Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo






Scottish Malts

 

Other Whiskies
Secret/Blended malts

Grain whisky

Blended

Japan

Irish

America & Bourbon

Other countries

Other Spirits
Rum
Armagnac
Cognac
Other spirits


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild

 

 

Ad-free
Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2024 - Part 1
 
 

May 2024 - part 2 <--- June 2024 - part 1 ---> June 2024 - part 2

 

June 14, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today Allt-A-Bhainne

 

We rather love these relatively recent distilleries that were built in the immediate pre-whisky loch era, perhaps a bit asynchronously. They are gradually gaining notoriety at their own pace, partly thanks to independent bottlers. The aged versions are particularly interesting, and we are pleased that Pernod-Ricard/Chivas occasionally offers some official versions.


Zucchini flowers (Aquapazza)

 

 

Allt-A-Bhainne 32 yo 1991/2024 'Lost in Time' (54.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, refill hogshead, cask #13091, 144 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 26 yo 1997/2023 (50.1%, The Whisky Blues, barrel, cask #300142, 172 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: I adore this rich tension (yes, that's possible) which feels completely natural, with notes of bread dough, brioche, a hint of cool mint, muesli, After Eights, mashed bananas, lime blossom honey, tinned peaches, vanilla… It's really very clean. With water: more fresh herbs, cut grass, candle wax, green tea, even some rocket/rucola… The honey then helps to balance out this growing greenness. Mouth (neat): excellent, with grapefruit liqueur, triple sec, then more and more pepper and allspice. There's a certain peppery tannicity that tends to dominate after a while, but everything remains in harmony. With water: this time it's the dried fruits that come to complement the spices. Dried banana and coconut, perhaps, the coconut staying within a rather discreet elegance, this is not 'spiced' rum after all. Finish: medium length, fougasse dough, dried fruits, vanilla, and a tea-like note from the wood. Comments: a very clean malt, without any major roughness aside from a somewhat noticeable woodiness, but strictly without any flaws. Also very pleased they didn't dare to flavour it with wine.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Allt-A-Bhainne 26 yo 1997/2023 (50.1%, The Whisky Blues, barrel, cask #300142, 172 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 32 yo 1991/2024 'Lost in Time' (54.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, refill hogshead, cask #13091, 144 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: the style is generally similar, but here we find more herbal infusions, mint, thyme, rosemary, then golden delicious apples, kiwi, gooseberries, rhubarb… This creates a delightful freshness reminiscent of an 'orchard in the rain'. With water: an abundance of stewed fruits, peaches, pears, apricots, and apple tart… It becomes rounder, softer, and very pleasant. Mouth (neat): excellent, rich, with touches of fruity varnish (pineapple, pear) and tinned fruits. Perhaps also the older version of a fresh malt bursting with fruity sweets, Haribo crocodiles and babies, and all those sorts of things. Cranberry juice. With water: green banana but also more honeyed beer. Acacia flower and zucchini flower fritters. Finish: medium length, a bit more herbaceous and, again, with a tea note. Magnificent citrus in the aftertaste, especially tangerines with a hint of pepper. Comments: the beauty of a malt with a very balanced style but not a boring one at all, with a lovely texture, a very nice age and without any exaggerated cask impact. An old malt for a Sunday afternoon, indeed.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Allt-A-Bhainne we've tasted so far

 

June 13, 2024


Whiskyfun

Another short flight of world whiskies
Gone are the days when "world whiskies", that is, all non-Scottish whiskies, were relegated to a kind of ghetto on the shelves of our wine and spirits merchants, tucked away at the end, covered in dust, and only prompting raised eyebrows or shrugs. This included Irish and Japanese whiskies! Only a few bourbons stood out a bit, probably thanks to Keith Richards. However, you’ll note that things were different in Italy, always ahead by about twenty years

In any case, things have changed enormously. Just look at the miserable index of Whiskyfun, which now groups thousands of world whiskies on a single page, whereas, at the time, there were so few that the same page housed, and still houses, also rums, cognacs, and armagnacs. We’re going to try to improve that soon, although it’s going to be quite a big job. Well, we’ll see...
Anyway, we’re going to start this session with a French whisky, as usual. Better yet, a whisky distilled twenty minutes from Château WF.

 

 

G. Miclo 2013/2024 (46.2%, Version Française, La Maison du Whisky,150 bottles)

G. Miclo 2013/2024 (46.2%, Version Française, La Maison du Whisky,150 bottles) Four stars
Here we are in Pays Welche, the French-speaking part of Alsace, which encompasses just three or four valleys in the Vosges. Maison Miclo is very well known in the region and even internationally for its fruit brandies, but they have also been producing malt whisky with great seriousness for nearly fifteen years. Colour: gold. Nose: there is a spicy and fruity duality, with quite pronounced cocoa notes followed by fruity notes reminiscent of some of the house's specialties, such as small berries (serviceberry), quince, and even Williams pear. Having tasted this malt at various ages, I find that being over 10 years old does it the greatest good. These quinces are particularly beautiful. Mouth: the cask influence is marked but very well integrated, with lots of cinnamon and a little touch of varnish (I repeat myself, but I like it). One might almost recognise another Alsatian specialty, plum/quetsche tarte covered with ground cinnamon. Gradual return of the cocoa notes thereafter. Finish: medium length, still that famous plum tarte but also some marzipan and a bit of caraway brandy. Did you know that caraway grows a lot in Pays Welche! Comments: they even make caraway eau-de-vie, but it remains very marginal. In any case, this whisky is very successful, and I promise I’m not saying that just because I, too, am of Welche origin. Twenty animal pelts! (that’s a vaguely local curse).
SGP:561 - 86 points.
PS: it seems a bit like an ex-vin jaune cask.

Mackmyra ‘Indentitet’ (48.7%, OB, Sweden, +/-2023)

Mackmyra ‘Indentitet’ (48.7%, OB, Sweden, +/-2023) Three stars
No age statement, but we do learn that it was smoked with juniper and aged in Swedish oak - couldn’t be the other way ‘round, could it? I believe it was their original recipe if I remember well. A sauna in a bottle ;-). Colour: pale gold. Nose: a bit like smoked salmon that has stayed a little too long in the smoker, but I must admit I love smoked salmon. It’s a simple, narrow style, yet very demonstrative. Increasingly, there’s grapefruit peel, and a new sauna-like note straight out of Ikea (do they even sell sauna cabins at Ikea?). Mouth: really amusing, a sort of very dry aquavit, quite quickly drying but very funny. Sawdust, cardboard, ashes, little lemons, and, wait, caraway? Again? Finish: long, imbued with smoked wood, but always amusing. Juniper right at the end. Comments: could we use it for massages?
SGP:376 - 82 points.

Since we are in Sweden...

Askeim 8 yo (57.7%, OB, Smögen, Sweden, 2024)

Askeim 8 yo (57.7%, OB, Smögen, Sweden, 2024) Five stars
Long story short, this is unpeated Smögen made with old barley strains and comes with Nordic legends, etc., but with much moderation. No worries, this is not Ardbeg (as far as stories go). Colour: straw. Nose: well, it's a magnificent nose but it seems to suffer a bit from the 'Highland Caol Ila' syndrome, that famous unpeated Caol Ila which still had a tiny bit of peat. I'm not going to give you a full sketch, but tea connoisseurs, for instance, would never use a teapot accustomed to pu-ehr to brew very fresh oolong. It would only smell like... pu-ehr. In short, there’s a hint of smoke, but more like their neighbours (seen from here) Highland Park, I would say. Except it becomes increasingly fatty and rich, a bit like a macerated white wine. Slight touches of raw turnips. With water: sunflower oil, mashed banana, yellow flowers, wet chalk… Mouth (neat): I find this to be a great success, it's oily, slightly salty, somewhat exotic (guava), and especially full of fresh breads from all over the world, with lots of seeds and grains. And yes, it’s a bit smoky. Thick texture. With water: formidable. It’s so clever to release this at 8 years. Finish: long, with a return of the raw turnips. Much saltier aftertaste. Comments: reminds me of the HP 10 they no longer make, for which I was often criticised for my very high rating. Except that here, there’s 17.7% more ABV. Great success in balance, lovely precision. They should consider watchmaking as well.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

In any case, it’s certainly not Under-Smögen. While we're at it, just to be sure...

Smögen 12 yo 2011/2024 (56.6%, OB, Sweden, bourbon and sherry, 1,716 bottles)

Smögen 12 yo 2011/2024 (56.6%, OB, Sweden, bourbon and sherry, 1,716 bottles) Five stars
Made from barley grown on the distillery’s own estate. I realise, in discussing this with friends who know nothing about whisky (yes, we have those), that many believe Scottish distilleries grow their grains on their own estates. Colour: full gold. Nose: oh dear, I aimed too high for the Asheim, so what am I to do with this superlative Smögen? Especially since there’s no reverse gear at Chateau WF. Right, let’s crack on… Superb, precise, a perfectly straight line, fresh bread, seaweed, baker's yeast, apples, and amusing touches of cress. Small land cress. With water: full fresh pumpernickel. Mouth (neat): horribly rich, massive, peaty, spicy (turmeric), saline, with classy coffees, possibly from the sherry. With water: plenty of small fruits and peppery herbs. The little cress reappears. Finish: very long, saline, both fresh and rich. Very peaty. Comments: Smögen pushes us too high, but there’s nothing we can do about it. I find it one of, if not the most ‘textured’ malts of the moment. What structural richness! We could almost go to 91, certainly with a non-sherry version, though the sherry is very well integrated here.
SGP: 567 - 90 points.

One enjoys him/herself quite well in Sweden...

Agitator 4 yo 2020/2024 (58.1%, The Whisky Jury, Sweden, First Fill Wave Stave Barrel, cask #2028)

Agitator 4 yo 2020/2024 (58.1%, The Whisky Jury, Sweden, First Fill Wave Stave Barrel, cask #2028) Three stars
What the fudge is a ‘First Fill Wave Stave Barrel’, you may ask? Just ask them, it's 'cut in such a way that there is more ratio wood-spirit and thus resulting in faster maturation'. Wood technology in action. Colour: full gold. Nose: fine, on cakes, marzipan, macaroons, and a growing petrol note, with whiffs of ashes, scoria, engine oil, linoleum... Is that what WSB does? (After STR, looks like the next best thing is WSB, hope it’ll never be FSB). With water: acrid smoke, wood ashes, carbon, burnt tyres... Mouth (neat): it’s certain, it works, it’s very salty and tarry, but also quite bitter. Some rather nice notes of salted lemon though, it feels like a tequila shot a.k.a. tekpaf a.k.a. a margarita for thrill-seeking youngsters. It works fairly well with the peat but remains somewhat binary, if I may say, it doesn’t go too deep. With water: a little too much cask impact. Concentrated mint and fir resin. Finish: long, thick, resinous. A hectolitre of fir liqueur and verbena in the aftertaste. Comments: to be honest, this style might well convince youngsters to take an interest in whisky. Between a shot of Jäger and a shot of this, there’s no hesitation. For my part, I think I’ve outgrown it, but thanks to the Jury and Agitator for introducing me to WSB. Seriously, it’s very interesting, and my aim has never been to halt 'progress'.
SGP:486 - 80 points.

We'll choose something nice for the last whisky; we've already had quite a hectic time...

Wire Works ‘Small Batch’ (46.2%, OB, White Peak, England, STR & Bourbon, 4,323 bottles, 2022)

Wire Works ‘Small Batch’ (46.2%, OB, White Peak, England, STR & Bourbon, 4,323 bottles, 2022) Three stars and a half
A lightly peated batch. We’ve really enjoyed the previous Wire Works we could try, and the bottles are lovely enough to double as wine decanters later on. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s really fresh and quite floral, very gentle, with notes of scones, sponge cake, rum babas, honeysuckle, and dandelion flowers. These modest little flowers smell so delightful! I also detect acacia flowers and the honey the bees make from them. A very light ‘STR’ note, reminiscent of gentle ginger cookies. Rest assured, they haven’t STRised barrels from Château Latour. Mouth: it’s really good, certainly youthful, but balanced, though slightly spicy and mildly bitter. Green tea, a hint of rubber, a bit of cork, but the peat balances it all out. Finish: quite long, with a touch of bitter oranges. Comments: pleasant, we’ll be tasting more Wire Works soon.
SGP:463 - 83 points.

I rather fancy actually ending with a Nantou, because we have millions to taste (almost) and because we’ve never had the time to do the mega Nantou vs. Kavalan session that we wanted to organise. I think we'll never get around to it.

Nantou 6 yo 2017/2023 (58.1%, OB, TTL Omar for HNWS & Whisky Lovers HK, virgin oak, cask #01160208, 185 bottles)

Nantou 6 yo 2017/2023 (58.1%, OB, TTL Omar for HNWS & Whisky Lovers HK, virgin oak, cask #01160208, 185 bottles) Four stars
Nantou/Omar is crafted by the Taiwanese state monopoly. One might wish our own state monopolies in France were occupied with whisky-making rather than striking every other morning. Colour: copper. Nose: we're veering very close to bourbon territory here, with delicate hints of acetone, plenty of varnish, followed by overripe bananas, caramel and toffee, gorse, vanilla pods, and Taiwanese (naturally) black tea. Adding water: not a dramatic change, just slight notes of coconut, brioche, and rosewood. Mouth (neat): the wood is quite forward, but oddly, it works. Loads of spiced herbal teas, ginseng, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and even saffron. With water: it teeters on the edge of being overly woody yet maintains a delightful balance of fruitiness and spiciness, reminiscent of bananas with mild curry. Finish: long, with caraway and sautéed bananas, a touch of agave syrup. Comments: a very good young whisky, marked by its bold woodiness which flirted with the limits throughout but ultimately came out extremely well, though it’s been quite a ride.
SGP:651 - 86 points.
 

June 12, 2024


Whiskyfun

Three Longrow

I'm not quite sure what happened with Longrow. Twenty years ago, it was a blue chip, with versions distilled around 1973-1974, and then around 1987, which left you speechless with their greatness. These versions were at least on par with Ardbeg (of that era - though not the 1987 ones, of course). And then, perhaps due to the use of peculiar casks, either heavily marked by sulphur or very improbable ex-red wine casks, things seem to have gone downhill. Who still ranks Longrow among the top ten peated whiskies? Well, we don't have any recent releases to hand, as we haven't really been following them, but we do have this improbable little trio on the table.

Burger

 

 

Longrow 'Hand-Filled' (57.7%, OB, 2022)

Longrow 'Hand-Filled' (57.7%, OB, 2022) Two stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose : reveals enticing aromas of bacon, barbecue, a double-cheese Big Mac (if you can imagine), lamb meat, charcoal, basalt, Jerez vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sorrel soup, and English gravy. This immediately brings to mind those Bunnahabhain burgers they would prepare during Feis Ile, where we would devour around ten each in a single day. With water: notes of leather, sulphur, and pepper sauce emerge, though you really must enjoy pepper sauce to appreciate it. Mouth: it is heavy and very rich, bursting with liquid caramel and barbecue sauce, making you think you just need to pass the burgers. With water: flavours of smoked bacon covered in honey and caramel appear, along with a touch of ash. The finish is very long but somewhat stifling, featuring ham, steak, salt, smoke, honey, and a sweet-savoury sauce. Comments: it's a bit tough for my taste, though probably perfect for drizzling over burgers.
SGP:563 - 78 points.

Longrow 15 yo 'Red' (51.4%, OB, Pinot Noir, 9400 bottles, 2022)

Longrow 15 yo 'Red' (51.4%, OB, Pinot Noir, 9400 bottles, 2022) Two stars and a half
Aged for 11 years in barrels and 4 years in fresh ex-NZ Pinot Noir Barriques. Pinot noir in barriques? The Burgundians would be up in arms if they knew and cared. Let's see how this goes, especially since we're fanatical about pinot noir, and see if a peated whisky and red wine could make any sense, beyond the obvious PT Barnum showmanship. Colour: apricot. Nose: on the nose, it's not too bad. It's not entirely coherent, but at least it isn't dissonant like a cracked church bell. There's a bit of rancid butter, game, cherry wood smoke, and plenty of green pepper. With water: you get that civet and mushroom note from the pinot noir, along with used brake pads and mop cloths. What would the Cistercian monks say? Mouth (neat): not the announced disaster, phew. That said, you have to like green pepper and cherry stalk tisane. With water: quite alright, really. Salty blood orange juice and green pepper, which is amusing. Finish: rather long, quite alright, or let's say that by the end, you get used to those tonnes of green pepper, ashes, and cherry stalks. Comments: as they say, you can put cats and dogs in a cage, they might get along but they won't make babies. That said, I'd love to taste that Kiwi pinot noir, but does anyone know which one it was? Does anyone care?
SGP:572 - 79 points.

The only way out...

Longrow 16 yo (46%, OB, screw cap, Spain, SC999, 75cl, +/-1990)

Longrow 16 yo (46%, OB, screw cap, Spain, SC999, 75cl, +/-1990) Four stars and a half
One of the rarest versions of the early Longrows (if we exclude the antique Longrow distillery, of which only fakes circulate nowadays). It's either a 1973 (most likely) or a 1974. Let's listen to the whisky religiously... Colour: gold. Nose: it belongs to those malts that are everything at once, making it difficult to dissect, almost sacrilegious. Soft peat, old citrus liqueurs, beeswax, old English cigarettes... One wouldn't go further. To be honest, it seems slightly fragile at the moment, but we remember that they weren't the best at screwcaps in Campbeltown back then. You need very good equipment to apply screwcaps properly, at least screwcaps that will hold for thirty years or more. Mouth: a slap in the face, there's no other word for it. The peat has transformed into citrus, like in the old Laphroaig or Bowmore we love so much, but there are also many honeyed notes, which is much less common in the Islays we just mentioned. Apart from that, it remains a whole, and despite the saline notes that emerge, one regrets a bit that this delicate marvel wasn't bottled at a higher degree. Finish: it's almost like an old sweet Campbeltown wine, this time with many aromatic herbs coming through. Lemongrass leading the way. The peat, however, remains anecdotal. Comments: it's quite complicated to taste legends, as you have to combine respect and honesty. Let's say it, it's quite wonderful, but it lacks a bit of oomph. Was it there at the beginning?
SGP: 652 - 89 points.

I am somewhat panicked; if the great Longrows of the early days start to decline, how will their greatness be remembered? No, no, no, our miserable tasting notes will be of little use. It reminds me of certain great painters who were using poor quality paints, whose works blacken because of the bitumen or, on the contrary, fade little by little. Tristeza...

(Grazzie mille, Tim  and KC)

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

 

June 11, 2024


Whiskyfun

Looking for the DNA of new Rosebank
with some old 11, 13 and 14

Rosebank

(Photograph by the very excellent Falkirk Herald)

 

I'm not sure who tipped off the Falkirk Herald that Rosebank was called the "Sleeping Giant of Scottish Distilleries" – well, we have our suspicions – but in any case, we've been informed that the V2.0 of the distillery is now open to the public. The first cask was filled in June 2023, which we duly celebrated, if I remember correctly. Ian Macleod is marking this new event by offering a 1989 for £3,200, but for us, given the circumstances, that's not very interesting. We think it's preferable to taste some Rosebank that is as close as possible, in theory, to the new spirit produced by the distillery, which is not even a year old yet. Fortunately, WF's sample library is quite extensive, and we have unearthed three young Rosebanks from Cadenhead's that we had not yet tasted but that came in very recently. Does that sound good to you?

 

I'd like to take this opportunity to share a little story with you. About ten years ago, I used to frequent Harry's Bar on Rue Daunou in Paris. One fine evening, I was sitting at the counter (on Hemingway's stool, I was told, but there must be a good hundred of those in Paris, not to mention Havana, etc.) when I overheard a young couple right next to me, speaking with a strong Glaswegian accent. I couldn't help but eavesdrop, and I noticed that they were admiring a bottle among the rows of whiskies on the other side of the counter: a relatively young Rosebank from G&M! So, I struck up a conversation and learned that the young couple was from Falkirk, and that they knew the distillery very well as they passed it every day. However, they had never seen it in operation and had never tasted its malt. Without a second thought, I ordered a glass for each of them, and I believe they started to cry, so meaningful was it for them to taste Rosebank from Falkirk in Paris, where they were on their honeymoon, if I remember correctly.


At the Harry's Bar not that long ago

I think I've never derived so much pleasure from offering someone a dram; whisky, after all, is all about evoking emotions, sometimes unintentionally. In any case, I sincerely hope that this charming couple will now have the chance to visit their beloved Rosebank Distillery for the first time in their lives. And perhaps they will even be offered a taste of that famous new 1989! (well…)

 

Rosebank 11 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Cadenhead, 150th Anniversary, Authentic Collection, cask #92/35)

Rosebank 11 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Cadenhead, 150th Anniversary, Authentic Collection, cask #92/35) Five stars
We remain somewhat circumspect regarding R. at young age, as the former official 8-year-old was not always very exciting, and the 12-year-old for Italy was not necessarily so either. The 12 yo Flora & Fauna was already better, the old 15 was very good, and the 20... purely magical! (WF 93). But that one was no longer a young Rosebank (finely observed, S.) Colour: amber. Nose: sublimely captivating arrival, with notes of polishes, roasted hazelnuts, old camphor balm, antique copper and silver objects, and a truly extraordinary sherry, possibly from a solera cask (though these are said to be very inconsistent). It then transitions to grand cru chocolate and stays there. With water: as often with ex-sherry, the earthiness comes through, together with precious woods, old walnuts, a vintage tobacco pouch, followed by apricots and a few sultanas. In any case, it's not a citrus bomb. Mouth (neat): it has retained great power despite thirty years in the bottle. But it's true that at 60% ABV, with a good cork and no light, it can last forever (if it weren't for, well, us). Magnificent pepper, slightly chemical waxes, marmalade, and grapefruit zest. It speaks volumes, as they say. With water: now this is funny, this time it's all about oranges, in all their forms. With the sherry, it dances a perfect tango. Finish: and here comes the pepper again, this time in all forms too. Pink, green, black, ground, crushed... You get the idea. In the signature, Sichuan pepper bursting with mandarins. Comments: we are already very high. So to speak.
SGP:651 - 92 points.

Rosebank 13 yo 1980/1993 (59.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Rosebank 13 yo 1980/1993 (59.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Four stars
Bottled in July 1993, the year the distillery was closed. Alas! I have never known in which month this closure occurred, so I cannot say if, when this 1980 was bottled, it was an active distillery or a 'lost' one. But does this kind of detail really matter? Everyone, except a few smart historians, didn't really care about closed distilleries, and many were thinking that if they had been closed, it was because their production was of inferior quality. Tsk tsk. Colour: deep gold. Nose: to be honest, it's very close to the 11-year-old, the sherry is just a bit more discreet, allowing the much-anticipated fresh citrus fruits to appear. It's very interesting to see how sherry, even if it's sumptuous, can somewhat block a distillate, especially one that leans towards elegance. In any case, the result here remains magnificent, with more tangerines, oranges, pink grapefruits… But the rest of it remains sherry. With water: no, it's very beautiful, waxy, with old citrus cordials and, especially, an old Bénédictine side. That's smashing, as they say. Mouth (neat): lemon tree honey but also a slightly soapy side (even though we haven't added water yet). This can also come from the bottle if it has been stored in the light, or from the closure. But make no mistake, it's still excellent and the soapy touches might disappear with water. Or be amplified… With water: it doesn't work too well. A stale pepper side. A shame… Finish: same, but the citrus fruits make a lovely comeback in the aftertaste. Comments: it's a bit complicated. But what a nose!
SGP:662 - 85 points.

Rosebank 14 yo1966/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, Aberdeen, black dumpy, 75cl)

Rosebank 14 yo1966/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, Aberdeen, black dumpy, 75cl) Five stars
From W.M. Cadenhead when they were still based in Aberdeen. It's also worth remembering that Rosebank means triple distillation and real worm tubs! Signatory Vintage had some Rosebanks from the 1960s, true splendours, but I've tasted very little really old Rosebank (apart from the old official bottles with ages but without vintages). Let's try to move a bit faster... Colour: gold. Nose: polish, metal polish, oranges, pink grapefruits, and citrons. Frankly, there isn't much else, but it's so perfect that, in fact, you desire nothing more. It's somewhat akin to a very fine sweet Chenin from the Loire, like a Chaume, for instance. Mouth: sublime, citrus and old waxes. Alright, let's attempt an experiment, the shortest palate description in the world. No, actually, the shortest would just be "!". While we're digressing a bit, it reminds me of the story of Victor Hugo, in exile in Guernsey, who had just published La Légende des Siècles (I believe) and, being somewhat frugal, sent this simple telegram to his publisher to inquire about sales: "?". The response from his publisher was: "!". Finish: ! Comments: seriously, there is again a very, very, but very slight soapy note, immediately connected to the waxy side. Otherwise, we'd be even higher than…
SGP:651 - 93 points.

Long live the new Rosebank and congratulations to Ian Macleod! And to the old Cadenhead's.

(Gracias KC and Patrick)

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

 

June 10, 2024


Whiskyfun

Feis Ile Special (sequel sessions)

Two little Jura

The 'artmospheric' back entrance of the Jura Hotel in the early 2000s,
a place out of time. I believe everything has been
repainted white since then (WF Archive).

 

We almost forgot Jura during our little tour of Islay! Yet everyone knows that the Isle of Jura Distillery is part of Islay... at least during the time of Feis Ile. Oh well, I have a feeling I should watch my back the next time I go to the island to taste the whisky, say hello to the deer, and see if the palm trees have grown.

 

 

Jura 13 yo (54%, Brave New Spirits, The Whisky Heroes, Sanctum of the Deer, Kirsch Import Germany, 1st fill oloroso sherry barrique, 277 bottles, 2024)

Jura 13 yo (54%, Brave New Spirits, The Whisky Heroes, Sanctum of the Deer, Kirsch Import Germany, 1st fill oloroso sherry barrique, 277 bottles, 2024) Four stars
Wasn't it dear Richard Patterson on the label? Or was it sweet Willie Tait? The combination of Jura and a robust sherry has certainly sparked quite a bit of excitement in the past, so we're intrigued... Colour: gold. Nose: bingo, there's engine oil, spent matches, mustard, tobacco, leather, shoe polish, seawater, but also walnut cake. Additionally, there are hints of slag and something basaltic. I don't believe the Paps of Jura were ever volcanoes, were they? With water: that slightly symbiotic peaty side that is sometimes found in Jura. Incidentally, peated Juras could be superb, but I feel like we don't see them much anymore. Mouth (neat): very rich and spicy, very much in the Jura + dry sherry vein. The flavours closely mirror the nose's aromas, with salt and mustard, strands of tobacco that have surreptitiously found their way into your mouth, always that leathery note, green walnuts, black pepper, cloves… With water: lovely chocolatey and slightly acidic bitters. Very 'oloroso'. Finish: long, very dry, still on walnuts and tobacco. Comments: have you ever tasted a good tobacco ice cream? In any case, a very beautiful and extreme Jura, for aficionados of the genre.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

And now, a Jura that should be the exact opposite, at least in theory.

Isle of Jura 31 yo 1992/2023 (50%, Maltbarn, The 26, bourbon cask) Four stars and a half
Beautiful wee butterfly, since the earlier days of Moon Import many have drawn inspiration from these early, highly 'encyclopaedic' labels. Now that AI is hitting hard everywhere, they will only gain more emotional value even when they only stem from old books. At least, I hope so. Colour: vin blanc. Nose: here come the oils, sunflower, peanuts, but also new engine oil and lanolin, followed by tart apples, plums, citrus liqueurs, little herbs, and a pack of bidis… With water: and here we find our friends limoncello and verbena liqueur. Perhaps even a touch of genepy. Mouth: the peppery and mustardy DNA is evident, along with lemon, white pepper, and saline notes. Despite its age, it remains a firm and resolute Jura (what?). With water: return of leather, mustard, seawater, tobacco, spices, all counterbalanced by rather splendid citrus fruits. Finish: long and increasingly 'Jura'. There's a little fino character, in fact. Some salty ashes right at the end. Comments: very beautiful and, above all, still very idiosyncratic despite its age. A case where, as with humans, character asserts itself with age, but without the flaws in the case of this malt, phew.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

As George Orwell would have said, 'All whiskies are equal, but some are more equal than others'. That said, Orwell did not write Animal Farm on Jura as this pamphlet was written during the Second World War, while the writer only moved to the island for the first time either in 1946 or in 1947 (depending on the sources, all extremely well informed, naturally).

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

 

June 9, 2024


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!

 

 

No duds today, only excellent, excellent cognacs and armagnacs

A few very nice cognacs, or armagnacs, or both... We're sticking to proper malternatives, alright? So we're avoiding the big brands of blends that can certainly offer nice releases, but as soon as we see crystal decanters or over-packaging, we know it's not worth it. We'll see... In any case, we're going to be a bit rebellious this time; as we won't consider vintages, ages, or alcohol content.

 

 

Dartigalongue 2003/2024 (46%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #419, 524 bottles) Four stars and a half
We have already tasted a splendid 1981 from this latest delivery by the renowned house of Dartigalongue. Colour: dark gold. Nose: It begins with a touch of fresh marzipan with orange, accompanied by a curious smoky note in the background. We're talking wood smoke, not peat! It then transitions to chestnut honey, which is quite different from other honeys and one I adore, followed by a hint of yellow curry paste, distinctly 'Madras'. One could almost dip poppadums into it. A superb nose, efficient, not too complex, and quite sexy (yes, I dare say it, once again). Mouth: I still dare, it tastes like a blend of cognac (let's say 80%) and agricole rum, in the style of J.M. (so 20%). No, I'm not joking, and yes, I believe it comes from the cask. Cedar wood, pencil shavings, borage and honeysuckle, sweet paprika, bitter orange liqueur, nutmeg… It may confuse you a bit, but in return, it's simply excellent. Finish: rather long, with sweet spices and ginger, and an oily texture that lingers. The soft curry paste remains at the forefront. Comments: Serve it blind to your 'know-it-all' guests. Like you and me, ha.
SGP:661 - 88 points.

Domaine de Mouréou 2011/2024 (48.2%, Authentic Spirits, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Mouréou 2011/2024 (48.2%, Authentic Spirits, Bas-armagnac) Four stars and a half
We're in Mauléon d'Armagnac. The small but engaging bottlers call this small batch 'The Funky', so one expects Daft Punk to show up. Colour: gold. Nose: not too far off from the 2003, really, once again with that exotic/smoky/spicy profile they're calling 'funky'. There's citron liqueur, a hint of turmeric, grated mandarin peel, broom, pistachio syrup, and just a tiny touch of peach. It's quite new wave (OK, funky), and we absolutely love it 'because one doesn't always want to taste the same spirit'. Mouth: it's pure coincidence that we're tasting this one right after the 2003, I promise, but it stays in the same cluster, with this Indian or Indonesian (but ultra-mild 'for Caucasians') flavour packed with almond paste, sesame, peanut butter (and satay), turmeric, and ginger, all perfectly balanced by the citrus. No raisins, surprisingly. Finish: long and even spicier. Could it have been from a 'return from Pondisherry' cask? (diving to newer lows, S.) The aftertaste makes you feel like you've bitten into a big chunk of candied ginger. Comments: an Armagnac (I checked, it really is an Armagnac) that truly shakes things up. We wanted malternatives, and we got them.
SGP: 562- 88 points.

Domaine de Poutéou 23 yo 1999/2023 (44.9%, Alabat, Bas-armagnac, cask #327)

Domaine de Poutéou 23 yo 1999/2023 (44.9%, Alabat, Bas-armagnac, cask #327) Four stars and a half
I find these labels truly beautiful. Ask an AI to create this, and you'll break the internet. Colour: dark gold. Nose: it's funny, this time we're venturing into great bourbon territory, with quality varnish and wood glue, very ripe peaches and pears, vanilla, and touches of coconut wine, butterscotch, then a couple of mint leaves, praline, and a square of white chocolate… Absolutely perfect, though much more classic than the previous two, in the end. Mouth: again, that gluey side we love (which almost no one understands, but never mind, we'll end up totally misunderstood, sob). Then bitter almonds, apple peels, some root vegetable notes, carrots, then more tinned peaches leading us straight to very classic sultanas and prunes. Well, one prune. Excellent. Finish: long, quite fresh, more honeyed, but always perfectly tense. Varnish returns in the aftertaste. Comments: in fact, these new-wave, slightly 'deviant' Armagnacs wander into the territories of malts like the coastal ones, Ben Nevis, Clynelish, Springbank… We're not complaining!
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

Le Déménageur 'Lot 66' (46.4%, Malternative Belgium, Grand champagne, 234 bottles, 2024)

Le Déménageur 'Lot 66' (46.4%, Malternative Belgium, Grand champagne, 234 bottles, 2024) Five stars
I just wonder how Belgium could be 'malternative' with all the beer they produce. Hey, just kidding! This is supposed to be a 'reflection of the past overtaken by the high speed of the present', which I find very cool. Colour: deep gold. Nose: back to a classic profile, with cooked peaches and honey, touches of eucalyptus and mint, liquorice, figs, and very mild pepper… In fact, I don't think you can get more classic than this. Mouth: no sensation of advanced age, lively fruitiness, honey, pollen, herbal teas, high-quality green tea (Taiwan, thanks again friends) and apples cooked in Sauternes. Yes, really. Finish: not very long but with a magnificent mentholated liquorice. Comments: I don't think there's much to say, it's just totally excellent, fresh, almost thirst-quenching (that's the dangerous part). Please when you pour yourself a glass, then put the bottle at a safe distance, and only then do you dip your lips for the first taste. Is that clear?
SGP: 651 - 90 points.

Tiffon 'Lot 90' (47.8%, Grape of the Art, Petite champagne, 222 bottles, 2024)

Tiffon 'Lot 90' (47.8%, Grape of the Art, Petite champagne, 222 bottles, 2024) Four stars and a half
Colour: light amber. Nose: the return of wood glue and varnish, cider apple, then gooseberry, nail polish, fallen leaves, moss, parsley juice (we love it), old chardonnay, banana skin… It's going in several directions at once, even towards calvados (calvados on WF soon!). Yet it's a whole, which is amusing. Mouth: total pleasure, with more wood this time, of course, but also plenty of white and yellow fruits, and even green ones. A bit of acidity wrapped in honey and spices (turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg). Finish: long, spicy, quite 'trans', with a lovely herbal, apple, and varnish profile in the aftertaste. And calvados, and finally sultanas. Comments: a slight grassy note that will be perfect for the next European Football Championship. In fact, we couldn't care less, we'll just keep this excellent cognac.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

Bord de Mer 30 yo (49%, Jean-Luc Pasquet, Borderies, 2024)

Bord de Mer 30 yo (49%, Jean-Luc Pasquet, Borderies, 2024) Five stars
Everything is so sweet here. Bord de Mer, that smells like holidays, with a little white wine and oysters. And this cognac… Colour: full gold. Nose: we find the slightly more rustic side of cognac, which is no displeasure as it brings us even closer to malts. Nougat and touches of fino, sending us, indeed, to the seaside (I dare not use the word manzanilla again, lest you think I'm paid by the Consejo Regulador – wait, there's an idea!), then apples, a hint of mustard, fruit and vegetable peels, a floral touch (geranium, but very moderate)… In fact, it's mostly very elegant. A rustic elegance, in the style of Country Life. Mouth: much more direct on the palate, spicier, peppery, almost bitter (in a good way), even more on those peels (aubergine, apple, courgette), then the citrus takes over, with that slightly metallic side we quite like (copper). Finish: sweet but herbal, makes you want to consume it like wine, even diluted with water. Comments: but then, with oysters, why not? One extra point just for that.
SGP: 561 - 90 points.

Since we're talking about romantic and poetic names...

Liaison Intime 'Lot 75 & Très Vieux Fins Bois' (45%, Vallein Tercinier, Fins bois, 2024)

Liaison Intime 'Lot 75 & Très Vieux Fins Bois' (45%, Vallein Tercinier, Fins bois, 2024) Five stars
I'm not even sure I want to translate the expression 'Liaison Intime' for you. It's true that in Low German (or Alsatian), it wouldn't have the same charm. And in English, it would sound like a cheap Netflix series. Colour: gold. Nose: very straight, on vineyard peaches and white chocolate. A minimalist side that we like a lot. A tiny hint of ink and charcoal smoke in the background, almost undetectable. Mouth: totally 'ligne claire' (clear line), dill, liquorice, verbena, genepy, green apple juice. Almost an abstract style, actually. Finish: long and, this time, broader in terms of aromas, but still quite abstract, cerebral, almost like Chinese calligraphy painted with liquorice. And why not? Comments: the complexity and diversity of cognac only really start to appear after a lot of experience, I'm afraid. In fact, it's not a very 'mainstream' thing, is it? As for me, I consider myself halfway there (it's good to have goals in life). And, as usual, the first half of the journey is the easiest.
SGP: 461 - 90 points.

One last one, but there will be more next week...

Famille Cabanne 'Lot 50' (44.2%, The Roots, Petite champagne, 2023)

Famille Cabanne 'Lot 50' (44.2%, The Roots, Petite champagne, 2023) Four stars
The Roots, a very fine house, although the name does sound a bit like a Jamaican reggae band from around 1975 (hey, we can joke a little, can't we?). Joking aside, it is a Famille Cabanne that has been our favourite cognac/armagnac of recent months (Lot 19, Whisky Jury, WF 94). Colour: deep gold. Nose: intensely fruity, fresh and cooked, especially banana, then chamomile, fresh nougat, Earl Grey tea (indicating the arrival of wood), and damp earth, sand, and fallen leaves… It's distinguished and elegant, almost a bit discreet. Mouth: it's really lovely, delicate indeed, with very obvious but fine wood, on herbal teas, banana skin, all accompanied by farmhouse cider and a touch of varnish. You can feel the 70 years without really feeling them, so to speak, despite a slightly green(ish) woodiness starting to grow. Finish: medium length, held by citrus, but the wood is persistent. Some mint. Comments: the balance is a bit fragile in my humble opinion, it's excellent but the wood was probably on an upward curve when the maturation was interrupted. But isn't that often the case?
SGP: 561 - 87 points.

We told you, we were only going to have the very best today. In any case, only the finest cognacs or armagnacs reach us; we make absolutely no effort to get hold of anything mediocre, and the big houses aren't foolish (or they wouldn't have grown big, would they?). To summarise, only a small portion of cognacs or armagnacs are truly 'malternative'. You might say it's the same for rums, for example, a category where there are still far more poor-quality products – but also utter gems. Hasta luego.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all cognac and armagnac we've tasted so far

 

June 8, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

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


Glenallachie, Glenrothes & Tormore

Some time was found at Whiskyfun HQ Scotland this week for a bit of tasting. So, why not a whistlestop tour of Speyside?
Angus  

 

 

 

 

 

Glenallachie 9 yo 'The Wood Collection' (48%, OB, Fino sherry finish, bottled 2024)

Glenallachie 9 yo 'The Wood Collection' (48%, OB, Fino sherry finish, bottled 2024)
Part of a recent trio of sherry finishes from Glenallachie. Colour: straw. Nose: I detect too many of Fino's trademark salty notes, this is rather more classical young fruity Speyside I would say. Lots of apples, pears, cereals, custard and a little vanilla. Mouth: again, not too sure about the sherry influence here, but it's a nicely simple and biscuity malt with easy natural sweetness and some toasty cereal notes. Finish: medium, perhaps a little more sherry character in the finish now with a suggestion of green olive. Comments: not too sure, feels a little unsure of itself and I don't find too much overt Fino character. Simple, easy whisky nonetheless. 

SGP: 441 - 81 points.

 

 

Glenallachie 9 yo 'The Wood Collection' (48%, OB, Amontillado sherry finish, bottled 2024)

Glenallachie 9 yo 'The Wood Collection' (48%, OB, Amontillado sherry finish, bottled 2024)
Remember, Amontillado is a Fino which has naturally lost its flor and is allowed to continue ageing oxidatively, which usually delivers some pretty stunning dry, nutty, leathery and salty characteristics with age. We are big fans of pretty much all dry sherries here at WF! Colour: slightly deeper straw. Nose: I feel this one works a little better, there is clearer sherry influence from the off, even if it remains on the lighter side, but then perhaps that's the point of this wee series? A little richer, earthier, more biscuity and some cedar wood and pine cones. Mouth: again, the sherry character is a little clearer, some tangy balsamic notes, some salted almonds, cured ham alongside the more typical cereals, dried flowers and dried apple. Finish: medium, again nicely leathery and a little salty and drying which really feels typically Amontillado. Comments: better! 

SGP: 451 - 84 points.

 

 

Glenallachie 9 yo 'The Wood Collection' (48%, OB, Oloroso sherry finish, bottled 2024)

Glenallachie 9 yo 'The Wood Collection' (48%, OB, Oloroso sherry finish, bottled 2024)
Oloroso being fuller bodied wines which are aged without flor, instead they are fortified after fermentation so they age purely oxidatively. Nowadays, 'Oloroso', legally needs to be a dry wine, although historically many were sweetened with the addition of PX. Colour: pale amber - quite a jump! Nose: indeed, the influence is loud and clear now! Lots of tobaccos, gingerbread, leaf mulch - all very lovely and highly classical oloroso notes. Super easy, clean and nicely aromatic. Mouth: you do feel it was a dry sherry behind this as it's immediately rather rugged, dry, earthy, spicy and even a little salty. Many cured game meats, leathery notes and a few dark fruits and salted liquorice impressions. Finish: good length, very dry, leathery, gamey and on black olives - which is impossible to be against. Comments: surprisingly dry and quite powerful in fact. My favourite of the three as it feels like it displays the clearest sherry influence. 

SGP: 351 - 86 points.  

 

 

Glenallachie 14 yo 2009/2024 (60.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #900609, sherry butt, 261 bottles)

Glenallachie 14 yo 2009/2024 (60.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #900609, sherry butt, 261 bottles)
Colour: coffee/amber. Nose: prunes, fudge and jams! Very nice, highly concentrated style with plenty dark fruits, dark chocolate and various wee side notes of things like quince, mocha, cigar humidor and pine wood. Very good! With water: cured ham and strawberry liqueur! This funny mish mash of the meaty and the fruity, but it works well. Mouth: also very good arrival, if a little on the thuggish side with the ABV. Still, lots of excellent balsamic, raisin and herbal bitters notes. Also some cherries soaked in kirsch, herbal tonic wines and eucalyptus. With water: at its best I would say. Chocolatey, more wood spice coming through, but still plenty of dark fruit notes, sweet black liquorice, cedar wood, game meats and some resinous fir wood. Finish: long, superbly umami, earthy, slightly salty and leathery. Comments: a proper sherry bomb, but I would immediately pour a large dollop into a tumbler and add water. 

SGP: 561 - 88 points. 

 

 

Glenallachie 10 yo 1989/2000 (62.3%, SMWS 107.8)

Glenallachie 10 yo 1989/2000 (62.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #107.8)
Colour: gold. Nose: pumpernickel breads slathered in runny honey, vase water and crushed flower stems, golden syrup and sweet shilling ales. Feels like there may have been some kind of refill sherry involved in here somewhere… With water: honeysuckle and jasmine flower along with more robust aromas of pumpkinseed oil and honeycomb. A little eucalyptus too perhaps. Mouth: fir wood resins, ointments, juniper and nicely fat camphor touches. I also find it rather minty, mentholated and giving these nicely cooling sensations in the mouth. Various spiced teas and slightly jammy fruits too - rather a lot going on. With water: this menthol and honey vibe continues more assertively now, and is really lovely I would add! Eucalyptus, tea tree oil, resinous medicinal herbs, wormwood and various roots and earthy notes. Finish: medium and again on these menthol notes, ointments, herbs, honey and throat lozenges. Comments: a cask strength hot toddy! I really enjoyed this one, I would love to know what the cask was as I feel it is doing some very clever, very deft pulling of the strings here. Worth trying, should it ever cross your path. 
SGP: 551 - 87 points. 

 

 

Glenrothes 27 yo 1996/20232 (51.0%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #4853, hogshead, 160 bottles)

Glenrothes 27 yo 1996/20232 (51.0%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #4853, hogshead, 160 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: a full and rich profile with clear cask influence behind it, that comes through as a nicely waxy with things like suncream, olive oil, camphor and shoe leather. I love this rather classical 'mature' profile. With water: really on cedar wood, sunflower seeds, muesli, freshly baked brown bread and wee hints of butterscotch. Also some crystallised fruits. Mouth: superb! Thick in texture, naturally balanced between sweeter, fruitier notes and drier, peppery aspects of the cask influence. Malt extract, heather ales, breads, old books and more camphor impressions. With water: gets even fruitier now. Straying into very classical 'old Glenrothes' profile I'd say. Totally deadly whisky! Finish: good length, some grippy wood spice, cedar wood again, dried flowers and dusty pollens with more peppery warmth and waxes. Comments: I'll dock a single point in the finish, I think the woodiness closes in just a little too tightly. But we are nit picking, this is a superb dram! 

SGP: 561 - 89 points. 

 

 

Glenrothes 39 yo 1980/2020 (44.8%, Elixir Distillers, 40th Anniversary Davidoff of London, Edward Sahakian, bourbon cask, 179 bottles)

Glenrothes 39 yo 1980/2020 (44.8%, Elixir Distillers, 40th Anniversary Davidoff of London, Edward Sahakian, bourbon cask, 179 bottles)
This one also came with a cigar. Now, I don't smoke cigars very often, and I am not even an amateur in that arena, but I've been spoiled rotten by some extremely generous friends over the years who have shared incredible cigars with me, and I feel confident in saying that the cigar that came with this bottle was totally superb, I genuinely loved it. My two cents. Colour: pale amber. Nose: what I love, is that I find this one really reminiscent of much older style whiskies, it's a profile that bears resemblance to some of those old G&M pre-war distilled, 1980s bottled malts at 40%. Which is to say: waxes, ancient herbal medicines, tropical fruits mingled with coconut and the most superb camphor and hessian combination. Seriously, a gorgeous old school nose. Mouth: ha! You can see why such a cask would draw immediate connotations to cigars. It's an extremely mulchy and beautifully earthy profile that does indeed recall cigar humidors, cedar wood and many shades of tobacco. It's also got many tertiary notes that involve earthy and petrichor impressions: dried mushroom, wet leaves, tar extracts, herbal wines and even rather a lot of medicines as well. I would also mention dried out, crystallised honeys, candied citrus fruits and even some spiced winter ales. Finish: long, fat, bready, full of camphor, waxes, pine wood, medicinal herbs and more of these wonderful old school characteristics that combine many of the aforementioned notes. Comments: totally outstanding old Glenrothes that feels like it could have been distilled in 1940 instead of 1980. Truth be told, if I'm having a cigar, I prefer to drink champagne, but you can easily see why such a dram would be a perfect cigar whisky. 

SGP: 572 - 91 points. 

 

 

Let's wrap up with two Tormore from G&M…

 

 

Tormore 21 yo 2000/2022 (58.6%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #1290, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 180 bottles)

Tormore 21 yo 2000/2022 (58.6%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #1290, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 180 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little grassier and more austere than I was expecting, but in a very pleasant way that quickly begins to involve kiwi, lime, crushed nettles and chalk. I even find it approaching some kind of bright New Zealand sauvignon with these wee tropical notes in the background. With water: olive oil, suet, dried herbs, lemon peel, dried mango and earthy potting shed vibes. Quite a bit of action, I have to say. Mouth: the richness from the bourbon cask is evident, but it's funny how the distillate still feels austere beneath that. It still has this grassy and flinty edge, with mineral oils, clay, pithy citrus rinds and peppery watercress. Love all this 'greenery'. With water: still nicely dry and grassy, but taking on some leathery tones, white chocolate, mint julep, mineral oils, sheep wool, wood polish - again a feeling of quite a lot being crammed into one dram! Finish: long, zingy, citric, grassy, mineral and still on things like clay and shoe polish. Comments: it's an intellectual whisky, one that demands pipette and discussion, but it's also quite a bit of fun and pretty good I think. 

SGP: 461 - 87 points. 

 

 

Tormore 30 yo 1991/2021 (55.7%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #15386, refill sherry butt, 488 bottles)

Tormore 30 yo 1991/2021 (55.7%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #15386, refill sherry butt, 488 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: lovely, rich, mature refill sherry profile, full of waxes, sweetened breakfast cereals, green fruits, dried exotic fruits and more subtle notes of pressed flowers and olive oil. Love this rather grown up, complicated style. With water: noses younger than it is now, really rich, some sharp fruits, golden syrup, figs, green plums and a hint of walnut oil. Mouth: big, rather drying, lots of dried fruits, cereals, beers, very light waxier notes, cigarette papers, mineral oils, leather and a little caramelised brown sugar. With water: the sherry seems to come through a little more assertively now, lots of tobacco, cocoa, brown bread and toasted nuts. Still very fresh and wonderfully tense. Finish: long, tense, mineral, dry, earthy, umami and even a little salty. Comments: a pretty serious and punchy dram, you feel it could easily have done another 10 years in the cask. It's another Tormore that you could sit and dissect all night with a pipette. 

SGP: 461 - 89 points.

 

 

 

 

June 7, 2024


Whiskyfun

Feis Ile Special (sequel sessions)

Kilograms of Kilchoman

including some unusual ones

Just as we did last year around this time, we are going to sample a good number of Kilchomans. We have a great affection for Kilchoman. We attended the inauguration of the distillery with the Malt Maniacs, and it was a grand event! I also had the pleasure of later having a long conversation with the much-missed John Maclellan when he became the manager there. So, let's have some Kilchoman in his memory. We recently tasted some Bunnahabhain (John had previously managed Bunnahabhain). Remember that whisky is entirely about people; otherwise, it's just some barley costing a few pennies, a bit of water, yeast, and a bit of oak wood. And wine, increasingly so. What? Yes, and time, the fifth element. Let's proceed at random...

KilchomanKilchoman
In 2006 Kilchoman's kiln caught fire. The owners then added a sign on top, saying "… the really smoky firey one…" (WF Archive, 2006)

 

 

Kilchoman 'Small Batch' (48.6%, OB, French Exclusive, LMDW, STR bourbon sherry)

Kilchoman 'Triskele Small Batch' (48.6%, OB, French Exclusive, LMDW, STR bourbon sherry) Four stars
These damn STR casks are taking over everything… Colour: white wine. Nose: let's be honest, the STR remains discreet. Here is a lovely, rich peat, almost as if the barley had been partially smoked with herbs. Or at least with very young peat. There are notes of patchouli, potpourri, hints of tomato leaves (that could be the STR) and hay. It really feels like the countryside. Mouth: this sweet, almost liqueur-like quality is quite typical. Peat liqueur, now that's an amusing concept. There's brioche dough, a freshly baked orange cake, butterscotch, fresh coriander and sorrel, and always that sweet peat sometimes found in Lagavulin. Finish: long and more honeyed. Peppery oysters in the finish. Comments: a devilish profile, if you will. I just read that there's 20% STR casks, based on Portuguese red wine barrels. No idea if it was Port.
SGP:666 - 86 points.

B2B…

Kilchoman 11 yo 2011/2023 (54.5%, OB, London Whisky Show 2023, bourbon, cask #771)

Kilchoman 11 yo 2011/2023 (54.5%, OB, London Whisky Show 2023, bourbon, cask #771) Four stars and a half
B2B, that means back to bourbon. Colour: white wine. Nose: very pure. 4-oils and ashy peat, plus dandelions, flower and leaf. Can you say millimetric when it's a bottling for the UK? With water: porridge, new jumper, ashes, brake pads, paraffin. Mouth (neat): again this slight sweetness but this time we're all about grapefruit and green apple. A touch of bitter almond. With water: very good, fresh, precise, with a bit of rubber and wheat beer. Finish: increasingly focused on its origin, beer, ground barley, yeast… It's quite amusing this kind of regression in terms of flavours. Comments: really very amusing, and also excellent. It reminds me, in some ways, of the effect Ardbeg Ten has on me, though in a different style.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Kilchoman 12 yo 2011/2023 '100% Islay Still Peat' (53.5%, OB, LMDW, barrel, cask #411)

Kilchoman 12 yo 2011/2023 '100% Islay Still Peat' (53.5%, OB, LMDW, barrel, cask #411) Five stars
They played it rather 'Byzantine' this time, distilling unpeated low wines together with heads and tails from a previous peaty distillation. According to our friends at LMDW, this should 'highlight the altruistic character of a discreet peat'. Which, in trivial un-Parisian street language, may mean that peat will always keep the upper hand, whichever the circumstances. Colour: white wine. Nose: this reminds me a bit of the Longrow batches from Springbank. Honestly, it feels like we're in the Wee Toon. Shoe polish, damp earth, dead leaves, watercress, and again, patchouli. With water: wet chalk and the proverbial virgin wool. Nothing to complain about. Mouth (neat): excellent! Very powerful citrus, fairly robust peat nonetheless, old medicinal syrups, earthy side… I won't hesitate to mention Campbeltown once more. With water: same, same. Magnificent juice. Finish: long, precise, lemony and very waxy. Bitter almonds in the aftertaste. Comments: could anyone tell me if they have ever spotted a fully loaded tanker lorry arriving at Kennacraig from the south of the peninsula and discreetly taking the ferry to Islay?
SGP:564 - 90 points.

Since we are tasting the unusual…

Kilchoman 8 yo 2015/2023 '100% Islay Fermentation Variation 100H' (57.9%, OB, LMDW, New Vibrations, bourbon, cask #36)

Kilchoman 8 yo 2015/2023 '100% Islay Fermentation Variation 100H' (57.9%, OB, LMDW, New Vibrations, bourbon, cask #36) Five stars
So, longer fermentation of almost a work week, almost like the fermentation time of a Jamaican rum, though let's not forget that the latter can go up to three weeks. But I digress… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: crystal clear at first, then tarry. New tyres, Tesla battery (pre-explosion), new rubber boots, turpentine, exhaust fumes (not from a Tesla, obviously)… With water: fresh concrete, cut grass, plaster and heaps of ashes. Mouth (neat): simply perfect, though it's far from delicate. Pepper, peat, lemon, carbon. With water: …and hints of mint and, once again, verbena. Finish: long, pure, on lemon and various hydrocarbons. One can't imagine there were lemon trees when the peat used here was formed, can one? Comments: a grand Kilchoman. Quite frankly, it's expensive, but I believe it's worth it.
SGP:567 - 90 points.

Kilchoman 16 yo (50%, OB, 2023)

Kilchoman 16 yo (50%, OB, 2023) Five stars
Can you believe it, sixteen years already, and even more! This is a combination of oloroso sherry butts and bourbon. Quite classic, really. Let's hope the freshness hasn't been lost (S., you have to decide, do you want age or not?) Colour: deep gold. Nose: we know these batches, we know they were well peated, so we are quite surprised to discover such a soft, civilized Kilchoman, leaning towards mint, chocolate, smoked ham, crème caramel, and old white Burgundy… With water: I'll be honest, I know comparisons are not always reasonable, but this time I would have said a Port Ellen of a similar age and reduction. Off the top of my head. Mouth (neat): it feels like a slightly accelerated ageing, it could really be a 25-year-old from a southern Islay distillery. Which means it's very good, just slightly disconcerting. Maybe because of the reduction? A smoky and lemony caramel side, followed by tar, raw ham, and smoked bacon. With water: same, that 'PE' side comes out after reduction. Finish: long, graceful, and very beautiful. Comments: it's going to be quite a challenge to compare all the Islay distilleries at a similar age and in their peated versions (I say this for those from the east). Vishnu, help us! Meanwhile, this K. is really very, very beautiful, all things considered.
SGP:656 - 90 points.

One day, we'll be considered mad with all these acronyms and abbreviations, PE, K, CI, Laph, Bowie, Bunny, Laddie, Laga… What, you say we're already considered mad? You, not me!

And how about tasting some older ones that are therefore younger?

Kilchoman 2010/2014 'The Kilchoman Club 3rd Edition' (58.4%, OB, Madeira, casks 65+66, 600 bottles)

Kilchoman 2010/2014 'The Kilchoman Club 3rd Edition' (58.4%, OB, Madeira, casks 65+66, 600 bottles) Two stars
This one is really very young, and what's more, Madeira usually has a very strong impact. Colour: gold. Nose: it's pleasant, rounder, with pecan pie, fig jam, sweet mustard, then seawater, peppered whelks, sweet wine, earth, bay leaves, leather… And of course, the smoke from peat. With water: it becomes a bit vinegary and compost-like. A hint of horse dung. Mouth (neat): too dominated by the cask and its previous contents for me. Far too much. Loads of raisins and pepper. Another proof that Consumer Clubs can sometimes be a rip-off (stay polite, S.!). Hey not saying this one was, naturally, everyone's failing with a least one bottling. With water: it's okay, but it's dissonant. Ozzy doing Bach or the Osmonds playing Sun Ra. Finish: long, peppery, and heavily on raisins. Comments: not really my thing this time.
SGP:667 - 75 points.

Kilchoman 2011/2016 (59.5%, OB for LMDW 60th Anniversary, Caroni finish, cask #754, 264 bottles)

Kilchoman 2011/2016 (59.5%, OB for LMDW 60th Anniversary, Caroni finish, cask #754, 264 bottles) Three stars
I'm not sure Kilchoman needs rum, but Caroni often works, so let's see… Colour: vin blanc. Nose: surprisingly, the rum remains discreet, so it's alright; it seems to have softened the very young Islay a bit. Vanilla and gentle peat, apples, sunflower oil, green pepper. With water: not too chimerical. Mouth (neat): it's good, the powerful side of Caroni somewhat amplifies the strength of Kilchoman, but the sweetness is also heightened. Not too sure… With water: it's not bad at all but, of course, when you've just tasted some natural and flamboyant Kilchomans, it does suffer by comparison. Finish: long, peppery. Slightly unexpected notes of pear—could that be the combination? Comments: I'm not entirely sure these mixes are useful, even with very young malts like this one. But it's still not bad at all.
SGP:656 - 81 points.

Kilchoman 'Triskele Casks - French Exclusive' (47.8%, OB, LMDW, Port bourbon sherry, 1,260 bottles, 2023)

Kilchoman 'Triskele Casks - French Exclusive' (47.8%, OB, LMDW, Port bourbon sherry, 1,260 bottles, 2023) Four stars
20% Port casks, that's manageable. Why Triskele/Triskell/Triskel? I'm not entirely sure. Some stories about trinity and Celtic culture, I think. Colour: straw. Nose: truth be told, we love Port, and if it adds just a few notes of black cherry and blackberry, we bow to it. That's somewhat the case here; it remains a maritime, peaty, fresh and taut Kilchoman, with dough and ashes. And smoked clafoutis. Mouth: very good! A bit sweet, with more cherries of all kinds, but on a solid smoky and salty base. Finish: long, balanced, peaty, peppery and maritime. The cherries have been well-behaved. Comments: I believe our Scottish friends are mastering wine casks better and better. That's good timing, as there are more and more winemakers who own or are buying stills and starting to make whisky. All of this is going to end in a delightful mess, but we're going to have a lot of fun. In any case, this Kilchoman is very good.
SGP:667 - 86 points.

B2B…

Kilchoman 12 yo 2010/2023 '100% Islay Kiln Peat' (54.4%, OB, LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #705)

Kilchoman 12 yo 2010/2023 '100% Islay Kiln Peat' (54.4%, OB, LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #705) Four stars and a half
Fully made out of local barley from their own farm, called Rockside. Colour: deep gold. Nose: raw tarry peat and banana cake, plus crushed slate and diesel oil. Whiffs of cress soup in the background, which I just adore. With water: fresh grass, green tea, banana skins, oysters, tyres and new Wellies. Mouth (neat): no words needed; this is perfect. With water: something tropical, like whacky guavas, perhaps tinned rambutans. Not too sure where this fruity sweetness is coming from, but it is charming. Finish: long, clean sweet, a little oily. Comments: excellent if a tad 'bourbony' and sweetish. We're just waiting for a proper 'dry' refill hogshead of good age. Next year?
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Last one… (LMDW really like and know their Kilchoman)…

Kilchoman 8 yo 2014/2023 '100% Islay Fermentation' (55%, OB, LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #321)

Kilchoman 8 yo 2014/2023 '100% Islay Fermentation' (55%, OB, LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #321) Four stars
Why this name, I don't quite know. Do they also 'ferment' elsewhere? Or is it fully indigenous yeast? It must be complicated because commercial yeasts are quite effective at killing all other yeasts in the building. It's said that managing yeasts of very different strengths in the same place is very tricky, but to be honest, we don't know much about yeasts (so please shut up, S.). Colour: White wine. Nose: precise, on porridge and ashes, then green bananas and orchard apples. Morning baguettes. With water: pear and apple skins, a bit of ink, magazines… Mouth (neat): very good, just a bit hot, sweet, and alcoholic. Barley syrup and wood ashes. With water: the fruits arrive in a cavalry. Melons, apricots, papayas, a bit of honey, barley and agave syrups… Could it be the yeasts that have generated these slightly unusual fruity notes? In theory, yes. Finish: long, quite gentle, fruity, slightly honeyed. Baked apple. Comments: really good, but softer. It's as if these yeasts have tamed the peat that used to envelope the malted barley.
SGP:655 - 85 points.

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

 

June 6, 2024


Whiskyfun

Feis Ile Special (sequel sessions)

Shall we have a few more Bruichladdich with grapes?

Unpeated Bruichladdich, although the very first ones in the early 2000s after the revival were very lightly peated (5ppm). And those from the 1950s and before, of course, as all Islay whiskies were peated. Also, one can't help but think of the 1990s, with Bruichladdich silent and Ardbeg as well after a few years or intermittent functioning, and the unemployment rate on Islay reaching 25%. Fortunately, that has changed a lot… Speaking of which… (Picture weird AI)

Scot

 

 

Bruichladdich 15 yo (43%, OB, Sherry Wood, Moon Import Italy, 75cl, +/-1990)

Bruichladdich 15 yo (43%, OB, Sherry Wood, Moon Import Italy, 75cl, +/-1990) Four stars and a half
There was also an excellent 10-year-old 'sherry' for France, quite different from the 10 without the 'sherry'. Colour: bright amber. Nose: we are undeniably in cognac territory. Abundant raisins, hints of copper coins, peaches cooked in wine, pears poached in vanilla, crème brûlée, prunes, brown sugar, subtle hints of Nescafé… Only the very light meaty and salty note in the background sets it apart. How amusing! Mouth: it's maltier, deeper, with those metallic touches, broths, even cooked ham, then increasingly salty. Even small hints of asparagus and leeks. Finish: rather long, with what resembles smoke and very discreet hints of tarragon. Yes, indeed. Comments: a true window into the past, quite incredible… and charming.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2002/2023 (57.4%, Rest & Be Thankful, LMDW New Vibrations, ex-bourbon barrel, cask #809, 272 bottles)

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2002/2023 (57.4%, Rest & Be Thankful, LMDW New Vibrations, ex-bourbon barrel, cask #809, 272 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: imagine enjoying a crème brûlée by the seaside, accompanied by a glass of crisp, dry white wine. Then come the shellfish, oyster shells, and the much-anticipated apricots, peaches, and yellow melon, along with a hint of honeysuckle. A beautiful nose, very elegant. With water: no significant change, except for a touch more vanilla. Mouth (neat): eminently Bruichladdich, with melon and orange tinged with iodine, slate, and pepper. Still very slightly harsh, but water should smooth that out. With water: perfect, leaning more towards candied citrus and wax, then gentian and a drop of absinthe. To be honest, there's a slight Clynelish character here. Finish: long and now distinctly salty. Some claim these salty notes are a myth and the result of clever marketing, but I'm not entirely convinced. Butter caramel and Breton biscuits in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely stunning. These twenty years suit Bruichladdich very well.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2010/2024 '8.1' (59.2%, Dramfool, Jim McEwan's Signature Collection, first fill Juraçon barrique, cask #2302, 256 bottles)

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2010/2024 '8.1' (59.2%, Dramfool, Jim McEwan's Signature Collection, first fill Juraçon barrique, cask #2302, 256 bottles) Three stars
As always, our dear Scottish friends seem to struggle with the names of the wines they use to flavour their whiskies. Let's not kid ourselves that they are familiar with these wines! Of course, it's Jurançon, not 'Juraçon'. It would also be helpful to specify whether it's white or red Jurançon, though the colour here leaves little doubt. The problem, my friends, is that red Jurançon doesn't exist, thus deepening the mystery... Could it be Béarn? Colour: copper. Nose: initially quite sulphury, then moving on to crushed fruits and moss, damp earth... It's very wine-like. With water: bay leaves, leather, cherry jam and roasted peanuts. Mouth (neat): it works quite well on the palate, but it's very powerful. Grenadine, children's toothpaste, cherry syrup, bits of tobacco. With water: now it seems like it was sweet white wine, typical of Jurançon, but then where does the coppery colour come from? Finish: long and very fruity. More cherry jam and chocolate. Black truffle and old walnuts. Comments: really quite an odd creature, rather 'trans'. Initially, I feared it would be much worse.
SGP:652 - 81 points.

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2011/2023 (57.5%, Dramfool, 1st fill Banyuls barrique, cask #1515, 292 bottles)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2011/2023 (57.5%, Dramfool, 1st fill Banyuls barrique, cask #1515, 292 bottles) Four stars
You could almost call Banyuls 'a French sweet PX', and it's clear that we are indeed within 'sherry-like' territories. And they wrote 'Banyuls' correctly, bless them and love them. Colour: copper. Nose: so much cleaner, brighter, fruitier, easier, sexier (what?) and sweeter. This seems to really work. With water: patchouli and rose petals, plus a little miso paste and sweet Tennessee-like barbecue sauce. Mouth (neat): very well, sweet but not vulgar, with a very lovely spicy structure, around Sichuan pepper and paprika. Lots of raisins, damsons, dates, then plenty of freshly ground black pepper. With water: no problem, it's good, sweet, really focused on all sorts of raisins and quite mild peppers. Finish: medium length, still with raisins leading the way. Nice peppery aftertaste. Comments: by the way, Jurançons come from the west of the Pyrenees, whereas Banyuls come from the east. I thought you'd appreciate this precision, though I'm sure you already knew.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2009/2023 (64.8%, Dramfool, Middle Cut, 1st fill syrah barrique, cask #1944, 265 bottles)

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2009/2023 (64.8%, Dramfool, Middle Cut, 1st fill syrah barrique, cask #1944, 265 bottles) Three stars and a half
Syrah! Think red Hermitage, think Côte-Rôtie (that's the appellation almost no Scots ever got right on a whisky label), and think spicy and liquoricy violets. In Whiskyfun's opinion, syrah produces both the most stupendous red wines and the most vulgar ones too, so… Colour: apricot, or late-season mirabelles. Nose: there's a touch of old cask, mushrooms, sherry vinegar, and of an unkempt nun (as they say in wine enthusiast circles), then a softer, sweeter side with buttercream, Paris-Brest pastry, brie pastry with kirsch, biscuits… With water: an old wine cellar, ancient barrels. Mouth (neat): it's rather lovely, very fruity, kirschy, full-on with pepper and black cherries. And quite a lot of ethanol. With water: strawberry jam, green pepper, and champagne. Finish: long, more on cooked bell peppers. Touches of honey and cloves. Comments: it's creative, it works quite well, though it's not exactly 'my style'. By the way, there are young winemakers crafting excellent syrahs in more modest (and less expensive) appellations of the Rhône Valley. Try 'Sixtus' in Seyssuel or the syrahs by Gonon. Well, I promise, despite all these improbable wine finishes coming our way, we're not going to turn into winefun.com.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

While we're on the subject of wineskies...

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2006/2022 (60.6%, Rest & Be Thankful, wine hogshead, cask #534, 250 bottles) Three stars and a half
I don't think any winemakers use hoggies, so this one must have been of the 'treated' kind. That said, when the Scots truly make wine (and we truly make more proper whisky), nothing will stop them from declaring that hogsheads are their official capacity. Colour: gold. Nose: no idea which wine was used, but it seems to have worked quite well, as if it were a sweet wine. Lots of vanilla, sultanas, apricot jam, honeys, with just a hint of sulphur (asparagus, leeks, truffles). With water: cabbage soup, vanilla, shortbread, and gunpowder. Mouth (neat): it's good, sweet, aromatic, very honeyed. Growing touches of tobacco, leather, and wood. Crème catalane. With water: the black truffles and pepper return, along with plenty of leather. Finish: fairly long, peppery. Leather and green tea. Comments: this worked quite well too. Is wine the future of whisky?
SGP:651 - 83 points.

Well, that's enough, let's return to the true whiskies of Bruichladdich…

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2005/2023 (54.7%, Nickolls & Perks, Inaugural Casks, fresh bourbon barrel, cask #518, 195 bottles)

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2005/2023 (54.7%, Nickolls & Perks, Inaugural Casks, fresh bourbon barrel, cask #518, 195 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: oh my goodness, what a difference! Soft, natural vanilla, ripe melons, fresh brioche, focaccia, macarons… This is just perfect. With water: even more wet earth and fallen leaves. Marvellous! Mouth (neat): yes, perfect. Earthy touches, dill, celery, gentian, then high-class green tea, fruit peels, rhubarb… With water: all sorts of pastries, muffins, makrouts, brioches, scones, shortbread, angel hair. All with wonderful hints of orange blossom. Finish: medium length, very sweet, on cakes of all kinds. Vanilla cake in the finish, some white asparagus and a bit of earthy liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: it's simply very, very good.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2004/2023 (61.8%, OB, Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, Micro-Provenance, 1st fill Sauternes, cask #1518, 234 bottles)

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2004/2023 (61.8%, OB, Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, Micro-Provenance, 1st fill Sauternes, cask #1518, 234 bottles) Four stars
Oh bad news, wine again. There are indeed contradictions in all these wineskies. How could 'Sauternes' be a 'micro-provenance'? And if the focus is on the provenance of the barley, how do you preserve its subtlety by flavouring it with more or less aromatic wine casks? Yes, these are seminal questions. Colour: dark gold. Nose: let's be honest again, while the term 'micro-provenance' makes us chuckle, the nose here is beautiful, round, very much on banana cakes, a touch of apricot and muscat, acacia flower fritters, multi-flower honey... you get the picture. Except that all this has not much to do with 'pure island of Islay'. So much for 'provenance'. With water: fresh bread. Who doesn't love fresh bread, right. Mouth (neat): excellent, it almost seems peated, really. White pepper, roots, plums, Earl Grey, ethanol. That's normal at 62% or nearly. With water: grapefruit, gentian, lemon, green melon, and even some ashes. Finish: long and saltier. Comments: this is not a classic Bruichladdich, and it's even hard to pinpoint the how and why of it, but it works well. Have they added some Port Charlotte to the mix? Some Lochindaal? Some Octomore?
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2018 (64%, Whiskybroker, cask #1452)

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2018 (64%, Whiskybroker, cask #1452) Four stars and a half
Whiskybroker has already offered some wonderful casks, always refined and subtle, and, above all, strictly never tampered with as far as I can tell. Colour: white wine. Nose: a Bruichladdich entirely on garden fruits, mirabelles, quinces, peaches, pears, then the proverbial melons and sunflower oil. Really very, very nice. With water: Middle Eastern bread and panettone. All very beautiful, very inspiring. Mouth (neat): very powerful, on pears, apples, and melons. A superb eau-de-vie-like quality. But at 64%, one must be extra-careful, as the neighbours here might say. With water: pure fruitiness, a classic Laddie eau-de-vie character. Finish: quite long, taut, lemony. Green apple. Comments: even Bruichladdich themselves don't often produce malts as 'Bruichladdich' as this.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 30 yo (48.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Director's Special, hogshead, 218 bottles, +/-2024)

Bruichladdich 30 yo (48.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Director's Special, hogshead, 218 bottles, +/-2024) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: one wonders if the hoggie was made of concrete or clay. Apricots, peaches, melon, greengages, soft meadow honeys, natural vanilla. Absolutely zero cask influence, at least in terms of flavouring, it's as if this old Bruichladdich had been stored in demijohns since its tenth year. Mouth: wonderfully gentle, with honey, green apples, honey, green apples, honey, green apples, honey... and so on. Just a drop of melon liqueur. Finish: long, taut. A hint of mint in the aftertaste, and especially pear. Comments: an old Bruichladdich that has remained extraordinarily elemental after thirty years in the cask, almost a thesis subject.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

A last one for the road (an expression that'll soon become strictly verboten, I suppose).

Bruichladdich 31 yo 1991/2023 '5a' (50.6%, Cask 88, Ralph Steadman, refill hogshead, cask #2258)

Bruichladdich 31 yo 1991/2023 '5a' (50.6%, Cask 88, Ralph Steadman, refill hogshead, cask #2258) Four stars and a half
Love Ralph Steadman! For once, someone genuinely famous. Sometimes whisky brands showcase 'artists' whom absolutely no one outside of Glasgow has ever heard of, like one of the CEO's cousins or the owner's half-brother (ha). Colour: white wine. Nose: very much in the same realm as TSMOS' Director Special, word for word. Plums, peaches, melons, lemon, fresh honey, then sweet peas, beans, sweetcorn, vanilla… With water: brioche dough, fresh panettone (not really in season), pumpkin pie… Mouth (neat): very fruity, with even more apples, plums, grapefruit, peaches, sweet meadows honeys… With water: same, apples, pears, plums, green melon, green pepper… Finish: quite long, rather on green fruits. Greengages and gooseberries. Comments: we've had the pleasure of tasting these spirits at all ages, thanks especially to Cadenhead. At 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, now 30 years… As Alain Delon's character said in Visconti's 'Il Gattopardo', everything must change for everything to stay the same. I agree, it's not directly related, but it does put the role of time into perspective, don't you think…
SGP:551 - 88 points.

That's enough Laddies for this spring… Stay tuned.

(Merci Stéphane)

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

 

June 5, 2024


Whiskyfun

Feis Ile Special (sequel sessions)

Cream of Laphroaig and apéritifs

Here is Laphroaig, the star of Islay and, above all, the distillery with the most old bottles, especially for the USA and Italy but also for Germany, the UK, France, and quite a few other countries. It is thus a truly historic distillery, whose ten-year-old expressions with their white labels have delighted many enthusiasts since the 1950s and even before the Second World War. Perhaps the famous myth that a Scottish malt whisky had to be very smoky originated from this Laphroaiggian presence. Well, let's start with the small fry... By the way, no Williamson or 'hardly secret Islay' today.

Laphroaig

 

 

Laphroaig 'Oak Select' (40%, OB, Cask Collection, +/-2024)

Laphroaig 'Oak Select' (40%, OB, Cask Collection, +/-2024) Three stars
This fairly new bottling is supposed, according to the label, to be their 'most laid-back expression'. I'm not quite sure if it's the same juice as the rather poor 'Select' we tasted back in 2019 (WF 74). In theory, they should have improved it; at any rate, they claim to have used five different types of casks. Around €35 in supermarkets in France. Colour: pale gold. Nose: not bad, very smoky and peaty, with plenty of ashes followed by apple and lime juice, then the expected tincture of iodine and mercurochrome. In short, it's unmistakably Laphroaig, perhaps just a tad fruitier. Mouth: I like it, it's more robust than the infamous Select of yore, with a sense of peated apples and ashes doused in grapefruit juice. The texture is somewhat light but not as frustrating as one might have feared. Finish: it's at this stage that the lack of oomph becomes apparent, the finish is short, but nonetheless on pleasant notes of lapsang souchong and oysters. Comments: really not bad for a simple, cheapo NAS.
SGP:556 - 82 points.

Laphroaig 'Càirdeas 2023' (52.3%, OB, Friends of Laphroaig/Feis Ile, White Port & Madeira)

Laphroaig 'Càirdeas 2023' (52.3%, OB, Friends of Laphroaig/Feis Ile, White Port & Madeira) Four stars
Aged in 2nd fill Madeira casks, a quarter of it having been finished in 1st fill white Port. So NAS and with heavy wood technology inside, let's see what happened. Colour: gold. Nose: much rounder and softer on the nose to start with, clearly very influenced by the wines, but the combination with the smokiness of the distillate works well. We've noticed several times that peat and Madeira can work quite well together. There's wood smoke, smoked herrings, oranges, sweet mustard, and strawberry-filled chocolate... In short, it seems to be a pleasant recipe. With water: not much change. I find this concoction quite likeable. Mouth (neat): it initially feels like an old fino or a dry PX from Malaga, for example, but it then becomes increasingly sweet. With water: it's more peppery, but still as soft. Lots of orange jam, figs... The salinity of the distillate balances all this nicely. Finish: long, balanced, the malt holding up well against the onslaught of the wines until the end. Comments: typically a malt whisky 2.0, very marked by the previous contents of the casks. Very well executed but, of course, far from the great Laphroaigs of yesteryear or today. Whisky 2.0 for 2.0 enthusiasts, I'd say.
SGP:766 - 85 points.

Let's move on to Laphroaig 1.0…

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, unblended, +/-1984, 1l)

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, unblended, +/-1984, 1l) Five stars
With a wee code stamped onto the label, '84063', so probably bottled on the 63rd day of 1984. Colour: full gold. Nose: terrifyingly precise, on mango jam, citron liqueur, tiny shellfish (whelks, periwinkles, cockles) and just the ashes from last night's campfire on the beach. And a touch of honey. Mouth: my God, this is good. The epitome of Laphroaig 10 years, a great whisky if there ever was one, with just honey and sultanas of the highest, highest, but really the highest calibre. This time, the citrus and other exotic fruits stay slightly in the background, which also works wonderfully well. Finish: beautiful length, with a perfect sweet-salty-peaty profile. Comments: I didn't want to overdo it, but frankly, what a splendour. A slightly higher voltage, around 46% ABV/80° proof, would have propelled it even higher. Incidentally, there were some earlier at these strengths, but those were for the USA.
SGP:655 - 93 points.

Laphroaig 19 yo '19.0' (54.9%, OB, cask #5836, 190th Anniversary, Friends of Laphroaig, 175 bottles, 2005)

Laphroaig 19 yo '19.0' (54.9%, OB, 190th Anniversary, Friends of Laphroaig, cask #5836, 175 bottles, 2005) Five stars
Whether 1815 was indeed the real first year of Laphroaig Distillery remains a subject of controversy, but for us mere drinkers, pardon, tasters, the debate becomes increasingly superfluous as the years go by. We shall leave it to the historians among us to disagree. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it slightly recalls the great 10 yo C/S of yesteryear, with perfect balance between ashes, seaweed, camphor, and citrus, before pine needles, iodine, bandages, ointments, and balms take over. With water: much more brine, pickles, and vinegared samphire... Mouth (neat): wonderful combination of salt, bold and massive peat, lemon zest, chartreuse, razor clams, coal, a feeling of iodine tincture... With water: the minerality comes out, with even more camphor and lemon marmalade. Finish: long, saline, very peaty, with an aftertaste of candied citrus. Comments: the exotic fruits are less present in these bottlings, but still, it's grand Laphroaig. Perhaps the mangoes will appear after another twenty years in the bottle.
SGP:657 - 91 points.

Laphroaig 27 yo 'Director's Special' (51.2%, Elixir Distillers, 1st fill barrel, 210 bottles, 2024)

Laphroaig 27 yo 'Director's Special' (51.2%, Elixir Distillers, 1st fill barrel, 210 bottles, 2024) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: softer, rounder, more civilised, with overripe apples, liquorice, drops of absinthe, sage, rain-soaked fabrics (that famous old tweed jacket), mead, and quite a bit of ham and bacon... In fact, it's rather unusual, one might have thought it came from another distillery from the south. I mean, the south of Islay. With water: and here come the island's damp lands, along with notes of almond milk and pistachios. Mouth (neat): excellent, more tense, very much on lemon and seawater. It gains in precision what it loses (a little) in complexity. With water: it loves water. Lemon marzipan, ashes, manzanilla (I saw it was a barrel, but I love manzanilla). Finish: only of medium length but with very nice freshness. Magnums, please. Comments: it needs a bit of time. The notes of roasted and salted almonds and the sweetness of the peat are magnificent.
SGP:566 - 91 points.

Laphroaig 26 yo 1996/2022 'Yggdrasil' (48.7%, Jack Tar, cask #5391, 101 bottles)

Laphroaig 26 yo 1996/2022 'Yggdrasil' (48.7%, Jack Tar, cask #5391, 101 bottles) Five stars
It looks a bit like the love child of a bottle of Ardbeg and a bottle of Springbank, don't you think? Good fun! Colour: gold. Nose: territory very close to that of the Elixir. Very ripe fruits (banana, apple) and mead, aromatic herbs, a fine slice of Parma ham, orgeat, a touch of seawater, wet ashes, marzipan... Let's say we're leaning a bit more towards apple here. Mouth: yes, the same impressions. Seawater, oysters, shellfish, almonds, samphire, mustard, wasabi, green walnuts, manzanilla, cider apples, and sesame oil to round it all off. Finish: long and sweet, rather oily. Superb salinity and fresh nuts. Yes, that's it, manzanilla. Comments: what more is there to say? Yet another magnificent Laphroaig, both soft and sharp at the same time.
SGP:566 - 91 points.

A final one that can hold its own after all these marvels…

Laphroaig 32 yo 1990/2023 (51.4%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #81, 195 bottles)

Laphroaig 32 yo 1990/2023 (51.4%, Signatory Vintage, 35th Anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #81, 195 bottles) Five stars
There were some rather marvellous drops within this little series from last year. I believe this is the last bottle we haven't yet tasted. Colour: full gold. Nose: a completely different style, reminiscent of Meursault and jambon persillé. It feels like being in southern Côte de Beaune! In the background, there are almonds and hazelnuts, smoke (from some dirty old lamp oil), quite a bit of tarragon, parsley, much smoked kippers, and equally smoked salmon... It's really different and very beautiful. With water: few changes. Mouth (neat): magnificent herbaceous tension, peppery, salty, a bit acidic. Sherry vinegar, dill, pine smoke... With water: candied lemon, green pepper, honey vinegar, and increasingly more nutmeg. It is really quite different. Finish: very long, both sweet and honeyed, and lemony and herbaceous. Comments: I see no reason to give it a different score. Perhaps we should stop mocking tasters who use scales out of 100 plus halves and even quarters of points, the latter would have been quite useful today.
SGP:565 - 91 points.

(Thanks a lot Boris, KC, and Logan)

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

 

June 4, 2024


Whiskyfun

Serge's 20,000th tasting note for a whisky

Of course, it's just a number for little Whiskyfun, to which it would be appropriate to add Angus's notes and mine for spirits other than whisky. Nonetheless, twenty thousand whiskies isn't too bad. I've thought a bit and hesitated a lot about which distillery we would choose for our 20,000th. I was tempted by Brora, but we already have a Brora session planned for the end of the month, with some extremely, but very extremely interesting versions, you'll see. So, if it's not Brora that we'll have in our glass today, it must be...

WF 20000

 

 

A short vertical tasting of four Clynelish

 

Whisky #19,997

Secret Highland 11 yo 2010/2022 (55%, The Whisky Baron, Founder's Collection, hogshead, cask #2499)

Secret Highland 11 yo 2010/2022 (55%, The Whisky Baron, Founder's Collection, hogshead, cask #2499) Four stars and a half
This is indeed a Clynelish. Those little 2010s can be excellent, as we know, and most of them are in fact 'secretly' offered by the independents. Colour: as pale as a young white wine. Nose: there's scarcely a hint of beeswax, yet it's brimming with an impressive array of both dry and damp chalkiness, complemented by sharp green apple notes, tangy rhubarb, zesty lime, and a subtle suggestion of fresh white bread dough. There's a fleeting fermenting note in the background. With water: it transforms; becoming strikingly mineral-heavy with an emphasis on chalk, limestone, and basalt, while the waxiness shifts from beeswax to paraffin, accompanied by that quintessential raw wool character. Mouth (neat): sharply defined and robust, it leans towards green flavours—think apple peels, citrus zest, and gooseberries, all underpinned by that persistent chalky quality. A whisper of paraffin surfaces briefly. With water: there's a delightful release of more pronounced beeswax, interspersed with pink peppercorn and a lemon vibrancy. Finish: long, piercingly sharp, refreshing. Leaves a peppery aftertaste. Comments: quite remarkable, though hardly surprising. It's a pity that the Clynelish name is gradually fading from a significant part of the whisky aficionado market...
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Whisky #19,998

Highland 19 yo 2003/2022 (57.3%, Chorlton Whisky, Marsala hogshead, 265 bottles)

Highland 19 yo 2003/2022 (57.3%, Chorlton Whisky, Marsala hogshead, 265 bottles) Four stars
Double-matured in Marsala casks for a rather generous period, this enigma has apparently seen its details shrouded in mystery, with essential information having been 'misplaced'. One is left to speculate whether this could possibly be a Clynelish. Colour: gold/apricot. Nose: elusive indeed, though certain aspects are reminiscent of Clynelish ex-sherry expressions from the mid-1990s, such as those bottled by Cadenhead. There's a rather complex assortment of aromas including miso, a striking amount of struck matches, beef jerky, raisins, some PX sherry-like nuances from the Marsala, exhaust fumes, and beef broth. In fact, this could hail from a number of distilleries, given the overpowering presence of the Marsala influence. With water: umami bursts forth, alongside notes of Maggi, sulphur, gas, and a hint of dark chocolate. Mouth (neat): a robust palate featuring heavy leather, bay leaves, sour cherries, dried beef, and pickled mushrooms, all underpinned by a raw chocolate backbone. It's quite the beastly dram, and I confess, it left me unable to pinpoint its distillery of origin—a touch embarrassing. It might be C., B.N., O.P., GT, or even O.F. With water: the character becomes sweeter, more rounded, yet the leathery side persists, actually becoming more pronounced. Accompanying this are tobacco and pepper notes, dashed with sour bitters. Finish: long and increasingly leafy. Comments: this whisky went off the beaten track, making it rather fun, although I must admit, it likely isn't a Clynelish. But then again…
SGP:572 - 85 points.

Whisky #19,999

Clynelish 27 yo 1996/2023 (49.3%, Maltbarn, 'The 26', bourbon cask)

Clynelish 27 yo 1996/2023 (49.3%, Maltbarn, 'The 26', bourbon cask) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: ripe bananas, beeswax, vanilla, apricot tarte, acacia honey (sadly, none of that this year locally, as the incessant rains washed everything away and it was too cold for the bees to venture out of their hives). There are also delicate hints of chocolate mint leaf. A charming, delicate, almost genteel Clynelish. Mouth: it slips down effortlessly, as we say. There are some peppery notes, citrus fruits, beeswax, and a dash of lemon juice that sharpens it, giving it a more pointed, nervous edge. There's a slight nod towards a 'Scottish daiquiri', if you will. Finish: medium-length, returning to honeyed tones. There's white pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: it's very beautiful, undeniably, though perhaps not quite a total showstopper.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Alright, let's jump over the 1980s and find our wee 20,000th…

Whisky #20,000

Clynelish 30 yo 1971/2002 (52.6%, The Coopers Choice, cask #2705, 252 bottles)

Clynelish 30 yo 1971/2002 (52.6%, The Coopers Choice, cask #2705, 252 bottles) Five stars
So, we hereby officially declare this as our 20,000th whisky tasting note, knowing that our counts are meticulously done by hand daily, which we sometimes forget to do, suggesting we have quite likely surpassed this number some months ago. We are purely in the realm of symbolism here… In fact we have indeed sipped from this delicate Clynelish before but never penned a tasting note; it was high time. This is already the 'new' Clynelish, whilst the original, Brora, had started to craft some real wonders. Colour: coppery gold. Nose: often termed a 'beehivey' nose, which translates to an array of scents one might find in a beehive: honey, of course, beeswax, fir wood, pollen, propolis, and flower nectar. Just imagine adding a bag of old apples and pears to this mix. It's quite splendid indeed. With water: pine and fir become more pronounced, yet the honeyed and waxy notes continue to lead, complemented by a typical hallmark of Clynelish from around 1970-1983, the citrons. Mouth: simply honey with a bit of marmalade and pink grapefruit juice. Exquisite! With water: some gentle spiciness from the wood, but the distillate itself had already spoken volumes. Finish: this is the most 'delicate' part of this old Clynelish, now slightly dominated by the wood here and thus a tad less brilliant, less assertive. But it remains wonderful, naturally. Aftertaste of mint tea. Comments: these slight vulnerabilities add a great deal of charm to these old whiskies, the ones we sometimes call the "old old" (old whisky, old bottling).
SGP:651 - 90 points.

I suppose our 20,001st whisky will be an Islay; we'll see...

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

 

June 3, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today Glendullan

As you know, we love to taste as often as possible those 'little names' that, unfortunately, few people care about, all while keeping in mind the saying that one day 'the last shall be first'. But who said that? ... Glendullan is located in Dufftown, where more malt may be produced than on Islay. Only a wild guess.

Alsatian walnuts (ma ferme bio)

Walnuts

 

 

Glendullan 13 yo 2009/2023 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, bourbon, casks #315683 + 315686)

Glendullan 13 yo 2009/2023 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, bourbon, casks #315683 + 315686) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: this is truly one of those natural malts that leans heavily towards green teas and apple peels, with a metallic edge that I quite enjoy (tin, old silver cutlery). Porridge and a well-served muesli add to the profile, accompanied by a touch of fresh rhubarb. Lovely, very pure, nothing to fault. Mouth: a bit sweeter, less fresh and precise, with sourdough, beers, fresh malt, and various fermenting materials, including grass. A hint of apple and lemon livens things up, but it remains rustic despite some pleasant notes of green melon (well, those are not very flavourful). However, it starts to take off after a few minutes, once the fermenting notes settle down. Some cherry. Finish: medium length, herbal style but with a touch of sugary sweetness, lemon, apple, and cherry. Comments: there are some rather beautiful aspects, for example, cherry.
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Glendullan 12 yo 2011/2024 (55.8%, James Eadie, 1st fill amontillado hogshead finish, cask #367833, 293 bottles)

Glendullan 12 yo 2011/2024 (55.8%, James Eadie, 1st fill amontillado hogshead finish, cask #367833, 293 bottles) Four stars
A 21-month finish in amontillado, sounds promising. How many tonnes of walnuts? Colour: pale gold. Nose: here come the green walnuts and that saline edge which likely comes from the early life of this amontillado (remember, it's a fino that turns into an oloroso). It is said that amontillados originally stem from the Montilla region rather than Jerez. On that note, it really leans towards mustard, even more walnuts, curry, seawater, oysters, and coffee... It's very beautiful if you enjoy dry sherries. With water: similar, perhaps even more maritime, with dried seaweed. Mouth (neat): a very successful finish but, indeed, truly for lovers of dry sherries and walnut liqueur. Count me among them. A sweeter side in the background, let's say grapefruit liqueur. With water: perfect balance. Some more peppery touches. Finish: long and, indeed, more peppery. Still plenty of walnuts and a hint of artichoke and aubergine. Amaro and curry in the aftertaste. Comments: they are really skilful in secondary maturation. A totally Andalusian young Glendullan and no complaints here.
SGP:571 - 86 points.

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

 

June 2, 2024


Whiskyfun