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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2010 - Part 2

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


March 31, 2010

Sure thrill - tasting four 1990 Laphroaig
Laphroaig 1990
Laphroaig 16yo 1990/2006 (53%, Cadenhead's, Sherry Hogshead, 156 bottles) Three stars and a halfColour: light gold. Nose: a very grassy and austere 1990 Laphroaig, much more on walnuts, leaves, cut grass and tincture of iodine than others, only mildly medicinal and coastal. Quite some green wood as well, clay... Water may help. With water: well, this is unusual indeed, it got sort of gamey, with also hints of not too fresh crab and dried wrack. Not that it’s unpleasant at all but these ‘coastal’ notes that were quite shy without water got now very loud. Also a little cumin and a lot of cloves (and gin). Mouth (neat): rather sweet this time, creamy, on lemon cordial and marzipan. Having said that the peatiness is rather dry and ashy, with maybe faint notes of lavender sweets at times. Bitter oranges. Not the usual 1990 Laphroaig for sure. With water: doesn’t swim too well, which is unexpected. Faint chemical notes (between wax and plastic if you see what I mean). Finish: rather long, salty, but these wee chemical notes remain. Comments: not the best in my opinion but it’s better than what you may think after having read my notes ;-). Maybe I spent too much time on the wee flaws. SGP:357 - 84 points.
Laphroaig 18 yo 1990/2009 (51.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bb hoghsead, #29.76, 'A Fish Smoker in Provence', 306 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes, it’s quite obvious why they called this one ‘Provençal’ (sort of) as it starts on a lot of olive oil and other vegetal notes (thyme, sage, chives). The problem is that it’s also a tad soapy and cardboardy, with these notes of new plastic pouch that’s to be found in some peated malts. Having said that, there are also some rather beautiful lemony notes. Barley sugar. With water: gets cleaner but the faint soapiness remains. Mouth (neat): crisp, crystal-clear coastal peat now. Lemon juice, oysters and a little green pepper. Olive oil? Maybe, maybe not. I like it much better on the palate than on the nose when it’s not diluted. With water: same when diluted to +/-45%. Notes of smoked salmon and, of course, kippers. Finish: long, salty, coastal, slightly resinous. Comments: not the greatest nose ever in my opinion, but the palate is quite perfect. Now, you have to like olives. SGP:367 - 86 points.
Laphroaig 18 yo 1990/2009 (52.6%, Signatory, bourbon barrel, cask #09/61/1, 241 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: much more ‘idiosyncratic’ than both the CAD and the SMWS, very mineral and coastal. Wet rocks, seaweed, antiseptic, wet hay, almond oil, grapefruits, limes, just faint hints of cow stable… Pretty perfect so far. With water: oh yes. Oysters drowned in mercurochrome. Archetypical. Mouth (neat): perfect, assertive, more kippery than the others, very lemony as well, salty, not rough… With water: perfect. Salted lemon juice sprinkled over smoked fish. Some mint in the aftertaste. Finish: long and even more maritime. The peat is big. Comments: excellent, flawless. I hope they’ll keep some casks to bottle them when they’ll be 25 or 30! Sure winners. SGP:358 - 90 points.
Laphroaig 1990/2009 (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, Exclusive to Belgium, Bourbon Barrel #6463, 154 bottles) Five stars Colour: light gold. Nose: we aren’t too far from the Signatory here except that the almondy notes are bigger. Quite some limejuice as well and maybe more notes of kippers and just a little shoe polish. With water: same evolution, a tad more candied than the Signatory. Beautiful notes of high-end triple-sec. Mouth (neat): almost the same as the Signatory, a tad more rounded and vanilled, maybe the barrel was a little fresher than the Signatory’s. A little more salty liquorice as well. With water: almost the same as the Signatory now. Finish: long, tasting of the sea, maybe a little more citrusy. Comments: the Belgians have it good. SGP:358 - 90 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Laphroaigs that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: who's got this inimitable raw sound? That's right, Wilko Johnson (and of course the early Dr Feelgood)! Let's listen to Out In The Traffic today (from Barbed Wire Blues, 1988) and then buy Wilko Johnson's music.

Wilko Johnson

March 30, 2010

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

Thanks Gordon for the passion, thanks for the knowledge, thanks for the candour, thanks for the absence of hidden agenda and thanks for the friendship.
Dear reader, please leave this lousy website right now and go read Gordon Homer's Spirit of Islay if you haven't yet.


Tasting three official Amruts

Amrut 'Double Cask' (46%, OB, 306 bottles, 2010) Five stars Two casks that have matured for seven years in Bangalore and that consequently lost 59% of their content while the strength went up from 62.5% to almost 70%, as is almost always the case under hot and dry climates. Colour: gold. Nose: wow! Starts with vanilla and many ‘yellow’ flowers, dandelions, buttercups and such, the whole being very fresh and superbly clean. Goes on with more fruits such as ripe apples and pears (yet it’s not pearish), not too ripe bananas, maybe papayas, plum jam, freshly squeezed oranges… I cannot not think of some fresh and fruity Balblairs here. Superb. Mouth: astonishingly expressive, wonderfully fruity and complex. More or less the same kinds of fruits as on the nose plus some cinnamon, a little ginger, a little lemon, a little melon, kiwi and just hints of icing sugar. The vanilla side is very elegant, not ‘technological’ at all. This time I cannot not think of some old Bruichladdich such as the famous 1970 OB. Very, very impressive. Finish: rather long, with the same fruity notes and a clean and mildly spicy aftertaste. Comments: it is not impossible that this is the highest quality/age ratio I ever came across, but let’s not forget that whisky matures very quickly under hot climates such as Bangalore’s. Again, ‘wow!’ SGP:741 - 91 points. (and many thanks, Gordon).
Amrut 'Fusion' NAS (50%, OB, Batch#1, Bottled March 2009) Three stars They used two malts to produce this baby, Indian and (peated) Scottish. Colour: gold. Nose: certainly less emphatic than the Double Cask, maybe I should have put this one before the latter despite the higher strength. A little grassier, leafier and grainier, more on tea and various infusions. I do not get much peat I must say. With water:  opens up and gets much fruitier. Pineapple jelly and blood oranges, vanilla. Mouth (neat): plays its game much better than on the nose after the stunning Double Cask. Tinned apricots and pineapples with quite some pepper, ginger and nutmeg plus notes of lemon squash that play with the tip of your tongue. With water: easy fruity, creamy, almost liqueur-ish. Apricot liqueur. Finish: long, on the same flavours. Very small peppery and leathery notes in the aftertaste. Comments: simply very good, but needs water on the nose. I think the ‘Two Continents’ that I tried last year was a little more to my liking. SGP:541 - 82 points.
Amrut 'Peated' NAS (46%, OB, +/- 2009) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: vanilla, mild peat and something slightly flourish and chalky. Whiffs of tapioca, then a little antiseptic and finally some smooth spices (cardamom). Not very big but balanced. Mouth: once again, this is much better on the palate in my opinion. The mild peatiness combines well with the fresh fruits, more apples and guavas this time. The whole isn’t dramatically complex but it works very well. Finish: rather long, clean fruity peatiness – or peaty fruitiness, as you like. Comments: I like this one much better than the first time I tried it (blind), despite the shy-ish nose. SGP:535 - 83 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: mega stars Mike Bloomfield, John Paul Hammond & Dr. John doing a funky Baby Let Me Kiss You (from their 1973 album Triumvirate). Bloomfield is sadly missed today! Please but these people's music.


March 29, 2010

Tasting Jura’s new ‘boutique barrels’
Jura Boutique
These three ‘boutique barrels’ came from Swiss bottles that stated ‘mit Farbstoff (zucker couleur)’. Yes that should mean they have been coloured using caramel, unless they used generic Jura back labels? Strange idea, not really ‘boutique’ in my view. Not too sure about what ‘JO’, ‘JI’ or ‘XU’ mean, maybe codes for the casks’ previous contents? All three were first matured in ‘American wood’ and then finished in ‘bourbon’ (newer, I guess) or sherry.
Isle of Jura 1995/2010 'Boutique Barrels' (56.5%, OB, Bourbon JO cask finish) Three stars and a halfColour: full gold. Nose: rather explosive, very ‘modern’, with notes of fresh oranges coated with lactones, vanillin, ginger and white pepper. In the background: notes of cider and beer as well as a little honey. Water may help! With water: more mint and eucalyptus from the oak and even more vanilla. The whole is neither complex nor subtle but I must say it’s very sexy. Mouth (neat): rich, very creamy, sweet, almost thick. Pineapple syrup and vanilla crème, plum jam, jellybeans… Almost a liqueur to tell you the truth, heavy cask extraction. With water: in the same vein, no further development. A liqueur, really. Finish: long, sweet but also spicier, kind of Asian. A sauce for dim-sums? Comments: really spectacular, very ‘technological’. We’re more or less in the world of Glenmorangie’s Astar/Artisan here (and Nadurra, Kavalan, quarter casks, virgin oak…) and it certainly works well if you like this kind of modern profile. I cannot deny it’s perfectly well ‘crafted’. SGP:741 - 84 points.
Isle of Jura 1993/2010 'Boutique Barrels' (54%, OB, Sherry JI cask finish) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: really wham-bam, spicy, orangey, toasted and oaky (newly sawn oak). Some grenadine, raspberry liqueur, pine wood smoke… These notes of raspberries get then louder and louder, the whole being quite spectacular. With water: a little rubber and blackcurrant leaves (or buds) but gets then cleaner, very fruity and quite honeyed. Some leather, nuoc-nam dipping sauce, hints of fresh putty. Mouth (neat): even thicker and more syrupy than the 1995 but also more complex when undiluted. Strawberry liqueur, pineapples, raspberries again, wee spiciness from the oak (sweet curry and coconut sauce)… All that is very creamy and oily. With water: same, maybe a tad grassier and drier. Finish: long, fruity (red fruits), mildly spicy, jammy. Comments: fortified raspberry jam. I think the recipe works very well, even if the distillery is hardly recognizable here. SGP:741 – 85 points.
Isle of Jura 1999/2010 'Boutique Barrels' (55%, OB, Bourbon XU cask finish, Heavy Peat) Four stars 30ppm – it that really ‘heavy peat’ by the new Octomore or Supernova standards? Colour: full gold. Nose: once again, an explosive nose starting on peat and mocha coffee, then more ripe apples, orange peelings, ginger ale and a little leather. Ashes. With water: the peat wins it over the oak, with very pleasant farmy notes as well as quite some smoked tea (lapsang souchong) and a little tar. Mouth (neat): another very rich one, you almost need a spoon to drink it. Pepper and honey sauce, Seville oranges, vanilla crème, rosemary, honey, sweet spearmint gums… Spectacular young whisky, with something that remind me of some virgin oak-treated whiskies (a mix those young Benriach and Ardbeg, in a certain way). With water: even creamier but also drier and grassier. Just as on the nose, the peat defeated the oak extracts. Finish: long, creamy, sweet, mildly peaty, with a very clean aftertaste. Comments: maybe lab whisky but very good lab whisky for sure. The peat makes for an obvious plus. SGP:646 - 87 points.
Isle of Jura 13 yo 1983/1996 (58.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #31.6) Two stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is shier than the three Boutique Barrels, much grassier, leafier, with notes of walnut skin and whiffs of sawdust. Big notes of beer arising after a while, quite sour. Not an easy one for sure. With water: more beer and hay, that’s all. As unsexy as the BBs were sexy. Mouth (neat): the profile is more or less the same as the 1995’s now, with maybe a little more lemon and a little less vanilla. Extremely thick mouth feel. More pepper as well. With water: more or less the same. Maybe more notes of green apples. Finish: rather long but there’s something slightly ‘chemical’ and cardboardy in the aftertaste. Aspirin? Too bad. Comments: rather good at times, but sometimes also a little boring and the aftertaste isn’t too nice in my opinion. It seems to me that some very active wood has been used here as well. SGP:461 - 78 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Jura that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some rare old French rock and roll by Les Variations, a band that used to gather very talented musicians that had a North African influence (their 1974 hit was 'Moroccan Roll'!) Let's listen to their Berberian wood and then but their music - if you can find it.


March 28, 2010

Blair Athol

Tasting two Blair Athol

Blair Athol 1998/2009 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask#2157) Three stars and a halfColour: pale gold. Nose: a typical Blair Athol nose, both fruity and grainy with whiffs of make-up removing cream (not that I use that too often myself). Quite some oranges, cornflakes, porridge and just small whiffs of yellow flowers. It’s nice and balanced but maybe just a tad shyish. Traces of old Madeira wine.

Mouth: creamier and more satisfying than on the nose, starting on a blend of cereals and dried fruits. Muesli? Also quite some vanilla, Turkish delights, orange cake, gets then a little more herbal. Earl grey tea, hints of Parma violets (sweets). Good. Finish: medium long, kind of oily, with some white pepper and just hints of cloves. Comments: a good dram, Blair Athol being sometimes difficult to assess in my opinion (to catch?) SGP:441 - 84 points.
Blair Athol 1995/2009 'Manager's Choice' (54.7%, OB, cask #5989, 570 bottles) Three stars and a half This one from a Bodega Sherry European Oak, as opposed to a sherry-treated cask I guess. Colour: pale gold. Nose: wow, and now for something totally unusual… Starts on ultra-huge notes of marzipan and fresh strawberries, with a little cologne on top of that as well as quite some blackcurrant buds and a little coconut. The whole is really powerful so it’s tricky to go any further without water. So, with water:  we’re now on ginger tonic and metal polish, hints of clean cow stable (even after quite a long time), paraffin and linseed oil. What an unusual nose! Mouth (neat): once again, this is very unusual. Something like fruity Emmenthal cheese with orange drops and several other acidulated fruits. Oranges. Also same kinds of notes of Parma violets as in the 1998. With water: even stranger. Something metallic, maybe notes of mushrooms, orange liqueur, chlorophyll gums… Finish: long, again on ginger tonic and bitter oranges, with a lot of pepper in the aftertaste as well as a little mint. Comments: this one loses you with its twists and turns. A very funny dram – what’s even funnier is the fact that some Managers selected this highly unusual cask, it’s as if they wanted to play a funny trick on us. Fun! SGP:442 - 84 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Blair Athol that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: this very nice little song that the famous Melanie (Safka) recorded back in 1969, called Beautiful people. Please buy Melanie's music...

Melanie Safka

March 26, 2010


Tasting two excellent Littlemill

Littlemill 1991/2009 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for LMW, Cask #94, 287 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: great nose, rather more ‘Highlands’ than ‘Lowlands’, starting on a beautiful combination of flinty and waxy notes with limey touches. Goes on with more vanilla and a little nutmeg, maybe hints of tapioca, then quite some citrus fruits again (grapefruits). Faint dustiness. Teabag. Also chives and a little dill. All that is fresh and very pleasant! Mouth: starts very citrusy and faintly resinous. Lemon zests and marzipan, cough lozenge, then more apple peelings, herbal liqueur and unexpected notes of sweet mustard and maybe even a little wasabi. Those notes become bigger and bigger. Finish: long and much grassier. Green tea and green mustard, with some almond liqueur in the aftertaste as well as a little maraschino. Comments: a nervous and rather complex Littlemill, quite elegant in its own genre. SGP:261 - 86 points.
Littlemill 1990/2010 (54.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #915, 142 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: bigger than the 1991, thanks to the higher ABV, but also a tad less ‘clean’ and marginally oakier. More nutmeg, lemon balm, ginger, peppermint cordial and a very faint soapiness that may only come from the oak (and that should/may vanish after reducing). With water: works great! Many herbs and citrus fruits, lemon pie, ginger, bitter almonds, a little horseradish, orgeat syrup… Mouth (neat): once again, this one is bigger than the 1991 but the profile is more or less the same. Maybe a little more on lemon zests and with a little more vanilla as well. With water: wow! Becomes extremely ‘precise’, starting to resemble some authentic dry Riesling (not the poor excuses one can sometimes find under some hot climates – don’t shoot, not all!) Gets also more almondy, which already happened on the nose. Finish: medium long, clean, straight, prolonging the palate on the same notes. Comments: simply a very beautiful Littlemill, with more body and structure than the average Lowlander (should there be such a thing, now that there are only three active distilleries left in the whole Lowlands). SGP:361 - 88 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Littlemill that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: when jazz greats get into soul/funk it usually works beautifully. The magnificient Horace Silver is no exception as his Sophisticated Hippie (from his album Silver 'n Brass) wil show. Please buy Horace Silver's music...

Horace Silver

March 25, 2010


Tasting two superb 1973 Linkwood

Linkwood 1973/2009 (49.7%, The Whisky Exchange's 10th Anniversary, bourbon cask) Five stars I already had a pre-release sample of this baby and loved it. Colour: gold. Nose: wow! It’s definitely got something of a 1971 or 1972 Clynelish, which is great news. Fantastic whiffs of ripe tropical fruits mixed with ‘Western’ garden fruits and a wee but very elegant smokiness (cigar?) as well as notes of polished furniture. Ripe apples, papayas, mirabelle plums, dried figs, pollen, a little walnut liqueur, old humidor, then apricot liqueur and fudge, mixed nuts, praline… Hints of old roses. What’s quite amazing is that the soft albeit firm oakiness prevents the whole from getting too thickish or ueberfruity. Simply superb! Mouth: rich and even more Clynelishish (wah!) or even Lochside-ish (re-wah!) Perfect balance between the rich ripe fruits (no ‘fruitcake’ though) and the oak’s soft spiciness. Plums, apricots and oranges plus a little ginger, white pepper and nutmeg. Granted, it’s a little less complex than on the nose but that always happens with old whiskies. Almost. Finish: long, prolonging the palate, maybe a tad more citrusy now. Oranges. Wee dryness and bitterness from the tannins in the aftertaste but that’s normal at 36 years of age. Comments: extremely good. I also found notes of old Glenlivets in this baby, but comparison is no reason, is it? SGP:651 - 92 points.
Linkwood 1973/2004 (52.5%, Skorupa, 101 bottles) Five stars Skorupa aka rareliquids.com is a German retailer. Hint: they have a Springbank 50yo 1919 pear shape for sale for 49.999,00 euros these days. But what would we do with the remaining euro? Colour: gold. Nose: this is very nice as well but it’s less emphatic than the TWE and a tad more roasted and nutty. Hints of burnt cake. A faint sootiness and touches of metal polish. Damp dead leaves, old roses. Other than that we have many dried fruits and quite some vanilla. Let’s see what water will do: whoops, water almost closed it down and more leather came out… Wait, no, it opens up after 15 minutes. Nice lemon and menthol. Mouth (neat): we’re closer to the TWE here, with maybe more citrus fruits such as grapefruits and blood oranges and a little less oak. Very pleasantly zesty. Also some lemon balm, capsicum, green tea…(oak) Then more lemon. At times, this one really makes me think of an old Rosebank. With water: very good! Another one of these drams that don’t always swim too well on the nose but that swim perfectly well on the mouth (sorry about those strange visions my friend). We’re quite close to the TWE now, please read above. Finish: more or less the same as the TWE’s. Comments: a very interesting whisky. Probably very hard to find but ideal if you want to play with water and a pipette. SGP:541 - 87 points. (and efxaristo!, Konstantin!)
More distillery data Our tastings: all Linkwood that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: excellent Scottish-French band The Rockweeds doing Whisky drinkin' live (it's on their CD 'The Rockweeds'). I guess we all get the drift... Please buy these great guys' music!


March 24, 2010

Laphroaig 2000

Tasting three glorious young German Laphroaigs plus two Venetians

Laphroaig 9 yo 2000/2009 (59%, Whisky-Fässle, Harald's Choice) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: very punchy, ultra-typical young Laphroaig as far as the general profile is concerned (antiseptic, tincture of iodine, brine, bandages). Extreme, in a certain sense, but certainly not immature. Water is obligatory. With water: typical development, all things farmy and maritime. Raw malted barley, working kiln and simply ‘the distillery’. Mouth (neat): extremely smoky, peaty and lemony, with a salty tang. It’s all simple, but all excellent. Perfect young sharp Laphroaig. With water: ditto. Gentian spirit (always great news) and lemon drops – and of course a huge smokiness. Finish: long, maybe a tad brutal but hey, this is a young peatbomb. Comments: not much to say here, it’s perfect. Or maybe ‘well done, Harald?’ SGP:348 - 88 points.
Laphroaig 10 yo 1998/2009 (57.2%, Whiskystammtish Mittelhessen, bourbon cask) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: as expected, we’re very close to the 2000 but with a little more vanilla and an added smoothness – yet it’s as far from a smooth whisky as Laphroaig can be. Some notes of rum, I don’t know where they come from (cane sugar). With water: same kind of development as with the 2000 but less pronounced, less spectacularly classic. Once again, notes of sugarcane. Metal polish. Mouth (neat): same comments, a creamier and slightly sweeter and fruitier version of the 2000. Apple liqueur and lemon liqueur on top of an ocean of ‘salted peat smokiness’. With water: can perfection become boring? Certainly not. Perfect salty and smoky (and smoking) young Laphroaig. Kind of umami-esque in its ‘globality’ (cut the crap, S., will you!) Finish: certainly. Even saltier – anchovies. Comments: quality is high but I must say that was expected and anticipated. SGP:358 - 88 points.
Laphroaig 11 yo 1998/2010 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: another step towards smoothness and roundness, with rather less medicinal notes this time but more notes of diesel oil and soot. Other than that it’s very coastal (say oysters) and only mildly medicinal. With water: water doesn’t work as a loudspeaker here, it just puts the notes of sea breeze and seaweed more to the front. Rather elegant. Mouth (neat): superb! Perfectly smoky, candied, fruity and coastal. Extremely well balanced. With water: a feeling of plenitude. Perfect balance, fabulous ‘nervous smoothness’ (for lack of a better term). Finish: alas, but it takes its time. Comments: not the tiniest flaw here and at 11 years of age, it’s not even youngish anymore. These casks and batches will be utterly stunning when they’ll be 20 or 25 years old (if we don’t down them all before!) SGP:448 - 90 points (I almost went to 91).

The two Venetians...

Diego, who lives in Venice, started experimenting with some Laphroaig that he finished in small casks that had contained wine (last time it was Clinto, this time it’s Raboso and Fragolino and he’s got more up his sleeves.) I think that makes sense since he uses top notch whisky (the famous 10 CS) and because he selected wines from his own region, Veneto, and not just any very hyped appellation or winemaker's name. Let’s try the two new ones…

Laphroaig 10 yo ‘Raboso' (55.7%, Diego Sandrin, private, 1 year Raboso finish, 22 bottles) Five stars Raboso is a red grape variety that’s to be found in Veneto. Colour: apricot. Nose: very interesting! Not only this isn’t winey at all, but the wine rather added some kinds of dry sherry notes, something fino-ish and very pleasantly leathery. There’s also quite some pine sap, a little eucalyptus, whiffs of fresh mushrooms, a little gunpowder (no, no sulphur at all!) and a little aniseed, all that complementing a classic Laphroaigish profile. Works extremely well so far, I must say. With water: wow! Reminds me of some much older sherried bottlings. Enough said. Okay, maybe tiny-wee hints of raspberries coming through now. Mouth (neat): the finishing worked maybe even better than on the nose. Once again, no wine as such, but blood oranges mingled with one of these wonderful young Laphroaigs. Also notes of sage, quite unusual, and rather more mint and liquorice than in a ‘regular’ Laphroaig. Faint woodiness (chewed pencil wood ;-). With water: yes! Once again, these superb resinous and minty notes as well as a little aniseed. Finish: yeah yeah yeah. It’s the tricky part and no, no flaws whatsoever. Comments: all I can say is ‘well done, Diego’. A finishing that worked like a charm and a Laphroaig that tastes like one of these much older bottlings by Diego’s famous compatriots. I’m impressed and God knows I’m not into finishings. But only 22 bottles, really? SGP:458 - 93 points.
Laphroaig 10 yo 'Fragolino' (55.7%, Diego Sandrin, private, 1 year Fragolino finish, 22 bottles) Four stars and a half Fragolino is a wine that’s traditionally made with ‘labruscas’, which are unusual grapes that can be both grassy and strawberry-like. Colour: apricot. Nose: more winey notes than in the Raboso but it’s still far from being a vinous whisky. Whiffs of peonies, leather, walnuts, orange zests, herbal liqueur (Bénédictine), cigar box… And then notes of blackcurrants and strawberries that do give the kind of cask away. A very talkative whisky. With water: once again, worked very well. More herbal tea, hawthorn, cherry stems… Mouth (neat): there’s both more wood and more wine than in the Raboso, the whole being a little more drying and kind of aggressive at first sipping, but it all quickly improves. Quite leathery and peppery. With water: some tannins coming out and even more pepper. Blackcurrant buds tea. Finish: long, sharpish, peppery. Comments: both a rawer and more vinous version than the ‘Raboso’. It’s extremely good but it’s having a bit of a hard time after the former (only 22 bottles, really?). SGP:468 - 89 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Laphroaigs that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

I like to check little Whiskyfun's figures from time to time, especially all the beautiful countries our dear visitors do come from. The good old US of A used to be the #1 visiting country but much to my surprise, I just noticed that that had changed in recent months!


The figures for last month, when compared with last year's similar period, do show that if all countries sent more visitors (+60.01% altogether within one year), some positions have changed. So, Germany overtook the US (danke schoen!), France overtook Holland and both Taiwan and Finland made it into the Top 10. What's sure is that the worldwide interest for great whisky seems to skyrocket.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: if you liked Keith Jarrett's very famous Köln Concert (and the Scala and so on) you'll like Marilyn Crispell's Vignettes. Let's listen to Gathering Light and then buy the whole CD - and more.

Marilyn Crispell

March 23, 2010

23 to 25 years old – tasting four independent Highland Park

Highland Park

Highland Park 23 yo 1985/2008 (50.1%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 271 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: floral, very heathery, mildly honeyed and slightly peaty and mentholated, with this wee rubber that’s sometimes to be found in ‘natural’ HPs, very far from being unpleasant. Flinty, mineral, waxy, almondy (marzipan) and a little coastal (sea breeze). Bitter oranges. Kind of ‘rural’ as opposed to the officials’ more civilised manners. With water: a little more straight oak and even more menthol. Farmyard (rural indeed). A farm on a coast. High quality nose. Mouth (neat): fan-tas-tic attack. Lemon balm, fresh mint, dill, lemon and ginger cordial, macaroons… Spearmint, limejuice, white rum, liquorice, cinchona, maraschino… The best mojito ever? Extremely good in my opinion. With water: gets a tad rougher, waxier… Finish: very long and rather salty but anything has an end, alas (except sausages that have two, as our German friends use to say.) Maybe a little bitterness in the aftertaste. Comments: very high quality HP. Only the slight bitterness will prevent me from going to 90+. SGP:363 - 89 points.

Highland Park 23 yo 1986/2009 (54.2%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2318, 162 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: maybe a tad oakier and more liquoricy and leafy/rooty. Whiffs of eucalyptus, not too ripe bananas, a little camphor. This is very nice so far. With water: ditto, same developments as with the CAD, expect that this one is a little less emphatic now. High quality anyway. Mouth (neat): probably the hottest. Maybe a tad less elegant, quite heavy, but spectacularly oily and assertive. Resinous lemon plus tons of herbs and roots. Gentian. With water: very good but there’s a little lavender that comes out. Hints of Parma violets. Finish: rather long, those slightly ‘chemical’ notes have not vanished but they aren’t really disturbing. Herbal lozenge, orange zests. Comments: another very good one, especially the nose was great. The palate was maybe a tad less, well, great. SGP:353 - 85 points.

Highland Park 24 yo 1982/2007 (56.8%, Douglas Laing for SMAD 10th Anniversary, 150 bottles) Three stars and a half From a refill bourbon hogshead, so probably quite 'straight'. SMAD means Single Malt Academy of Dalecarlia (a county in Sweden). Colour: straw. Nose: this is more austere than both the 1985 and 1986, grassier and more mineral. Little fruits or aromatic herbs this time, rather wet rocks, clay, chalk, cut grass… More mint and eucalyptus after a while, as well as a little damp moss and some dill. Almond oil. Sharp but very elegant so far. With water: even grassier. Damp earth, damp hay. Not a wham-bam HP for sure but I like this kind of profile. Lemon balm. Mouth (neat): this is very rich and fruitier than on the nose, sharply citrusy (grapefruits galore). Not too complex so far but water may help. With water: oops, that didn’t work too well, it got rather grassier and more austere, as if water had killed the citrus fruits – in a certain way. Nice notes of marzipan, though. Finish: medium long, with a little salt, herbal liqueur and almond oil. Comments: once again, I felt the palate was nicer. The whole makes for an excellent dram but it does not swim too well ‘on the palate’ (to our beginning friends, doesn’t swim well means doesn’t take water too well). SGP:352 - 84 points.

Highland Park 25 yo 1985/2010 (54.6%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 132 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: we’re more or less between both worlds here, as it’s got both the citrusy, herbal and coastal notes of the 1985 and 1986 and the flinty and waxy notes of the 1982. The whole is quite austere but very elegant. Notes of a newly opened pack or orange drops coming through after a while, but no pear or pineapple. With water: opens up like some hungry scallop (I’m sorry) and gets quite coastal. A plate of oysters with some lemon and kelp. A little vanilla. Mouth (neat): more or less the same whisky as the 1982. Just as big. Maybe a tad more resinous. With water: this one swims better than the 1982, even if it gets even more resinous – and you have to like that. Some salmiak, strong tea (tannins), bitter oranges, hints of Jägermeister… Finish: very long but remember that German saying? Huge notes of pine sap drops in the aftertaste. Comments: I like this one almost as much as the excellent Cadenhead but it’s no easy dram in my opinion. Drams for boys (I know, crappy sexism). SGP:262 - 88 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all HP that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: we all remember T. Rex and their Bang a gong, here's Bronco Bob's take on it. Please buy Bronco Bob's music.

Bronco Bob

March 22, 2010


Tasting two old sherried Longmorn

We’ll never have enough old Longmorns, they’re always superb and the fact that some old casks are still to be found relatively easily is the best of news.

Longmorn 37 yo 1972/2010 (51.3%, The Perfect Dram and Three Rivers Tokyo, refill sherry, 231 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: it’s not an easy one at first nosing, it’s rather restlessly fruity and sherried, with quite some fruit spirit and a dominant kirschy profile (including these almondy notes that are always to be found in eau-de-vies made out of stone fruits). Gets then more leathery and slightly meaty (beef jerky), also with notes of blood oranges and fruitcake. Coffee-schnapps. With water: gets drier and more herbal, in a very nice way. Hints of old roses, Seville oranges, maybe a little sage and even mother-of-thyme, orange blossom water (as often in old Longmorns in my experience)… Beautiful. Mouth (neat): rich and creamy, starting even more on fruit eau-de-vie, including these stone fruits. Quetsche plums, apricot jam, hints of grape skin, cassis liqueur… And something leathery again, just like on the nose. With water: excellent! More on quince, figs, oriental pastries… Slight greenness in the background (between green tea and mustard). Finish: long, with the oak getting a tad louder, that is to say with more green tea. Comments: okay, another excellent old Longmorn. Only the finish is maybe not fully state-of-the art but that’s nothing. Wonderful nose and palate after the addition of a few drops of water. SGP:461 - 90 points.
15:00 update - already got a lot of flak from some friends, it seems that this baby 'should' deserve much more than 90 pts after some breathing. Okay, okay, I'll give it another go, cross my fingers, hope to die - stick a needle in my eye...
Longmorn 40 yo 1968/2008 (53.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sherry butt, #7.48, 381 bottles) Three stars and a half Nicknamed 'Cold nights and warm fires'. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a tad less exuberant than the 1972 and more on the traditional notes of chocolate, prunes, fruitcake and a little gunpowder (or struck matches). Typical sherry monster, with less of Longmorn’s usual big fruitiness. With water: more of the same. The struck matches got louder (some sulphur, obviously) and the whole gets then frankly winey and even a tad acetic. The good news is that there are also beautiful notes of fresh mint and white chocolate. Gets more herbal after a while (parsley and thyme). Mouth (neat): the sherry’s influence is huge but it’s less rich than on the nose. We’re rather more on oranges, kumquats, marmalade and cherry liqueur, with some green tannins flying around. Limejuice. With water: more tannins, grape pips, apple peelings, lemon zest and hints of nutmeg. Not sure I love this. Finish: long, with more of the same. Quite some black pepper in the aftertaste, also tar and liquorice. Comments: mixed feelings here, I think the sherry influence is too big and maybe it did not mingle enough with the spirit. Maybe all these wonderful old Longmorns around made us too hard to please? SGP:452 - 84 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Longmorn that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the very talented French avant-garde guitarist Noël Akchoté recorded a whole bunch of Kilie Minogue song. Not kidding. What may be good news is that he didn't try to jazzify them - the CD is called 'So lucky' and I think it works marvelously well. Let's listen to Some kind of bliss and then buy Noël Akchoté's music.

Noel Akchote

March 19, 2010

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


Our friend Joshua 'Yossi' Hatton just interviewed me on his blog. Very good questions, not sure the answers are of the highest order. TGIF!


March 18, 2010


Tasting two Dalwhinnie

Dalwhinnie 1992/2009 'Manager's Choice' (51%, OB, cask #431, 270 bottles) Three stars and a half This one from Refill American Oak. It’s part of the new second release of the rather controversial MCs – something to do with prices, I’ve heard. 1992 was the year the distillery was closed for three years for refurbishment so this is ‘pre-closure’.

Colour: gold. Nose: what strikes first is a rather obvious smokiness as well as quite a lot of vanilla custard and notes of freshly cut apples (ripe juicy ones such as Goldens). Goes on more with notes of sweet mustard and apple peelings, the oak getting more prominent while the smoke disappeared. Very ‘natural’ so far, which doesn’t mean ‘neutral’ of course. Slight farminess. With water: works very well, getting much more floral and herbal. Orange blossom water, hawthorn tea. Tiny-wee hints of cider vinegar that go well with the profile. Mouth (neat): sweet and creamy attack, rather powerful, starting with a blend of oranges and vanilla as well as something quite ‘nervous’. Kiwis? Quite some straight oak as well in the background, which isn’t very ‘Diageo’ in my opinion. Hints of pineapple and pear drops, rather ‘young’ when undiluted. With water: smoother and fruitier, less oaky as well although there’s quite some white pepper now. Finish: long, with the pepper more to the front as well as a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Comments: maybe not a malt that’s got a strong personality but it’s all good. SGP:451 – 84 points.
Dalwhinnie 20 yo 1977/1997 (57.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #102.13, ‘Soap in a Linen cupboard’) Three stars and a half Soap? Ouch… Colour: pale gold. Nose: a gentler and more polished version despite the higher strength. More on apple pie and butter caramel, vanilla crème and then, indeed, something between scented soap and incense but not actual ‘soapiness’ that I can detect. Also a little honey and hints of blood oranges. Rather elegant. With water: gets very fruity when the 1997 got rather floral. Alas, it gets also soapier indeed and I can well smell a ‘linen cupboard’ – without the mothballs. Mouth (neat): we’re very close to the 1992 in style, very very close. A tad rounder at first sip but the higher strength makes it similarly youngish when neat. Also a little more on orange drops and other kinds of fruit sweets. Some green tea. With water: a different development, more on bitter oranges, tangerine skin, marzipan and almonds which, in a certain sense, remind us all of soap indeed. Finish: long, even more on orange skin. Comments: the problem with the SMWS’ funny catchlines is that once you have them in your head, it’s hard to forget about them. Is there really soap in this one? SGP:541 - 83 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Dalwhinnie that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: eternal source of light and entrancement Don Pullen plays Autumn Song with his band (from 1977's Tomorrow's Promises). Please buy the late Don Pullen's music.

Don Pullen

March 17, 2010

Port Charlotte Tasting three Port Charlotte
More Port Charlottes coming out, great! Earlier speedy bloodtubs for our friends Gordon and Allan have been utterly stunning, let’s see how larger, unfinished casks behave now that they became a little older.
Port Charlotte 7 yo 2001/2009 (57%, Whisky Spirits, rum cask, cask #266, 272 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: blending rum with a young peatbomb may have sounded a tad unlikely to my ears but I must say it seems to work perfectly well at first nosing, with this added ‘fresh and grassy’ sweetness on top of a rather traditional fresh and coastal peatiness. Maybe it was a tad simple at very first sniffs but it’s soon to get complex, with very varied notes such as diesel oil, brine, kippers, cane sugar, vanilla fudge, tangerines, kelp, citrons… And all that works in symbiosis. The rum isn’t very obvious as such, which is great. Oh, and there’s something rather Ardbeggian in all this. With water: ‘farmyard after the rain’, wet sheep, wet dogs (right, I’m sorry dogs), crushed fresh almonds and fruity olive oil (Nyons, in case that rings a bell). Mouth (neat): excellent attack, creamy, thick, orangey… Bitter orange liqueur? Notes of roots (gentian but not only gentian), capsicum, vanilla crème, tangerine liqueur (I insist), fresh mushrooms, peppermint oil, salt, orange liqueur… In short: superb! With water: excellent, salty, coastal, peaty, limey and immensely drinkable (which may be a problem). Finish: ueber-clean, very long, very zesty. Comments: the rum is more noticeable on the nose than on the palate. The whole is terrific at just 7 years of age. SGP:448 - 91 points. (and thank you, Gregor.)
Port Charlotte 2001/2010 (60.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #967) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: well, this one has much, much more vanilla than the rum cask at first nosing. Once again, it’s a tad simple for a few seconds but gets then much more complex, this time more on tangerines combined with the expected ‘coastal’ peatiness. Also quite some lemon and the oysters that go along very well with it. Whiffs of almond oil, wet sheep, seaweed… I’m wondering if tangerines will be a marker of PC once it gets fully mature. With water: wowowow! A slightly simpler version of a 1974 or 1975 Ardbeg. Enough said. Mouth (neat): ouch, this is big! It’s a tad hard to catch many flavours but I detect something resinous that one should find only in old whiskies in my opinion. Quite some cinchona as well, Campari, ginger, pepper… But quick, water: OMG, please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: as long as Wagner’s Ring but certainly more entertaining. Comments: now I know why God invented water. An amazing Port Charlotte in my view, despite the vanilla at first nosing. This can’t be 8 years of age. Malts of Scotland, if you ever decided to blend some 30 years old Ardbeg and Port Ellen to sell it as ‘Port Charlotte’, well, let me tell you this isn’t funny! SGP:447 - 93 points.
Port Charlotte 2001/2010 (61.6%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #833) Three stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: ah, this is different, obviously. The sherry is rather big and so are both the oak and the spirit, which makes that even if it’s maybe not all perfectly meshed together yet it’s a very interesting spirit. There’s a lot of peat smoke, a lot of nutmeg and ginger, a lot of shoe polish, quite some gunpowder, a lot of strawberry jam, an awful lot of orange marmalade and quite some molasses and/or Demerara sugar. Water should further synchronise all this, let’s see…  With water: mmm… Not sure I like this. The wine really comes out, with some slightly heady vinegary notes. Let’s wait longer… zzz… zzz… Right, calms down a bit but I’m not too much into this kind of profile. More gunpowder. Mouth (neat): monstrously thick and invading, extremely creamy, with heavy notes of bitter chocolate, white pepper and bitter oranges plus a very ‘limey’ peat. Cider apples. A strange beast so far (cough, cough, cough!) With water: gets leathery and a tad bitterish. Heavily infused strong black tea, plum pudding, natural tar liqueur. Finish: extremely long. Peppered pipe juice? Comments: kolossal whisky, pretty rough, packed with flavours. I think this was filled at 70% vol. instead of +/-63% so some joyous wood/sherry extraction must have happened. Globally, it’s rather too heavy for this sissy of a whisky taster but I’m sure some other aficionados will fall in love with it. I also think that quite some years of further bottle ageing will smoothen it and make it grand but for now, it’s rather a Hell’s Angel’s sherried Port Charlotte in my opinion. SGP:567 - 84 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Port Charlotte that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the Scottish folk song Loch Lomond in jazz by Maxine Sullivan (I believe around 1937). Please buy Maxine Sullivan's music.

Maxine Sullivan

March 16, 2010

Tasting four ultra-premium blended Scotch plus a bonus
Label 5 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2009) Two stars Label 5 is a huge name in France, this is the ultra-premium version. We’ll have the very mundane regular version later (or maybe not)… Colour: gold. Nose: grainy and quite cardboardy, with rather big notes of warm tar and a little Barbour grease. Gets even more tarry after a moment, with also quite some leafy smoke (garden bonfire) and notes of walnuts. Unexpectedly dry and rather austere. Some eucalyptus and camphor as well (tiger balm). Grass. Nice nose, rather complex. Mouth: weakish attack, simpler, maltier and fruitier. Soon to drop, gets kind of watery and tea-ish. A disappointment, the nose was rather promising. Finish: short, malty and nutty, with a little salt in the aftertaste. Comments: very, very nice dry nose but seriously lacks oomph on the palate. Maybe 3 to 5 more degrees would have helped a bit. SGP:252 - 75 points.
Dewars 'Signature' (43%, OB, +/-2009) Two stars and a half Aberfeldy inside, obviously. 165€. Colour: full gold. Nose: rather hotter and kirschier/fruitier than the Label 5, with less smoke but some smoke there is. Stewed fruits, plum jam, malt, orange pekoe tea and hints of green/acidic fruits in the background. Lemon and green apples. Another very nice nose. Mouth: richer and much oomphier than the Label 5. Quite some orange marmalade and fruit spirits, melon liqueur, a little smoke and liquorice and finally a little pepper and bitter chocolate. Pleasant. Finish: medium long, maltier, maybe slightly drying, getting greener and quite leafy. A little bitter in the aftertaste. Comments: a good blend – hard to say more. Too bad it got a little too bitterish and drying in the finish. SGP:351 - 79 points.
Chivas Regal 25 yo (40%, OB, +/-2010) Three stars and a half This new shiny bottling is said to contain a large proportion of Glenlivet, which would make sense. 215€. Colour: gold. Nose: more floral than the others, maybe a tad less expressive as well. Honey, mild smokiness, slight meatiness and a little menthol. Also touches of peonies and ham. This one’s pretty complex. Mouth: rather rich and unctuous despite the low strength, with a nice wee smokiness and some pepper. Notes of mead. Gets then maltier, with also notes of Demerara sugar and a growing oakiness. Very pleasantly balanced, with good body and richness. Finish: not long but on pleasant notes of candy sugar and honey sauce, maple syrup, malt and a faintly metallic aftertaste. Comments: an excellent blend for sure but as often, one may find many better malts for half the price. Including Glenlivets. SGP:442 - 84 points.
Whyte & Mackay 40 yo 'Original' (45%, OB, +/-2009) Three stars and a half Priced at  £545. The bottle is unexpectedly modest as far as design is concerned. Colour: dark amber. Nose: much ‘older’ than the three other ones, obviously, starting on many more spicy and woody tones (pine resin, propolis, putty) on top of a lot of orange marmalade and hints of black cherries. Goes on with some sherry (dulce oloroso style) and liquorice, a faint vinosity (blackcurrants), a little caramel, molasses, chocolate sauce… The sherry gets bigger by the minute. Very rich nose. Becomes very vinous after fifteen minutes (bordeaux barrel). More menthol as well. Mouth: less smooth and rounded than expected, with quite some tannins, spearmint, bitter chocolate and blackcurrant leaves tea (and cherry stems). Goes on with some sherry, kirsch and a little tar. Treacle toffee. Finish: medium long, with quite some liquorice wood and chocolate. After Eights. A greenness (drying tannins). Comments: great nose and a palate that’s a tad less convincing as far as I’m concerned, but the whole certainly makes for one of the best blends out there. SGP:361 - 84 points.
Bonus White Horse (43%, OB, spring cap, German import, late 1970s) Four stars
White Horse
Back label
A very late version of the hugely reputed 'spring-capped' White Horses. Not ultra-premium at the time, but now mega-premium within whisky loving circles. Also, remember that spring caps (aka tin caps, clips etcetera) used to be the tightest caps ever used for whisky, and that OBE can be minimal with these bottlings. In other words, whiskies that are as close as possible to how they were when they were bottled. Colour: gold. Nose: nothing to do with the four other ones, this baby is much more waxy and mineral, with many more tertiary aromas that do not only come from old bottle effect. Quite some smoked ham, waxed paper, lamp oil, even motor oil, ‘green’ barley and peat, grass smoke, a little coal… The whole is superbly dry. Mouth: yeah, it’s on the palate that this puppy makes all the difference. Much more zing and a richer mouth feel, it’s almost oily. Pepper, peat, olive oil, bitter oranges, cardamom, ginger, pu-erh tea, even something kippery, spearmint… Truly excellent. Finish: long, fatter and more resinous/waxy. Excellent. Comments: the proportion of Islay (or maybe Skye?) whiskies is obviously quite high. One of the peatiest ‘regular’ blends I ever had. SGP:354 - 87 points. (and thanks, Jens!)
  Our tastings: all Scotch blends that we tried so far (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Billie in satin, For heaven's sake. Yes. Please...
PS: I could have posted I'm a Fool to Want You but I didn't want to make you cry.


March 15, 2010

A short verticale: Bowmore 1997-1994
Bowmore 10 yo 1997/2008 (46%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon cask) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s not a roaring Bowmore, rather a delicate one, with a mild peatiness but a pretty huge ‘coastality’ (coastalness?) A walk on the seashore, really, that is to say sea breeze, seaweed, oysters and other seashells, iodine… Well, I’m sure you see what I mean. Again, all that is rather more delicate than usual. Mouth: excellent. Crystal-clean peaty, lemony and coastal Bowmore with a little vanilla and cinnamon in the background. Oysters in a mild vanilla sauce? Does that recipe exist? Finish: medium long, very salty, lemony, maybe just a tad chalky in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m just wondering, did anyone ever try to reduce Bowmore using seawater (should that be legal?) Of course we’ve heard old stories of barrels floating on the Loch Indaal from the distillery to the puffers, a treatment that was supposed to impart quite a saltiness to the spirit, but in in recent times? Anyway, this 1997 is excellent, Spitzenklasse. To sip on oysters. SGP:356 - 89 points.
Bowmore 13 yo 1996/2009 (58.8%, James MacArthur, bourbon barrel, cask #960003) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: more powerful than the 1997 of course but not exactly more aromatic. Globally fruitier and more almondy but less coastal so far. Walnuts, marzipan, a little brine, lemons, green apples. A little spirity. With water: notes of cow stable and a faint soapiness (that will vanish soon, that often happens when you just added water). Zzzzz. Well, even after quite some time, it remains farmy and very organic. And kippery and leathery. Mouth (neat): a blast of peat, pepper and grapefruits. Does little, but does it well! With water: ditto, plus quite some lemon marmalade. Very good. Finish: long, with more salt now. Comments: another classic, maybe a tad drier and more austere than others. SGP:257 - 88 points.
Bowmore 13 yo 1995/2008 (46%, Coopers Choice) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is different yet again, less coastal than the 1997 and less fruity than the 1996, globally more on vanilla and butter, with a slight sourness in the background. Overripe apples. Very nice tarry and resinous notes that give it a feeling of ‘old Islayer’ that reminds me of some ancient Caol Ilas or Laphroaigs by G&M (CC brown banner label). Very nice nose. Mouth: a superb one once again, big, salty, peaty, kippery, citrusy and slightly tarry/resinous. Enough said. Finish: long, all on the same notes plus a growing spiciness. Pepper and a lot of ashes in the aftertaste, in that sense a little Octomore-ish. Comments: classic youngish recent Bowmore with a big heart, even at 46%. Bah, they’re all great. SGP:357 - 89 points.
Bowmore 14 yo 1994/2008 (57.2%, Whisky Tales, cask #12014, 94 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: more or less the James MacArthur with more power, although it does get more coastal and lemony after a few minutes. Kippery for sure! Quite some grapefruits as well. Super-clean nose so far, zesty and ‘noble’. With water: added notes of metal, iron, patchouli, sausages and maybe wee hints of ‘new plastic’. Not the best swimmer ever, this one. Mouth (neat): this is starting to become boring, they’re all b****y good! Once again, this one is very ‘coastal’, salty, kippery, maybe even more coastal and less citrusy than the others. Some tar as well, salty liquorice. With water: perfect. Pickle juice, tinned anchovies, liquorice, nutmeg and lemon marmalade. Finish: very, very long. Grapefruit and anchovies salad. Comments: simply superb. I don’t think I’ve ever tried whiskies that were as ‘maritime’ as these young Bowmores. This one is another fine example. SGP:357 - 89 points.
PS: you may wonder why 89 and not 90 or more. Well, to fetch 90 or more in my book, any whisky should be relatively complex, which these young Bowmores aren’t. They’re brilliant but they aren’t complex, so they just cannot make it to 90+. Well, that’s my own system…

BONUS (sort of):
Scary monsters: two more Bowmores from that strange era

They keep haunting us, these Bowmores from the very late 1970s and early to late 1980s… Why can’t they redistill them all? Or why not ship them all to the Burmese junta?

Bowmore 28 yo 1980/2008 (45.9%, Signatory, cask #7844+8045, bourbon barrels, 325 bottles) 1980? Scary… Colour: pale gold. Nose: yay! Cologne, varnish, acetone and vinegar (which may well dominate FWP, which, in turn, might be good news.) Concentrated lime juice, red onions. Enough said. Mouth: not such a disaster on the palate. Peated lime juice, grass juice, mescal, pisco… Ev’rything but whisky ;-). Finish: long, and that’s the problem. Comments: rush out and buy a bottle of this, can’t be too expensive. And then you’ll be able to play very dirty tricks on your guests ;-). Seriously, these batches are now history and I’d even say kudos to Signatory for allowing all whisky newbies out there to be able to taste them, coz they’re true benchmarks – in a certain sense. SGP:283 - 40 points.
Bowmore 27 yo 1982/2009 (50.6%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #378770) This batch has been put into reconstructed ex-sherrywood octave casks for 3 months to enhance the whisky. Maybe that worked? Colour: gold. Nose: Parma violets, Parma violets and Parma violets. Also lilac, lily from the valley, new plastic pouch and lavender bags. Oh, and aspirin tablets and multi-vitamin juice, American coffee. Mouth: not offending, at least not immediately offending, but this soapy bitterness is soon to sweep any pleasant flavours that may have been there. Chemical lemon juice, Tang, Fanta and Jägermeister. Make that Underberg. Artichoke liqueur. Finish: a tad nicer now, with some kind of sour spice trying to gain control. Comments: a perverse and very interesting extreme dram in its very own genre. SGP:374 - 59 points + 1 for the superb MoMA-style label = 60 points.
WARNING! ALERT! As always, those were only my personal opinions. I know some serious maltsters who adore this kind of profile (and Engelbert Humperdinck as well as Céline Dion ;-). I'd also like to insist on the fact that these two very unusual bottlings are extreme exceptions within their bottlers' more than superb ranges. Again, I believe that any genuine malt aficionado should try one of these, or maybe even both, and that they're perfect for some kind of sample sharing operations as many whisky forums now organise. Try them yourself!
More distillery data Our tastings: all Bowmore that we tried so far (new window)
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness (new window)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: probably one the best jazz pieces ever (but how many times have I said that?), Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing the Black and crazy blues (from The Inflated Tear, 1968). Absolutely stunning and, as they say, essential. Please buy Roland Kirk's music.

Roland Kirk

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

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



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

Amrut 'Double Cask' (46%, OB, 306 bottles, 2010)

Laphroaig 10 yo ‘Raboso' (55.7%, Diego Sandrin, private, 1 year Raboso finish, 22 bottles)

Laphroaig 11 yo 1998/2010 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1990/2009 (52.6%, Signatory, bourbon barrel, cask #09/61/1, 241 bottles)

Laphroaig 1990/2009 (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, Exclusive to Belgium, Bourbon Barrel #6463, 154 bottles)

Linkwood 1973/2009 (49.7%, The Whisky Exchange's 10th Anniversary, bourbon cask)

Linkwood 1973/2004 (52.5%, Skorupa, 101 bottles)

Longmorn 37 yo 1972/2010 (51.3%, The Perfect Dram and Three Rivers Tokyo, refill sherry, 231 bottles)

Port Charlotte 7 yo 2001/2009 (57%, Whisky Spirits, rum cask, cask #266, 272 bottles)

Port Charlotte 2001/2010 (60.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #967)