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Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2022 - Part 2

       
 

June 2022 - part 1 <--- June 2022 - part 2 ---> July 2022 - part 1

 

June 30, 2022


Whiskyfun

More stuff and things from Scotland

More whiskies and mixtures of uncertain origins, probably all good but an unsigned Vincent Van Gogh, however beautiful, is not exactly a Vincent Van Gogh, is it? (better drop trying metaphoriation for a while, S.) (and sorry for your eyes)


Van Giogh

 

 

The Epicurean 'Ruby Port Cask' (48%, Douglas Laing, Lowland Blended Malt, 684 bottles, 2021)

The Epicurean 'Ruby Port Cask' (48%, Douglas Laing, Lowland Blended Malt, 684 bottles, 2021) Two stars
A curious single cask, not too sure about what this is, a genuine blended malt or a 'teaspooned 'single' in disguise? It seems that there were other batches. Colour: pale apricot. Nose: a perfect example of a moderate clash between some sweetish red wine and malt whisky, even if that one was, apparently, just 'just a lighter Lowlander'. I'm not saying this isn't likeable, but I find the red berries way to much in the front, like in, say some flavoured tea. Liqueurs, grenadine, hibiscus syrup… Mouth: harder. Pickles fruits, bell pepper, raspberries, Campari, cloves… It would rather settle down over time and because almost integrated, but the general style here is too far from my preferences. Remember, one man's taste and preferences. Finish: long, peppery, spicy. Cloves, liquorice wood and ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: you cannot not wonder what was wrong with this Lowlander in the first place, and why it was necessary to season it like a Doritos. Still downable, having said that.
SGP:661 – 76 points.

Coig Deicheadan 17 yo (46.5%, Chorlton Whisky, Blended Scotch, sherry butt, 211 bottles, 2019)

Coig Deicheadan 17 yo (46.5%, Chorlton Whisky, Blended Scotch, sherry butt, 211 bottles, 2019) Four stars
A genuine blended malt, not just a teaspooned single, harbouring, apparently, some Bunnahabhain 1968 and various younger components, namely Macallan, Highland Park and Glenturret, while everything here sounds very 'Highland Distillers'. Colour: amber. Nose: malt, cakes, pipe tobaccos and various honeys, everything in total sync, with more complex ground that would involve metal polish, beef jerky and bresaola, mosses, walnuts, drops of sourer wines, brown ale, mead and touches of mustard… You do feel the Glenturretness, if I may. Mouth: you do feel it on the palate too, there's some old walnuts and mustard, leather, bits of cigarette tobacco, then rounder components, honeys, chocolate, butterscotch, glazed chestnuts, raisins… Finish: rather long, on raisins stewed in heavy beer. Goes well with chicken. Comments: naturally, knowing about what's inside without knowing about the proportions is a little useless, but it's still nice when the whisky's as nice as this one nice whisky.  All right.

SGP:451 - 86 points.

Secret Speyside Distillery #1 9 yo 2007/2016 (51.7%, The Boutique-y Whisky Company, sherry, 1220 bottles)

Secret Speyside Distillery #1 9 yo 2007/2016 (51.7%, The Boutique-y Whisky Company, sherry, 1220 bottles) Four stars and a half
Said to be Glenfarclas, but since we have no dead evidence, we've put it into the hotchpotch. Colour: deep amber, very Glenfarclas (sure malts have specific colours, caramel or not caramel!) I may be joking… Nose: slightly flinty at first, then full of toffee and roasted peanuts, with whiffs of fern and really a lot of chocolate. I cannot see why this wouldn't be Glenfarclas. With water: hay and half-burnt grasses, plus a double-espresso. Sorry, espresso doppio. Mouth (neat): rich, deeply sherried as is often the case with this make, very chocolaty, with a lot of Demerara sugar, roasted honey-glazed nuts and seven family-packs of soft nougat. Excellent. With water: geared towards rhum agricole of great provenance. No no no we won't mention Neisson. Finish: long and rich. Honeys. Excellent. Comments: excellent. It may have benefitted from a few years in glass.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Wait we've also got this one from the same stable…

Secret Speyside #2 25 yo (51.6%, The Boutique-y Whisky Company, sherry, 2415 bottles, 2018)

Secret Speyside #2 25 yo (51.6%, The Boutique-y Whisky Company, sherry, 2415 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
Two-thousand-four-hundred-and-fifteen bottles, that's rather a lot. Colour: light gold. Nose: sure the Van Gogh is unsigned but it's still a Van Gogh. I know what I'm trying to say. Fat, oily spirit, with a wonderful, deep fruitiness and indeed fats and waxes. It's a distillate-driven single malt with an old-school style that would please many. With water: these mirabelles and tangerines lead us straight to Dufftown and I wouldn't cry wolf, should you claim that the name here would start with B and end with nie. Remember the knights who say 'nie'? Mouth (neat): terrific, starting with various bonbons and the tiniest touch of coconut ever, going on with liqueurs and cordials of assorted styles and origins (that doesn't tell much, S.) With water: mirabelle and quince jams, plus orange cake and some pale ale. Finish: wonderful, long, a little more on candied citrus. Mirabelles in the aftertaste. Comments: very gorgeous drop.

SGP:551 - 89 points.

Blended Malt 7 yo 2013/2021 'Ukraine Bottling' (65.6%, North Star Spirits, butt, bottled exclusively for the people of Ukraine, 500 bottles, 2022)

Blended Malt 7 yo 2013/2021 'Ukraine Bottling' (65.6%, North Star Spirits, butt, bottled exclusively for the people of Ukraine, 500 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
It says 'From Scotland with love', we could add 'From Alsace with compassion'. What's more I know for a fact that this is sincere and in no way any 'yellow and blue washing', as can be seen at some other places. Colour: full gold. Nose: a few pencil shavings at first, then just a perfect nutty, roasted, caramelised unfolding, with a very perfect young maltiness. We hope we'll soon be able to share these marvellous drops freely with our Ukrainian friends. With water: almost all on malt, plus flints and just old iron tools. Wrecked Russian armoured vehicles? Mouth (neat): butterscotch and cinnamon liqueur, deep malty beer, chocolate and candied fruits, cinnamon cookies… And, well, 65% plus. With water: excellent, reminding me a bit of that Mac 10 c/s of old, really. Finish: long, malty, rich, feeling 15 rather than just 7. More butterscotch and tea with milk. Mind you, who would drink tea with milk? Comments: Slava Ukraini! Should any friends in Russia still read little Whiskyfun (there used to be rather many), I just hope you'll get rid of the butchers eventually, and that we'll soon be able to share drams again too.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Speyside Malt 14 yo 2005/2019 (50.4%, Maltbarn, sherry, 175 bottles)

Speyside Malt 14 yo 2005/2019 (50.4%, Maltbarn, sherry, 175 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: feels a bit like an ex-peater cask with a few mineral touches and a mossy character on top of the expected malty and caky profile. Garden earth and chalk. With water: raw maltiness, grasses… Some half-sherried Mortlachs could be like this. Mouth (neat): firm, slightly smoky, mineral, you could almost say Highland Park, with these vegetal honeys. Some mossy bitterness too, chlorophyl perhaps... With water: improves mucho, gets easier, saltier, more bouillony… A little leather. Finish: medium, grassier, rather rustic. Rustic-like. Marginally rustic. Comments: needs your water and your $100,000 electronic pipette, delivers then.
SGP:462 - 84 points.

More Maltbarn…

Speyside Region 26 yo 1995/2021 (51.9%, Maltbarn, sherry, 140 bottles)

Speyside Region 26 yo 1995/2021 (51.9%, Maltbarn, sherry, 140 bottles) Four stars
Someone sure is/was a great photographer in Maltbarn's family. Maltbarn is about great whisky, but it's also a little bit about arts and photography, which I find fantastic rather than always playing it 'Moon Import', with all due respect to sig. Mongiardino. Colour: gold. Nose: age counts, numbers count, and this is just another proof (as they used to say at the Department of Methods and Statistical Methodologies, scr*w exceptions!) Wonderful panettone topped with caramel sauce, homemade custard and melted butter. Butterscotch. With water: gets grassier, with touches of cardboard. Mouth (neat): tight and serious, on Stolle and fruitcake, malt extract, the heaviest brown beer (and that's not Guinness), plus touches of sweet turmeric reduction and bell pepper. Well, more or less. With water: takes off this time, with some sweet herbal teas and a genuine, proper maltiness. Fatter body, could be from Craigellachie's small stills. Finish: rather long, with a little honey added, otherwise 'malt'. Honeyed aftertaste. Comments: malty malt whisky that's doing more than its job. I find it excellent, if not totally revolutionary.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

A last one, let's make it an old blend…

Royal Salute 38 yo 'Stone of Destiny' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, 2008)

Royal Salute 38 yo 'Stone of Destiny' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, 2008) Five stars
It's rather incredible that Chivas would have bottled this at 40% vol., even fifteen years ago (prehistoric times for whisky). I utterly love it that at our friends drinkshop.fr, they would currently run a 'buy 11, get the 12th for free' operation with this bottle. The latter looks like they've co-designed it with some ex-Franklin-Mint exec, or with someone from Buckingham. Having said that, we can't wait to taste it, even if they might have murdered it with this bottling strength… Colour: amber. Nose: of course not, they know what they're doing and they already did back in 2008. Extraordinary syrups and old fruit liqueurs, figs, jujubes, rambutans, quinces, wild strawberries (very obvious), then beeswax and fresh putty. Let's be honest, beyond the lousy design, this nose is rather terrific, subtle, complex and smart. Now once again, the devil's on the palate… Mouth: not quite. Sure a little more oomph would have been welcome, but other than that, this is awesome, complex, with rather everything from ripe fruits to waxes and from honey to floral flavours. Oh and the grain don't really feel, should there be any. Now whether these decanters do taint the whiskies, that's possible, there is a feeling of clay, rust and cardboard, but we have no proof that that's the decanter's fault. Can't be as bad as all those high-brow decanters that are sold in Chinese mahogany cases… lying on their sides. Terrible. Finish: medium if not short, but lovely, waxy and honeyed. Reminds me of some old Glenlivets of, well, of old. A drop of salty bouillon in the aftertaste, that's yet another dimension. Plus one black olive, honest. Comments: just totally wonderful, seriously. We like to joke about these 'bottles', about gold, Wedgwood, Limoges, Baccarat or Lalique - not to mention Aston Martin, LOL - but to be totally honest, the liquids that are usually housed therein would tend to be of utter-top-quality; this is another proof. Incredible, but careful, one could down a bottle while watching only two episodes of season 6 of Peaky Blinders.
SGP:551 - 91 points.

(Thank you Ryan!)

 

June 29, 2022


Whiskyfun

A little bag of American ryes

As often with random bags, you're never quite sure about what's going to come out. Let's see…

(come on, Bezos! ->)

 

 

Basil Hayden 8 yo (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, +/-2021)

Basil Hayden 8 yo (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
We last tried this nicely packaged but probably a little under-powered bourbon seven years ago and rather liked it (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: rather on warm sawdust, vanillin, candied oranges, a little butterscotch, tiny whiffs of fresh putty, then this slightly cologne-y, violety aspects that may have come with the rye, and some soft, lovely notes of fresh panettone. All that is light but mucho pleasant. Mouth: light indeed, but the ryeness is in the front, with violet candies, this very pleasant kind of soapiness, some liquorice, genever, then touches of bananas flambéed (flambéed au rye whisky!) as well as curaçao and vanilla. Wee varnishy touch, then sawdust again. Finish: not short, a little perfumy, varnishy, with some fruit essences, maybe pears, certainly bananas. Liquorice and violet sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: clearly a solid 83 in my book. Everything is going up these days.

SGP:630 - 83 points.

Filibuster 'Dual Cask' (45%, OB, Straight Rye, USA, +/-2021)

Filibuster 'Dual Cask' (45%, OB, Straight Rye, USA, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
A straight rye from Washington D.C. that's been finished in French oak seasoned with chardonnay. It doesn't say whether that chardonnay was French as well. As you guess it, it cannot be 'straight bourbon' and that's not because it's from D.C. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there's more fresh oak than in the Basil, more cinnamon and nutmeg for sure, ginger paste, some rather astonishing whiffs of yuzu (could that be the chardonnay?) then a growing perfumy ryeness simply leading to N°4711. And to a large loaf of fresh rye bread. Mouth: starts a tad bitter, with a lot of clove and juniper, artichoke cordial, then varnish, then angelica and bitterish roots, plus liquorice wood, all that drizzled with corn syrup and strong honey, such as oak honey. Yep. Finish: rather long, still a tad varnishy but that's pleasant in this context. More oak honey in the aftertaste, as well as chestnut. I mean chestnut honey. Comments: feels a tad 'boosted' because of the spicy French oak, but really like the raw power here. Iggy Pop's?

SGP:661 - 83 points.

Catoctin Creek 'Roundstone Rye' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Catoctin Creek 'Roundstone Rye' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
We're in Virginia this time. I have to say I haven't had much luck with the few higher-ranked Catoctins I've already tried, but someone said that bliss lies in simple things. Can't seem to remember who said that. Colour: gold. Nose: fine, rather on ice wine and maple syrup, plus vanilla and just perfumy rye, as well as a rather large quantity of warmish sawdust. Simple, not unpleasant. Mouth: fruity and perfumy. A blend of rhubarb, lavender, banana and pear syrups, plus once again rather a lot of cinnamon and sawdust. Light body. Finish: medium, mainly on peppery sawdust. Maybe not the nicest part. Liquorice allsorts and maple syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: good but lighter bodies such as this one are having a little trouble coping with and heavier oakiness. But yeah, I find it good.

SGP:540 - 78 points.

Speaking of maple syrup…

Koval 'Rye Maple Syrup Cask' (50%, OB, for Kirsch Import, cask #5690, 2021)

Koval 'Rye Maple Syrup Cask' (50%, OB, for Kirsch Import, cask #5690, 2021) Two stars
We're in Chicago this time, but will this one really be for Michael Kenyon a.k.a. the Illinois Enema Bandit? (that's another moderately subtle reference to Frank Zappa, in case you're not 50+) Maple syrup, right… Colour: amber with orangey hues. Nose: well, we tend to find maple syrup in spirits that do not actually contain any, so you could well imagine that we're going to find a lot in this one. Which is the case. All the rest is traditional young rye, with some caramel, cologne, violet and lavender, rye bread, and perhaps some manuka honey. With water: sameish, pretty meady. Pumpernickel and blueberry jelly, drop of prosecco. Mouth (neat): a sweeter rye, that's all, with some coffee liqueur too. A little too sweet for me, I have to say, wondering whether this wouldn't qualify as a liqueur. Better not ask our administration. With water: I like it a little better, but I'm still trying to understand the idea behind this maple syrup thingy. Finish: for the record. Comments: fan of Koval and fan of Kirsch Import, but moderately so this time.

SGP:630 - 75 points.

Enough rye (and yet we love rye).

David Nicholson '1843' (50%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021)

David Nicholson '1843' (50%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021) Three stars
I think it is a first at Whiskyfun Castle. Colour: gold. Nose: a soft bourbon, on vanilla, toasted oak, toasted bread, touch of liquorice, some fudge and caramel, a little rooibos tea, that's it. With water: a wee earthiness, otherwise some soft, easy bourbon. Easy on the nose… Mouth (neat): feels pretty young given the vintage. Imagine, 1843! Remember, in marketing you never talk to the brain, you talk to the guts. So a good, simple, pleasant bourbon that goes down without a fuss. Sweet liquorice and various sweets. With water: really pleasant, a tad spicier. Caraway bread, tiny touch of curry, on vanilla fudge and corn honey (which isn't proper honey!) Finish: a little short. Perhaps more wheat than rye. Comments: no quibble bourbon, of good quality. In my humble opinion, as always.

SGP:640 - 80 points.

Heaven Hill 12 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, American Bourbon, +/-2022)

Heaven Hill 12 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, American Bourbon, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
It's good that those very distinguished people at Cadenhead's would have made it clear that this was ex-bourbon barrel. You never know… Colour: straw. Nose: it's almost as if this was matured in fresh oak for only two or three years and then re-racked in refill. Soft vanillas, brioches and sponge cakes, barley syrup (yes), nougat and popcorn, perhaps tangerines… Mouth: super good! More grasses and herbs, even mosses, green spices, citrus peel… Not sure all that is very 'bourbon', but I really like this development. Goes towards cinnamon and soft peppers then, which was more expected, naturally. Finish: rather long, a tad oakier. Nice green fruits, green plums, rhubarb… Comments: a bourbon that's gone a little towards Scotch, you could almost call it a malty bourbon.

SGP:551 - 84 points.

Right, a last one, let's make it a good one.

Pappy Van Winkle's 20 yo 'Family Reserve' (45.2%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey)

Pappy Van Winkle's 20 yo 'Family Reserve' (45.2%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey) Four stars
I can't tell when this one was bottled, probably not too long ago. I would tend to find these Pappies 'excellent, not great'.  Colour: reddish amber. Nose: whiffs of stewed redcurrants and rhubarb at first, which is obviously superb, fresh and wonderfully nose-tickling, then cedarwood and incense, then the all-expected vanillas, toffees, coconut wines and varnishes. Funny nose that goes from the exceptional to the almost mundane. Mouth: no denying, this starts very well, almost 'fruity', but it's getting dry, too much on coffee dregs and bitter chocolate for me. Biting heavy-toasted oak chips. Nicer sourness in the background, could be that the redcurrants are back. Finish: ambivalent. Nice marmalades and bitter oaks and black tobacco and tea. Some biting old-school Ténarèze in the aftertaste – not joking! Comments: looks like these Pappies vary a lot.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Many more American whiskeys soon! No, wait, a very last one…

Griffo 'Stout Barreled' (45%, OB, Batch #6, +/-2021)

Griffo 'Stout Barreled' (45%, OB, Batch #6, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
We're at Griffo Distillery in Sonoma County, California this time. Another first, I think. We've had quite a few great whiskies from Sonoma County (and a few wines). This one's been finished in ex-Lagunitas stouts, how very Californian indeed - we're talking 'old' Lagunitas, when we were only finding them on the West Coast, Lagunitas having now been much industrialised and globalised, as far as I can tell (as I know more about Russian lunar modules than about beer). Colour: deep reddish amber. Nose: hurray! This is too unbalanced, too spicy, too earthy, too oaky, too much on the moistest pumpernickels… But it is admirable. I adore these whiffs of Timut pepper that rare slowly coming out, together with ganaches and gingerbreads. California, again. Mouth (neat): not very whisky-like, but exceptional. Stunning chocolates of all kinds, well this is almost chocolate eau-de-vie. Very impressive. Do we get the stout? I suppose we do, but I would say were drinking 50cl of stout per year, so we're hardly experts. With water (not that it's needed): more chocolate, marmalade, Szechuan pepper, pink grapefruit sherbet. Finish: goes on with the same flavours. Only the aftertaste is a little disappointing, a little too drying. Comments: totally modern, but better proper modern whiskies than NFT malts and decanters for the metaverse. This little Griffo is as nice as the Iso 'Grifo', a wonderful Italian sportscar from the 1960s with a boosted Chevrolet V8. See, the American, again.
SGP:661 - 88 points.  

Griffo, winner! PS: I know, those were not all ryes.

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

 

June 28, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Lagavulin 1990 and 1993

Lagavulin

Lagavulin's giant saxophones in 2005 (WF archive)

 

The new Prima & Ultima gathers the last two casks of Lagavulin 1993. We'll always remember very fondly the 1993 'Manager's Choice' from 2009 (WF 93), not to be confused with the 'Manager's Dram'.  The managers have it good. As for a proper sparring partner, we've retrieved this one from the library rather than any of those many 'undisclosed probable Lagavulins', what do you think?...

 

Lagavulin 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, The Syndicate, cask #4396, 96 bottles)

Lagavulin 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, The Syndicate, cask #4396, 96 bottles) Five stars
A very tiny outturn and a bottle that flew under many fine persons' radars when it came out. Having said that, please note that I'm trying this from a (pretty large, ha-ha) sample drawn from wood in September 2019 and not from the actual bottle that only came out in 2020. Colour: light gold. Nose: a quietened down Lagavulin that's gone to its oils and putties, paraffin, almond paste, antirust paint, although some very lovely coastal notes would indeed take off after a while, beach bonfire, barbecued fish, then quince paste. Quince pastes and jellies will save the world. Mouth: su-perb, much less quiet on the palate, clearly salty (with fat oysters), with fabulous tighter herbs (dill, coriander) and what you could almost still call 'a big peat'. Some awesome medicinal notes of the tarry kind. Those old-school cough medicines made with pine tar, for example. Also a touch of fish oil, monkfish liver, whelks, things like that. Finish: urbanely medium-long, civilised, appeased, and indeed quiet. Almost as if we've just had half a dozen oysters from Loch Gruinart, in the far, far north of the Distillery (what?) Comments: this fabtastic baby won't make the new one's life easy… But that was then plan, after all triumph without peril brings no glory.

SGP:566 - 92 points.

Lagavulin 1993/2021 (50.1%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, Pedro Ximenez/Oloroso seasoned butt and refill American oak hogshead, 642 bottles, 2022)

Lagavulin 1993/2021 (50.1%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, Pedro Ximenez/Oloroso seasoned butt and refill American oak hogshead, 642 bottles, 2022) Five stars
Apparently, one of the casks has been double-seasoned with PX and oloroso; so was that simply 'cream' sherry or did they, indeed, do some double-seasoning? That would be a first in my book, but after all, nothing can stop progress. Right, but as always, the truth lies in the glass. Colour: amber. Nose: old penny book, old copper kettle, metal polish, old garage, humidor and cigars, pu-her tea, walnut wine, soy sauce, Stolle, caraway liqueur… Boy is this one restless! With water: chen-pi a.k.a. Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae. Yep. Mouth (neat): a thick, spicy concoction, smoky and meaty, salty, bouillony and very fermentary. Stout and soy sauce, walnut liqueur and nocino (that's the same thing, S.), chewing tobacco (but who's still using chewing tobacco these days?)… With water: more on grilled bacon. Finish: long and indeed, very savoury and fermentary. Salty aftertaste. Comments: excellent, as expected, but the boisterous butt does feel rather a lot, even more so after the all-natural class of the Syndicate's purer, much more distillate-driven Lagavulin.
SGP:476 - 90 points.

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

 

June 27, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today middle-aged
and really old Port Ellen

Let's remember that Port Ellen Distillery will reopen right next year! So no more sad glances through the slightly opaque windows of the Maltings. I've wanted to select a sparring partner that was distilled even before the Queen visited the Distillery (or perhaps rather the Maltings), in 1980, and chose this rather young 1976 from Wilson & Morgan's that, rather bizarrely, we hadn't tried yet (but I remember I had found a stash of bottles in a wee shop in Sienna, a long time ago). Picture: at the PE Maltings, 2005.

PE

 

Port Ellen 18 yo 1976/1995 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection)

Port Ellen 18 yo 1976/1995 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection) Four stars and a half
Later 1976s by Wilson & Morgan, bottled in 1998, had been glowingly splendid in my book (all WF 93), so our hopes are very high. Let's go chase new rubber boots and old tarry ropes if you agree… Colour: straw. Nose: instant tarry delights, with indeed new wellies (large sizes!), new tyres or 'visiting a Tesla service centre', then smoked fish, engine oil, stale seawater at low tide, plus notes of fresh-cracked pepper that would usually rather belong to Talisker, but there.  Mouth: all the glory of younger Port Ellens, still full of lemons and grapefruits, ridden with notes of fresh putty and plasticine, and then overrun by tar and rubber, in a pretty Michelin way. All that may remain a little simplistic, actually, with sweet lemony notes that would tend to fight the smokiness, but I still just love it. This, chilled and with smoked salmon, ho-ho! Finish: not eternal as a Port Ellen, a little sour perhaps (tarragon?) but the typical plasticine and putty in the aftertaste do sign this very lovely one. Comments: excellent, if perhaps not totally legendary.

SGP:567 - 89 points.

Port Ellen 1980/2021 (59.6%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American Oak Hogshead and ex-Sherry European Oak But, 555 bottles, 2022)

Port Ellen 1980/2021 (59.6%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American Oak Hogshead and ex-Sherry European Oak But, 555 bottles, 2022) Five stars
Said to be the oldest Port Ellen ever bottled (it's 41) and stemming from the two very last casks of 1980, both having spent all their lives on Islay. I've already had a sip of this one and have been rather impressed, pretty unsurprisingly. Colour: light gold. Nose: everything came together. I mean, it's not Page + Plant + Jones + Bonham, it's Led Zeppelin, see what I mean? Which, incidentally, makes it a little hard to describe, as not an aroma would even start to wander off. I mean, it's Port Ellen (bravo, S., that was really helpful.) With water: not a single sign of 'aging', this as coherent and bright as it would have been at ten, except that tropical fruits are now popping out, especially maracuja. This nose is totally extraordinary, tight as a great bone-dry chenin blanc or a verdejo from Rueda in Spain. May I recommend a Belondrade Y Lurton? Mouth (neat): massive, even pungent, ultra-tight and focused, on smoked grasses and bitter citrus, plus rubber, tar and dry oils. Surgically Port Ellen. With water: I know this is neither the place nor the moment, but I like it that they wouldn't have put these old glories in more or less aesthetically pleasing crystal decanters that only our old fur-wearing aunts would actually find, well, aesthetical. Other than that, I believe this is Bacchus's own whisky. Finish: medium, sublimely lively. A little pepper in the aftertaste , but no proper oak spices in sight. Comments: I cannot not think of a great white wine when trying this Port Ellen. Wine freaks ahoy; after all, a very recent 75cl bottle of Romanée Conti would be seriously more expensive. In any case, one of the fruitiest and grandest Port Ellens I've ever tried.
SGP:566 - 94 points.

(Thank you Jens!)

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

 

June 26, 2022


Whiskyfun

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

 

A few white rums

Shirt
This after rather poorly chosen white tequilas last week. People would tend to believe that white rums, while note not all unaged, would be fresher, if not lighter, and handle ice much better than 'golden', 'brown', 'anejos', 'aged rums', whatever. Which sometimes leads to insane consumptions and, as a consequence, rather strange behaviours in public. Including wearing Hawaiian shirts, or pink, orange and yellow. Together.

 

Trois Rivières 'Cannes Brûlées' (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2020)

Trois Rivières 'Cannes Brûlées' (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2020) Four stars
interestingly, this one is not totally white, but I doubt it was aged. It is a single-varietal rhum (rozeau cane) from a single location, where they have burnt the canes before the harvest, which is an old method that was used to get rid of leaves… and snakes. It is said that it was making the rums slightly smoky, let's see (hope they haven't finished this in ex-Laphroaig wood – yes some do that in the Caribbean)…  Colour: very, very pale white wine. Nose: oh, some mezcaly rum. Olives, brine, faint smoke indeed (charcoal), seawater, capers, then damp chalk and plaster. A very pleasant surprise, I would suppose you could make some kind of rum margarita with this. Mouth: dry, simpler, but clearly salty and smoky. Some lime and, indeed, a wee feeling of 'peat'. Extremely intriguing… Finish: medium, with similar flavours. Grilled bacon in the aftertaste. Comments: surprise surprise! It would be funny to try to burn barley too, but I doubt you could then malt it. Nah, forget.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Bologne 'Black Cane' (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2020)

Bologne 'Black Cane' (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Why write it in English and not in French? Wouldn't 'Canne Noire' be understandable too? Colour: rock crystal. Right. Nose: this one's very fresh indeed, without any 'mezcalness' of course, and rather on pure fresh cane juice. I just couldn't even consider spotting the differences between black cane, blue cane, grey cane or else, but indeed this is very soft and a notch grassy. With water: brings out a little medicinal alcohol, or raw apple spirit 'burnt' at 85% vol. or more. Also whiffs of shoe polish and plasticine. Mouth (neat): very sweet. Lime liqueur and touches of earth, as well as plain sugarcane. With water: good but not sure this one's meant to be sipped like this. Cane syrup. Finish: a little short, sugary and grassy. Comments: there was much more oomph and body in the Trois Rivières. Perhaps only for ti' punch? Now it is not even very caney…

SGP:641 - 77 points.

Rhum Charrette (49%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2022)

Rhum Charrette (49%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2022) Three stars
We're in the Indian ocean this time. Many people in France are using Charrette when they make cocktails, it's got a pretty good reputation (and it's sometimes said to be 'fast', see what I mean…) Colour: white as white water. Nose: pure cane juice, even if this is actually 'rhum traditionnel', so made with molasses. Sometimes also called 'rhum de sucrerie', or 'rhum industriel', which is not very appealing, we agree. Nice earthiness, with some lime as well, touches of fennel, celery… Mouth: very all right, with rather a lot happening, more lime, roots, earth, touches of lavender. Now it would also tend to become a little burning, hot… Finish: medium, a tad more alcoholy, but the lime and fennel are back in the aftertaste. Comments: serious rum. Never overlook these just because they're dirt cheap – I think I paid approx.. 15€ for a 100cl bottle. Which is, we agree, dearer than US$2  for a bottle of some excellent Cuban artisanal aguardiente (true story).

SGP:651 - 80 points.

Clément 'Canne Bleue 2019' (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2020)

Clément 'Canne Bleue 2019' (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2020) Three stars
Always a lot of hoopla around these vintaged bottles but the ones I could already try have been a little underwhelming. Let's check this one… Colour: very white. Nose: well, this is nicer than I was expecting, rather earthier and thicker, with a lot of caney aromas, plus touches of violets and liquorice, plus some fresh putty. Now it is not very long on the nose and would tend to lose steam… With water: a saltiness, some brine, seawater… Well, this vintage was much better than earlier ones, as I remember those. Lemon and cucumber in the background. Mouth (neat): yes, good! A little sweet but with good rootiness, cane, and aniseed plus affiliated flavours (dill etcetera). With water: does not fall apart at all, even if it would tend to become a little sugary. Finish: medium, softer, but with good sugarcane, orange juice rather than lemon, and a drop of seawater in the aftertaste. Comments: I know this won't make any sense, but 'I'm glad I'm liking it'.

SGP:651 - 81 points.

La Favorite 'Rivière Bel'Air récolte 2020' (53%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2020)

La Favorite 'Rivière Bel'Air récolte 2020' (53%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
This is pure red cane as well as single-plot rhum. The place is called, as you've guessed it, Rivière Bel'Air. Colour: white as the whitest diamond (that'll do, S.) Nose: this one's more perfumy and floral. Violets and ylang-ylang, vetiver, celeriac in the back, yuzu, oyster plant, perhaps borage… Would become more and more citrusy over time. In short, more yuzu. Tiny whiffs of, say Dove. With water: Woolite, washing powder… I know, sounds odd but it is lovely. Mouth (neat): very much to my liking, with a lot of expression and assertiveness (whaaat?) Wonderful small citrus, even more yuzu, kumbawa, lime… All that covered with drizzlings of pure sugarcane syrup. I'm finding this luminous. With water: doesn't get too sugary this time, yuzu and lime are standing guard. Finish: medium, fresh, rooty and citrusy, with touches of earth and tar (hurray). Comments: probably as good as white rum can be but keep watching your bottles or they will evaporate in a flash, for no reasons.
SGP:661 - 88 points.

A1710 'La Perle 2019' (54.5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 761 bottles, +/-2020)

A1710 'La Perle 2019' (54.5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 761 bottles, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
This is single-varietal, single-estate rum, made in both a colonne créole and a wee Charentais still (cognac). I think A1710 is a new distillery. Colour: as white as Tom Cruise's teeth (S., that's enough!) Nose: certainly different, rather more on vegetables and even meats, as if some very different yeasts have been in use. Very curious notes of manioc, plantain bananas, asparagus, samphires, olives… Intriguing, very intriguing, more fermentary than the others. Old hay. With water: brakes and new Tupperware stuff, a little coriander (leaves). Mouth (neat): certainly salty and fermentary. Some bananas – for the first time today -  and, well, even more bananas. Banana wine. With water: careful with water. Salted bananas and pears, that's what I'm getting. Or some kinds of chutneys? Finish: rather long, with the same molecules at the helm. Comments: very interesting distillate, very different. We'll try to check it more often.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Longueteau 'Constellation' (57.5%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, 2018)

Longueteau 'Constellation' (57.5%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, 2018) Four stars
This one was released to celebrate the 40 years of the Route du Rhum, a fantastic race that goes from Saint-Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre, the largest city in Guadeloupe. Colour: white. Nose: plain and pure cane juice, with just a drop of diesel oil. That's what I've always enjoyed in white Longueteau, with this slightly more rustic and grassy side after the Martiniquais. Some awesome absinth, liquorice and olives coming out too. With water: no changes, just a little more lemon zests and a hint of juniper. Mouth (neat): oily, a little, cough, strong, but this liquorice and the touches of aniseed would just work. With water: williams pears popping out, other than that, we have olives, brine, petrol, crushed anchovies, aniseed, liquorice… Finish: same flavours in the very long finish. A curious feeling of salty pastis in the aftertaste. Comments: top white agricole, with a gorgeous fatness.

SGP:562 - 87 points.

Good, I think we've had enough French ones, let's move to pastures new…

Monymusk 'Overproof White Rum' (63%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2020)

Monymusk 'Overproof White Rum' (63%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2020) Three stars
Let's not let this one kill us! It's made by National Rums of Jamaica and says it was 'triple distilled', so ex-pot still, and from a blend of molasses and cane juice as I understand it. Colour: white as a sheet. Nose: I think they have used some dunder in there, but I'm finding this bizarrely gentle, even soft, with several ripe fruits and rather flowers, especially wisteria, also geranium flowers (I keep insisting, no stems and no leaves). Imagine I'm even finding a little limoncello. Intriguing and very far from what compadres Hampden or WP are doing with their whites. With water: a little petrol indeed, leaves, seaweed, a drop of liquid soap – I won't mention hand sanitizer – and cane juice plus bananas. Not a high-ester Jamaican. Mouth (neat): burns you a little bit. Tough, when undiluted, although you would rather detect soft fruits and even sugars, icing sugar and all that. Quick, with water: closer to cane juice, with also drops of tequila and banana liqueur. A little brine and lime juice too. Finish: rather long, a little more 'Jamaican' at this point, you do feel a little dunder indeed. Comments: all right, a very good white, even if it's perhaps a little, say bipolar.

SGP:652 - 80 points.

Renegade 'Pre cask Old Bacolet 2020' (50%, OB, Grenada)

Renegade 'Pre cask Old Bacolet 2020' (50%, OB, Grenada)
As they do at sister Distillery Waterford in Ireland, a lot of details are given. This is single farm (Old Bacolet) and even single field (Josh), single harvest (2020), single varietal (Cain cane) and all distilled in pot stills. For some reason that I may explain later, I shall not score these babies and will just try to describe them, thanks for your understanding. Colour: white. Nose: a rather petroly cane, some elderflowers perhaps, a little paraffin and broom, some overripe, brown bananas, fermented damsons (you believe me on that)... With water: brine, brake fluid, plus a little sake. Mouth (neat): it's a fat spirit, just like brother Waterford. Should be the pot stills. Other than that, I find that it's rather got a little bit of several known styles as far as textured rums go, something agricole, something Jamaican, even something from La Réunion, or even from Demerara. It's very intriguing that it would be some kind of synthesis. With water: clearly agricole-style now, even if this is ex-pot still and not colonne créole. Freshness and texture. Finish: medium to long, still with a feeling of 'synthesis'. Fish cooked in pastis in the aftertaste. Comments: another meaning of that old expression, self-blend. Which is funny as this is the exact opposite of a blend.
SGP:562

Renegade 'Pre cask Pearls 2021' (50%, OB, Grenada)

Renegade 'Pre cask Pearls 2021' (50%, OB, Grenada)
Farm is Pearls, field is Grapefruit, varietal is Yellow Lady, and of course this is ex-pot stills again. It is a funny feeling to do exactly what we've already been doing at Bruichladdich twenty years ago, trying to compare new makes from different farms and terroirs. Colour: white. Nose: the difference are huge, but the style is the same. I would say that variations would be more obvious than with whiskies such as Bruichladdich or Waterford. Long story short, petrol and rotting bananas up, definition higher, some parsley and coriander appearing, yet complexity a little lower. And strawberries! Water not needed. Mouth (neat): seemingly closer to the Bacolet, but I won't keep playing the 'find the differences' game or I'll down a litre of each and keep hesitating… Finish: rather long, perhaps a little smokier? Comments: one day someone will smoke sugarcanes, but you have to do that on location as they just wouldn't travel – and cane juice is even worse. What's more, rather funnily, I find these closer to Islay than Waterford is.
SGP:562

Let's quickly try a few more…

Renegade 'Pre cask Dunfermline 2020' (50%, OB, Grenada)

Renegade 'Pre cask Dunfermline 2020' (50%, OB, Grenada)
Red cane this time. This one's much more different, with some kind of waxy sulphur (good), white asparagus and green tea, white truffles, fennel seeds, borage… The palate is rather thick, with some salted liquorice (salmiak) and a blend of manzanilla with sake, plus late-harvest pinot gris. Absolutely. No, really. Not totally my favourite nose, but probably my favourite palate this far.

SGP:472

Renegade 'Pre cask New Bacolet 2021' (50%, OB, Grenada)

Renegade 'Pre cask New Bacolet 2021' (50%, OB, Grenada)
Red cane this time again (Lacalome red). Back to the more 'regular' style. What's extremely troubling is that these are all pretty different when you first quick-nose them, while they would then converge. That's why the best method remains to 'quick-sniff' and to never, ever keep your nose over or in your glass for more than one second or two in a row, because your brain will instantly start to filter/enhance what you get. What I mean is that when tasting spirits, you really need to trick your own brain so that it doesn't trick you. Anyway, there's actually more gasoline in this nose. Fresh palate, salty and lemony, with many herbs, angelica, wild carrot, wormwood… 

SGP:562

Last one…

Renegade 'Pre cask Dunfermline 2020 column' (50%, OB, Grenada)

Renegade 'Pre cask Dunfermline 2020 column' (50%, OB, Grenada)
Indeed you could believe we already quick-tried this one but this time it's been distilled in a column still, while the other Dunfermline was ex-pot-still. This is also another field (Skeans) but the 'terroir' is just the same. It's called Mango Lane; indeed Sir Paul could write a song… Well, the nose here explains why pot stills are so vastly superior, unless you've got real short columns and/or shunt the plates. All right, it's a delicate nose, rather floral and gently perfumy, with many small herbs, flowers and teas, but in my book the robust and rustic pot still version works better. That's not exactly the same on the palate, where differences are a little less obvious. You lose oils, you win fruits and sweetness, plus sweet roots, even beets (that's the last straw) and salsify. Nothing is obvious in these matters.

SGP:641

Good, I've been keeping all these Renegades for a good twelve months to let them settle down and find their equilibrium. Right, their balance. To be totally honest, just like a good Bordeaux, they were first a little closed and 'jumbled-over' at the same time, and that's why I had decided to give then at least ten months of rest. Not the worst idea I've ever had (hum-hum), but I'll say no more.

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

 

June 25, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Three Balvenie
I'm always happy to revisit Balvenie from time to time, especially when some older examples are on the table. We'll have a recent peaty official offering, alongside a couple of old bottlings that I opened for previous iterations of the Whisky Show Old & Rare.

 

Balvenie 17 yo 'The Week Of Peat' (49.4%, OB, 2021)

Balvenie 17 yo 'The Week Of Peat' (49.4%, OB, 2021)
Apparently this was created using peat from Pitsligo up in ?? Colour: gold. Nose: a rather dry and dusty peat, not dissimilar to inhaling deeply from some old wooden malt bins, it's also reminiscent of some late 1970s batches of Ardmore with these wee farmyard and oily sheep wool touches. Wet bracken, camphor, toolbox rags and wood embers. It's certainly a departure from most other peated makes in overall style. Mouth: good arrival, rather sooty, a little oily, more camphor, cod liver oil, suet, herbal broths, umami paste and various shades of pepper adding warmth. Still this impression of a kind of damp, farmy smokiness pervading things. In time some more assertive peaty notes and impressions of smoked meats developing, some olive oil too. Finish: medium, lightly tarry, camphor again, some smoked honey, pepper and lighter medicinal notes. Comments: I find this very good in the sense that it comes across as quite different in style; it's not just 'another peated variant' in that respect. Although, it perhaps lacks a little 'definition' at times, in that it comes across as a little unsure of itself at points. But there's pleasure here for sure and it's certainly worth trying.
SGP: 575 - 86 points.

 

 

Balvenie 1975/1985 (57.1%, Robert Watson)

Balvenie 1975/1985 (57.1%, Robert Watson)
Robert Watson of Aberdeen were responsible for a number of pretty excellent and fascinating old bottlings over the decades, including quite a few outstanding indy Balvenies at high strengths. Thankfully William Grant are still generous enough to sell some casks to the indy bottlers… oh, wait, wrong universe. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pure, raw, rugged distillate driven malt! All on sinewed barley notes, malt extract, chalk, pebbles, mustard powder, parsley and things like wet plaster and aspirin. Austere but balanced by a big, chunky waxiness and some underlying notes of olive and sunflower oils. Strides that tight rope between charisma and excessive rawness that can tip over into plain petrol - which doesn't happen here. With water: opens nicely onto pollens, vase water, dried flowers, aged mead and camphor now. Maintains this superb richness and impression of texture and fatness. Mouth: pow! Really goes up a notch here, terrific arrival all on peppery warmth, honey, malt syrup, rich cereals, limestone and waxy citrus rinds. Shows what a big and profoundly charismatic distillate Balvenie was in this era. With water: wonderfully peppery now, with hints of sandalwood, watercress, fennel and lime. Also woodruff and a more medicinal herbal vibe emerging. Really terrific! Finish: long, oily, mineral and really starting to get greasy, fat and oily. Cocktails made by spooning gunge directly from the low wines and feints receiver (is that a thing? Send in some hipster mixologists post-haste!) Comments: one of a handful of exemplary old bottlings that demonstrate just what a thrilling and unashamedly fat, joyful distillate old Balvenie was. Not saying the modern examples aren't also great, but I feel after the mid-1970s it lost this particular kind of 'fatness'.
SGP: 472 - 91 points.

 

 

Balvenie 15 yo 1974/1990 (57.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #18103-18130, 1300 bottles)

Balvenie 15 yo 1974/1990 (57.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #18103-18130, 1300 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a gorgeous fusion of resinous, crystallised honeys, meads, camphor and waxes. Mineral oils, putty, jasmine tea, pressed meadow flowers and big, textural notes of Barbour grease, hessians and pure, gungy waxes. Just outstanding! With water: becomes even richer and also more aromatically diverse, taking in wee notes of biscuity sweetness, freshly baked breads, sweet ales and herbal teas. Mouth: richly honeyed, oily, waxy, fatty - almost glycerol in texture and showing many tiny notes of honeys, meads, pollens, coal tar soap and increasingly medicinal. Some citrus curds, slightly salty qualities and things like sandalwood, lanolin and tiger balm. With water: herbs, roots, fennel seed, liquorice, cough medicines, drying waxiness and peppery warmth.  Glorious! Finish: long, bitterly herbal, brilliantly waxy, oily and full of camphor, fir resins, dried mint and tarragon. Comments: these bottles just demolish any arguments about whisky 'not changing' over the years - this is pure old style malt whisky at its glittering best!
SGP: 562 - 93 points.

 

 

 

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

 

June 23, 2022


Whiskyfun

Scottish hotch potches, a sequel with cars

Once again, a few rather unclassifiable Scotch whiskies. (Picture Omnibus Gallery, Aspen)


 

 

Black Bottle 10 yo (40%, OB, blended scotch, +/-2021) Two stars
More ancient versions of Black Bottle used to carry a rather good reputation but to be honest, even with really old ones, we've never really been thrilled. Only one from the 1930s managed to contemplate the 90-mark in some way. Very recent ones have actually been underwhelming, but let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of young smoke and metal polish, otherwise some hay and sugared breakfast tea. Light dry nose. Mouth: once again a little peat in the arrival, a salty touch as well, some soot and rubber, but it's getting a little drying, tea-ish again, with dried herbs and hay. A light, rather thin body. Finish: short, slightly soapy, dry, tea-ish. Some cardboard in the aftertaste, as almost always with entry-level blends. Comments: very nice packaging but double the price of other Scotch blends of similar, rather very average quality, in my opinion.

SGP:442 - 70 points.

Another go at the brand…

Black Bottle 'Island Smoke Batch 2' (46.3%, OB, blended scotch, 2021)

Black Bottle 'Island Smoke Batch 2' (46.3%, OB, blended scotch, 2021) Three stars and a half
This one's meant to be rather smokier, so perhaps more in line with earlier Black Bottles that used to be known as 'peatier blends', although they would never have reached the level of smoke that was to be found, for example, in White Horse. Colour: full gold. Nose: strictly nothing to do with the humble Black Bottle 10. Nice sooty and ashy smoke, some seawater, seaweed, beach bonfire, burning pinewood, cough syrup, iodine… All in all, a really fine, flawless, softer peater on your nose. The higher strength helps too. Mouth: really good, with probably a high malt content (more than 50%?) Good sweet coastal smoke as we sometimes say, also touches of tinned pineapple (from the grain, probably) and guavas. A little menthol and liquorice too, all that working well together, pretty much in sync. Fine composition! Finish: good length, with salty chutneys, pickled fruits (wee citrus) and just, indeed, some 'sweet smoke'. Only the aftertaste has got a little cardboard again, as well as some mustard. Comments: strictly nothing to do with the 10, and surely one of today's better blends, I would say.
SGP:454 - 84 points.

Since we're doing black ones…

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label Sherry Finish' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2022)

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label Sherry Finish' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2022) Four stars
We're having quite a few Johnnie Wa lkers these days, which I find cool. It's an all-important brand! This is a blend that's boosted with Caol Ila… and sherry wood. Colour: full amber – a little suspiciously. Nose: what anyone would call a fine all-rounder, with touches of smoke, toffee, pecan pie, butterscotch, stout, raisins, then a little beeswax, some earthy kind of marmalade, some tobacco… Honestly, this is a rather wonderful nose, but as we all know, the devil's almost always on the palate. Mouth: can't quite find the devil. I have the impression that this is like earlier 'regular' JW Black 12s, the good ones that used to be rather vastly superior to today's offerings, as far as I can tell. Very good roasted nuts, walnuts, ashes, tobacco, some clear salty smokiness, a little coffee, a little chocolate, a little salty fudge, some full-bodied honey… All excellent, even the lower strength is not quite a handicap here. Finish: medium, void of any cardboard or excessive tea-ishness, smoky and salty, with dried dates, tobacco and black raisins. No cardboard either in the aftertaste, rather a few drops of pina colada. Comments: it's not that I'm surprised, but… yeah, there, I am surprised. Should I need a house blend, I may pick this excellent one.

SGP:553 - 85 points.

Even more black stuff…

Black Bull 'Peated Edition' (50%, Duncan Taylor, blended scotch, +/-2021)

Black Bull 'Peated Edition' (50%, Duncan Taylor, blended scotch, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
On the back label, they would say this is 'a Highlander', which would suggest that they've sourced the peaters in the mainland. The brand is very much involved in car racing, which can only please us at WF. Remember we co-sponsored a car in the French rally championship, and even Ralfy's world-record-breaking motorbike? Things have become quieter these days but I am thinking of something, please stay tuned… In the meantime, let's try this Black Bull. Colour: straw. Nose: some fresh young peat, perhaps a little rough. Mercurochrome, fresh cider, seawater or brine, oysters and lemons… This far this feels like some 5 years old Caol Ila. No scandal here, naturally. With water: limoncello and seawater. Of course. Mouth (neat): bright lemony and salty smoke, with seemingly a view on the Paps of Jura. See what I mean? With water: I don't think there's much grain whisky in there. 30%? 40%? Finish: medium, this time a tad softer, but with nice ashes. Very smoky and salty aftertaste. Comments: very good, very smoky blend. We've got quite a few older Black Bulls in the boxes, we'll try them later.
SGP:455 - 84 points.

Since we were talking car racing…

Highland Single Malt 6 yo 2014/2021 (50%, Bottles & Legends, refill hogshead, cask #76, 174 bottles)

Highland Single Malt 6 yo 2014/2021 (50%, Bottles & Legends, refill hogshead, cask #76, 174 bottles) Three stars
With a pink Porsche on the label. One day, I'll tell the story about me almost buying an ex-Martina Navratilova fuchsia-pink convertible Porsche Turbo with all-white leather seats. The important word here is 'almost'. Mrs Navratilova has always been deeply involved with Porsche.  All right, this is a 'Ruadh Maor', so actually a peated Glenturret. Not sure it belongs here, but since it's already in our tasting glass… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: new rubber boots, mutton suet, sour fruits, gym socks, rotting figs and Greek yoghurt. Distillate-driven whiskies are even funnier when said distillates are a little funky, as they say in rum. With water: burning paraffin and new bicycle inner tubes. Or there, new Pirellis for that pink Porsche on the label. Mouth (neat): someone clever has gathered many fruits and vegetables, then smoked them using pinewood and greasy brown coal, then mashed and distilled them in a pressure cooker. Or in proper copper pot stills. With water: great fun, despite the notes of new plastics. Finish: long, salty and sour, plus tons of other unlikely flavours. Sweetened cream cheese? Also just 'pears'. Comments: regular Glenturrets have become much cleaner, but the peated ones seem to have kept all the dirty-ish wackiness of old. That's rather cool.
SGP:564 - 82 points.

What else have we got…

A Speyside Distillery 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, refill and first fill oloroso, 2022)

A Speyside Distillery 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, refill and first fill oloroso, 2022) Four stars
So an undisclosed single malt from Speyside. Colour: amber. Nose: but yes, guignolet (cherry liqueur) and a fresh box of Mon Chéri, maraschino, black cigars, Christmas cake (I perfectly know that this is not the right season), old rum and charcoal. No one would cry wolf if you said that this could be Glenfarclas. Mouth: totally on chestnut purée, chocolate sauce, more fruitcake, mocha, Guinness, red Bourgogne wine, marmalade and more maraschino. Finish: rather long, with a dollop of strawberry jelly, then proper oloroso (a tad dulce, or cream) and just fresh raisin rolls. Comments: just super-good, flawless, classic sweet-sherried malt with a solid body.

SGP:651 - 86 points.

Blended Malt 20 yo 2001/2021 (45%, Thompson Bros., sherry butt matured, 626 bottles)

Blended Malt 20 yo 2001/2021 (45%, Thompson Bros., sherry butt matured, 626 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: fun stuff, a little deviant at first, almost punk (old LPs, books and magazine, ink, polyester), then much more gentle, classic, on raisins, toffee and coffee. Well you do feel that it's all going to happen on the palate… Mouth: sweet, honeyed, very slightly dusty at first, becoming then very brandy-like, cognacqy as we say, with a growing earthiness and some black tea, all that with a slightly fat body that would remind us of that famous Distillery in Craigellachie. Very faintly sulphury background, rather an asset here than a problem. Oh and rather a lot of Demerara sugar. Finish: rather long, more on classic raisins, toffee and marmalade. Dark chocolate and coffee dregs in the aftertaste. Comments: indeed, could be that one. Quality's high, as always at the Thompsons'.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

A Highland Distillery 21 yo 2000/2022 (55.2%, Watt Whisky, sherry hogshead, 308 bottles)

A Highland Distillery 21 yo 2000/2022 (55.2%, Watt Whisky, sherry hogshead, 308 bottles) Four stars
Do not always believe that these secret Highlanders are either Glenmorangie or Clynelish! They could be Macallan… Colour: gold. Nose: probably none of them. Some sour fruits, wood, pickled mushrooms, artichokes in oil, some sulphury wines (we know some rieslings…), also asparagus, pointed cabbage, well we're almost about to mention broccoli. With water: always some gas and truffle oil. More artichokes in oil, as they do in Italy. Some cured ham too, by the way. Mouth (neat): touch of gunpowder at first, then Linzertorte, pumpernickel, moist pipe tobacco and fig wine. Who's never had bits of pipe tobacco in the mouth, willingly or unwillingly? With water: more sooty aromatics, more gunpowder, also more chalk and raw coffee beans, robusta rather than arabica. Finish: long, always with these truffles, gunpowder, and rubbery jams. Not sure rubbery jams do exist, but that's an idea… Comments: all uncertain and wobbly, all good and different. I couldn't tell you where this was distilled and matured, probably in hell's kitchen, but as Mick J. would say, I like it.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Speyside Region 26 yo 1991/2017 (50.6%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask)

Speyside Region 26 yo 1991/2017 (50.6%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask) Five stars
The ducks are back on Whiskyfun! I have to say I'm sad I haven't met them in Limburg this year. Colour: gold. Nose: tops. Mirabelle jam, fresh croissants, custard, whiffs of balsa wood, a little sugarcane syrup, and something that would clearly lead us to Balvenie. I'm not saying this is Balvenie, absolutely not, but I'm sure you get the idea and the picture. With water: brioche and custard. What we call 'English cream' in French. A wonderful pure fermentary maltiness in the background. Mouth (neat): totally excellent. More mirabelles, quinces, orange jam, orange blossom water, spicier Turkish delights, some hay wine… With water: mirabelle eau-de-vie and preserved greengages. Ouah ! as we say over here. Finish: medium, superbly vanilla-ed and mirabelly. I feel the need to apologise to the Queen of England because I've used yet another barbarism, 'mirabelly'. Comments: ex-bourbon Aberlours could be like this too, but this is ex-sherry. Anyways, loved this one.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Peatside 10 yo 2011/2021 (53.2%, Kintra Spirits, Madeira full maturation, cask #5541, 303 bottles)

Peatside 10 yo 2011/2021 (53.2%, Kintra Spirits, Madeira full maturation, cask #5541, 303 bottles) Three stars
We're always siding with peat anyway, are we not? And s***w nitrosamines! Now this is a peated whisky from Speyside, so let's give it extra-care… Colour: full gold. Nose: bags of pencil shavings, pine bark, then litres of ginger liqueur and aquavit. I mean, caraway-led aquavit. Also mustard and… agave? Mezcal? An unusual drop for sure. With water: more pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): someone's smoked a whole Ikea shop. All kinds of woods including plywood, plus all kinds of smokes (pine, peat, coal, beech) and some ginger and cinnamon liqueur. Some modern oak-witchcraft in action here, for sure. With water: cool, sweeter, spicier. Ginger, horseradish, caraway, mustard, honey. Finish: long, spicy and sweet. Sweeter nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: modern and brilliantly made, but perhaps a little too much for me. This is the style that many new 'craft' distilleries would have implemented.

SGP:661 - 82 points.

I think we'll have a last one… Please, let's make it an old one from refill…

Secret Speyside 31 yo 1990/2021 (52.8%, Whisky AGE, refill barrel cask ref #SP001, 245 bottles)

Secret Speyside 31 yo 1990/2021 (52.8%, Whisky AGE, refill barrel cask ref #SP001, 245 bottles) Four stars
This from Taiwan. According to the design of the label, it was related to Santa Klaus in some ways, so we might be a little late once more… (no surprises here, S.!) Colour: gold. Nose: fresh breads and brioches this time, also mandarins, pistachios, sesame oil, suet and marrow, Parma ham, Caesar's mushrooms, damp limestone earth… This is a good example of an old malt whisky that's starting to display unusual, rather tertiary  aromas. With water: oils and greases, fresh-sawn plywood, pinewood… Not sure it needed water. Mouth (neat): unusual oils and woods indeed, wakame, balsam, eucalyptus, Brazil nuts, kumquats and bergamots, bitter almonds, grapefruit, 'green' polishes and resins… In fact, this one's rather clearly resinous. With water: citrus liqueurs, plasticine, wax and pinewood. Finish: medium, even more on sweet waxes and pinewood. Typical old refill wood of very good quality. Comments: a pretty waxy and piney old Speysider, any ideas? What could this be? I may have forgotten to mention plantains and small 'green' bananas. Great (slightly tough) drop.

SGP:561 - 87 points.
 

June 21, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Talisker NAS plus Ultima

We've tried rather many Taliskers in recent times, which can only please us. Mind you, we're approaching our 200th T, while there really aren't many at the indies (except perhaps at DL/HL's).

(Picture, there once was a very good Scottish folk-jazz band named Talisker, Check them out. I believe their leader, drummer Ken Hyder, is still playing)

Talisker

 

 

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2021)

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
With the new 'coastal' label.  In truth we're only using these wee NASses as sparring partners, even if in my book, 'Storm' is way, way more enjoyable than 'Skye'. Skye is the Achille's heel of the range, in my humble opinion. Colour: light gold. Nose: you do feel the work of fresh or rejuvenated American oak, with this pleasant rounded sweetness on the nose and many, many cakes and brioches and soft breads and just chalk, wool and mud. Some bitter almonds in the background, proper amlou (mix and thin-grind honey, almonds and argan oil, the proportions being fifty-fifty-fifty as my dear German-born grandmother used to say). Amlou is an energetic sin. Mouth: more salty peat, seawater, a feeling of plaster, pepper, lemon, flour and peppered whelks and razorfish. Finish: rather long, with some oak that feels a little bit (sawdust). Vanilla. Comments: we're still far from the vibrant 10 yo, but I would really quaff this (when there's no 10). It is a very peaty Talisker.

SGP:356 - 84 points.

Talisker 1984/2021 (51.9%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, hogsheads and sherry butt, 2022)

Talisker 1984/2021 (51.9%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, hogsheads and sherry butt, 2022) Five stars
From 3 refill American oak hogsheads and 1 ex-sherry European oak butt. It's to be said that all very old Taliskers that we could try within the last 24 months have been extremely graceful and transportative (copyright Ewan Gunn!), while last year's 1979 Prima & Ultima was just totally sublime (WF 93). Colour: straw/white wine. Nose: myriads of tiny white and yellow fruits, plus bandages, oyster plant, old cough syrup, mangos (m.a.n.g.o.s.) and distant whiffs of burning incense. It is always fascinating to see how peat decomposes into fruity aromas over many decades, especially mangos and passion fruits, as can also be experienced at a famous distillery on the KIldalton coast of Islay (first one east of Port Ellen). With water: changes direction, goes towards a pharmacy. More bandages, more mercurochrome, more herbal teas (the ones that cure everything)… Mouth: very high class. Salted and smoked nougat (who's ever going to make that?) plus oysters and langoustines, mangos indeed, lemons, some pepper as usual (very soft, rather Szechuan), cough syrup, crystallised angelica, touches of grapefruit… All that is subtle and almost meditative, it sure isn't a restless, boisterous Talisker but the DNA is fully there. I believe I've used the word 'graceful' somewhere… With water: it is an old white Burgundy by some of the top-tier winemakers. Finish: medium, delicate, complex, elegant, rather fascinating… I know, lousy brochure-y writing, not proud. Almond paste, marzipan, a feeling of fresh putty in the aftertaste. Linseed oil – like. Comments: this dazzling old Talisker is probably a little less smoky than some of its compadres; on the other hand, it reminds me of some very old official bottles (8 and 12 from the 1970s, or the earlier NAS). Just sublime.
SGP:464 - 93 points.

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

 

June 20, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Glen Ord,
young plus ultima

We're going on with our exploration of this year's Prima & Ultima series by Diageo. We'll always keep in mind the rather extraordinary official Ord 30 yo from around twenty years ago, in its rectangular bottle. By the way, Ord, Glen Ord, Glenordie or The Singleton of Glen Ord, that's all from the same distillery. Let's also remember that there's a large malting plant at Glen Ord (previously even Saladin boxes), so we could say that Glen Ord are doing their maltings themselve.
(picture, magazine ad, circa 1995. Crazy admen...)

Ord

 

 

Glen Ord 9 yo 2021/2021 (53.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 148 bottles)

Glen Ord 9 yo 2021/2021 (53.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 148 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine and definitely unfiltered, as we're having a lot of wee black congeners swimming and twirling around. Cool! Nose: so very epitomically Glen Ord, which I've always found full of beeswax and tarte tatin. Some wonderful pears too in there, as well as a discreet smokiness, as if someone would be smoking a cigar… a mile away. With water: barley! It's not often that we would be this close to raw barley, plus the syrup made thereof, not to mention candy cane. Remember those flutes we were having when we were kids? Mouth (neat): extremely thick, as a syrup, and viscimetrical even without water. Greengage syrup, barley syrup, williams pears… With water: once again, back to the barley – and ripe pears. Finish: rather long, still thickly textured, with a little lemon this time. Candyfloss, toffee apple… It's a party! Comments: just excellent, a lovely fat spirit with a superb mouthfeel.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 1987/2021 (49,4%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 1987/2021 (49,4%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022) Five stars
This one from five casks, the last 1987s that Diageo would have owned. Colour: straw. Nose: I'm instantly reminded of that glorious 30 years old we were just mentioning. Beeswax, ripe apples, honeycomb, dandelions, acacia flowers, honeysuckle, papaya, meadow honey, apricots, jujubes, quince jelly, mirabelle jam… and although it's 100% not winey, you would also find some lovely sweet wines such as the ripe chenins blancs from Loire (Côteaux-du-Layon). Mouth: exactly. This composition reminds us that even if single malts are single malts (bravo, S.!) you still need a good master blender as soon as you marry several casks. By the way, after Dr Jim and Mrs Robinson with the first two editions of the Prima & Ultima, this year it is Dr Craig Wilson who's been handling the valinches and the pipettes. Successfully, judging by this little Glen Ord that's just astoundingly honeyed and ridden wit juicy dried fruits and jams. Like, mirabelles and quinces! Other fruits in the bower, bergamots, dried jujubes, dates for sure… Finish: medium, with some very soft spices, tiny touch of ginger, cinnamon rolls, and certainly more fragrant honey. Comments: indeed, I'm having the feeling of drinking that old 30 years old. It's incredible how our mind works, as I've just checked that I've last tried that official 30 on February 15… 2006!

SGP:641 - 92 points.

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

 

June 19, 2022


Whiskyfun

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

 

Summer starts this week, let us try white tequila

Summer in the northern hemisphere, naturally. We'll have mezcals later. By the way, the Consejo Regulador del Tequila is publishing an oline list of 'Companies certified for Tequila and Tequila 100%'.

 

XXX Siglo Treinta 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019)

XXX Siglo Treinta 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019)
According to websites, this is 'ultra-premium tequila', which is a little frightening indeed. Colour: white. Nose: a very fragrant one, perhaps a tad too much, with a blend of peonies (not all peonies are fragrant but some are big time indeed) and roses, then juniper, gin, soap and cranberry juice. Mouth: very sweet, floral, really full of juniper and roses. Tends to fall apart and to become a tad raw and bitterish, with even notes of bitter oak, while there isn't any oak here, obviously. Finish: medium, a little soapy. Feels like gin. Comments: okayish, rather too much on gin. Tequila tonic, does that exist?
 SGP:630 - 65 points.

T1 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019)

T1 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019) Three stars
T1 = Tequila Uno, you understand. This one too is meant to be 'ultra-premium'. I mean, 'ultra-fino'. According to the very fine folks at TWE, the brand was 'established by German Gonzalez, great grandson of a former Mexican president'. Feels like a Netflix series about narcos, no? Where have I put my bulletproof vest? Colour: white. Nose: clearly tighter, grassier, and frankly more serious, with some agave, olives, lime, celeriac and elderberries. I like it so far. Mouth: very good, with olives and citrons, yuzu, juniper, some earthy touches, perhaps bamboo shoots, caraway, fennel and dill… I also enjoy the clear earthy side here. I could drink this straight and uniced. The XXX had to be extra-chilled to go down. Finish: medium, clean, more floral. Roots in the aftertaste, even yellow chartreuse. Comments: very good silver tequila. We're slowly getting into the mood…

SGP:551 - 82 points.

El Rayo 'N. °1 Plata' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

El Rayo 'N. °1 Plata' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars
I mean, the presentation is very high-brow, this should be meta-premium. Colour: white. Nose: much less agave-ness in this one, rather pears and caramelised pecans, even notes of marc, or even blanche d'armagnac, caramel, fudge, cappuccino. Very surprising, as if it had been aged in wood and then discoloured. Mouth: similar feeling, this might well have met some wood at some point. Some vanilla, olive cake (Tupperware used to have a world-famous recipe for that), macchiato, madeleines… IN truth it loses me, all I'm expecting is some pure, clean, straight-to-the-point agaveness. That's not working but it's not impossible that true tequila maniacs who've already had thousands behind their ties would enjoy this variant. Finish: similar. Medium, smooth, vanilla-ed and almost whisky-y. Comments: I know I should check how they're making this, but there is insufficient time at WF Towers…

SGP:530 - 76 points.

Patron 'Tequila Silver' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2022)

Patron 'Tequila Silver' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2022) Two stars
A very large brand, most probably owned by a kind of worldwide booze consortium. We won't try to learn more about it, but at least this is 100% agave. Colour: white. Nose: pears and Schweppes. Was that fast enough? Mouth: I have to confess I rather like this, despite a few gritty, ethanoly notes. And even if it would tend to become a little gluey. Finish: gets bitterer, less precise, more on pears. Loses some points at this stage. Loses its agave-iness. Comments: this Patron started well and got then a little vulgar. Mind you, they must be producing millions of cases every year.

SGP:540 - 75 points.

Corazon 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Corazon 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Three stars
This is single estate tequila, 100% blue agave. What's called 'Weber' agave. Colour: white. Nose: oh yes! Lovely, albeit a tad syrupy, with some clear and well-chiselled agaveness. Some very lovely whiffs of vegetables, Chinese cabbage, asparagus, celeriac again… We're closer to the raw materials, always the best configuration in our wee book.  Mouth: no quibbles, this is a good one, even if it is a tad varnishy at first, and perhaps a little sweetish. Good citrus, roots, legumes, baboo shoots, palm heart… It's pretty complex if you take your time. Finish: medium, semi-sweet, slightly salty (hurray), with some depth. Unexpected notes of sake and beer. Comments: well, it's not that clean, but it just delivers. Oh and they should bottle these at 43 or 45 or 46% vol.

SGP:461 - 80 points.

Mijenta 'Blanco' (40%, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Mijenta 'Blanco' (40%, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars
H.o.l.d. o.n., this is meant to be proper tequila for die-hard tequila maniacs. According to the price, at least… Colour: white. Nose: back on pears and kirsch. Not too sure, I'm missing the agaveness. Once again a feeling of vanilla-ed oak, even if this is very blanco. The Corazon's freshness buries this little Mijenta, I'm afraid, having said that some olives are showing up after thirty seconds, while olives will save just any spirit. Even Springbank! Mouth: starts goodly if a little pearish and even calvadossy. Rather rounded as a consequence, with a tendency to become a little indefinite, rough and burning. Loses steam, stamina and focus. Finish: medium, saltier, still a little indefinite and perhaps too 'cooked' and mellow. Comments: it started very well but it simply lost focus along the path and became a littler 'tutti-frutti-ish'. Oh, no, to think that it accumulated so many competition medals!
SGP:551 - 72 points.

Pueblo Viejo 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Pueblo Viejo 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021)
Low strength, bad news. It's like Laphroaig at 40% vol. This is 'tequila orgullo' but we don't know what that means. Oh and 100% agave. Colour: white. Nose: easy, nice, soft, but with whiffs of gentian spirit. It is well known that gentian spirits will save the world. Frankly, I'm all ears and tastebuds this far… Mouth: no. Some sides are nice (chocolate and gentian) but it's lacking both volts and watts. A flattish tequila and probably some missed opportunities, coz the core had some assets. Finish: don't bother. An ugly sweetness in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm sure something could have been done here.
SGP:550 - 55 points.

Let us accelerate!…

Vivir 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Vivir 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021)
Overdone packaging? Of course not, and this is 100% Blue Weber agave mind you. Now they say this would be 'smooth' tequila, so careful… Colour: white. Nose: no interests. Ethanol, burnt kirsch, salsify and asparagus. No bright agaveness at this point. Mouth: okayish, barely. Weak, smoothish, pearish, extremely far from any proper agaveness. Finish: short, sweet, too rounded and clumsy. Comments: no, really. Poor, murky and uncertain spirit.
SGP:640 - 60 points.

Batanga 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Batanga 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Jesus, 38% vol. again! Why are we doing this, while we could be tasting Brora, Port Ellen or Lagavulin instead? It's really about doing stuff because we said we would do it, but between us, this kind of vainglory is becoming tiring. Anyway… Colour: white. So far, so good (ha!) Nose: hello? Anybody in there? Perhaps gherkins and olives, which isn't bad news if you ask me. Like this, despite the stingy strength. Mouth: right, it's good tequila, but boy is it feeble and frustrating. Nice roots and lemons, like some kind of lemony and salty gentian. Finish: medium to light, but clean and fresh. A little medicinal. Comments: who's decided to butcher this rather lovely spirit? Can we have a Batanga at 46% vol., please? Please?

SGP:551 - 78 points.

Salitos 'Silver' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Salitos 'Silver' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021)
Thirsty-eight percent this time again, this is plain and pure provocation! 'Salitos O Muerte!', they say… Feels like brand-builders are at the helm. Having said that, it is a cheap tequila, like 15€ a bottle. Yep. Colour: white. Nose: no, not much, feels like a mixto, meaning a blend of agave spirit with just… er, grain whisky? Flat, poor, inexistant. Mouth: downable on a lot of ice, otherwise very poor and seriously bad. Finish: no way, we've spitted it out already. Comments: impaired tequila, but is it even tequila?

SGP:420 - 25 points.

Fortaleza 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Fortaleza 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars
Pretty expensive and lavishly presented, not unlike Patron. Colour: white. Nose: light, with some lemon syrup and touches of dill, lime juice, some paraffin (a first today), radish, leek, juniper, beets, celeriac… This is all a little too light, but I say the profile is right. Mouth: back on the tracks, even if the edges remain rough and a tad spirity. Celeriac, root eau-de-vie, gentian, sultanas that are coming unexpected, a medicinal side… Finish: rather short, rooty, with some sweet liquorice and some agave syrup. First time we're finding agave syrup in these tequilas, I think. Comments: not a grand spirit, and we'll have forgotten about it right tomorrow morning, but it sure isn't the baddest tequila ever.

SGP:530 - 72 points.

123 'Blanco' (40%, %, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

123 'Blanco' (40%, %, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) one star and a half
Although this one's organic, I'm not sure we'll survive this session. And I mean, who would start a new brand and call it '123'? But let's be honest, this reeks of quality and seriousness. Colour: white. Nose: not much I'm afraid, but there is a mineral and medicinal kind of chalkiness that's rather suggesting some good quality. And cut apples. Mouth: good, rather bigger and fatter, with some vanilla that comes unexpected. Some saccharose, beets… Well, actually, this is another one that would lose some steam after just as few seconds, and another one that would lack definition, and another one that would be f…. boring in the end. Finish: forget. Poor and flat. Comments: I promise we rather do mezcal and sotol next time we do agave, that is to say around the year 2048.

SGP:440 - 68 points.

Time to have a very last one. We're bored to death, let's do a mezcal and say night-night.

El Camino del Pensador (48%, OB, Mezcal Joven, +/-2021)

El Camino del Pensador (48%, OB, Mezcal Joven, +/-2021) Four stars
I'm dead sure there would be dozens of stories to tell you about this one, but we've just had a good dozen of pretty boring white tequilas, so please bear with us. Some action please… Colour: white. Nose: ah, acetone! Ammonia! Cellulose varnish! Nail polish remover! Chestnut wood! Wine vinegar! Parsnips, turnips and other strange roots! It is all going well this time… Mouth: but yes. Varnishes, roots, gentian, glues, acetone-y flavours, more varnishes, fermenting berries, strange yeasts, esters, more glues, rotting fruits… This is lovable, perhaps a little hot (they said 48 but it feels like 68), and just extremely wild. Not sure it pensadores mucho, but its whacky bacterial side would just smash you. Finish: all right. Comments: what was that, we were almost dead already, we're now totally flattened and… say crushed out. But we've seen worse, and tomorrow will be another day. Oh, by the way, it was a great wild mezcal! Took no prisoners!

SGP:362 - 87 points.
 

June 18, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Touring the Western Isles + 'bonus'
An aimless and lazy wander about the western isles today if you please. We'll kick off on Jura…

 

 

 

 

 

Jura 20 yo 'Batch 5' (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 901 bottles)

Jura 20 yo 'Batch 5' (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 901 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: very Jura! This avalanche of mashy grains, wort and root vegetables baked in honey. Also waxes, suet, bouillon, over-stewed chamomile tea and some kind of fermenting honey. Charismatic, weird and a whole heap of fun! Mouth: same feeling, but with many more waxes, honeys, breads and a myriad display of mechanical oils, toolbox grease, hessian rags and bike chain 'stuff'. Really, you cannot say that Jura does not make a spirit with personality. Although, you can also see why the commercially minded owners might be tempted to clobber their distillate into Supermarket uniformity with any number of active woods. Finish: medium but very fatty, waxy, beery and going towards lactic notes and mustard powder. Comments: I can see why some would find this too extreme, parts of it remind me of some Loch Lomond makes or some rather off the grid old Irish whiskeys. For me however, I love this zany profile. We are a very long way from Glen Boring!
SGP: 472 - 87 points.

 

 

Jura 28 yo 1993/2021 (48.2%, Mossburn, hogshead, 220 bottles)

Jura 28 yo 1993/2021 (48.2%, Mossburn, hogshead, 220 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: same family tree, but this one long ago veered off more towards medicinal ointments, herbal cough syrups, funky old liqueurs and things like creme de menthe, eucalyptus scented pipe tobaccos and some old dry Rieslings. There's also a glimmer of salinity and a pretty impressive and encroaching waxiness that reeks of fatness and texture! Mouth: excellent! Richly honeyed, natural sweet, full of old school beers, ales, breads, meads and camphor. Fir wood resins, myrtle, camphor, lemon infused olive oil and this persistently textural waxiness. Finish: good length, one freshly baked breads once again, also toasted seeds, mineral oils, bouillon and more camphor and fir wood notes. Comments: terrific, charismatic, old style malt whisky. I know they divide opinion a bit, but I'm a big fan of these parcels of aged Jura. This is a top notch example, great selection.
SGP: 662 - 90 points.

 

 

And now, to Mull…

 

 

Tobermory 24 yo 1994/2022 (49.8%, C.Dully Selection for Sansibar, cask #10942, sherry butt, 78 bottles)

Tobermory 24 yo 1994/2022 (49.8%, C.Dully Selection for Sansibar, cask #10942, sherry butt, 78 bottles)
Only 78 bottles from a sherry butt? Very leaky, or someone in Switzerland has been necking the Toblerone Eau De Vie again… Colour: light amber. Nose: it's a balanced sherry style that's rather lean and leafy with a lot of gun metal, bouillon, mineral oil, sultanas and light tobacco notes. Elegant and rather stylish I would say, pairs quite effortlessly with the Tobermory character so far. Mouth: same feelings, gently drying, lightly herbal, rather leathery with creme caramel and praline. Also some nice umami flavours of miso, truffle and black pepper. A little gingery too perhaps. Finish: good length, becoming rather delicate now with teas, mushrooms, a touch of balsamic and some walnut oil. Comments: subtlety is the word here. Tiptoes around like a Swiss ballet dancer - probably.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Tobermory 25 yo 1996/2022 (50.1%, Dram Mor, refill hogshead + 1st fill Calvados finish, 167 bottles)

Tobermory 25 yo 1996/2022 (50.1%, Dram Mor, refill hogshead + 1st fill Calvados finish, 167 bottles)
Dram Mor seem to have mastered these clever finishings. Apples and pears + 90s Tobermory seems on paper like a good recipe… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is probably the power of suggestion, but I do indeed find appley notes upfront, russet apples and bruised Granny Smiths. Then it goes more towards shoe leather, boot polish, mineral oils and toolbox rags. I like this rather rustic / mechanical combo. Also some touches of liquorice, verbena, coal dust and snapped twigs. With water: sooty apples, a drop of custard, some sweet cider and then some nicely mossy petrichor notes. Mouth: hoho, a big rush of Calvados! Was this cask rinsed? Apple pips, cask aged perry, lemon verbena, wormwood and mineral oil mixed with creme de menthe. A whole heap of fun! With water: opens up on green fruits, tea tree oil, mossy bark, lime curd and touches of aniseed and fennel. Very attractive. Finish: medium in length and displaying some nicely bitter notes of apple peelings, dried herbs, tree bark and citrus rinds. Slightly peppery in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm not generally a fan of finishings, but the ones I like tend to be very much about fun rather than anything too pretentious. This is certainly a fun whisky, one to pour blind to kick off an evening with some fellow whisky geeks.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

Tobermory 26 yo 1995/2021 (51.0%, North Star, refill hogshead, 238 bottles)

Tobermory 26 yo 1995/2021 (51.0%, North Star, refill hogshead, 238 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: very typically on greases, yeasty breads, ales and fabrics. Some chalky beach pebble vibes and wee notes of waxes, flints, mineral oil and shoe polish. Very in keeping with these 90s Tobermory batches and also very good I think. With water: greener and slightly more peppery, these nice notes of grass, chlorophyll, wet rocks and muesli. Mouth: excellent arrival, surprisingly sweet and juicy with a lot of natural barley sweetness along with some notes of milk bottle sweets, ink, parsley and dried mixed herbs. More sourdough vibes along with a little lemon peel and verbena. Still nicely waxy too. With water: excellent weight and body, feels like a surprisingly textural example in the mouth, which may just be a very clever hogshead? Apple juice, honey, Turkish delight and condensed milk. Finish: good length, lots of warm peppery qualities, lingering waxy feelings and more of these citrus rinds and dried herbs. Comments: definitely one the best of these various Tobermory mid-90s casks I've tried thus far, this one really ticked many boxes and managed to balance some of the more 'milky' characteristics these can sometimes display.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

 

 

One Ledaig while we are in the figurative visitor centre…

 

 

Ledaig 19 yo 2001/2021 (49.2%, Club Qing & Friends, hogshead, 219 bottles)

Ledaig 19 yo 2001/2021 (49.2%, Club Qing & Friends, hogshead, 219 bottles)
A bottling by Club Qing and shared with a number of other great bars. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ashy smoke, seawater, grizzly peat and bonfire embers. Big, chunky, classical modern Ledaig, only now at this age its edges are beginning to round off. Peat smoked sheep wool with lemon juice and fresh oysters. Beautiful freshness and elegance after a little time. Mouth: seawater again, waxed lemon rinds, sooty-tinged kiln smoke and these rather superb camphor and hessian notes. Terrific fatness and thickness in the mouth even at below 50% - I would say the strength is kind of perfect in fact. Becomes a little more tarry and towards hessian and creel rope with time. Very maritime! Finish: long, pure, intricately smoky, lots of impressions of shellfish, salinity, umami broths and tar. Comments: it started out a tad simple but just kept on getting bigger and better as it went along. Isn't modern Ledaig just brilliant? Great selection.
SGP: 366 - 90 points.

 

 

Now we've hit peat I feel the only thing for it is to finish up on Islay…

 

 

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.8%, Thompson Bros 'Error 502 Bad Gateway', refill hogshead, 89 bottles)

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.8%, Thompson Bros 'Error 502 Bad Gateway', refill hogshead, 89 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: hard not to just think of mature early 1990s Laphroaig. Soft, quilted peat smoke, crushed beach shells, gentle medicinal embrocations, seawater, grapefruit, gauze and background notes of more luscious greener and exotic fruits. Undeniably pretty gorgeous with this impression of gentility and easiness. Mouth: a deeper, more impactful peaty quality, one that takes in bitter coffee, smoked teas, iodine, natural tar, seawater and dried herbs muddled with umami seasonings. Liquid smoke and aniseed. Perfect power and texture in the mouth - probably bottled at perfect maturity these batches I would say. Finish: medium, on anchovy paste, more dried herbal notes, dried lemon peels and more these seductively silky wafts of peat smoke. Comments: pure class! Gorgeous, mature, south shore Islay juice, that still retains an edge of power and complexity despite also being silly drinkable.
SGP: 566 - 91 points.

 

 

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (49.4%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 252 bottles)

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (49.4%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 252 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: same story, but perhaps more citrus-focused, more lemons in brine, grapefruit, bergamot and scented lapsing souchong tea. Again this soft herbal aspect, seawater, generic green fruitiness, easy soft peat smoke and lightly peppery tones at the back. Mouth: same story again, same quality. Superbly crisp peat smoke this time, perhaps more salty, more sharp and resinous. Seawater, grapefruit, aniseed, iodine and kiln smoke. Getting even a notch kippery. Finish: long, gently tarry and peppery, a deeper and more chewy peat smoke profile, and similarly lovely notes of smoked teas and citrus. Comments: if push came to shovel, I'd probably admit that this one is my favourite of the two, but I'm not sure it's enough that I would go a different score. No half points on Whiskyfun. Another really gorgeous old L*******g.
SGP: 566 - 91 points.

 

 

Islay 29 yo 1991/2021 (49.2%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 240 bottles)

Islay 29 yo 1991/2021 (49.2%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 240 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: I find this one goes more specifically towards medicines, all on bandages, gauze, gentle embrocations and distant wafts of TCP and iodine. Extremely typical but more focussed. With time it becomes a little more rooty and earthy, hints of gentian, antiseptic and soft peat smoke. Mouth: pure, ashy, briny and peaty with an overlying citrus fruit quality but with everything dialled down low so there is no single dominant flavour. The whole feels entirely about balance, integration and elegance. It's almost like a 10yo Laphroaig from the early 1990s but at a proper bottling strength and slightly less fruit. A touch of sandalwood and dried fish too. Finish: long, more deeply and assertively peaty, earthy and on medical roots once again, then peppery and with a tang of mustard powder in the aftertaste. Comments: top notch and wonderfully focussed and balanced, but I would say I just miss the more overt fruitiness of the 1990s.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

SPECIAL BONUS…

 

 

Something I 'tasted' last weekend and am including here at the insistence of my wonderful friends who saw fit to purchase this 'thing' from their local branch of Morrison's…

 

 

The Liquorists Bubblegum Flavour Gin Liqueur 'Small Batch' (20%, OB, -/+2022)

The Liquorists Bubblegum Flavour Gin Liqueur 'Small Batch' (20%, OB, -/+2022)
Suitable for vegans, apparently. Colour: blue - with swirling whorls. Nose: not really existent. Some suggestions of bubblegum that's been under a desk for some years, also a few sprigs of gin. Some slightly sweaty, almost crotch-like notes with associated must. Very decidedly not good. Mouth: jarringly sugary, abusively exuding awful chemicals - like some kind of malfunctioning Soviet chemical facility (level 2 of Goldeneye but as a flavour). Blue candy floss aged in a haunted doll's house made of cow dung. Like rimming a sweaty Haribo addict in a hot tent on day 2 of Glastonbury. Completely atrocious. Finish: mercifully, vanishingly absent. Rapid flavour entropy. Gains points here by virtue of absolute absence of anything. Comments: did they chew the bubblegum first?
SGP: 900 - 8 points.

 

 

Thanks to top level, whisky industry professional Euan C for the Bubblegum atrocity.

 

 

 

 

June 17, 2022


Whiskyfun

  Little Duos, today Royal Lochnagar (including the new Prima & Ultima)

Diageo's new Prima & Ultima series 2022 edition is out. As expected, the selection is a little crazy and, in fact, rather reminiscent of the first Special Releases, except that the whiskies that used to be 20 yo within those early selections are now very roughly from 30 to 40 years old or even older. Lagavulin 1993, Mannochmore 1990, Glen Ord 1987, Talisker 1984, Lochnagar 1981, Cragganmore 1973… And there is even a Port Ellen 1980, bottled to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Remember she visited the Distillery that year, as we noticed when we first tried that famous PE 12 yo 'Queen's Visit' that's just fetched £100,000 (gasp!) plus commission at an auction this month. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Brora, a 1981, but we might rather try that one on Whiskyfun's 20th Birthday, in July this year. Indeed, this lousy website is getting older than most of the whiskies we taste.

Anyway, instead of rushing to the 'stars' within this new selection, and as we like to do, perhaps is it sensible to first try the, well, the smaller stars, such as the Royal Lochnagar of Balmoral. But first, a carefully selected sparring-partner (well, we had only one untasted Lochnagar in the library anyway).

Charles
A neighbour visiting Royal Lochnagar Distillery in 2018.
'... And so, would this size be a tun then?...' (picture Diageo)

 

 

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
An earlier version, bottled around 2016, was pretty okay in y opinion (WF 79), but I'm not sure 2019's Game of Thrones edition was not a regular 12 as well, under a fancier label (WF 80). Colour: bright straw. Nose: this feeling of soaped porridge at first, then various mashed vegetables (potatoes, turnips and celeriacs, perhaps?) and rather a lot of totally unrefined brown sugar, which would lead us to thicker brown ales, with whiffs of bitterer ales in the background. Some fir honey too, ink, old magazines, cardboard, we're almost inside an Amazon dispatch centre now (all right)…. Mouth: a rather thick texture, starting with Madeira-like flavours and mustard, green pears, a distinct musty side (very old white wine), then bitter oranges, some pepper, this little cardboardy side again, an even notes of fino sherry. Rather bittersweet, and there's a little paraffin too. Finish: medium, more on 'fino', although I'm almost sure there isn't a single drop of fino in there. Notes of burnt caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly a singular distillate. It's great that they would not alter this rather dry, old-school style, maybe is it about to become fashionable again?

SGP:361 - 80 points.

Royal Lochnagar 1981/2021 (52.5%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,100 bottles, 2022)

Royal Lochnagar 1981/2021 (52.5%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
Nicknamed 'A Duel with the Angels', this one stemmed from a batch of casks they had been experimenting with to diminish evaporation (so the angel's share). Remember Lochnagar is Diageo's 'school Distillery', where some experiments are being done, although the main trials would be conducted in Menstrie A.F.A.I.K. They wouldn't tell today, but I remember Diageo had been experimenting with some kind of cling film, maybe was that the 'experiment' they're talking about? In any case, that experiment 'of some kind' was then stopped – I suppose it failed - but they had kept some of the whisky and transferred it to regular oak casks. I also remember well quite a few funny stories unofficially told at Lochnagar (after a bunch of drams) about The Royals at nearby Balmoral Castle and their relations with the Distillery. But shh… Colour: straw. Nose: wonderfully all-natural, pretty tight, with green fruits in abundance, limes and lemons, then rather some fudge (vanilla), pancakes and zucchini flower beignets. Chamomile tea, whiffs of an empty old tobacco jar, perhaps. Upmann jar? Also a little basil and coriander, we could almost use this in a (very expensive) pesto. With water: pretty gentle, soft, with even more cakes. Scones, muffins, pancakes… This is almost the five o'clock tea at Edinburgh's moderately dusty… Balmoral Hotel. Seriously! Mouth (neat): awesome, with first some piney notes, liquorice wood, marzipan, all from the oak I suppose, then more beeswax and overripe apples. Excellent, if perhaps less idiosyncratically (wow) Lochnagar than the 12. With water: I had feared it would have become a little drying, it has not. Fruit peel and a little cinnamon. Finish: medium, with some muscovado sugar and some earl grey tea. At The Balmoral… Orange blossom water and grape pips. The aftertaste is a little drying, while I was about to go for 90 pts. Comments: mind you, this one is 40 years old, I'm almost sure since it was bottled in December of 2021.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Next, either Ord or Talisker, I'm hesitating, whole different ballpark…

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

 

June 16, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today Strathmill

Strathmill
We need more love for Strathmill! Because speculative brands are boring us to death. We'll first have a young one by the honourable SMWS (with a French nickname!), then two indies, one middle-aged, the other one of good age and from good old Germany our Nachbarn.  

 

 

Strathmill 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, bourbon hogshead, #100.25, 'La Pomme Qui Chante', 270 bottles)

Strathmill 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, bourbon hogshead, #100.25, 'La Pomme Qui Chante', 270 bottles) Four stars
Really, not too sure about that poetic nickname, a singing apple is something that we've never seen or heard, even in France. Something may have been lost in translation… Having said that, this baby was also finished in a 1st fill ex-rye hogshead. Colour: straw. Nose: barley, grist, vanilla, caramel cream, nougat and turon. No bad things – but no singing apple in sight. With water: softer, more on vanilla, pancakes, nougat indeed and butterscotch. Mouth (neat): superb fresh deep potent and pungent maltiness. I would suppose this is what you'd get, should you decide to distil Guinness (don't tell me they're already doing that!) With water: oh excellent! Pure malty and fruity combo, with a little coffee, plum jam, Ovaltine and Nescafé. Finish: long, still very malty, with tighter oranges coming out. Some kind of heavy-duty curaçao. Lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: just love it. I didn't exactly get the rye but I would suppose it did its part of the job. Never underestimate these Distilleries, it's just that no one's pouring dozens of millions of pounds into their marketing.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Strathmill 24 yo 1990/2015 (55.8%, Chapter 7, sherry butt, cask #5224) Three stars
No picture available for this older one that I should have tried a long time ago. Colour: white wine. Nose: fully on barley and apples, gooseberries, ripe kiwis, hints of iron, old tin box, then rather cappuccino and nocino. The only thing that's better than nocino is two nocinos. With water: butter beans, white asparagus, malt extract… It would tend to lose itself a wee bit. Mouth (neat): all-natural barleyness, with apples and pears, cherries, some pepper and some nutmeg. With water: no actual changes. Finish: rather long, perhaps a tad too peppery for me. Comments: we're actually a little far from the fabtastic – yet younger - SMWS, but it still is a pretty fine dram.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

Strathmill 30 yo 1991/2021 (51.3%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead)

Strathmill 30 yo 1991/2021 (51.3%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead) Four stars
The lovely and ever-young ;-) Whisky-Doris from Germany back on Whiskyfun, let's celebrate! Colour: straw. Nose: kicks things off with a little coffee and a little rum, then some average (in the best sense of that word) maltiness, then scones, pancakes, muffins and shortbreads. With water: more pancakes, crêpes, biscuits, overripe apples and perhaps a few drops of calvados. Mouth (neat): big malt and wholegrain bread, touches of varnish, almost a little acetone, and once again a feeling of averageness (again, in the best sense of that word). With water: to the core of the barley. Spearmint, peppers, cinnamon, barley syrup, a touch of mint. Finish: rather medium, malty, a little grassier. Peppery aftertaste, a tad gritty. Comments: a totally un-doped old Speysider, close to nature and to barley. Perhaps a little intellectual, having said, but it's true that German philosophy has nothing to prove.

SGP:461 - 86 points.

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

 

June 15, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Burnside for Switzerland

Burnside is teaspooned Balvenie. Now let us remind everyone that no one's ever seen anybody wandering throughout any Scottish warehouses or filling stations carrying teaspoons, even at teatime. (Antiques And Teacups)

Teaspoon

 

 

Spoon Man 19 yo 1999/2019 (59.1%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #2129, 259 bottles)

Spoon Man 19 yo 1999/2019 (59.1%, A.D. Rattray, for Switzerland, bourbon hogshead, cask #2129, 259 bottles) Four stars and a half
Rolling on the floor and laughing out loud. Kind of. Seriously, this situation is becoming grotesque and that can't be good for brands. Spoon Man is Burnside, and Burnside is Balvenie, there. Colour: light gold. Nose: barley, mirabelles, quinces, lemonade and custard, that's very bourbon-Balvenie indeed. With water: more of all that, emphasis on custard. How very Balvenie! Mouth (neat): excellent, tart and yet fat, lemony, doughy, with perfect cakes and syrups. Eminently Balvenie, many 15s single barrels have been just like this (while those 15s were often much older than just 15). With water: elder syrup, orangeade, mirabelle liqueur, quince jelly, in short everything we like a lot in Balvenie. Finish: rather long, a tad American-oak-driven and rather a lot on mirabelles. Mirabelle jam is sitting right between Beluga caviar and white truffles from Alba in our book. Barely joking. Comments: extremely good – and all on mirabelle eau-de-vie.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Burnside 24 yo 1992 (50.1%, C. Dully for House of Malts St. Gallen, hogshead, cask #10260, 141 bottles, +/-2017)

Burnside 24 yo 1992 (50.1%, C. Dully for House of Malts St. Gallen, hogshead, cask #10260, 141 bottles, +/-2017) Five stars
A mysterious bottle from and for neighbouring Switzerland. As we say in Alsace, hoppla! Colour: light gold. Nose: it is a rather leafy Balvenie, once again well in the style of the official single barrels (no one's ever really understood how they were labelling these whiskies), with sweet blond beers, mirabelles again and again, greengages, and both elderberry eau-de-vie and fresh hoppy beers. Our Swiss friends are very good at making eaux-de-vie, just like us Alsatians (yeah, honestly). With water: mullein and mirabelle, waldmeister… Mouth (neat): superb! Early 1970s Balvenies were like this, enough said. With water: overripe apples and yellow plums, mirabelles, quinces, meadow honey… This is just magnificent, what a spirit. Finish: medium, totally, plainly, integrally Balvenie, that is to say full of ripe plums, with orangs in the aftertaste. Comments: stunning drop, so totally close to the house style.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

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


June 2022 - part 1 <--- June 2022 - part 2 ---> July 2022 - part 1


 

 
   
 


Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Burnside 24 yo 1992 (50.1%, C. Dully for House of Malts St. Gallen, hogshead, cask #10260, 141 bottles, +/-2017)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 1987/2021 (49,4%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022)

Lagavulin 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, The Syndicate, cask #4396, 96 bottles)

Lagavulin 1993/2021 (50.1%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, Pedro Ximenez/Oloroso seasoned butt and refill American oak hogshead, 642 bottles, 2022)

Port Ellen 1980/2021 (59.6%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American Oak Hogshead and ex-Sherry European Oak But, 555 bottles, 2022)

Speyside Region 26 yo 1991/2017 (50.6%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask)

Talisker 1984/2021 (51.9%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, hogsheads and sherry butt, 2022)

Royal Salute 38 yo 'Stone of Destiny' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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