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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2010 - Part 1

February 2010 - part 2 <--- March 2010 - part 1 ---> March 2010 - part 2


March 12, 2010

Black is back: tasting four ‘black’ blends
From zee internet: ‘Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious colour (black tie, black Mercedes).' All right, all right…
Black Bottle (40%, OB, +/-2010) Two stars The recently repackaged famous brand that is meant to contain all Islay malts, except Kilchoman I guess. Earlier versions of the NAS always scored around 77/78 points in my book. Colour: pale gold. Nose: the smokiness of the Islay components is very obvious at first nosing, as well as whiffs of sea air and maybe a faint farminess (cow stable). In that sense it’s very different from most other blends. Not much ‘graininess’, rather some hints of fresh herbs, chives, a little mint. Very nice, finely peated nose but it gets a tad dusty and bland after fifteen minutes. Mouth: well, it hasn’t got the nice appeal that it had on the nose, this is rather flat and too porridgy for my taste. The peat gives it a slightly bitter taste and the whole is soon to get too dry in my opinion. It’s also a little too sour (overripe apples). Finish: shortish, with notes of caramel and candy sugar that do not combine too well with the bitterness. Comments: I didn’t like it as much as earlier batches despite its nice but ‘short’ nose, but it’s still a fine dram. Maybe it needs ice. SGP:234 - 70 points.
Black Dog 12 yo (43%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2009) Two stars A brand from Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya's stable (alongside Whyte & Mackay, Dalmore, Jura and many Indian whiskies) Colour: full gold (I don’t know why I bother with colours when assessing blends, almost all are ‘caramel gold’ anyway). Nose: typical average blended whisky, malty, caramelly and slightly coffee-ish, with also hints of roasted nuts and that faint dustiness that many blends display. Also a little chocolate and oranges as well as a little liquorice and leather and finally quite some marzipan. Frankly, this is nicely composed, works well, has quite some backbone and is relatively complex. Mouth: mundane but rather above the average cheap blend. Malty, coffee-ish, nutty and chocolaty, but just like the Black Bottle, gets a little bitterish. Also a little rawish/spirity. Finish: medium long, a little bitter, with something plankish in the aftertaste. White pepper. Comments: I really liked the nose, which is why I’ll give it a rather high mark, but the palate was uninteresting albeit not flawed. SGP:331 - 74 points.
Black Jack 16yo (40%, OB, Blend, Angus Mac Donald, +/-1970) Two stars and a half An oldie this time. Colour: gold. Nose: OBE striking at very first sniffs, then much more fruits than in both the Bottle and the Dog. Crystallised tangerines, apricots, fresh almonds, maybe hints of mangos, chicory… It’s also quite phenolic and peaty, with a faint Bowmoreness. Superb nose I must say, there was probably quite some malts in this composition and not the worst ones. Mouth: quite good even if it’s a tad dusty/grainy and spirity at very first sips. One again, more fruits than in the others, orange zests, bitter almonds, a little cough syrup (I believe it’s often to be found in old bottlings, it may come from a kind of degradation of the phenols/peat). Also a little tar. Finish: not long and maybe a tad bitter and dusty now, with hints of raw alcohol in the aftertaste (cologne). Comments: once again, very nice nose and a palate that’s slightly disappointing, but we’re very close to the 80-mark here in my opinion. The best so far. SGP:432 - 78 points.
Black Bull 12 yo (50%, Duncan Taylor, 2009) Three stars The old ones (30, 40) were quite superb, let’s see how the 12 behaves. Colour: full gold. Nose: more power and more strength here of course but I wouldn’t say it’s more aromatic than the superb Black Jack. The oak is a little more obvious and so is the malt part, the whole starting on vanilla and oranges (more orange blossom water actually) and developing more on leather, a little green tea, just tiny whiffs of smoke and hints of cider. Also stewed fruits (black currants quite obvious), which suggest some sherry. Mouth: rich and creamy, nervous, malty, starting with notes of cherries and stewed fruits again, then various nuts, milk chocolate and hints of strawberry jam. Gets then a tad rawer and less ‘precise’ as the oak kicks in. Black tea, white pepper, orange marmalade, crystallised ginger. Finish: long, with a return of the vanilla. Peppery oak in the aftertaste. Comments: very high quality for a 12yo blend, but of course it’s not the 40yo. Not too sure 50% is a perfect strength for such a blend if you ask me, maybe 46% would make it a tad ‘easier’ (but wouldn’t it lose its USP?). A powerful blend, not to sip near the BBQ. SGP:451 - 82 points.


SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-)) Mortlach

So, there’s a new Mortlach 70 yo 1938 by Gordon & MacPhail (£10.000). Not sure I’ll try this one but I already tried quite a few pre-war Mortlachs by the same bottler (several 1936, 1938, 1939) and all were excellent – albeit much, much cheaper when they were ‘only’ 50yo - so I have no doubts here. Not much doubt about the best water to use to reduce this venerable malt either, whilst regarding the bouquet, we’re probably not too far from Dior J’adore.


Something else: I've got quite some complaints about the fact that I had deleted the lists of 'top bottlings' in many distilleries' pages. I had done that because that list was too long to update (ha, time!) and had added a link to the Malt Maniacs Malt Monitor instead. New complaints: the latter is quite hard and long to browse (it's true that it gathers scores for more than 13,000 whiskies...), that's why I now added a link to a wee PDF gathering all 90+ scores that I have given to each distillery. This link is now on each distillery page (see list in the column on the left). I hope this works better!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: who's got a big purring bass? Hot Tuna's Jack Casady, here in their version of the Big Railroad Blues (live). Please buy Hot Tuna's music (and Jorma's and Jack's).

Hot Tuna

March 11, 2010


Tasting three Dalmore

Dalmore 1981/2009 ‘Matusalem Sherry Finesse’ (44%, OB, Matusalem sherry finish, 474 bottles) Four stars The ‘colleague’ of the Amoroso Sherry Finesse that I tried last year and really liked (WF 88). At 450 Euros, it’s not cheap to say the least. Also funny to see all the distillers’ efforts to find other names for ‘finished’ (ACE-ed, finessed, refined… curious about the next one, how about ‘luxurianced’?) Colour: apricoty/salmony. Nose: works well at first nosing. There are some winey notes but it’s not really vinous whisky, it’s even quite dry. Not big but not sluggish, with a delicate smokiness and tarriness plus the usual notes of oranges and chocolate, liquorice, soft spices, hints of rich moist pipe tobacco… Notes of black cherries flying over the whole and maybe something slightly metallic. Tin box. Very nice nose, rather delicate. Mouth: rich and creamy, with big notes of oranges, raspberry jam and chocolate in the attack, but it drops a bit after a moment, as if someone had suddenly diluted it. Stewed fruits, notes of overripe mangos, something slightly leathery, bitter oranges, gingerbread… Gets then much drier, quite unexpectedly. This one is full of surprises! Finish: not very long but not short, even more on stewed fruits and oranges, all that coated with chocolate (of course). Various spices in the aftertaste, including quite some cloves. Comments: feels milder than 44% vol. and maybe a little less well balanced than the Amoroso (and certainly a bit more winey) but it’s still very excellent. SGP:541 - 87 points.
Dalmore 12 yo 1997/2009 (59.8%, James MacArthur, bourbon, cask #5604) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: the opposite of the 1981! Much more vigorous and not only because of the higher strength, with quite some smoke once again and then big notes of chocolate, one of Dalmore’s markers. Quite some herbs as well, grass, a little porridge, wet hay… Then fresh coconut, apples, oranges and pears. Gets farmier after a while. Certainly not a Dalmore ‘de salon’. With water: gets extremely wild and hugely grassy, even after having waited for a long time. Mouth (neat): excellent attack, rich but zesty, clean, fresh and citrusy. Many fruits, confectionary, jams, jellybeans, limejuice… I like this a lot. With water: more of the same plus many spices and herbs. Truly excellent. Finish: long, citrusy, peppery, spicy (cardamom, Indian spice mix). Comments: this is superb and goes to show how great a young Dalmore au naturel can (also) be. Highly recommended, especially since it’s rather fairly priced (google is supposed to be your friend here). SGP:651 - 87 points.
Dalmore 17 yo 1992/2009 (59.1%, Cadenhead, ‘Sauterne’ hogshead, 319 bottles) Two stars and a halfInterestingly, this one was supposedly fully matured in a Sauternes hogshead (made out of staves from ex-Sauternes barrels), not just finessed. I mean, finished. Colour: gold. Nose: punchy and oaky, with big notes of vanillin and lactones. Maybe hints of apricots and mirabelles, maybe not (when you think Sauternes these notes just spring to your mind). Definitely some chocolate, both white and ‘regular’. Having said that, the whole is a bit closed, with oranges ;-( so let’s add water. With water: wowie! Some unexpected notes of unlit Habano, and I really mean that. Too bad it gets then a tad acetic (wine vinegar). Mouth (neat): very creamy and textured, not too far from the 1997 except that there’s much more oak, tannins, strong tea, a lot of white pepper… All that coats fresh oranges and lemons plus hints of rosewater-flavoured pastries. With water: improves but the sweetness gets a tad excessive for my taste. Barley sugar, jams, corn syrup. Finish: long, thick, extremely sweet but not exactly sugary. Comments: rather unusual. It’s most probably an excellent dram but in my opinion, it’s a little over the top as far as sweetness is concerned. Adding up Dalmore’s and the Sauternes’ sweetness is quite… well, extreme. BTW, psst, Cadenhead’s, it’s ‘Sauternes’, not ‘Sauterne’ ;-). SGP:741 - 79 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Dalmore that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: we're in 1975 and two ex-Magma members, Yochk'o Seffer and François 'Faton' Cahen aka Zao issue a wonderful album named Shekina. Let's listen to the track named Zita and then buy Zao's music.


March 10, 2010


Uncommon session: Macallan 1938 vs. a special opponent
I already tried two 1938 Macallans, the utterly stunning official ‘handwritten label’ that was bottled around 1980 (WF 96) and one superb Speymalt by G&M bottled 2002 (WF 91). This time we’ll have a 31yo bottled by G&M for Donini in Milan which is said to be quite good ;-). The question was ‘which spirit should we oppose it to?’ Another 1938? Another Macallan? Well, as you probably know, very old golden spirits are said to converge, that’s why I decided to select something even older, but not whisky, something that already spent quite some years in glass as well and that bears another vintage ending with an 8...

Macallan 1938 Macallan 31 yo 1938 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Donini, +/-1970) Five stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: sweet Jesus! This explodes with notes of old leather, cigar box, wood smoke and ‘very old high-end turpentine’ at first nosing, getting then much fruitier, with loads of dried figs, sultnanas and bergamots. What’s really stunning is the smokiness. Keeps going on with hints of old rancio and very old Sauternes (and only the best), and then with more herbs (parsley as often) and touches of almond oil and shoe polish. Amazingly complex and ‘firm’, yet so elegant… This is what we’d call a true Grand Cru of whisky and nobody could say that at only 43% vol., it’s weakish whisky. Very impressive.
Mouth: sweet Vishnu! It’s almost as impressive as on the nose and even a tad rogue-ish at very first sip, with deep notes of black cherries marinated in strong kirsch and a lot of tea around that. There’s also a wee bitterness that’s on the prowl and then an unexpected saltiness and quite some pepper that make it anything but smooth. It’s truly powerful whisky, which is amazing. Keeps going on with quite some liquorice and notes of herbal bitter and Seville oranges. A big dram! Finish: rather long, more on bitter oranges and chartreuse (pronounce shartr-uh-zz, not chartroose ;-). Comments: I had thought this baby would be a tad shy and whispering. How wrong I was! Only the slightly excessive bitterness on the palate will prevent me from going even higher as far as the score is concerned. And what a nose! SGP:462 - 93 points (and heartfelt thanks, Marcel).
Armagnac Château de Laubade 1918 (40%, OB, Armagnac, +/-1985) Five stars A venerable Armagnac 1918 that should smell of peace and freedom. I already had a 1900 Laubade back in March 2009 (WF 90) and another ‘peaceful’ one, a 1945 bottled in 1985 (WF 86). It is to be noted that current 1918 Laubades go for around 900 Euros in France (but $3,500 in the US). Better not compare these prices with what any Scotsman would ask for any bottle of 80yo malt whisky! Now, it is to be noted that the whole thing around very old vintages in Armagnac can be a tad shady and that one can’t always be 100% sure that it’s a ‘single vintage’ that’s inside the bottle, simply because old record books were sometimes, say ‘poorly’ kept.
Colour: mahogany. Nose: right, old golden spirits do converge indeed and this could be a very old heavily sherried Speysider indeed as the light winey touches that emerge at very first nosing are soon to vanish, leaving room for heady notes of Demerara sugar mixed with fir liqueur and, just as in the Macallan, quite some old turpentine. Gets then very mentholated before it gets ‘preciously’ woody, on quite a lot of cellulose varnish, cigar humidor, rich coffee liqueur and notes of strong black tea Russian-style. The whole is extremely aromatic but these heavy resinous notes may suggest that the palate could be over the top. Or maybe not, let’s see… Mouth: how rich and concentrated! It’s exactly on the same line as on the nose, with a lot of resinous notes but they do not make it appalling, quite the opposite. Various kinds of herbs liqueurs, strong coffee, liquorice, something medicinal (a lot of eucalyptus), some tannins of course, quite some chewing tobacco (ever tried that?), something meaty (Jamon Iberico), then more liquorice, quite some aniseed, mint… Extremely rich. Finish: rich and long, getting even more herbal and resinous. Maybe this huge grassiness (right, tannicity) is a tad too much in the aftertaste but you know, after all these years. Comments: I don’t know if the ‘current’ versions of Laubade 1918 are of the same quality as this older one, but if you ever come across a bottle that’s not too expensive, well, you see what I mean. This one was almost on a par with the stunning Macallan. SGP:370 - 91 points.
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))


The other day I tried this 32cl wine glass for tasting some spirit (marc de gewürztraminer) and it was amazing how it amplified the aromas. Probably the most ‘extractive’ glass I ever tried.

I didn’t try that yet but I’m sure it would amplify just any malt whisky in the same way, so maybe it’s worth having in a collection of whisky glasses although it wouldn’t quite work as a proper ‘tasting glass’ because it will probably distort the profile too much. Remember, it’s always better to always use the same glasses when tasting whisky because shapes and sizes have a huge influence. These ones also come as coloured glasses for true blind tasting (for wine). Other interesting features: they’re almost unbreakable (you can bang them on your table or neighbour) as they’re made out of Kwarx, which, I’ve been told, contains some tungsten. Maybe they’ll launch a smaller spirit glass one day?

Name of the glass: Mikasa Open Up ‘Pro Tasting’. Coloured variant: Mikasa Open Up ‘Blind Test’. Remember, google is your friend.

March 11 – Update: Mikasa has been rechristened Chefs et Sommeliers (C&S). They actually have some spirit glasses and I even tried them a while back (unknowingly and not ‘seriously’). I think I’ll have to do a glass comparison session again soon, like we did with some MMs quite some years ago. Thanks for the updates, Wouter and Hervé!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: they're from Brazil and they sing... the blues. Try to resist the Victor Aneiros Band and their Nota De Blues - it's quite difficult. Please buy the Victor Aneiros Band's music.

Victor Aneiros

March 9, 2010


(Kimono Draggin')

Imagine that you stumbled upon a spiritual son of Don van Vliet and David Thomas, named Joshua 'Yossi' Hatton… Imagine that that excellent rock musician would be a member of an American power trio called Kimono Draggin' and would also be a passionate whisky blogger with a quirky sense of humour and an obvious admiration for the Clockwork Orange-era Stanley Kubrick. What would you do? That’s right, ask him Whiskyfun's ritual 'whisky and music' questions…

Serge: Yossi, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.

I play bass, back-up vox and help arrange the music.


S: Which other musicians are you playing with?
Yossi: There are two other “Dudes” in Kimono Draggin’ – Joseph Nolan on lead guitar and main vox and Chris Swirski on drums and back-up vox.
S: Which are your other favourite artistes?
Yossi: My tastes are really all over the board and don’t necessarily reflect what comes out in our music.  While Kimono Draggin’s music is influenced by Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Pixes, Sparks, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Minutemen, etc… I personally find myself listening to a lot of Bonnie ‘prince’ Billy, Dr. Dog, Joanna Newsom, Yes, Gentle Giant, I’m a HUGE fan of showtunes (Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music, etc…) The list can go on and on.
S: Which are your current projects?
Yossi: Kimono Draggin’ just release two new CDs – “Space Orphans” which is a very experimental type album.  Lots of lush tracks, effects and added instrumentation such as the Sax, accordion, synth – The other CD is entitled “We are the Dudes” which is much more basic when it comes to tracking.  We wanted a back to basics, straight rock, “this is how we sound live” type of feel. Big, fat, huge.  We’re also working on a 4 song 7” record coving our favorite Captain Beefheart songs.  Lastly, we’re in production on two new videos.  One for “Super Jew” which is a song off of our “Space Orphans” CD and one for “Song for Brian” off of our “We are the Dudes” CD.
S: When did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Yossi: About 3 years ago or so I was at an early evening service at my synagogue and one of the guys there brought in 3 different whiskies.  Two I do not remember but the 3rd was the Lagavulin 16yr.  It was love at first sip. I’d never had anything like it and to this day it remains one of my all time favorites.  I do remember the music quite well, we have an in house guitar player who sings a lot of traditional Jewish music is the style of James Taylor meets the Ramones (if you can mix the two).  Lots of singing, hand clapping and dancing!  That was a good night.
S: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Yossi: Hmmm, not sure this is my most memorable whisky but it was surely my most memorable bill.  I was at a swanky sushi joint and saw that they had a wall of whiskies and I saw a bottle of what I thought was the Talisker 10yr and asked for some.  Great meal, great whisky.  Then came the bill - $45 for the Talisker!! I asked the guy to get his a$$ over here and explain.  It was the 25yr that he poured, they didn’t have the 10yr.  Don’t you think he should have told me?!  What an (insert expletive here).
S: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Yossi: For those who know me, it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the Glenmorangie line.  The Highland Park 12, 18 & Hjarta are… Fab, simply put.  And a good friend from Israel turned me on to the Ardbeg Uigeadail – wow!! What a drop that one is!
Kimono Draggin S: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Yossi: I only had one drop I didn’t really like. I didn’t hate it but I’d never reach for it or recommend it.  It was an Islay malt finished in kosher cask (c’mon, I’m a Jew right? I’ve got to try something that says kosher on it!).
S: ‘If the river was whisky baby, and I was a diving duck’ is one of the most famous and well used whisky lyrics, from sea-shanties to blues and rock and roll.  Do you have a favourite musical whisky reference?
Yossi: Well, the 1st song on Kimono Draggin’s “We are the Dudes” CD has a song called “‘Ello Dudes” which starts off saying: “Josh likes his scotch, and menorahs and dreidels…”  Hey, it’s my band and our singer decided to start off singing about me.  How could I not love that?!
S: Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves.  Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Yossi: Without a doubt, girls should drink whisky.  I wish more people, not just women, could get past the “Oh, that just smells like fire” thing, close their eyes, and try it.  There are a lot of people who are missing out on some fantastic stuff.  With regards to girls playing guitar… I will be the first person to admit that there are women who play better guitar and better bass than I do but (and I’m going to sound like a total asshole when I say this), girls just sort of look too …girlie behind a guitar; maybe with the exception of Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.  She’s just kick ass plain and simple.
S: In some ways you could argue that tasting a whisky is similar to listening to a piece of music – you deconstruct the two in the same way?  Care to comment?
Yossi: Yes, I deconstruct both music and whisky but have never seen a correlation.  I think about music & whisky very differently.
S: If your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
Yossi: If my favorite whisky was a piece of music, it would be “New Partner” by Palace Brothers.  Warm, sexy, sort of naughty, unapologetic in an apologetic sort of way…  If whisky were a musical instrument, to me it would be the piano, endless possibilites.
S: Do you have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
Yossi: A desert Island disc... wow, this changes all of the time.  One that always comes to mind, however, is Radiohead’s The Bends. Amazing from 1st to last note.
S: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Yossi: Exactly, why not scotch?!
S: And if it was Scotch, can you think of which brand?  What would be the Scotch equivalent of rappers drinking Cristal?
Yossi: I’ve never had Cristal but hearing about it just makes me think of elegance and extravagance (mostly extravagance to the point of ridiculousness).  So, that being said, the Diageo’s Manager’s choice drams. So overpriced & absurd.
S: Thank you Yossi! Dear reader, you should check both Kimono Draggin's website and Yossi's whisky blog, there's plenty of interesting stuff at both places! There's also a great new video of Kimono Draggin's newest song ''Ello dudes' on youtube, I think it's awesome.
El Cheapo El cheapo sessions - even harder: the sequel
I got many emails after the stupid cheap session we did on March 2, all being extremely positive or even laudatory, which came as a surprise. To tell you the truth, I think I never got so many reactions and not even a session gathering four Ardbegs distilled in the 1960s would pull so many comments! And certainly not a session opposing four Malt Mill (my ultimate dream…) Anyway, vox populi, vox dei, I just rushed out to yet another supermarket and once again, I bought the four cheapest whiskies they had on their shelves. Guess what, it was even cheaper than last time: 33.19 Euros for 4 full bottles! But as for the ‘pedigrees’, well… It’s a bit scary… Please note that I gracefully decided to adapt the quality of the picture: I used the iPhone’s cheap camera.
Edmonson (40%, OB, Scamark, France, Spiritueux, +/-2010) This is no whisky, it’s a blend of 98% neutral alcohol with… guess how much MALT whisky? Yes, congrats, 2%! But maybe those 2% consist in some Ardbeg, Brora or Lagavulin? Let’s see… (price: 7.07 Euros a 70cl bottle). Colour: gold. Nose: well, I must say it is neither horrible nor offensive, only extremely caramelly. Some notes of toasted bread, caramel cream, roasted peanuts and cheap tea with milk, even a little milk chocolate. All that is pretty weak of course but I insist, it’s not off-putting at all and there’re no whiffs of wood alcohol, paint thinner or ‘extreme’ bubblegum. But do the 2% malt shine through? I don’t think so… Mouth: this is funny, it’s got the taste of some cold café latte (heavily sugared). Nothing more, having said that, it’s all extremely short. Maybe just hints of cheap fruit liqueurs and syrup. Frankly, it’s not undrinkable. Finish: almost none, but there’s some caramel. Dry. Comments: of course it’s just some bad ‘whisky-alike’, but I think some whiskies are even worse, especially in this price category. SGP:220 - 25 points.
Ship Chandler 3 yo (40%, OB, Scamark, France, blended whisky, +/-2010) This is true whisky but it’s no Scotch and the origins aren’t mentioned on the label. But the blurb says it’s ‘a delicate blend of grain and malt, aged for a long time in oak casks’. Well, maybe they shouldn’t have stated the true age of this blend (price: 8.04 Euros a 70cl bottle). Colour: orange gold. Nose: THIS is horrible. Dirty, with whiffs of fermenting grass, dust, hints of vomit, rancid butter, burnt bread, burnt cardboard, new plastic pouch… The good news is that all that is rather quick to vanish, leaving notes of… nothing, or maybe only raw industrial alcohol. Hallelujah! Mouth: it’s better than on the nose, sort or rounded and creamy, with notes of tinned fruits and jams. The problem is that there’s also quite some bitter caramel, some sort of oak, cheap black tea (powdered). Nah, it’s not TOO bad. Finish: short, caramelly, somewhat ‘burnt’, with a dirty aftertaste that remind me of the nose. Some kind of spiciness – pepper? Comments: more or less drinkable but just don’t nose it. Okay, it’s utter crap. SGP:440 - 10 points.
Baird’s (40%, OB, Leclerc, France, blended Scotch, +/-2010) Nothing to do with the famous Bairds Malting plants in Scotland, or so I hope. It’s a no age statement Scotch. I find it interesting and pretty honest that instead of some lyrical comments about Scotland (pure water, highlands, deer and bagpipes), they felt they should rather give us… the recipe for a whisky sour, which says long about the ambitions of this whisky (price: 8.79 Euros a 70cl bottle). Colour: gold. Nose: wahhhh! We’re more on rotting fruits this time, stale sangria, long forgotten open bottle of Minute Maid… Gets a tad nicer after a while though, with hints of raspberry liqueur and even a wee smokiness. The main problem here is that it doesn’t smell like Scotch. At all. Mouth: weak and sugary. I would swear they added some sugar and/or some cheap honey to this. Molasses? Notes of apple liqueur, sugarcane syrup… Strange. No maltiness that I can get. Finish: not the shortest, with a little liquorice and pepper on top of all the sugar. Comments: apple liqueur. Strange. Not even sure this would work in a whisky sour. SGP:620 - 20 points.
Gold River ‘8’ (30%, OB, France, Spritueux, +/-2010) One of the numerous Chivas Regal look-alikes that have been invading our supermarkets’ shelves since at least twenty years, they even copied the cap for this one. It’s a very strange brew as it’s a blend of 75% 8yo ‘world’ whiskies at 40% vol. (Scotland, USA, Canada – not India this time) with 25% ‘pure water’, so it’s no whisky technically (and legally), and certainly not 8 years old despite the large ‘8’ that shines on the label. Very bizarre… (price: 9.29 Euros a 70cl bottle, which is probably very expensive). Colour: suspiciously golden. Nose: hey, this isn’t unpleasant! Fruity and sweet, reminding me of some rye whisky. Actually, there’s probably quite some rye in there. Also quite some oak, chocolate, some malt, a little coffee, hints of plum spirit and strawberry jam… It’s pretty aromatic and even if it’s totally devoid of any interesting notes, it’s balanced and rather clean spirit. Gets even more chocolaty after a moment. Mouth: definitely rye. It’s not weak at 30%, but not bold of course. The oak is a tad too much to the front, but the notes of coconut are not totally unpleasant. Finish: short, on coconut liqueur plus a little pepper. Comments: I think it’s the best within the lot despite its low strength, thanks to its North-American components, but any Chivas drinker who would mistakenly pick this one would be surprised – and I ‘m sure that happened more than often. Yes, Chivas is better.  SGP:531 – 50 points.
Hurray, I think it’s the first time we reached a score of 105 points! The problem is that we needed four whiskies to achieve that true tour de force. Expect a few other ‘los cheapos’ sessions in the (not too) distant future coz again, vox populi, vox dei!

March 8, 2010

Tasting a mixed bag of four Springbank
Springbank 5 yo (43%, OB, Black Label, Big White "S", Brown Glass, Black Screw Cap, 75cl, 1960s) Four stars These old youngsters can be great. A version in white glass was excellent (WF 86), a 1.5l bottle a little less excellent (WF 84), let’s see if brown glass keeps OBE lower. Colour: straw. Nose: very, very ‘Springbank’, phenolic, waxy and slightly resinous, with some brine, putty, parsley, pine resin, something mineral, linseed oil, then ham… Amazingly complex after 5 years in wood plus more more or less 45 years in glass. Of course, as always, the palate could be less thrilling. Let’s see… Mouth: right, it couldn’t have been as mesmerizing as on the nose but it’s still quite beautiful. Many herbs, some ‘resinous’ peat, mint flavoured tea and wee hints of strawberry drops and bubblegum that weren’t expected in such an old bottling. Perfect mouth feel. Finish: medium long, with more mint and even more pine resin. Creamy aftertaste. Comments: right, this is legally a 5yo but technically, I’d rather say it’s something like a 12 or a 15. Excellently dry. SGP:353 - 87 points.
Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2009) Four stars and a half I liked the new 10 a lot when I tried it two years ago, let’s see how it evolved. I already tried it blind and scored it 88, which is very high for an entry-level whisky. Colour: straw. Nose: I’m very glad to report that Springbank’s style is now almost the same as it was in the 1960s or early 1970s, which the comparison with the old 5 shows well. Phenolic, mineral, waxy, briney, coastal (seashells) and farmy (‘farmyard after the rain’), resinous (pine needles)… Truly beautiful. Still hints of bitter oranges but less so than in earlier recent Springbanks. Mouth: wow! Fat and oily, much peatier than other Springbanks, as if they had thrown a few casks of Longrow into the vatting. Peppery, salty, waxy, lemony, orangey… Just great. Finish: long, lemony, peaty and peppery. Comments: up up up. I don’t know if all the recent batches of the 10 are like this one but when they are… SGP:454 - 89 points.
Springbank 18 yo 2nd Edition (46%, OB, +/-2010) Four stars and a half This is the new batch, labelled as part of the core range while the first edition had a specific ‘laurelled’ label. Colour: gold. Nose: ah. This one is a little less expressive than the 10, I must say, and probably a little less expressive than the first edition of the new 18 as well. Grains and pine resin, ashes, coal, farmyard, ham, liquorice, fresh walnuts, then more herbs, parsley and hints of wet newspaper. I just nosed the 1st edition again, it’s indeed a tad ampler than #2. Mouth: more convincing than on the nose, fat, peppery and orangey, but maybe a tad less ‘clean and straightforward’ than both #1 and the new 10 yet again. More cask influence, more orange notes, orange liqueur, cloves and liquorice. Finish: long, maybe a tad bitterer now. Traces of bubblegum, tiny-wee dirtiness that make it actually quite complex. Comments: truly excellent but maybe a little less excellent than Edition 1 in my book. Suffers a bit from the comparison with the great new 10, maybe I shouldn’t have tried that one just before. SGP:553 - 88 points.
Springbank 9 yo 1996/2005 (56.7%, OB, Private Bottling, "The Members of Scotchunlimited", Cask #76, 271 bottles) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is all on chocolate, coffee and oranges, the cask having been much more active than with both the 10 and the 18. It’s also simpler because of that, with some vanilla growing more obvious. Let’s add water: more oranges, more oranges! Mouth (neat): rich and creamy, with a heavy wood extraction. Vanilla, pepper and ginger galore plus bitter oranges and quinine tonic wine. With water: it got sweeter and smoother, obviously, but the profile didn’t change much. Maybe more lime and hints of cardamom. A wee saltiness. Finish: long, on similar notes. Comments: perfect young Springbank but I feel that these heavy wood treatments (what was it, by the way?) tend to mask the distillate’s rather superb profile, even when the end result is of high quality as it’s the case here. As always, a matter of personal taste. SGP:642 - 85 points.
PS: please do not email me about the 10’s batch or lot number, I do not have it and couldn’t retrieve it, thanks for your understanding ;-).
More distillery data Our tastings: all Springbank that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Fugado y son nocturno by flutist extraordinaire Jane Bunnett and The Cuban Piano Masters, recorded 1993. Very hard to resist. Please buy Jane Bunnett's music.

Jane Bunnett

March 7, 2010

Lonckando Tasting three Knockando
French whisky lovers will never say “thank you” enough to Knockando (and Cardhu and Glenfiddich) as it’s always been part of our favourite ‘access-category’ single malt whiskies. Indeed, almost all French have discovered single malts thanks to those distilleries.
Knockando 1986/1998 (43%, OB) Two stars and a half The regular Knockando 1986 ‘Pure Single Malt Scotch Whisky’, not the Centenary version. Colour: full gold. Nose: pleasant notes of cereals and nuts, with an unexpected smokiness in the background. Also quite some porridge, orange cake and just touches of honey. Rather fresh globally, clean but not dull at all. Mouth: starts quite expressive, fruity and malty, a tad roasted and coffee-ish. Develops on notes of brioche and dried dates, with good maturity. Finish: rather short but clean and balanced. Notes of apple peelings in the aftertaste. Comments: no thrill but a good, flawless all-rounder to pour your Chivas (or Johnnie Black) drinking friends. SGP:441 - 78 points.
Knockando 18 yo 1990 'Slow Matured' (43%, OB) Two stars Colour: white wine – unusually pale for it’s ‘positioning’. Nose: quite curiously, this one smells less ‘mature’ than the 1986, much closer to fresh garden fruits, apples, gooseberries… Rather flintier and younger in style than older versions. It seems that they put much less cherry casks into the vatting. Mouth: starts a tad sour (overripe apples) and a little dusty, with some oak and a little cardboard. Goes on with more nuts and malt as well as quite some cinnamon. Finish: medium long, with a little kirsch. Comments: I liked the regular 1986 better, it was straighter. SGP:351 - 75 points.
Knockando 21 yo 1987 'Master Reserve' (43%, OB) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: much more sweet oak, chocolate and oranges in this one, probably more sherry. Also some malt, sultanas, ripe apples and pears, a little honey. Not big but pleasant, somewhere in the same cluster as many middle-range cognacs from big brands. Mouth: smooth, good, fruitful, with quite some secondary aromas, leather, Seville oranges, malt, caramel, toffee, orange liqueur… Good body, much pleasant. Finish: a tad shortish but pleasantly nutty and malty. Some milk chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: very good all-rounder, just a little more oomph would be welcome. SGP:441 - 79 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Knockando that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: and now for something different, Marlene Dietrich sings a wonderful I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face. Please buy Marlene Dietrich's music.


March 5, 2010

Tasting two 1997 Cragganmore
Cragganmore Cragganmore 1997/2009 'Manager's Choice' (59.7%, OB, cask #2398, 246 bottles) Five stars From a Bodega Sherry European Oak. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a powerful and rather flowery nose, malty, honeyed and developing on garden fruits and boiled cereals. The ‘sherryness’ is completely different from the Blair Athol’s in the same range, which was matured in the same kind of cask. Some vanilla as well, a little soot, just hints of shoe polish, hints of oranges... Keeps developing for a long time, with more mint and eucalyptus coming through. With water: gets wonderfully smoky and resinous, sootier, pleasantly leathery and herbal. New car engine (any brand, really – okay, maybe not an electric car). Hints of roses. Mouth (neat): excellent attack, round, creamy, almost oily and all on oranges (all kinds, really). It seems that there’s been quite some wood extraction going on and that worked very well here. Vanilla crème, cranberry juice, some black pepper, a little ginger… Quite modern but excellent. I mean, ‘and’ excellent.
With water: perfect. Strawberry drops, vanilla, tangerines and a soft spiciness. Finish: long, in the same vein. Maybe a tad more citrusy. Comments: excellent young Cragganmore, full and satisfying. Perfect fruitiness, ‘wide’ and complex. I like it much better than the Blair Athol and Dalwhinnie from the same series (already tried both). SGP:641 - 90 points.
Cragganmore 1997/2009 (58.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd) Four starsColour: straw. Nose: similar to the MC, just a tad less honeyed and a little more sooty and waxy. A little less menthol as well, but otherwise we’re in the same category even if this one is rather shier so far. With water: interesting, the wee differences with the MC got much bigger now. This one is much more austere, almost flinty, grassy and leathery. Mouth (neat): more or less the same whisky as the MC when undiluted, maybe just a tad rougher this time, less round and creamy. A tad less complex as well but we’re very close. With water: once again, water pulls both 1997s further apart. This one is grassier and more almondy and herbal but very good it is. Quite some liquorice as well. Finish: long, with very nice notes of bitter herbs and liquorice. Comments: right, right, we had thought we could set a trap for the MC as the BBR is exactly 7.35 times cheaper than the former, at same age and vintage (£34 vs. £250). The fact is that the BBR is totally excellent but the MC is even greater, albeit not exactly 7.35 times greater (but who counts?) Anyway, which one won? Cragganmore! SGP:551 - 87 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all cragganmore that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some kind of loungy but pretty pleasant Miles Davis 'stuff' called The Club Entrance (from the OST of the1992 movie 'Dingo'). Michel Legrand composed it. It also features Chuck Findley at the trumpet. Please buy all these people's music.


March 4, 2010

Tasting four middle-aged Imperial (a wee verticale)


Imperial 14 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, CC old brown label) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: not a monster of course but it’s pleasantly smoky and sooty, with underlying tones of camomile tea and almond oil. Also a little liquorice and just hints of toasted oak. Gets then more and more ‘marzipanish’. Mouth: sweet and fruity, rather nervous. There’s as much marzipan and almond oil (and orgeat) as on the nose, plus a little bitter chocolate, cider and chlorophyll gum. Gets then a tad more oaky and tannic. Finish: medium long, with more oak now, black tea, bitter chocolate. A little drying in the aftertaste. Comments: a good oldie that didn’t lose steam but you have to like bitter finishes. Good power. SGP:263 - 82 points.
Imperial 16 yo 1976/1992 (43%, Signatory, cask #7559-60, 1200 bottles) Two stars Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ultra-grainy and porridgy, with notes of apple juice and pears. Muesli, baby's cereal. It strikes me that we could find many such very porridgy malts ten years ago while the breed now seems to be almost extinct. Mouth: attack a tad weakish, still very porridgy and cereally. Bitter liquorice, oatcakes, cider apples. Also a dustiness, notes of flour, chalky. Finish: medium long, grassy and chalky. Comments: not disastrous at all but avoidable, as they say. SGP:251 - 73 points.
Imperial 14 yo 1979/1993 (64.9%, Cadenhead's) Four starsColour: pale gold. Nose: very powerful, the high alcohol seems to block just about any aromas that would be willing to rise towards your nostrils. Or maybe a little apple and pear juice? With water: that’s it, apple juice and pear juice, with a sootiness in the background. Simple but rather nice, let’s see what gives on the palate. Mouth (neat): very powerful, with a heavy concentration of limejuice and chlorophyll. Ultra-sharp, ultra-grassy! Water is obligatory. With water: works well, less fire, more fruity notes (strawberries, gooseberries) and hints of mulled wine spice mix (mainly cloves, cinnamon, Chinese anise.) Also a tad mojito-esque. Finish: long, thick, more almondy just like the 1969 was. Comments: quite unpleasant when neat (no wonder, at 65% vol!) but opens up quite beautifully at +/-45% vol. SGP:451 - 86 points.
Imperial 19 yo 1990/2009 (53.9%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #450, 156 bottles) Four stars We already had many casks from this series, all have been good (typical 83/85 malts in my book). Colour: pale gold. Nose: much more aromatic than the others, all on oranges, vanilla crème and honey, with a pleasant spiciness in the background (cinnamon, star anise, also a little chocolate). Lemon balm. With water:  explodes with sour apples, vanilla, roots and a little pine resin, then a little milk chocolate and a few fresh herbs (coriander?) Some cardamom as well. Mouth (neat): excellent attack, sweet, spicy and firm. Apple pie with cinnamon, light ‘breakfast’ honey, grapefruits and a little green tea. With water: really resembles the 1979 now, with maybe a little more oak and tannins. Finish: rather long, on the same profile. Apple peelings in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s one of these very good 1990 Imperials, maybe just a tad less fruity than other casks in the same series. SGP:451 - 85 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Imperial that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: another brilliant contemporary jazz pianist: Richie Beirach, here playing a oh so delicate Last Rhapsody (from 'Common Heart, 1987). Please buy Richie Beirach's music!

Richie Beirach

March 3, 2010


Tasting two Strathmills (twenty years after)

I’ll put the older one in second position even if the strength is much lower. Not many Strathmills in my untested sample library… I must admit Strathmill is almost terra incognita to me, I barely tried ten of them so far.

Strathmill 1996/2009 'Manager's Choice' (60.1%, OB, cask #5503, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half From New American Oak. Colour: straw. Nose: hey hey, this is nice! Not extremely aromatic and probably quite ‘modern/bourbonny’ but the notes of vanilla, light honey and not too ripe bananas are very appealing. Also notes of yellow flowers, just a little smoke, pollen and grass. With water: a rather superb grassiness now, as well as quite some soot, ashes and struck matches (no sulphur!) Gunpowder, roasted chestnuts, toasts, walnuts… Mouth (neat): extremely powerful and very fruity, pear spirit at still strength plus oranges and just a little pepper. Not quite enjoyable at such high strength but that’s to be expected. With water: same changes as on the nose, with even more grassy notes this time, quite some lemon appearing and various fruits, both ‘green’ and very ripe and juicy. Gooseberries, for example. Finish: long, grassy, fruity and peppery. Extremely peppery in fact, which is quite sudden. Capsicum and plantains. Comments: the best news is that there isn’t too much ‘new oak’ influence (you know, vanilla and basta). The second best news is that this one is my favourite Strathmill so far, while the young ones that I could try before have always been relatively poor in my book. SGP:451 - 88 points.
Strathmill 31 yo 1976/2008 (44.8%, Adelphi, cask #1126, 227 bottles) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: much more expansive than the 1996 but also much ‘wackier’, with some part being great (figs, mead, fresh putty) and others a bit, well, wacky (gym socks, glue, hints of soap). Not that the whole is offensive, not at all, it’s just that it’ all a tad too… wacky (change the bloody record, S.!) Mouth: more ‘normal’ than on the nose, starting much more herbal. Some liquorice, tea, hints of ‘dusty spices’ (ready-made Indian mix for curries), a resinous fruitiness, then bitter marzipan, the whole getting then bitterer and bitterer and rather spicier. Green tannins. Finish: rather long, frankly oaky now. Hints of banana liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: a very strange dram, at times excellent and at times too offbeat for my taste. This one is a true rollercoaster! It pulled very mixed scores at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2008, from 75 points to 90 points with a very high standard deviation. A little deviant indeed? SGP:461 - 80 points (conservative score).
More distillery data Our tastings: all Strathmill that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the legendary late Indian-born bluesman Gerry Lockran doing Stop On The Red (it's on his 1972 album Wun). Cult! Please buy Gerry Lockran's music...

Gerry Lockran

March 2, 2010


Budget tasting: four very cheap whiskies (another stupid session)

Of all the friendly criticisms I can read here and there about little Whiskyfun, the most common one is that I do not try enough cheap and easily available whiskies. Not that I can’t tolerate criticism, mind you, but that’s why I just decided to rush out to the nearest supermarket and buy four different bottles, that is to say the cheapest Scotch, bourbon, Canadian and simply ‘whisky’ that they had on their shelves and to try them right away. Please note that I had to shell out exactly 40.14 Euros for the four bottles altogether!
John Wood (40%, OB, U.E.I. Le Havre, France, +/-2010) Very poorly packaged and blended using American, European and Indian whiskies. In other words, a truly international whisky! Price: 9.20 Euros a bottle. Colour: full gold. Nose: hello, anybody in there? Yes, hints of wood alcohol, bubblegum and cornflakes. Warm butter. Not offensive at all but very poor. No maltiness whatsoever. Well, I’ve nosed worse… Mouth: heavy sugar and caramel, toasted cake, cornflakes and then a bitterness (wood). Not really bland, mind you, but utterly boring. What did I expect? You’re right… Finish: very short but relatively clean and not offbeat nor too bitter. Comments: again, I’ve tasted worse. SGP:230 – 50 points.
Baffin Bay 5 yo (40%, OB, Canadian, France, +/-2010) Price: 8.90 Euros a bottle. Colour: full gold. Nose: more or less the same as the ‘John Wood’ (but what a name!), only even weaker. Aromatically challenged, I’d say. Caramelised vodka? I liked the John Wood better – or rather didn’t dislike it as much. Whiffs of newly sawn wood, plank. Mouth: a tad better than the John Wood now, certainly grainier and better structured in the attack, but it gets then bitter and sort of cloying, as if they had added molasses or corn syrup to the brew. Finish: not the shortest but this mixture of bitterness and sweetness leaves some kind of dirty feelings on your palate. Comments: something happening on the palate but the whole is very poor. I liked the John Wood a little better. SGP:440 – 45 points.
Rochester (40%, OB, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, France, +/-2010) Two stars 12.09 Euros a bottle, it’s the most expensive within the flight. Colour: full gold. Nose: much nicer than the two previous ones! Much more oomph, vanilla, Parma violets, toasted oak and caramel. Typical easy bourbon, not too bad. At least there’s something happening. Mouth: simple but not badly made, very caramelly and vanilled, mildly spicy (ginger, cardamom) and rather pleasantly honeyed. Finish: medium long, leaving quite some oak on your tongue (tannins). Comments: this one is certainly drinkable, it’s got much more presence than the two previous ones although it’s a tad heavy on the oak in the finish. SGP:431 - 70 points.
Mac Ambrose (40%, OB, Scotch Whisky, France, +/-2010) Price: 9.95 Euros a bottle. Colour: full gold. Nose: we’re in the same desolated territories as with the Baffin Bay, that is to say that there’s absolutely nothing happening. Or maybe only industrial alcohol doped with caramel. Mouth: nada, niente, rien, nichts. Caramelised water plus a little cologne. Oh, and some bitter liquorice. Finish: short, which is the greatest of news. Traces of banana drops. Comments: the problem with this kind of appalling Scotch is that newbies, students or people on a budget will think that Scotch is the worst kind of whisky in the world, as even an international mixture as strange as the John Wood is better, let alone the bourbon, both being similarly priced. Even at this low price, this Mac Ambrose is daylight robbery. SGP:220 - 25 points.
There, you asked for it!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some kind of cool Serge Gainsbourg mashup by a guy called Gaston. It's called Standing In The Way Of Rasta (based on Lola Rastaquouère). Please buy 'Gaston' and Gainsbourg's music.


March 1, 2010


Grouped fire: tasting three Taliskers (including the new MC)

Talisker 10yo (45.8%, OB, +/- 2009) Four stars and a half I think I have tried all recent ‘vintages’ but didn’t publish due notes since 2005, which is a shame. Only one batch (circa 2008 – WF79) didn’t convince me at all but all the others have been constantly good in my book (around WF88). Colour: full gold. Nose: oh yes! It’s actually more complex than I remembered, with some peat and coal smoke, seashells, candle wax, apple peelings and a good deal of orange marmalade. It seems that this batch is rounder and more ‘jammy’ again, whilst earlier recent batches have been less complex and a tad more ‘brutal’. Are sherry casks back in the vatting? Mouth: excellent attack, both nervous and smooth (nervous on the smoke, smooth on the fruits), with good body. Waxy/smoky oranges, sweet mustard, salt, pepper and maybe a little sage. As expected, both pepper and salt grow then bigger. Finish: maybe not the longest but it’s all very ‘Talisker’ without being brutal. Candied lemons, peat, pepper, salt. Comments: rounder and less austere than earlier batches, but it’s no smooth whisky. I believe Talisker 10 has improved again in recent times and is quickly sailing towards the 90 points in my book. This year? Bang-for-you-buck in any case. SGP:466 - 89 points.
Talisker 15yo 1993/2009 (51.7%, Hart Bros Finest Collection) Four stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is harsher and wilder than the OB, and that’s no just because of the higher strength. More phenolic, grassier, more leathery, earthy… Herbal liqueur, Bénédictine… I guess you get the drift. With water: oh yes! Gets superbly resinous and quite medicinal as if it was a much older Talisker (I mean, a much older bottling). Smoked cough syrup and kippers. Sounds terrible, it’s not. Mouth (neat): same feeling as on the nose when this baby is neat. Very grassy and bitterish peatiness, with less salt and ‘coastalness’ than in the ten but this very austere version is most beautiful if you like this style. With water: amazing how this one tastes like a much older bottling indeed. Something of the old ‘black labels’ by G&M if you see what I mean. It’s just a little ‘narrow’. Finish: long, leafy and grassy again, with some salt as expected but only a little pepper. Comments: a very interesting version. It’s not 100% perfect in my view but some parts are really enticing. SGP:355 - 88 points.
Talisker 1994/2009 'Manager's Choice' (58.6%, OB, cask #7147, 582 bottles) Five stars From a Bodega Sherry European Oak. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re extremely close to the Hart Bros at first sniffing but this baby gets then a tad rounder and a little more chocolaty and leafy. Also more notes of fresh oranges and walnuts, even a little passion fruits. It’s also very powerful when neat but not ‘un-noseable’. The regular ten is the most ‘coastal’ so far. With water: nah, this one got very coastal now. Soot, tarry rope, seashells, seaweed and orange zests. Not exuberant, though. Walnut skins. It got also very flinty. Mouth (neat): starts unexpectedly smooth but hits harder and harder after that, unfolding like a flower in a fast-motion video. Smoked candied citrus fruits, should that exist. Hints of oysters and clams in the background. With water: well, I reduced it down to +/-45% and it now tastes just like the regular 10, only with a little more pepper (various kinds). Finish: very long, on crystallised oranges, mustard, salt, pepper and peat. The aftertaste is quite kippery (kippers sprinkled with lemon juice.) Comments: excellent, kind of a cask strength version of the latest 10yo, just a notch below most 20/25/30s. BTW, I noticed that several of these new Manager’s Choice were ex-bodega sherry casks but none is a sherry monster as such, the sherry influence being very, very (very) discreet. What kind of cask is it, exactly? I’ll try to ask… SGP:466 - 90 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Talisker that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a whisky song? Little Esther aka Esther Phillips (think What a Diff'rence a Day Makes) sings a very appropriate Aged and Mellow in 1952. Please buy Little Esther's music (and thank you, Johannes!)

Little Esther

February 2010 - part 2 <--- March 2010 - part 1 ---> March 2010 - part 2

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



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

Cragganmore 1997/2009 'Manager's Choice' (59.7%, OB, cask #2398, 246 bottles)

Macallan 31 yo 1938 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Donini, +/-1970)

Talisker 1994/2009 'Manager's Choice' (58.6%, OB, cask #7147, 582 bottles)