingo. Colour: pale straw. Nose: straw, wool, ink, fabrics, pollen and an almost grappa-esque fruitiness with background notes of wine must and limoncello - or am I just starting to ‘think’ Italian? No wonder this used to sell well in Italy. I also find rather a lot of ripe peaches in syrup and crushed almonds. A very slight cardboard note too, but that may be OBE. Mouth: rather light, gently creamy and with these unusual lactic tones such as Greek yoghurt and milk bottle sweets. Some crumbled oatcakes, juniper and crushed nettles. Rather ginish in some ways, but that may well be the youthfulness of the spirit. Indeed, it feels very young but the spirit is light, playful and not without charisma. Finish: short, citrusy, some barley sugar sweetness and wee grassy touches. Comments: I’ve had a few of these bottlings over the years and there seems to be not one ounce of consistency between them. Some are dreadful, while others can really be a joyous surprise. How much of that is Glen Flagler itself, how much is time in bottle and how much is whether they’re ‘self’ whiskies or ‘vatted’ will, I suspect, forever remain a mystery. This one was a bit light, but good fun. 
SGP: 531 - 78 points. 



Glen Flagler 23 yo 1972/1996 (51.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #228442, 255 bottles)

Glen Flagler 23 yo 1972/1996 (51.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #228442, 255 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: sweetly grassy, honeyed, lots of pollens, honeycomb and some green fruits preserved in syrup. Then comes some shoe polish, new leather and dried beeswax. You do indeed get the impression it was a rather workmanlike and industrial style of spirit. Some camphor, putty and cough syrup. With water: eucalyptus, camphor, putty, strong jasmine tea some rather pushy herbal notes. Mouth: various crystallised fruits and garden fruit preserves. Lots of prickly citrus notes, jams, faint medical embrocations, a rather syrupy mouthfeel and a slow but steady evolution away towards more waxy and polished notes. With water: really evolves quite strikingly towards fresh, bitter herbs, dried dark fruits, toasted seed mix and some rather grassy olive oil. Still wee threads of honey in there too though. Finish: medium and rather pithy, herbal, lemon rind, olive oil, dried tarragon and a little mustard powder. Comments: It’s an impressive and rather ‘separate’ style of malt, one that doesn’t quite fit into any easy category. Texture and concentration are very impressive and the overall style is pleasingly punchy and industrial, yet balanced by some nice fruits. Not just a historical artefact for collections and museum displays. 
SGP: 551 - 88 points. 



Littlemill 27 yo 1992/2020 (52.3%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 260 bottles)

Littlemill 27 yo 1992/2020 (52.3%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 260 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: grass, olive oil and ripe garden fruits. Pitch perfect and very enchanting. Indeed, it really seems to double down on this extremely elegant and slick olive oil profile. Blind you could also be forgiven for saying an early 90s Bushmills or Cooley. These vintages of Littlemill often speak with an Irish accent I find. Some further hints of nettles, aloe vera and New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Great stuff! With water: now we are really getting towards a pretty punchy and vivid grassiness. Nettles, vine leaves, salad dressing, wine must, putty and white stone fruits. Mouth: superb arrival on punchy white pepper, cut grass, chopped green herbs, lime zest, lemon barley water, vapour rubs, chalk and lemongrass. The fruits are in there but they are restrained, nicely bitter and with a sharpness and clarity that once again would suggest some kind of nicely acidic sauvignon blanc. A scattering of crisp cereals too. With water: wonderfully thick and oily now, big juicy fruits, cereals, cooking oils, bitter herbs, expensive tonic water, juniper, mirabelle eau de vie, tarragon - really becomes quite complex. Finish: good length, getting more herbal, waxed lemon peel, perfectly bitter. Comments: Yet another terrific Littlemill from these latter day vintages. Really has something akin to these Irish malts of the same era. There’s a knife-edge balance between grassiness, bitterness and fruitiness going on here which is wonderfully compelling. 
SGP: 651 - 91 points. 



Imperial 30 yo 1990/2020 (43.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 134 bottles)

Imperial 30 yo 1990/2020 (43.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 134 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: this rather specific kind of lactic, honeyed and waxy profile which I’m increasingly finding with 90s Imperials. Behind that fabrics, baking parchment, damp grains, plain toast and a single molten white marshmallow. In time it opens and becomes fresher and a little more breezy and playful which is nice. Although it remains on the lighter side. Mouth: excellent arrival, feels bigger than 45.5%. Rather peppery, waxy and nicely oily in texture. Lots of canvass, hessian, camphor, putty and gorse flower. Also some slightly dry limoncello, pumpkin seed oil and a few slightly taut wood spices. Feels like this one was captured just before the cask really bit down. Finish: medium and getting a little weaker, more towards bitter herbal tones, sandalwood and cornflakes. Comments: Perhaps bottled one or two years too late, but it remains a beautiful wee drop that gives the feeling of old school highland whisky. 
SGP: 551 - 87 points. 



Glenugie 30 yo 1977/2007 (46.3%, Signatory ‘Cask Strength Collection’, cask #5507, hogshead, 243 bottles)

Glenugie 30 yo 1977/2007 (46.3%, Signatory Vintage ‘Cask Strength Collection’, cask #5507, hogshead, 243 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: an immediate waft of raw barley, then all these rather thick and pulpy mashed fruits which are rather indigenous to Glenugie in my experience. Lots of overripe banana, green apple, pear and kiwi. Then lemon posit, runny honey, liquorice allsorts, guava, melon and conference pear. I love this very focused fruitiness on overripe garden and green fruits. The whole thing feels very fleshy, pulpy and nicely textural. Mouth: some rather dry fruit cordials, nicely syrupy and oily in texture. Cornflour, rapeseed oil, turmeric, lemon zest, verbena, barley sugars and things like bouillon stock, mashed vegetables and freshly made porridge with a miser’s teaspoon of honey through it. Cleaves very close to the raw ingredients and feels at times surprisingly austere for a Glenugie. Finish: good length, getting very green, herbal, lightly waxy, bitter lemon and some notes of soda bread and putty. Comments: In some ways, given the general luminosity of most Glenugies from these vintages, you could argue that this is something of a disappointment. However, being realistic, this is still an extremely pleasurable dram with some wonderfully opulent moments. It’s just a notch too austere, and at times oddly plain, to climb too high in my wee book. 
SGP: 561 - 88 points. 



Glen Albyn 10 yo (43.4%, OB, D&C Import Italy, 1960s)

Glen Albyn 10 yo (43.4%, OB, D&C Import Italy, 1960s)
These batches could be pretty variable in my experience. Colour: pale gold. Nose: nicely ‘old highlands’ at first with these big whiffs of waxes, metal polish, old toolboxes, sheep wool and mineral oil. Some putty, dusty malt bins and hessian cloth. Although, there’s also a slight grittiness of concrete and a rather medical, crushed aspirin quality. Very typical of these Inverness malts I would say, the ‘Schneck’ accent is thick here! Mouth: a little more whacky and ‘Schnecky’. Lots of wool, aspirin, medicines, petrol mixed with milk (!?!?), iodine drops, bitter orange peel, camphor, putty, limestone, concrete, clay, smoked tea and some pretty brittle, dry waxiness. Also perhaps some graphite oil and damp grains - salted porridge maybe? Finish: good length and staying on this rather direct and slightly sharp medicinal profile. Quite a big aftertaste of mineral oils, herbs, medical balms and a little sootiness. Comments: It’s a rather brutal and very ‘Inverness’ style in some ways, although I think the bottling strength for this one helps add balance. A style of whisky which hasn’t existed in Scotland for about 50 years I’d say. Austere and slightly thuggish, yet also full of charisma and not a little charm. 
SGP: 363 - 84 points.



While we are in Inverness… 



Glen Mhor 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)

Glen Mhor 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)
This is one of these lovely wee flat minis that G&M were issuing ubiquitously in the 70s. This one should be from around mid-1970s I think. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: a deep, greasy and leathery sherry. Lots of dried figs, damp sods of earth, dark fruit chutneys, mushroom powder, cocoa, leaf mulch and camphor. Powerful, dense and emphatically thick stuff, with a wonderfully lean, sinewy and direct sherry influence. Goes on with things like mutton, venison, stovies, bouillon, Maggi, soot and dark grains. Some kind of thick, almost tarry stout beer from a whisky barrel. Becomes increasingly mentholated and medicinal over time with many eloquent wee herbal touches. With water: all these rather plummy dark fruits emerge now. Prunes in Armagnac, date syrup, pomegranate molasses and a few watermelon bonbons. Mouth: Pow! Superbly concentrated and syrupy sherry. Miso, soy sauce, balsamic glaze, herbal ointments, your Granny’s long forgotten herbal cough syrup, dark chocolate with chilli, fir liqueur, walnut wine, natural tar and vividly salty rancio. With water: herby chicken stuffing, bay leaf, tarragon, punchy green Chartreuse, lime curd, more rancio, bacon jam, black bean curd, smoked chocolate. Madness! Finish: brilliantly long, deeply earthy, animalistic and almost fatty with all these wonderfully thick and sinewy meaty notes. Pork scratchings, antiseptic, more rancio, saline and herby broths and gloopy camphor. Comments: Excuse me, but what the fuck was that? I’ve tried the 100 proof 8yo full size bottles but none have ever been up to that kind of scratch. No offence, but this is extremely un-Glen Mhor. Where is the concrete? Where is the gluey porridge? Where is the deep sense of existential dread? We’ve been conned it would seem! 
SGP: 572 - 93 points. 



Glenury Royal 23 yo 1971/1995 (61.3%, OB ‘Rare Malts’, sherry)

Glenury Royal 23 yo 1971/1995 (61.3%, OB ‘Rare Malts’, sherry)
Another of the more famous Rare Malts expressions, and pretty much the only one from active sherry. It’s been a long time since I tried this so I’m very happy to revisit it. Colour: amber. Nose: It’s funny how even with the obviously rich cloak of sherry, this is still extremely ‘Rare Malts’ in style. Which is to say: power, austerity, directness and concentration. Leathery, leafy, mulchy, earthy and showing lots of bitter marmalade, pin resin, tobacco and sweet herbal liqueurs. Orange oils, dark chocolate and an impression of pot pourri. With water: softer, leafier and more towards cocoa, sultanas, fruit loaf and dried mint leaves. Mouth: hot and prickling with paprika, natural tar, hot leather, kirsch and lots of wee mentholated and eucalyptus notes. Slightly gamey and rather peppery. With water: works terrifically with water. Much easier and more open and generous. Minty, blood orange cordial, dark fruits soaked in brandy and more of these nice leathery and gamey touches. Things like Bovril, camphor and prune eau de vie. Finish: long, orangey - more marmalade - mentholated, some nicely tannic black tea, sooty and getting rather more towards herbal infusions and vegetal broths. Comments: Totally excellent, although I think this may be an example of a bottling which we can look upon with a degree of revisionism and say that, while terrific, isn’t perhaps the total masterpiece some proclaimed it to be ‘back in the day’. Whenever that was. I love it, but I think it’s a tad brutal and domineering at times. 
SGP: 662 - 91 points. 



Let’s go north for our final two. Now, does Brora still count as a closed distillery? It is scheduled to re-open later this year, although I’m not sure whether Covid will have an impact on that or not? I would argue that the old bottlings, especially those of original pre-Brora Clynelish, definitely do still count as ‘silent stills’ given that they really are liquid artefacts of a different era, production process, people and ingredients. Just as some are rather cynical about the re-commissioning of Brora and say it won’t match up to its former glory. Personally, I disagree with that assessment. I agree that it probably won’t make distillate as luminous as the 1972s or 1965s, but that does not mean it cannot make something remarkable, different and excellent. And from what we’ve heard so far about Diageo’s plans for it - a kind of ‘working museum’ - things seem to be going in a direction that is both exciting and encouraging. Anyway, beyond all that, it is nothing but good news for a part of Scotland where that kind of meaningful employment is of immense importance to smaller communities. My excitement about the breathing of new life into the old Clynelish distillery remains undimmed. I hope for in this instance - and wish Diageo in their endeavours - all the very best. Anyway, as ever, please send all your disagreements, questions, essays, comments and theories directly to Mr S Valentin of Turckheim. Thank you!



Brora 34 yo 1970/2004 (56.9%, Douglas Laing ‘Platinum Selection’, 157 bottles)

Brora 34 yo 1970/2004 (56.9%, Douglas Laing ‘Platinum Selection’, 157 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a perfect triumvirate of olive oil, tar and seawater. Beyond that there’s this rather wonderful unfolding waxiness - citronella candles - sandalwood, putty and a sort of mint flavoured cough medicine. Gorse, beach pebbles, driftwood, acrylic paints and an increasingly prominent honeyed quality, like some kind of very old, salty mead. These 1970s are really quite distinct and separate from the 1972s I think. With water: more specifically towards brine and olive oil now, also preserved lemons, canvass, mustard powder and salted almonds. Greater subtlety, complexity and depth with reduction. Also more herbal but dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage. Some impressions of moorland with things like heather flowers, gorse, bog cotton and an ethereal peaty quality. Mouth: remarkably elegant and gentle arrival, the power of the alcohol is there but wonderfully restrained by the age. And everything is stilling in perfect harmony with the wood which is pitch perfect here. Again this sense of honey, wax, smoke, seawater, petrol and lightly tarry notes. A few more farmyard attributes on the palate and also a sharper acidity and a more punchy herbal presence. With water: gains a superbly vivid fattiness. Honey, creosote, natural tar liqueur, smoked olive oil, tapenades, lemon wax, salted pistachio nuts and some rather thick mineral oil. Harmoniously complex and elegant now with many soft, fragrant, rather herbal smoky qualities. Herbal teas, roots, crushed seashells, medical embrocations and plaster. Finish: long, resinous smokiness, mead, tar, matcha, a rather petrolic minerality and a fantastically syrupy, mustardy peatiness. Comments: For me, I think of these 1970 bottlings as being more like a peated version of old Clynelish, whereas I feel the 1972s are more singular and express a more individualistic style which stands truly apart. This one was totally brilliant. Deeply complex and with a compellingly retrained power. I’d also add that it remains stunningly fresh for the age.
SGP: 466 - 93 points. 



Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, rotation 1969)

Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, rotation 1969)
No prevarication required. Colour: white wine. Nose: the purest expression of this style. Which is to say hyper clean and powerful notes of wet chalk, linens, dry waxes, soot, fabrics, petrol and punchy, taut minerals. Struck flints, white flowers, toolboxes, drops of iodine, other background medical tinctures and crushed aspirin. Feels very ‘white’ if you see what I mean? Quite simply, this is a whisky extra ordinary power, control, depth and character. With water: more coastal, more salty, more pushily medical and even more on pure petrol and dried furniture wax. Mouth: it just oozes charisma straight away! Waxy petroleum, steel wool, herbal cough medicines, dried herbs, some spoonfuls of pure seawater, more chalky and aspirin notes, hessian sack cloth, lamp oil and things like miso and umami broth. One of these whiskies that takes total control and leaves you little choice but to follow. With water: totally stellar! Immensely wide, fatty, profoundly deep and heart-stompingly complex. The thickness of the texture is profound and you find yourself having to chew your way through it. Like a handful of gloop from the inside of the low wines and feints receiver! Some touches of caraway, paraffin, roast root vegetables, raw grist and herbal mouthwash! Finish: endless, more lemony, more medical, slightly sootier and more cereal. Like rinsing your mouth with wax dissolved in kerosene! Some salted butter, freshly chopped herbs now and anthracite embers. Leaves you glowing! Comments: I tried to keep it short and to the point. I promise. Anyway, a masterpiece, as well you know by now (although, contrary to some other pals, I think the 1971 rotation is the equal of this one.) 
SGP: 473 - 95 points. 



Big hugs to Edward, KC and Mark! 





June 5, 2020


A Bowmorathon, part 3

There’s so much Bowmore around!

Bowmore 21 yo 1996/2018 (54.9%, Clan Denny, refill hogshead, cask #DMG 12181, 226 bottles)

Bowmore 21 yo 1996/2018 (54.9%, Clan Denny, refill hogshead, cask #DMG 12181, 226 bottles) Two stars and a half
The brand belongs to ‘Douglas McGibbons’, but I don’t know whether that’s DL or HL, and I’m not really sure I care. I’m not sure either it’s good news that they would all do ueber-retro labels these days. Is malt whisky really a thing of the past? Colour: white wine. Nose: cardboard, mashed turnips, cigarette ashes, sour cream, samphires, capers, sourdough, seawater, lemon juice… It’s almost a dry margarita. With water: very dry, leafy and cardboardy. Raw wool, hessian… The thing is, we need at least a drop of lemon juice. Mouth (neat): a little brutal, extremely briny, grassy, pungent, a tad sour… With water: better, thanks to some grapefruits, but the rest is a tad anecdotal. Wishy-washy cardboardy flavours, some capsicum, green pepper, dry artichoke cordial… Finish: rather long, very dry, grassy, bitterish. Comments: certainly not as bad as you would think after having deciphered my lousy note, but not quite good either. Really not sure about this very grassy one.
SGP:375 - 79 points.

Indeed Bowmore can be fantastic and Bowmore can be pretty ugly too. Oh let’s move on…

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2019 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt finish, cask #106, 692 bottles)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2019 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt finish, cask #106, 692 bottles) Three stars
Bad news, this is only a finishing. Good news, it’s a Signatory. We shall see… Colour: gold. Nose: menthol, hay, horse dung, tobacco, leather, pine needles. Not too sure… With water: chlorophyll gums and latex. Carbon paper. Mouth (neat): yeah good, with tropical touches (bananas, papayas) and some pleasant, if a little extreme, menthol and bitter herbs and grasses. With water: good not great. It works, but its lacking definition. In my humble little book, Bowmore needs precision, or it could become pretty nasty if not totally unpleasant. Finish: rather long but a little too herbal and resinous for me. Comments: it’s a good one for sure, but I find it a little blurred and a little too ‘whatever’. Again, I believe Bowmore needs precision and certainly clean casks. No half measures and no unnecessary experiments!
SGP:465 - 80 points.

A little OB, perhaps…

Bowmore 43 yo 1973/2016 (43.2%, OB, bourbon Hogsheads)

Bowmore 43 yo 1973/2016 (43.2%, OB, bourbon Hogsheads) Four stars
A very funny official bottle that seems to have missed just everything (usually the result of martini-fuelled marketing). I mean, it’s hand-signed by distillery founder David Simson in 1779. Right. Second, it stems from Vault #1, a.k.a. ‘the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouse’.  It’s true that Scotch maturation warehouses in Johannesburg, Buenos-Aires or Shanghai are very well-reputed. Oh and it’s been ‘selected by hand’, mind you! Which was a hard task since they’re still owning 4,568,459 casks of 1973., as we all know. In short, a good laugh all around. Colour: gold. Nose: as David Bowie used to say, the 1970s weren’t the 1960s, but we’re still finding a few tropical fruits, especially mangos, plus vanilla, soft honeys, fresh mint and a drop of wood varnish. Probably a little fragile, but the palate will tell… Mouth: rather pretty good, is that politically correct enough? All-fruit juice, pink bananas, papayas, guavas, touches of sugarcane, pink grapefruits, a touch of hops and IPA and more sweet grapefruit. Fine, but... Finish: shortish, a little too tannic, a tad tired, with untidy spices. Comments: sure they’re now issuing these vintages as if they were all the Koh-i-Noors of malt whisky, but seriously, most are very average. Pretty disappointing and certainly not worth £500. What £1,000? £3,000? You say £6,000? Must be a joke, and not a very good one if you ask me. I prefer the chef who always cooks with whisky and who sometimes adds it to the food, or there, the whisky turkey.
SGP:465 - 85 points.

Bowmore 32 yo 1968/2000 (46%, Signatory Vintage, US Import, cask #1428, 248 bottles)

Bowmore 32 yo 1968/2000 (46%, Signatory Vintage, US Import, cask #1428, 248 bottles) Five stars
All the 1968s by SigV I could try so far have been superb. Not that I’ve tasted thousands, most sadly – perhaps 3 or 4?  Colour: gold. Nose: oh yesss, it’s one of those tropical fruit bomb. Passion fruits and mangos with flying colours, tangerines with much panache, and a tiny bit of pink banana just to add a little, say texture. What’s pretty fantastic too is that we’d still find a few coastal elements, perhaps whelks ;-), and these wee dunnage-y smells that always work so well. In fact, it’s not that it’s very complex, it’s just utterly perfect. Mouth: incredible, rather in the style of the 1966s than late-1960s I would say. On full all-vitamin fruit juice, mangos, passions, papayas, then a touch of salt and iodine. This time again it’s not monstrously complex, but boy what a perfect profile. Finish: the rather rougher coastal, salty side of Bowmore coming to the front, while exotic fruits would slowly bow out. That part too is rather spectacular. Comments: the very definition of a fruit bomb, fresher than the rather famous official 1968 from around the year 2000.
SGP:754 - 93 points.

More of that juice please!

Bowmore 31 yo 1968/1999 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium, cask #3817, 238 bottles)

Bowmore 31 yo 1968/1999 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium, cask #3817, 238 bottles) Five stars
Hasn’t it become a little fragile at 43% and after 20 years in glass? Colour: straw. Nose: even more a tropical fruit bomb, imagine! This time the fruits are very ripe, or even preserved, or cooked into jams, with some honey added, and perhaps a little clove. In fact this is not whisky, it’s just a sin. Mangos and passion fruits doing it like Miles and Trane. Please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, subito presto! Mouth: makes you sit down and ponder the real meaning of any other whiskies. No, I’m joking, it’s just superb but rather bizarrely, there’s a little more tea-ish oak in here. Just a little, you know we need to nit-pick from time to time. No picnic though (oh that was so baaad!) Tangerines, mangos, maracuja, gunpowder (tea!) Finish: medium and, just like its American sister, a little saltier, more maritime, more ‘Islay’. Indeed, with whelks. Or there, winkles. Comments: same extremely high quality. I’d have happily blended both 1968 and see what gives, but I’m afraid I’ve already emptied them. You wouldn’t spit a 1960s Bowmore out, would you.
SGP:754 – 93 points.

Before we call this a session, let me try something now, just for the sake of our common cause, truth and virtue in whisky (what?)…

Bowmore 26 yo 1982/2009 (53.4%, Master of Malt, refill sherry hogshead, 195 bottles)

Bowmore 26 yo 1982/2009 (53.4%, Master of Malt, refill sherry hogshead, 195 bottles) Three stars
This is a 1989 that I had tried when it came out, so in 2009, and that I didn’t like too much because it was too, well, you see, 1980s Bowmore. Lavender and such, you know… But I’ve kept the open bottle untouched since back then and would really like to check whether that ‘violety’ side would have gone away over those ten years of gentle breathing in the den. You never know… Colour: light gold. Nose: well it is a little soapy, with too much paraffin and lady’s moisturiser, and probably lavender cologne and a pack of Parma violets, and yes, a pack of raspberry bonbons, but I do have the impression that the rest is rather fine. A little seaweed, rose petals, and guess what? Mangos! And more roses, rosewater, young gewurztraminer…So not quite a total disaster I have to say. No water, let’s not push our luck. Mouth: peat, soap and lavender and violet sweets, that’s not very easy. On the other hand, it’s not too perfume-y, while some pink grapefruits would almost save the case. Finish: forget. Soaps. Comments: after all, this is history, while Bowmore’s distillate, in my humble opinion, became just perfect again right around the year 1990 and remained so to this day, as long as they keep the silly casks at bay. And in any case, there is prescription.
SGP:745 - 81 points.

Wait wait, just found an older bottle of 12 in a cupboard. Around 2015, I think… For the road…

Bowmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Bowmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: how the distillate improved! Benzine, curry, ink, a drop of tequila, another one of English rum (I mean, Jamaica style)… Then Fernet-Branca, tyres, grape pip oil, stewed broccoli (I know), smoked tea, tar… See, I do like the nose of the 12. Mouth: this juice would deserve 46% vol., that’s all I’ll say. A ‘craft’ side (rejuvenated oak), a lot of brine, olive oil, oysters… and really a lot of salt. Are they still pushing and rolling hogsheads and butts on Loch Indaal to load the puffers? (come on S., this is not 1950). Finish: rather long, salty and spicy. Salted gingerbread. Comments: 40% vol.? Some are getting away with murder if you ask me. But great juice in my humblest opinion.
SGP:355 - 85 points.

Cheers, no more Bowmore in the coming days.

(Thank you Angus, François and Jonny)

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


June 4, 2020


A Bowmorathon, part 2

We’ve had some excellent ones yesterday, let’s hope today will be of the same ilk. Including this aperitif…

Bowmore 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Bowmore 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
Remember the 15 year old ‘Mariner’? Never has a malt been that inconsistent, but they’ve added much sherry to the 15 in recent years (in WF time that’s twenty years). Sherry could stabilise whisky, I’ve heard… Colour: dark gold with reddish hues. Nose: fumes, truffle and gas, then raisins, leather, tobacco and hard-boiled eggs. The good news is that all that would just vanish in the air, leaving some rather lovely meaty and smoky notes in your glass. Almond and apple peel too. Very fine, just take your time. Mouth: some parts are excellent (smoked almonds, tobacco, lapsang souchong, cough syrup) but others are more difficult (rubber, green pepper, leather). Globally good but I like my Bowmores brighter, or older, or rather sherried to perfection. I know, stating the obvious now. Finish: medium, too leafy and leathery now. Rubbery. Loses a lot of point here at the finish. Comments: it was all going pretty well, but the finish was a little ugly. Too leafy and resinous, I would say.
SGP:475 - 78 points.

Bw8 (51.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 2020)

Bw8 (51.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 2020) Four stars
It was about time, as Bw7 came out in 2017, for crying out loud! A vatting of the 2001-2003 vintages, ex-bourbon and ex-sherry. Colour: white wine. Nose: it was infinitesimal sherry, apparently, and I know no one who would complain about that. Lemon and lime, chalk and flints, olive oil and ashes, oysters and langoustines (whatever), fresh almonds and apple peels. Keyword: pure. With water: hand soap, newspapers (not the Daily Mail), paraffin, new hessian. Mouth (neat): bright, slightly sour (gherkin brine), then lemony, smoky and peppery. Rather big peppers. With water: gets extremely briny. Grapefruits are starting to fly around too, and there’s some sour ale too. Weissbier, sour cream.  Finish: medium, rather on sourdough, yeast and brine. A leafiness I the aftertaste, possibly from the sherry cask(s). Comments: extremely fine.
SGP:466 - 86 points.

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2019 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2019 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: holy featherless crow, this has vanilla and coconut! Also drops of Maggi, soy sauce, damp cardboard, seawater, caper brine and capsicum. Allll right. With water: all right indeed. Wool, mud, seawater, ink. It’s been kind of cleaned up by water, it seems. Mouth (neat): best news of the day, no coconut! Rather some extreme smoked seawater, some spearmint and some black pepper.. A feeling of quaffing mercurochrome. With water: and lime, citrons, oyster juice and lapsang souchong. A razorblade-y Bowmore. Finish: long, peppery and ashy. Comments: millimetric. Scottish mezcal? Scottish mezcal!
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Bowmore 23 yo 1996/2020 (56.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, sherry butt, cask #960014, 634 bottles)

Bowmore 23 yo 1996/2020 (56.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, sherry butt, cask #960014, 634 bottles) Four stars and a half
634 bottles at C/S from a butt, that’s fine. And coherent. Colour: white wine. Where’s the butt? Nose: so narrow, so fantastic! Wool, lime juice, rhubarb, that’s it. Perfect. Perfect in the sense that Malevich’s white on white was perfect too. Oh, better forget. With water: wool, chalk, porridge, sourdough, charcoal ashes. Mouth (neat): it’s a prototype of a briny and zesty Bowmore. There’s more sherry in a bone-dry Mosel riesling if you ask me. Quick… With water: changed a lot. Passion fruits and ashy agave, this is truly very mezcaly. Juniper and capsicum after that. Finish: long, ‘green’. Really a lot of cracked pepper in the aftertaste, that’s perhaps a little too much. Loses one fat point here. Comments: another very pure Bowmore that became complex thanks to quite a few years in some excellently lazy wood.
SGP:367 - 89 points.

A fifth Bowmore please, and we’ll call this a session…

Bowmore 30 yo 1989/2020 (50%, Wemyss Malts, Black Gold, sherry hogshead, 175 bottles)

Bowmore 30 yo 1989/2020 (50%, Wemyss Malts, Black Gold, sherry hogshead, 175 bottles) Two stars and a half
Great distillery, great age, great bottler… But the vintage’s tricky. Remember, the 1980s have been Bowmore’s worst decade ever as far as quality and style were concerned. Yep. Now, could be that this one already stemmed from Bowmore’s newer regime, let’s check that, we’ve had some very good 1989s in the past… Colour: deep amber. Nose: no Parma violets, no lavender, no Hilton air freshener, no French whore perfume (FWP, there I said it), rather a pretty lovely tobacco-leather-marmalade combo. Fig sauce over ham or roast lamb, plus tinned peas, charcoal and date wine. More or less that. With water: bouillons, chicken soups, fig wine, baklavas. Mouth (neat): a tad jumbled, peppery, leathery, burnt, bitter… Not too sure about this one, really, and God knows I used to love Wemyss’s malts in general. With water: a little better, but the oak took over. Chlorophyll, pine resin, pepper, leather. Finish: medium, with some wee soapy touches, bouillon, bitter herbs… Comments: I would say these casks are very hard. Seriously, the vast majority of these 1980s Bowmores should now be redistilled and used as hand sanitizers. Still love love love Wemyss though!
SGP:275 - 78 points (and that’s a goodwill mark).

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


June 3, 2020


A Bowmorathon, part 1

Good, we let them accumulate once again, time to try to empty the boxes and the shelves. Not a very easy task, in my experience Bowmore is not quite a malt that you could have many drams in a row of. We won’t have many OBs by the way and shall try to avoid the excessively oaked/wined ones as a general rule – not talking about good old well-handled sherry, naturally. Oh and we may do this randomly, for more fun. So eenie meenie… But first, the apero.

Bowmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Bowmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
Sure the strength is criminal, but we’ve always respected the 12 more than many other core-of-range OBs. Colour: gold. Nose: artichokes, asparagus, pinewood smoke, mashed potatoes, ink, new rubber boots, kelp, olive oil, lapsang souchong. All very well, just a tad ‘low’. The profile’s perfect. Mouth: it’s an excellent juice, love the olives, lemons, clams, kippers, ashes, the tiny touches of soy sauce, the notes of wild leek, beans, houmous, salty waters (Vichy), aspirin… What a shame that they murder this one – or at least handicap it – with the lousy 40%, it could be a winner. Finish: medium, extremely briny. Comments: let this fantastic juice live! 87 points guaranteed at 43%, 89 at 46% vol.
SGP:455 - 84 points.

Right, I think we’re ready…

Bowmore 2000/2019 (53.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 19006, 248 bottles)

Bowmore 2000/2019 (53.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 19006, 248 bottles) Four stars
A good start with a good bottler! Colour: gold. Nose: creosote on ueber-maximum here, dentist’s mouthwash, pine essential oil, some kind of eucalyptus smoke, some hay, kippers, engine oil, old copper coins and then band-aid. A drop of banana liqueur at the ‘easier’ department. It’s more medicinal than your average Bowmore, I enjoy this nose rather a lot. With water: soot and fern all over the place, hessian, sheep’s wool, and perhaps one small vine peach… Mouth: excellent, classic and classy peppery and coastal Bowmore, with a smokiness that’s pretty aggressive. IN a good way, so problems at all. With water: lemon balm coming out, citrons, seawater, clams… Finish: long, salty, on sour apples, camphor, iodine, pencil lead and fatter kippers. Ashy aftertaste. Comments: rather a drier and more medicinal Bowmore. Tops, this starts well.
SGP:357 - 87 points.

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2019 ‘One Small Step’ (54.6%, The Whisky Barrel, first fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #TWB1010, 270 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2019 ‘One Small Step’ (54.6%, The Whisky Barrel, first fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #TWB1010, 270 bottles) Five stars
I would have called this baby One Small Sip instead, but there, that would have lacked steam and glory. Now oloroso and peat, tremble, mere mortal… Colour: dark amber. Nose: phew, that worked. Fumes and pinewood smoke, boosted miso, metal polish, heavy menthol, embrocations, heady Dutch liquorice, oxtail soup, Bovril, proper old balsamico, and rather cooked blackberries at the fruit department. And peonies at the flowers’. With water: more earth, more miso, more old pu-ehr, more pipe tobacco. Mouth (neat): pretty amazing, almost all on some raspberry ganache made with dark bitter chocolate and wild raspberries. Just a tad monolithic when neat, perhaps, but superb. With water: the Bowmoreness comes out, with some salt, seashells, wakame, kippers, lime, cracked pepper, tamarind jam (that’s not the distillate, mind you)… Finish: very long, with more pepper and bitter chocolate. Green pepper. Black tobacco in the aftertaste – sucking your untipped Gauloise. Comments: brilliant. Cellar for ten years and you’ll have a shining star (if not Black Bowmore, ha-ha).
SGP:367 - 90 points.

Some heavy sherry, good idea…

Bowmore 2001/2019 (49.2%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse shop, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 19021, 139 bottles)

Bowmore 2001/2019 (49.2%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse shop, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 19021, 139 bottles) Five stars
This one was available at MoS’s Warehouse Shop in Paderborn. Colour: amber/bronze. Perhaps a nail or a patch… Nose: much less extreme than the slightly monstrous Whisky Barrel, but still in line with the properly good sherried Bowmores. Blood oranges, bouillons, cow stable, horse saddle, hay, cigars, chocolate, balsamico, hessian, marrow… No, in truth this is rather fantastic, as it keeps unfolding over many long minutes. No, it’s even dazzlingly fantastic. Mouth: amazing. Classic Bowmore of old, incredibly full of small red berries, chocolate, tobacco, meats, soups, game (grouse), plus… oh hell and putrefaction, please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade! Finish: I’ll mention only one flavour, pink pepper. Comments: it’s still got a few rough edges here and there, but once again, ten years in a good cellar (mine, for example) and you'll be a long way from here. In my book, Bowmore’s the typical malt whisky that ought to be cellared. Don’t you enjoy a few controversies? We’re not talking to you, Beam Suntory.
SGP:567- 92 points.

Believe me, we’re too fastly and bigly high, but what could we do?... Not our fault, it’s Bowmore’s and Obama’s…

Bowmore 14 yo 2001/2016 (51.8%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, Asia, refill butt, cask #12280, 402 bottles)

Bowmore 14 yo 2001/2016 (51.8%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, Asia, refill butt, cask #12280, 402 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s more traditionally lemony, with notes of oysters and seaweed, then lemon marmalade and some unexpected touches of morello cherries. Or pinot noir. And yet I doubt it’s seen any red wine during its life (terrific news if you ask me). With water: classic Bowmore, with just a touch of sulphur. Perhaps more than just a touch, but there. Mouth (neat): very good. Marmalade and raisins, plus some salty liquorice and the usual kippers. Did anyone ever try to smoke figs? Our Turkish friends? With water: all good, if a tad leathery. Camphor, rhubarb, mint, tobacco, more leather. Finish: rather long, with quite some peppermint. Unexpected too, that. Leather again in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, but the wee sulphury tones have cost it a fistful of points.
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Good, five’s a good number, see you tomorrow.

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


June 2, 2020


Loch Lomond variants

A name no one was caring for in the old days, the general consensus was even that it was just a workhorse designed to produce very cheap spirit to feed the supermarket’s own brands as well as a few odd proprietary bottlings, such as a very cheapo blue ‘Loch Lomond’, Rhosdhu, and a few other oddities. Thanks to some very modular sets of stills, they could produce just any style, each named after a Loch Lomond island. In truth there’s only one guy who’s always been totally in love with all of Loch Lomond’s variants such as Inchfad or Inchmoan, the name is Angus MacRaild. The new owners, a few years back, seem to have re-racked a lot of casks into active wood, as has been seen elsewhere in the recent past. And some were, and are, excellent.

Loch Lomond 13 yo 2006/2019 (66.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, American oak)

Loch Lomond 13 yo 2006/2019 (66.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, American oak) Three stars
Not too sure about the strength, TWE, don’t be surprised if you hear from my lawyer… Colour: white wine. Nose: I thought the peated variants were carrying other names than Loch Lomond? Indeed this is smoky. More or less, it’s fresh baguette smoked over beech fire. With water: smoke without the sea, I would say. Reminds me of Benriach’s peaters, for example. Smoke, rubber (new wellies) and lemons. Mouth (neat): no no no no no. Seriously, it’s liquid bubblegum when neat (so lethal). I don’t even get any smoke. With water: it’s good, no doubt. Peat-smoked pears, that’s the main thing. I’m missing seashells, seaweed, medicine, hessian, tarry ropes… In short, Islay or Islay-type aromas and flavours. Finish: rather long, sweet ad smoky. Comments: no quibbling, this is extremely well made. But it may lack a little… romanticism, poetry, philosophy… or there, complexity! And Islayness.
SGP:647 - 80 points.

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2019 (50%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, hogshead, 144 bottles)

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2019 (50%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, hogshead, 144 bottles) Two stars and a half
This is some heavily peated Loch Lomond. Get ready… Colour: straw. Nose: pure smoke, ink, and well, yeah, smoke. Coal smoke, wood smoke, peat smoke, soot, ashes… and a tiny slice of acidic apple. With water: bicycle inner tube, wellies, rubber bands, fumes… Mouth (neat): ah, nice! Smoked sweet curry or something? Smoked cider? Even smoked wine? Domaine ZH once made a Pinot Gris in an ex-Brora cask that I was having, and this Inchfad is a bit reminiscent of that one. Good fun. With water: like in the TWE, the coastal side is missing (even a wee whelk would have done it), but otherwise it’s fine. Finish: a bit difficult at this stage, a tad too rubbery for me. Lemon and porridge too. Comments: fine, but for unapologetic peatheads only, I would say.
SGP:537 - 78 points.

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2020 (57.2%, C. Dully Selection, Switzerland, hogshead, cask #408)

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2020 (57.2%, C. Dully Selection, Switzerland, hogshead, cask #408) Three stars and a half
I so miss Switzerland! As soon as we’re allowed to enter the country again, we rush to our favourite Gasthoff and have Montrose 1934 on Cordon Bleu mit Röstis! Hoppla… Colour: gold. Nose: this is not only peat, there’s some curry sauce, pumpernickel, horseradish, wasabi… Well it does punch you in your nose a wee bit, but water should help. With water: ink, ashes, old tweed and wet dogs (we’re sorry, dogs!) Mouth neat): this time it’s as if something from Islay was involved, I couldn’t tell you what. For example, I’m finding oysters and lime-y seaweed. Wakame? Quite some green pepper too. With water: very good now. Fresh, salty, lemony and very smoky. Finish: rather long and full of ashes. That feeling of having had the content of an ashtray. Comments: truly double-smoke whisky this time.
SGP:448 - 84 points.

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2020 (57.1%, C. Dully Selection, Switzerland, hogshead, casks #408, 411 and 412)

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2020 (57.1%, C. Dully Selection, Switzerland, hogshead, casks #408, 411 and 412) Four stars
A small batch, in other words. Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes this is more complex, this time we’re almost on the south shore of Islay. All we’d need is a few scallops and a big fat lobster. With water: big smoke, seawater. Strange that there would be this much seawater this time. Mouth (neat): very good. So you say Inchfad? Lemons, salt, peat and oysters singing in unison. With water: seriously, what’s the trick? It’s just a wee tad too sweet for me, but I’m splitting hairs now. Smoked limoncello. Finish: rather long, ashy, with an acrid smoke that’s not unpleasant at all. Comments: great surprise. I may be pushing it all a bit too far – for example it hasn’t got Caol Ila’s precision – and yet Caol Ila’s another workhorse – but yeah, I’m surprised.
SGP:547 - 85 points.

Good, I think we’ve had enough raw peat, perhaps find an older Loch Lomond? We’ve got this that just came in, it’s very intriguing…

Old Rhosdhu 28 yo 1990/2019 (49.1%, The Whisky Blues, hogshead, cask #402, 230 bottles)

Old Rhosdhu 28 yo 1990/2019 (49.1%, The Whisky Blues, hogshead, cask #402, 230 bottles) Four stars
Old Rhosdhu? Well, I remember a 1979 by Murray McDavid that had been rather brilliant quite some years ago… Right, in 2004 (I gently hate people who say ‘how time flies’, time doesn’t fly, it flows). Old Rhosdhu was a pretty soft malt made at Loch Lomond, but it seems that they’ve stopped making this variant around the year 2000. I also think it used to be the cheapest miniature that tourists could buy in Scotland, as far as malts were concerned. Colour: pale gold. Nose: with such a light spirit, cask is paramount and I have to say that this one, most certainly refill, did a very good job as it did let many soft bready aromas come through, adding just a little custard and the smallest coconut ball ever. Nice whiffs of tiny aromatic herbs and flowers, perhaps woodruff, wisteria, honeysuckle… Other than that, it’s all about breads. Mouth: surprise surprise, tropical fruits and Asiatic sauces! I would kill for a good satay, for example, and there is some in there. Well, probably. Other than that, maracuja and pink bananas are running the show. Water isn’t needed but since we’re at it… With water: more bread and vanilla, more spices too. Cumin and nutmeg. Finish: medium, more on sawdust and porridge. White pepper. The finish is a little disappointing. Comments: an intriguing malt whisky, here in one of the best versions there ever was, I’m sure. History!
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Perhaps another 28…

Loch Lomond 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.7%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #598, 290 bottles)

Loch Lomond 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.7%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #598, 290 bottles) Three stars and a half
I’m missing all those small Germanic bottlers whom I used to meet in Limburg or Luzern. Great people, hope we’ll meet again. And hope someone will find out that whisky cures Covid. Colour: straw. Nose: a slightly firmer version, but it could be Rhosdhu too. Bread, fresh paint, almonds, cardboard. Mouth: yeah indeed, it’s extremely similar, just rougher and with more sawdust. Mangos, maracujas, nutmeg, tapioca, flour… Finish: medium, pretty nice, on some kind of mango cake into which some absent-minded chef would have added a little sawdust. A little too much of that in the aftertaste. Comments: real good, as long as you don’t let the sawdust rise to the surface. All the rest is pretty perfect.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Last word to Cadenhead…

Loch Lomond 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 324 bottles)

Loch Lomond 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 324 bottles) Three stars
That’s the thing, they have all these variants at Loch Lomond, all with specific names (not that they’ve racked their brains), and yet the majority are bottling everything as ‘Loch Lomond Distillery’, which would just confuse everyone. For example, this Loch Lomond seems to be pretty peaty… Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, peaty, on suet, butter, beer and lapsang souchong. Whiffs of scotch tape too. With water: hmm… Mouth (neat): more than fine, this time we’re more or less on a young Caol Ila boosted with capsicum and chilli. With water: good. Everything’s happening on the palate, but there is an unlikely dirtiness. Cardboard-like. Finish: pretty long, pretty good, just a tad, say wobbly. May lack definition. Lavender and caraway in the aftertaste. Comments: not an easy baby at all. Some great sides, others not so much. There’s a lot of cardboard in all these Loch Lomonds.
SGP:454 - 81 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Loch Lomond malts we've tasted so far


June 1, 2020


Some of Edradour’s Ballechin

I find it fascinating that Edradour and its offspring the peated Ballechin became quasi-cult after just, what, fifteen years of ‘new’ ownership? Having said that, people tend to forget that in the 1950s/1960s, Edradour’s new filings were the most expensive of them all Scotch single malts. Not that there were vast differences at that time, having said that, but still… Let’s try three Ballechins today, and later in the week or next week, quite a large bag of punchy Edradours…

Ballechin 12 yo 2007/2019 (60.2%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Singapore, cask #901, 444 bottles)

Ballechin 12 yo 2007/2019 (60.2%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Singapore, cask #901, 444 bottles) Four stars and a half
Mind you, this baby was finished for two years in an ex-Karuizawa 1965 cask, knowing that 1965 was the year the State of Singapore was founded. Colour: gold. Nose: I have to say it is extremely hard to take Singapore and its magnificent Chinese and Indian cuisines out of your head when trying this, especially since my brother used to live over there. No need to tell you that we checked quite a few excellent restaurants and street food together. But those were the eighties… Anyway, I’m finding some pretty stove-y smoke, so rather coal, also curry indeed, touches of mashed Jerusalem artichokes (which can be splendid), and a leather-ginger combo that’s well balanced in this case. But at 60%, water may change all this a lot… With water: a smoky and very complex herbal liqueur, I would say. Just a whiff of bicycle inner tube. Mouth (neat): hugely smoked and peppery chlorophyll-like, very strong. As if someone would have redistilled some Jägermeister (and consequently put all the unnecessary sugar aside). Not quite whisky for Chuck Norris but it does stun you a bit when neat, I have to say. With water: this meaty/gamy side that’s pretty Edradour, as well as the trademark touch of ‘good’ soap (nothing to do with Edradour of old). Grapefruits and grey pepper add an excellent sharpish zestiness. Finish: pretty long, while I suppose it’s at this point that you do feel the old Karuizawa cask’s complex wooden spiciness, from tobaccos to old earthy pu-her tea plus many tiny spices. Cloves for sure. Lemony aftertaste. Comments: a big beast from the east, as they say. Needs both your attention and your best pipette, and then really delivers.
SGP:376 - 88 points.

Ballechin 14 yo 2005/2020 (55%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 302 bottles)

Ballechin 14 yo 2005/2020 (55%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 302 bottles) Four stars and a half
I could already try one or three Whisky Sponge bottlings and couldn’t help but notice that there was some kind of crypto-anarchistic side to all of them. Rumour has it that the inenarrable Sponge actually stumbled upon an old hidden stock of English flame-thrower fuel while hiking in the Grampians, which he consequently decided to bottle while using Distillery names more or less at random. For example, he told us on the phone that he had chosen ‘Ballechin’ just because there’s ‘ball’ in that name. I must admit the whole thing seems strangely odd to me and that this series bears within it some potentially concerning implications. But there, let’s do our duty… Colour: deeper gold. Nose: new leather, old cellar and mango jam. Then ham baked in pineapple sauce, candied quince, pink pepper, fresh walnuts and a new pack of Camels. I must admit, it’s rather fantastic, but I’m sure that’s only pure luck. Come on, mango jam in Ballechin… With water: gets very gamey, this is almost high grouse served with pumpkin velouté, mango chutney and cranberry sauce. Add exhaust fumes, perhaps. Mouth (neat): it’s a little, cough, cough, a little bit strong, but chocolate and mirabelle eau-de-vie do work in real life too. Smoked chocolate, imagine the utter hit! With water: all pretty good, quite miraculously, although rather dirtier now that water’s been added (how strange, I agree). Coal dust, bitter chocolate, very black tea, it’s all pretty black indeed. There’s even ‘chewing a Toscano cigar’ and ‘getting a tiny bit of shampoo in your mouth while taking a shower’. Finish: long, with some leather and ginger, more coal dust and wee bits of rubber, then bitter orange marmalade and some ham and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: seriously, careful with your pipette, this fuel changes dramatically depending on the amount of water you’re adding. I’m sure this is illegal anyway, wondering how long it will take before Boris Johnson takes action.
SGP:565 - 88 points.

And now the darkest of them all…

Ballechin 15 yo 2003/2019 (55%, The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry butt, cask #204, 482 bottles)

Ballechin 15 yo 2003/2019 (55%, OB, The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry butt, cask #204, 482 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: deep dark amber. Nose: sherry-dominated, that is to say shock-full of black raisins, lapsang souchong and the blackest chocolate ever. A tad BBQ-y too. With water: varnish, acetone, soy sauce, umami and miso, peanut butter, new leather jacket in a souk, and perhaps a wee touch of ammonia. This one is quite something, you guessed it. Mouth (neat): beef stock, old rancio, crude cocoa, heavy liquorice and walnut stain (which no one should ever drink, we agree here). With water: oh honey! I mean, there’s a lot of honey coming out once water’s been added! Strong honey, such as chestnut, which is one of my favourite honeys. Single-varietal honeys can be vastly different! Finish: long, this time on glazed chestnuts and, indeed chestnut honey. Perhaps the first time I’m trying a whisky that’s this much on chestnut honey. Comments: love all these very adventurous and extremely singular sherried Ballechins just the same. There’s no proper benchmark available anyway.
SGP:556 - 88 points.

We had good fun with those Ballechins!

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

May 2020

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Brora 41 yo 1978/2019 (45%, OB, Casks of Distinction, for Emmanuel Dron, Bihan Yang and Edward Zeng, ASB and refill hogshead) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Longrow 18 yo 1974 (46%, OB) - WF94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Classic Islay (44.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd, blended malt, +/-2018)  - WF87

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Jean-Luc Pasquet ‘Le Cognac d’André L.73’ (51.4%, OB, Petite Champagne, 525 bottles, 2019)  - WF92

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Dujardin ‘Vieux Blue Label’ (35%, OB, Spirit Drink, Dutch brandy, +/-2015)    - WF02

May 2020 - part 2 <--- June 2020 - part 1 ---> June 2020 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bowmore 2001/2019 (49.2%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse shop, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 19021, 139 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2019 ‘One Small Step’ (54.6%, The Whisky Barrel, first fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #TWB1010, 270 bottles)

Bowmore 31 yo 1968/1999 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium, cask #3817, 238 bottles)

Bowmore 32 yo 1968/2000 (46%, Signatory Vintage, US Import, cask #1428, 248 bottles)

Secret Highland 34 yo 1985/2019 (47%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 256 bottles)

Unblended Highland Malt 35 yo 1985/2020 (46.1%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 232 bottles)

Teeling 28 yo 1991/2020 (46%, OB, 4000 bottles)