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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2013 - Part 2

March 2013 - part 1 <--- March 2013 - part 2 ---> April 2013 - part 1


March 31, 2013


Tasting more rum so that the sun starts to shine. Hope that will work.

A mixed bag for Easter...

Der Gute Pott ‘40’ (40%, OB, Germany, +/-2013)

Der Gute Pott ‘40’ (40%, OB, Germany, +/-2013) one star and a half This is a popular rum in Germany and it seems that it’s actually bottled there. It’s quite cheap, around 10 to 11 Euros a full bottle. Colour: deep gold. Nose: hey hey, this isn’t completely unpleasant. I had ‘hoped’ this el-cheapo would be much lower in quality. Sure it’s both too molassy and cardboardy but the general feeling is pleasant. Touches of sweet fruit liqueurs (strawberries, bananas). Having said that, it’s all light and even a tad watery. Mouth: well, no… I mean, again it’s not unpleasant but it feels ‘arranged’, there’s a weird sugariness and the alcohol is a bit raw. Now, I’m sure this would make for some excellent cocktails. Finish: shortish and a little bitter. Sucrose in the aftertaste. Comments: maybe this baby’s never been intended for ‘neat’ drinkers? But yeah, I’m afraid we’ve tasted many worse rums. SGP:740 - around 68 points.

Caribbean Rum 16 yo 1996/2013 (46%, Duncan Taylor, blended rum)

Caribbean Rum 16 yo 1996/2013 (46%, Duncan Taylor, blended rum) Four stars The 11 yo from last year has been much to my liking (WF 83). Colour: amber. Nose: something else, as expected. What’s especially striking is the balance, it’s no strong or overly aromatic rum. The sugar cane is clear and distinct and there are also other grassy and herbal touches that will please whisky lovers (it’s not quite molassy and liqueurish, if you see what I mean). More and more liquorice and light tar after a few minutes, as well as some warm maple syrup and honey. Light vanilla, then even a little brine. After fifteen minutes: overripe pears all over the place! Mouth: what’s striking is the fact that’s it’s not very sweet, it’s actually extremely liquoricy and even a little tarry and develops on salty olives, a feeling that I already had with the 11yo. Finish: quite long, salty and liquorice, a little bittersweet like some good Chinese sauce. I’ll have to try this baby as a condiment with dim sums ;-). Comments: some character! SGP:541 - around 85 points.

Bellevue 14 yo 1998/2013 (52.3%, Duncan Taylor, Guadeloupe, 263 bottles)

Bellevue 14 yo 1998/2013 (52.3%, Duncan Taylor, Guadeloupe, 263 bottles) Four stars Bellevue, which I didn’t know of before some whisky bottlers started to issue some casks (tell me about a French spirit lover! Now, I knew their brand, Damoiseau) is located on Marie-Galante a sister island of Guadeloupe. Colour: full gold. Nose: rather less agricole than I had thought, and pretty lighter than the Caribbean. It’s actually very fruity, with plums and bananas, then raisins and tinned pears. All that is coated with some honeydew and light Indian spice mix (a bit korma-ish). Roasted cashews? After fifteen minutes: there, it gets a little more French in style but never quite biggish. Mouth: definitely French. Heavy, concentrated, liquoricy and tarry, with quite some cough syrup and heavy corn syrup. Some camphor, definitely, and then more and more sugar cane. It’s sweeter than expected but never, ever sugary. Finish: long, back on black olives and liquorice. Slightly burnt and even saltier in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s absolutely impossible for me to decide between the Caribbean and this Bellevue. I like both just the same. Having said that, the Bellevue is much less ‘agricole’ than I had thought. SGP:651 - around 85 points.

Don José 17 yo 1995/2012 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor, Panama, 272 bottles)

Don José 17 yo 1995/2012 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor, Panama, 272 bottles) Two stars I’ve tried some Don José one or two times, they were to my liking. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s not a heavy rum – I had thought this would be ridden with molasses – and it’s rather fruity and floral at first nosing. I get honeysuckle and ripe peaches, then quite a lot of vanilla and oranges with just touches of curry. So, a rather subtle nose, no wham-bamness (???). After fifteen minutes: some raisins and some maple syrup. And a little honey. Mouth: not quite my style this time, I find it a little cloying and weirdly sour and bittersweet, then too sugary. Pass. Finish: difficult. Some burnt sugar and a feeling of plain sugar syrup, plus a sour spiciness. Comments: I really enjoyed the nose but had a lot of trouble with the palate. Simply not my cup of sugarcane… SGP:740 - around 70 points.

Uitvlugt 23 yo 1989/2012 (54.9%, Duncan Taylor, Guyana, 305 bottles)

Uitvlugt 23 yo 1989/2012 (54.9%, Duncan Taylor, Guyana, 305 bottles) Four stars As you may know, I’m a sucker for all these old Demeraras from Guyana!... Remember, Uitvlugt means copper pot stills if I’m not mistaken. Colour: red amber - but of course not as red as the picture. Nose: yeah, excuse me but that’s the shtuff. Heavy herbal, tarry and liquoricy notes, somewhat in the style of Caroni, but then we have more clean fruits, melons, peaches, even raspberries… No need to tell you more, this is quite great. Yet, after fifteen minutes: more candied things, nuts, sweet spicy sauce… Mouth: big, massive, salty, very spicy and very oaky, in a good way. Bags of liquorice, green and black olives, tar liqueur, then pepper and sweetish chilli sauce as well as something earthy. Very high concentration, it’s almost syrup. Finish: very long, still heavy, slightly sour (capers?) A very bitter aftertaste but I enjoy bitterness when it’s not drying. Comments: a rather extreme Demerara, especially on the palate – and water wouldn’t make it any lighter. Maybe for aficionados only? SGP:571 - around 87 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Rum I've tasted so far



Block Today: BRASILIAN FUSION. Performer: Paulinho da Costa. Track: Simbora (1976). Please visit his website and buy his music...

March 29, 2013


Tasting two 1962 North British

There’s been quite a few 1962 North British in recent times, most maybe not utterly perfect but all fetched around 87-89 points in my little book. Prices range from 150€ (The Archives) to around 400€ or a little more (Adelphi, D. Laing). Oh, yes it’s grain whisky.

North British 50 yo 1962/2012 (44.2%, Adelphi, cask #39, 172 bottles)

North British 50 yo 1962/2012 (44.2%, Adelphi, cask #39, 172 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: typically bourbon wood, starting with quite some varnish and toasted bread – a lot of toasted bread – and developing on a blend of custard and fresh garden fruits, strawberries, raspberries, then maybe more bubblegum and marshmallows, maybe also kiwis… After fifteen minutes, more brioche and butterscotch as well as touches of walnut burs and dark chocolate. It’s a very pleasant nose, I’d say it’s rather more complex than other very old grains. Very little coconut this time. Mouth: this is spicier, as almost always, with some cloves and cinnamon right in the arrival, then sultanas and more and more dry toffee as well as some chocolate and coffee (crunching beans). In the background, some oranges kind of lift the whole, together with red apples (Starkrimson apples?) Finish: of medium length, very dry, all on unsweetened coffee. Comments: very fine, I like the way it’s becoming very coffee-ish because I’m a fan of coffee. One of the best espressos out there? SGP:650 - 88 points.

North British 50 yo 1962/2012 (57.1%, Douglas Laing, Directors' Cut, cask ref #8228, 222 bottles, +/-2013)

North British 50 yo 1962/2012 (57.1%, Douglas Laing, Directors' Cut, cask ref #8228, 222 bottles, +/-2013) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: same ballpark but there’s also struck matches and gunpowder at very first sniffs, even a slight meatiness ala Mortlach, then a similar development on small garden fruits and toasted brioche. Also maybe a little more polished wood, humidor, cellulose varnish… I also find traces of bananas flambéed. With water: big notes of both old bourbon and rum, all that may come from the wood. A true world spirit! Having said that, the struck matches haven’t left. Mouth (neat): same feeling of coffee as with the Adelphi but this time there’s quite some kirsch in it. Would go on with more liquorice then, as well as a spicy woodiness that’s very close to the Adelphi’s again. Cloves. With water: once again it got bourbony and this time we have quite some coconut liqueur (Malib... er…) as well as these coffee-ish tones. Quite some orange marmalade as well. Finish: relatively long, woody and spicy. Cloves, cinnamon, coffee and a little cumin. Comments: it’s a dry old grain that’s not past its prime yet but you really have to enjoy this huge woody spiciness. SGP:461 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Grain I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ FUNK. Performer: Betty Roché. Track: Can't help loving dat man. Please buy her music...

March 28, 2013


A mixed bag today

Johnnie Walker ‘The Gold Route’ (40%, OB, Explorers’ Club Collection, blend, travel retail, 2013)

Johnnie Walker ‘The Gold Route’ (40%, OB, Explorers’ Club Collection, blend, travel retail, 2013) Two stars and a half We already had ‘The Spice Road‘ in the same series, which was quite nice (WF 81). Colour: gold. Nose: starts fresh and with even a little sea air, before it becomes fruitier and marginally spicier. Touches of nutmeg, vanilla, ginger and just hints of pencil shavings. Globally rather fresher and less ‘toasted’ than the usual blends. Mouth: light, with a little more mocha and malt (Ovaltine), vanilla, then apple compote covered with cinnamon. Pleasant but maybe a little thin after a few seconds. Finish: rather short, a notch smokier. Hints of tropical fruits, oranges… Maybe a little mint in the aftertaste, also pineapples. Comments: light and fresh, with rather more fruitiness than other JWs. Goes down just like that… I think the Spice Road was a little bigger. SGP:441 - 79 points.

Black Bull ‘Special Reserve No.2’ (50%, Duncan Taylor, blend, 2013)

Black Bull ‘Special Reserve No.2’ (50%, Duncan Taylor, blend, 2013) Four stars No.1 has been much to my liking back in 2011 (WF 86). Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts sweet and fruity, or rather with a combination of sweet oak vanilla and strawberries, gooseberries and, well, other berries. Then there’s more menthol and a little smoke as well as whiffs of hay and coffee. Touches of wet earth as well, a little humus… All that is good news. Mouth: round and creamy at first sip but it’s soon to display generous fruity notes, well in line with the strawberries that we found in the nose. Maybe a little banana, pear drops, oranges, then more candy sugar as well as a little black pepper. There’s something that reminds me of middle-aged Imperial but I’m most probably wrong. Anyway, the malt content is probably high. Finish: long, fruity, verging on bubblegum (or Juicy Fruit). Comments: one of these blends for malt drinkers. Plenty of body despite a ‘light and fruity’ style. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Speyburn 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013)

Speyburn 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013) Four stars This new premiumised baby replaces the 25yo 'solera', which I used to like quite a bit (WF 84). It’s a vatting of American white oak Fino sherry and bourbon casks. Colour: gold. Nose: hey hey, this seems to be rounder and sweeter than the ‘usual’ Speyburn, less porridgy as well, all that thanks to some more active American oak. That translates into more vanilla and honey, fudge, apple compote and corn syrup, sweetcorn and butter and then touches of orange juice and cinnamon. After a few minutes, wee porridge/muesli notes come through, with maybe a little more distillery character. Mouth: a rather creamy start, between soft wood spices (ginger, liquorice wood) and a smooth vanillaness that combines well with touches of hard caramel (Werther’s) and a little clove. Notes of Guinness as well. Finish: rather long, with more toasted/malty notes and a rather drier aftertaste. Unsweetened espresso coffee. Comments: up one good point since the ‘solera’ version, I’d say. It’s a very fine and very loyal dram in my opinion. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Glen Spey 20 yo 1991/2012 (48.7%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #800860, 256 bottles)

Glen Spey 20 yo 1991/2012 (48.7%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #800860, 256 bottles) Three stars I’ve tasted so little Glen Spey thus far, I think I’ve not even tried one in 2012. Colour: white wine. Nose: cool, an unusual nose! In fact it starts with many herbs, especially parsley and lovage. It’s not unusual to find parsley in malt whisky, but not as one of the main descriptors! After that we have more cane syrup and mint – mojito anyone? – as well as quite some liquorice (sweet soft rolls) and touches of caraway seeds. The base underneath all that rather combines stewed apples and pears as well as cider. Interesting (not the apples…) Mouth: fine! It’s one of these crystal-clean malts without much oak influence and we applaud, even if that makes the whole a notch too narrow, around grass, apple peel, compote, raw malted barley and lemon juice. After all, it’s malt whisky! Finish: quite long, half-sweet half-grassy, quite barleyish. More liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: no it’s no utter glory but there are very few Glen Speys around so better have them au naturel rather than botoxed with various woods. Just my humble opinion… SGP:441 - 82 points. And now for something completely different…

Zuidam 2007/2012 (46%, Milroy's, single rye, Holland, virgin American oak barrel, cask #448, 298 bottles)

Zuidam 2007/2012 (46%, Milroy's, single rye, Holland, virgin American oak barrel, cask #448, 298 bottles) Some Dutch rye from fresh American oak bottled in England… how worldly is that? Colour: gold. Nose: imagine steaming hot mashed potatoes. Add a little ginger, a little nutmeg, a little putty (or better yet, bee propolis), quite some vanillin, a few drops of cologne, a few drops of gin (pick your brand), a little lavender and then pour some almond-scented glue at will over the whole. You made it! It’s actually very unlikely but certainly not un-noseable, even if we’re quite far from ‘whisky’ as we know it, in the full meaning of the world. We might be closer to genever… Mouth: nah, this is a little difficult. The oak’s a little too strong and the distillate does not quite stand it. Having said that, it’s a style and as such it’s no unpleasant spirit. It’s just not whisky… It’s also got this soapy side that’s to be found in many gins, you just have to like that, I guess. Finish: quite long, quite spicy. Genever again. Comments: it’s an interesting distillate and probably a category of its own. It’s not my style at all but I’m sure some guys will enjoy it, either in London or in Amsterdam. Oh yeah, while I’m at it, there’s also a faint taste of hashish… Not kiddin’! SGP:630 - 65 points.



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Meena Cryle. Track: Just as I am. Please visit her website and buy her music...

March 27, 2013


Today it is International
Whisky Day, in celebration
of Michael Jackson


Like we do every year since 2008 at Whiskyfun, let’s simply raise our glasses to pay tribute to the great Michael Jackson since it's his birthday today. The great man died from Parkinson's in 2007 and I believe it's only sensible to 'change attitudes' and donate the price of a dram or two to Parkinson's UK via the International Whisky Day's page at JustGiving. You may also read or re-read the very moving homages that we had gathered when Michael passed away, they'll tell you more about the man and his unmatched influence.

Michael Jackson

Now,what's the alternative way of paying tribute to a great whisky man? Simple, tasting his favourite whisky and not just any expressions as we’ll do a verticale of six vintages, from 1958 down to 1940, all very rare no need to say (some preemptive apologies may be needed here, so yeah, apologies my friend but perhaps you’ll find a little vicarious pleasure in these notes…) It’s also to be remembered that in post-war times, coal or fuel were very scarce and expensive so many distilleries, including Macallan, had been using much more peat than in pre-war times. Shall we find some peaters?... Anyway, here’s to you dear Michael-Jackson-in-the-sky!

Tasting Macallan from 1958 to 1940

Macallan 25 yo 1958/1984 'Anniversary Malt' (43%, OB)

Macallan 25 yo 1958/1984 'Anniversary Malt' (43%, OB) Five starsThese 25s are very famous – esp. the 1957 rather than the 1958 - but I’m afraid there are now more fakes in the market than genuine ones. Watch esp. the ones that were supposedly imported by Rémy Amériques – and always buy only from reputable sellers. Colour: amber. Nose: well, it’s one of these old Macallans that reek of Havana cigars – unlit of course. No sweet sherry here and no Christmas cake, we’re rather on old walnuts, vin jaune, manzanilla (and big time!), old leather jacket and then various precious woods and the polishes that come with them. Oh, and there IS a little wood smoke as well. In short, a wonderfully dry and almost leafy nose. After twenty minutes: the dried fruits come out, together with some mocha and motor oil. Same colours anyway ;-). Mouth: bang, everything comes at the same time, which is quite unusual with these old whiskies. Black raisins, coffee, old cognac (rancio), tobacco, a little tar, blackcurrant liqueur and, should I add of course, the trademark Seville oranges. Some heather honey as well but then it just wouldn’t change. It’s not really full bodied in fact and it’s even a little light by today’s standards, but what a glorious combination! Finish: not extremely long and all in keeping with the arrival, so it just never changes. Or when linearity is stunning. Having said that, it’s rather more on the orangey side in the aftertaste. Maybe more chocolate as well. Comments: you could still find this marvellous style in later batches, such as several 18yos that were distilled in the early 1970s. SGP:652 – 91 points.

Macallan 25 yo 'Silver Jubilee' (45.5%, OB for Christopher & Co, magnum, 1977)

Macallan 25 yo 'Silver Jubilee' (45.5%, OB for Christopher & Co, magnum, 1977) Five stars A fantastic magnum that was issued in 1977 to celebrate Elizabeth II's silver jubilee. This baby was, most obviously, distilled in the early 1950s. Colour: amber/bronze. Nose: same style as the 1958, with again these fino-ish notes, walnuts, leather, tobacco, humidor… It’s rather less expressive than the 1958 but there’s also more menthol and eucalyptus, so maybe the casks were a little more active. Hard to say… Also touches of old ham, almonds, even ideas of yellow curry... So yeah, the complexity is pretty immense. Mouth: oh yes, this one is incomparably more on menthol than the 1958 and it seems that there’s much more peat as well. It’s even quite medicinal and sort of Taliskerish. Some tar, cough lozenges, angelica, chartreuse, even a little aniseed, maybe wormwood, marzipan, crystallised oranges... This time we’re having a big whisky but it’s true that it was bottled at 45.5% vs. 43. Brilliant even if no whisky lover who would have never tried some old Macallan would tell you this can be, well, Macallan. Finish: long this time, with some pine sap, eucalyptus drops, After Eights, mint, fir honeydew… In fact, it’s quite resinous. A little old wood in the aftertaste. Comments: a big one, not just because it was a magnum (hahaha, S.!) Amazing whisky, I say no more. SGP:573 - 93 points.

Macallan-Glenlivet 25 yo 1948 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood, +/-1973)

Macallan-Glenlivet 25 yo 1948 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood, +/-1973) Five stars Indeed, we went back ten years and may find more peat in here… Colour: amber. Nose: oh, I was expecting more smoke and dryness but actually, this baby’s rather rounder and more on dried fruits. The most magnificent combination of raisins, figs, dates, quinces and, guess what, dried bananas. There’s also a feeling of old Yquem (no I’m not joking), apricot jam, maybe Turkish delights, then papayas… So it’s rather a luscious one so far while once again, both its complexity and its elegance are huge. Amazing nose, I say no more. After twenty minutes: yes, old cigars, old ham, soy sauce, lovage… All good signs. Mouth: maybe there’s a little too much oak in the very first sips, and maybe too much bitter chocolate as well, but otherwise it’s beautifully spicy, rather wilder and even harsher/rougher than the two previous ones, as if it was just bottled – and at cask strength, at that. Liquorice, black raisins, old Armagnac, natural tar drops or liqueur, touches of mocha, more chocolate… This dryness remains all the time, around grape pips or even chewing tobacco (or snuff). Mentholated tobacco. Finish: long, still a little rough, impressively young in fact. Mentholated and fino-ish aftertaste. Comments: quite a beast. I’m wondering whether these superb bottles wouldn’t need 50 more quiet years to become, well, smoother ;-). Oh, and I wouldn’t say this baby was frankly peatier than other very old Macallans, but maybe will the next one be a straight peater? SGP:561 - 93 points.

Macallan 1946 (80° proof, OB, Campbell Hope & King, cork, 26 2/3 fl ozs, +/-1961)

Macallan 1946 (80° proof, OB, Campbell Hope & King, cork, 26 2/3 fl ozs, +/-1961) Five stars This one had a cork stopper, while another one I had tasted in March last year to celebrate Michael Jackson had a 'securo' cap (WF 94, no less). Rumour has it that CH&K's Macallans were always brilliant because they sometimes added cognac. Probably only rumours... Colour: gold. Nose: yes, a leafy, leathery peat is roaring in the background but other than that, we’re rather close to the 1958, with this fino-ness that comes with bags of almonds and walnuts. The crystallised oranges are there as well, something a little metallic (and yes it was a cork) and then a growing smoke involving coal, wood and peat. Also some graphite oil, linseed, tar, a little motor oil, turpentine… It’s not the ‘widest’ old Macallan at this point but the smoky dryness is wonderful. Remember this one was only 15 years old at time of bottling. After twenty minutes: good news, more kumquats and raisins. Mouth: oh wow! Literally explodes on your tongue, with myriads of tiny dried fruits, liqueurs and herbal teas, all coated with peat smoke. Where to start? Oranges, that’s done. Then various raisins, citrus fruits (yes, kumquats), candied fruits (all of them, like in a perfect cassata), some praline, glazed chestnuts, little coffee drops, some malt, some tar, some strong cough drops, some liquorice… And wheelbarrows of other tinier elements. What’s really striking is the power beyond the complexity. Big phat old-skool malt whisky! Finish: long, with the herbal/leafy side coming more to the fore. Bee propolis. Comments: a rather political malt, whatever that means. A little un-Macallan but the oomph and the peat on the palate are totally impressive. SGP:473 - 94 points.

Macallan-Glenlivet 37 yo 1941 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, sherry wood, +/-1978)

Macallan-Glenlivet 37 yo 1941 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, sherry wood, +/-1978) Four stars and a half Not many distilleries were still working in 1941/1942, especially because barley was in very short supply. I think they were Macallan, Mortlach and Glenlivet but there may have been one or two others. Colour: gold. Nose: soot this time, a lot of soot! And shoe polish, leather, metal (old tin box), herbal liqueurs… In truth it’s very herbal, sooty and smoky and there are almost no fruits. There’s also a little dust – nice dust – but this wartime Macallan has probably got the narrowest nose of them all. Unless the 1940 to come is even narrower… Mouth: spectacularly sooty and dry once again. Herbs, that propolis that we already found in the 1946, green tea, some chlorophyll, then more and more (and more) mint and liquorice… It could almost be a very old bottle of herbal liqueur, between chartreuse and Fernet Branca. Slightly drying… Finish: not the longest and it’s quite dry. Some cumin. Comments: possibly more of historical interest than organolepictally brilliant, the dryness being quite, well, dry. And it’s got nothing to do with modern Macallan. SGP:362 - 89 points.

Macallan-Glenlivet 37 yo 1940 (34%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood, +/-1977)

Macallan-Glenlivet 37 yo 1940 (34%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood, +/-1977) Five stars Again and again, beware of fakes and buy from reputable sellers… Colour: amber. Nose: very different from the 1941 and much, much closer to the 1930s, that is to say to a candied and honeyed style that’s absolutely stunning, especially since there are also wonderful touches of pine sap, mint and other herbs. In truth, the complexity is astounding and there aren’t any aromas that aren’t there. All dried fruits, all resins, saps and phenolic compounds, all rocks, all smokes and all chocolates and coffees. And rancio, flowers, waxes… This nose just kills you. Mouth: rougher again, unexpectedly peppery, minty, herbal… It’s globally dry, it’s quite smoky, there are also tropical fruits, there’s even some plain oak and the whole gets slightly drying after a few minutes. The opposite of a jammy old Macallan. Finish: medium, quite dry, grassy, slightly tea-ish. Not the best part… Some old oak in the aftertaste. Comments: one of the most amazing noses I’ve ever come across and a palate that’s dryer, more herbal and rather less amazing. That’s what happens quite often with very old whiskies! SGP:472 - 91 points.

Thank you again Michael Jackson and thank you Diego at the very trustworthy website Lion's Whisky! Remember you'll also find a few tips on identifying fake Macallans in WF's War on Whisky Fakers page.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Macallan I've tasted so far



Block Today: something joyfull for Michael Jackson who was also a great jazz connoisseur. Performer: Michel Petrucciani with Stephane Grappelli. Track: There will never be another You (which we could rename 'there will never be another Michael Jackson). Please visit their websites and buy their music... Oh and while we are at it, let's also have Angelo Debarre's stunning and manouchest version!

March 26, 2013


Tasting two unusual Longrow

After the Springbank bearing the same funny name (they’re small casks), time to try the newer Longrow while hoping it remained as wonderfully spirit-driven as the ‘regular’ versions.

Longrow 11 yo 2001/2013 'Rundlets & Kilderkins' (51.7%, OB, 9,000 bottles)

Longrow 11 yo 2001/2013 'Rundlets & Kilderkins' (51.7%, OB, 9,000 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: sure there is a wee gingeriness from the very active wood coming through, together with a little capsicum, but other than that it’s classic Longrow, with all its twists and turns. That means peat smoke of course, soot, some butter, liquorice, antiseptic, motor oil, spirit sulphur (touches) and a little brine. I’m asking you, what’s not to love? With water: pure Longrow now, adios oak! Leathery farminess. Mouth (neat): sweet and creamy start, then a slightly biting oak arising together with a lot of heavy liquorice, Scandinavian style. The peat is quite gingery and peppery, it’s all a pretty spicy spirit. With water: yippee, again the distillate won and it became a creamy/spicy Longrow, with added oranges and grapefruits. Finish: long, maybe slightly drying now. Cocoa powder, oranges and bags of cinnamon. Comments: takes water like a champ. No, needs water! I like most ‘regular’ Longrows better but this Kundlets and Kinderkists (?) comes close. SGP:365 - 87 points.

Longrow 14 yo 1997/2011 'Burgundy Wood' (56.1%, OB, 7,800 bottles)

Longrow 14 yo 1997/2011 'Burgundy Wood' (56.1%, OB, 7,800 bottles) Two stars Matured for 11 years in refill bourbon and finished for three years in fresh Bourgogne casks, so pinot noir. Colour: salmony/apricoty (pass me the gun – jokin’). Nose: I’m most happy because it does not reek of red berries, a style that, in my experience and according to my taste, does not go well with Longrow at all. Anyway, it’s not there, we rather get a lot of nutmeg (French oak I guess) and an even bigger medicinal side than in the Runkins & Kilderlets (??) There are also more herbs, thyme, rosemary, even a little oregano and then whiffs or orange squash and motor oil. Tell me about a cocktail. With water: strange, while the Runderkilt & Kilkins (???) got cleaner, this one became aspirine-y and bizarrely farmyardy. A little manure. Mouth (neat): a very strange one indeed, starting with huge notes of orange drops mixed with green cardamom. After that, more pepper, ginger and a mild peatiness, the spirit having much less to say than on the nose. With water: some chemical notes come out, more bitter herbs… Not easy. Finish: long, bitter and greener. Lots of leather. Comments: no need to say that I liked the Kerkilts and Runderlets (????) way, way better, but remember, only one man’s opinions and tastes. It’s simply not my cup of malt and peat+red wine never work on my palate, it’s almost like coffee+mustard ;-). SGP:365 - 70 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Longrow I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




Block Today: BLUES. Performer: The Buddaheads. Track: When the blues catch up with you. Please visit the Buddaheads' website and buy their music...

March 25, 2013


Tasting three fresh Caperdonich

There’s more middle-aged ex-refill Caperdonich around and you know what, we shan’t complain, shall we?

Caperdonich 17 yo 1995/2013 (55%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, hogshead, cask #95068)

Caperdonich 17 yo 1995/2013 (55%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, hogshead, cask #95068) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a rather sharp and mineral one, pretty ‘rieslingesque’ if you will. There are also touches of coal smoke but other than that, we’re all on lemon rind and flints, with just touches of gooseberries and marshmallows in the background. A little grass as well. It’s all quite naked, pleasantly so. With water: a wonderful almondy side shows up. Ultra-clean spirit, me likes. Mouth (neat): there’s a feeling of grassy smoke at first sips, maybe slightly burning, while it’ll develop with more lemon (rather limoncello) and maybe pink grapefruit. Good sweetness. With water: more of the same, very good. Marshmallows. Finish: medium length, clean, fruity. Jelly beans. Maybe touches of pears. Comments: textbook Caperdonich from that period. The lemon y side is great and we cannot not think of certain Lowlanders. SGP:652 - 87 points.

Caperdonich 20 yo 1992/2012 (51.9%, Liquid Sun, refill hogshead, 303 bottles)

Caperdonich 20 yo 1992/2012 (51.9%, Liquid Sun, refill hogshead, 303 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this a slightly more mature version, rounder, sweeter, with more sweet oak and vanilla and less grass and flints. Say an easier one so far. More and more orange and lime juices after a little while. With water: this time it’s the barley that comes out, also muesli and such, then roots, earth… Mouth (neat): rich and nervous at the same time, rather closer to the 1995 as far as styles are concerned. Citrons with sugar. With water: a little lemon honey now, sweet barley, limejuice, sugar cane (have to try to make a Scottish mojito out of this baby…) Finish: medium, clean, maybe just a wee tad sugary. Comments: all fine and good. It’s not a demanding dram. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Caperdonich 20 yo 1992/2013 (54.7%, Alexander, SwissLink 3, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #121120)

Caperdonich 20 yo 1992/2013 (54.7%, Alexander, SwissLink 3, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #121120) Four stars Alexander is a very passionate Swiss bottler (hence the name SwissLink!) Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the shiest one just now, it’s also got more barleyish notes as well as a little porridge while the same kind of smokiness as in the 1995 start to arise after a few minutes – yet it’s no smoky whisky, don’t get me wrong. With water: right between the two other ones. Almonds, just touches of fermenting grass, apple peel… Mouth (neat): a ‘copy’ of the previous 1992, with maybe more body. Lemon-flavoured marzipan, a little pepper… Much quaffable! With water: excellent, it did not slip toward a sweetish style at all. Lemon and sweet barley. Finish: medium length, on… Riesling vendange tardive? Okay, not quite but… Comments: clean fruity and nervous spirit, the principal heir of Rosebank and Lochside? (nope those weren’t married). SGP:541 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caperdonich I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Charles Lloyd's Quartet. Track: Desolation Sound (from Mirror, 2010). Lovely and not so desolated. Please visit Charles Lloyd's website and buy his music...

March 24, 2013


Tasting two Mosstowie

Miltonduff’s Lomond-distilled Mosstowies are really becoming scarcer these days. Remember, last vintage was 1981. In theory, I should have the younger one first, but since that one was bottled at a whopping +/-65% vol., let’s rather play it safe if you don’t mind…

Mosstowie 33 yo 1979/2012 (48%, Signatory, bourbon barrel, cask #1307, 150 bottles)

Mosstowie 33 yo 1979/2012 (48%, Signatory, bourbon barrel, cask #1307, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: a nice, aromatic nose, not quite old grain and not quite old malt whisky, so somewhere between both worlds (but not quite blendish either, I saw you coming ;-)). There’s quite some menthol and lemon balm, some vanilla as expected, touches of marshmallows and maybe a few violet sweets (Toulouse violets, not Parma ones if you please). Also some warm hay in the midst of summer, touches of wormwood (absinth), pastis… In fact it becomes more and more unusual but always in a very nice way. I may recommend this baby… Mouth: quite perfect, the strength is, well, perfect and the oak imparted some pretty delicious notes of strong liquorice and eucalyptus sweets. Agreed, you have to like that but I do. Strong herbal liqueurs, mints, cinnamon and then more and more nutmeg. Remains very fresh and lively despite the above descriptors. Finish: quite long, mentholated, with touches of coconut as well this time. Also pistachio ice cream? Comments: rare and unknown stuff. A good opportunity to own one and it’s good. So, it’s recommended! SGP:371 - 88 points.

Mosstowie 18 yo (64.8%, Sestante, +/-1985)

Mosstowie 18 yo (64.8%, Sestante, +/-1985) Two stars I already had a few Mosstowies by G&M for Sestante, including a similarly labelled 17yo at… 66%. Cough, cough… Colour: full gold. Nose: this is much grassier, austere, a little blocked but quite nose-able in spite of the high strength. I seem to get some coconut and other lactone-y notes (the casks must have been filled at 70% vol. if not more), plenty of almonds and then quite some ales and beers. It’s much less bubblegummy than expected. With water: well it does not seem to swim too well, sadly. Even after a good twenty minutes it remains quite cardboardy and slightly chemical (or paraffiny). A shame because at this strength, water can’t be purely optional, can it? Mouth (neat): super-strong, ultra-thick, mega-herbal and yet hyper-bourbony. No easy liquid for sure, let’s see what will happen with water. War? With water: despair. Once again, water wrecked it – and yes it was my usual Vittel. Odd chemical notes. Finish: long, a tad bitter at this point. Comments: a cruel dilemma. No water too strong, with water wrecked. Tricky Mosstowie baby… SGP:260 - 70 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Mosstowie I've tasted so far



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: J.T. Coldfire. Track: She's crazy. Please visit his website and buy his music...

March 22, 2013


Tasting two beasts of Aberfeldy

I know, Aberfeldy isn’t very beastly. Usually…

Aberfeldy '#unravel' (56.5%, OB, single cask, 2012)

Aberfeldy '#unravel' (56.5%, OB, single cask, 2012) Three stars and a half One of the rare examples of music - whisky collaboration, as this baby's been selected 'to savour while listening to #unravel, a collaboration by Scottish artists FOUND and Aidan Moffat. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a very punchy, quite bourbony and rather varnishy nose for a start, with a lot of vanillin and touches of marshmallows and strawberry sweets behind all that. It’s also slightly molassy, with maybe some cane syrup and then more and more maple syrup as it tends to mellow and become sweeter and rounder. White chocolate. With water: very nice, more complex, between various tobaccos, oranges, soft spices and touches of rhum agricole. Mouth (neat): very strong oak influence, between ginger, cloves, strong tea and cocoa powder. Then walnuts, old and fresh. Plenty of walnuts… And cinnamon, Muscovado sugar… The oak is very forward. With water: smoother, with the ginger becoming sweeter and rounder. A little leather. Finish: quite long, even more on sweet oak, apple peel and a little honeydew. Not as drying as I had feared. Comments: a finely crafted woody Aberfeldy. Is it any musical? Well, maybe a fine xylophone? ;-). SGP:351 - 84 points.

Aberfeldy 19 yo 'Manager's Dram' (61.3%, OB, sherry cask, twist cap, 1991)

Aberfeldy 19 yo 'Manager's Dram' (61.3%, OB, sherry cask, twist cap, 1991) Five stars Bottled more than twenty years ago, when Aberfeldy was still owned by United Distillers (Diageo) and not Dewar's/Bacardi. It's got a high reputation. Colour: amber. Nose: bang, this is much more old style and immediately more complex, slightly phenolic and surely tertiary. Bags or various raisins and other dried fruits (and quince jelly, very vivid), touches of yellow chartreuse and aluminium (grandma’s old pans), liquorice, pipe tobacco, dates, touches of sandalwood and incense… It’s really lovely and easily bearable at 61%. Or is it my nose? With water: wow! More complexity, all kinds of resins and saps, putty, bergamots, almond liqueurs, barley water… This is some nose! Mouth (neat): once again there’s no shortage of oak but this has also a wider ranger of dry spices, pepper, dried meats, prunes, tobacco and touches of curry. With water: the fruits come out, together with more sappy/resinous notes. Herbal liqueurs and kumquats, I’d say. Finish: very long, more and more on cough lozenges. Comments: hosannah! This may well be my favourite Aberfeldy ever. Thank you Mr Carsten. SGP:572 - 92 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Aberfeldy I've tasted so far



Block Today: GIPSY RAP (?). Werid but well done. Performer: Syntax. Track: Dans ma guitare. Please buy their music...

March 21, 2013


Tasting two fine Loch Lomond

We’ll venture into wacky territories today, with two Loch Lomonds. Loch Lomonds? Not quite, in fact we’ll have two of their ‘sub-malts’ (no judgement, honest), namely the new Inchmurrin and a much older Old Rhosdhu.

Inchmurrin 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013)

Inchmurrin 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars I’ve only had a few Inchmurrins so far, including the earlier official 12 that I found quaffable but quite nasty (WF 60). This brand new 18 should be something else, it’s got the same kind of vodka-ish packaging as the new Glen Scotias that share the same owners. Colour: white wine. Nose: this can’t be 18 years old. Granted, it’s a nice sweetish and barleyish nose but it’s all very simple and even a little too sugary. Having said that, it’s perfectly honest and absolutely not flawed. Also a little wax, paraffin, waxed paper… Actually, it’s pretty nice and I sort of like this shyness, while I find so many new ‘modernised’ malts too pushy and bawling! Mouth: yeah, it’s fine malt whisky, all in good spirits. Barley, grass, green tea, grapefruits and apples. Once again it doesn’t taste old at all but it’s still loyal and honest. And I insist, no flaws. Finish: fine, with a little more vanilla, oranges, barley sugar and, well, straight malted barley. A little ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: all is well as far as tastes are concerned but not too sure about the price (80€). SGP:441 - 80 points.

Old Rhosdhu 1967/1999 (40%, OB, Dumpy, plastic screw cap)

Old Rhosdhu 1967/1999 (40%, OB, Dumpy, plastic screw cap) Three stars and a half Warning, Murray McDavid already had an old Old Rhosdhu (1979) that was quite brilliant so this could be a belter, who knows… Colour: gold. Nose: oh this is unusual! Light and curiously phenolic, starting with a lot of apple and walnut peel, then we have some ink and wax, linseed oil, touches of eucalyptus, Greek resinous wine (retsina), barley water, a little meringue and then more hay and other dried plants and herbs. Chamomile? It’s all light and delicate, certainly complex. Let’s only hope the palate will be in keeping with the nose… Mouth: very unusual! Starts like orange and litchi mixed juice, all very fresh, and goes on with even more tropical fruits such as papayas and guavas. Don’t get me wrong, this is no Bowmore 1966 but indeed there are some similarities. Other than that, there’s something slightly weirder, between ‘excessive’ Jell-O and bitter herbs. Lavender sweets. Finish: rather short but pretty clean, although the lavender comes more to the front. Comments: loses quite a few points during the finish but otherwise, it’s an appealing light old dram. SGP:641 - 84 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Loch Lomond I've tasted so far



Block Today: AVANT-GARDE JAZZ. Performer: Alice Coltrane and Joe Henderson. Track: Water (!!!) This gem was on Joe Henderson's Elements LP, 1973. Please visit the websites and buy the music...

March 20, 2013


Tasting two brand new Dalmore

NAS OB @40% vs. 22yo IB @60%, is that really fair? ;-)

Dalmore 'Valour' (40%, OB, travel retail, 2013)

Dalmore 'Valour' (40%, OB, travel retail, 2013) Two stars This new NAS version was launched in Qatar Duty Free this month. It was partly matured in 30yo matusalem sherry casks - don't we like it when the ages of the casks are advertised like that while the whiskies are NAS? It was also finessed (finished in mid-Dalmorian) in Port pipes. So valour, value or both? Colour: apricoty. Nose: starts a little sour and winey, buttery and slightly acetic. Never quite recovers after that despite the touches of blackcurrant and cherry stem tea as well as the ginger, nutmeg and cardamom. I’m missing Dalmore’s oranges and chocolate. Big time. Mouth: yeah well, it does the job but that was close. Some caramel, orange marmalade, various red berries (esp. redcurrant jam), a little toasted oak and then a growing bitterness, between grapiness and apple peel. Finish: shortish, on bitter chocolate and more cherry stems. Green. A little coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m sure it’ll be successful, but there are many Dalmores that I enjoy much more, not obligatorily much older ones. Maybe not much more than a wishy-washy attention catcher and anyway, who still do 40% these days? I think that from a marketing POV, NAS+wine finish+40% is going too far (but who am I?) SGP:351 - 76 points.

Dalmore 22 yo 1990/2013 (59.9%, Signatory, Waldhaus am See, cask #9419, 591 bottles)

Dalmore 22 yo 1990/2013 (59.9%, Signatory, Waldhaus am See, cask #9419, 591 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: Dalmore au naturel! Sure it’s no expressive malt, sure there’s no extravaganza happening and sure it’s too strong for that to happen anyway, but I do enjoy these austere grassy tones and all the herbs that complement the chocolaty and orangey touches (even if those are very discreet so far). Also flints, struck matches and butter cream. With water: whiffs of warm plastic arise and that’s not obligatorily a bad thing. Orange squash, paraffin… Mouth (neat): bang bang bang, this is Dalmore. Powerful and even brutal but one can guess a few sexy touches behind all this alcohol, especially citrons and oranges. Water is absolutely obligatory. With water: now we’re talking. A rather superb citrusy combination with other fruits, esp. red berries such as cranberries, pomegranates… All that while the malt keeps roaring in the background. Finish: long, more on bitter oranges. Comments: let’s not get carried away, it’s not all a bed of roses but this baby’s way, way, way above the lame new ‘Valour’, not only because of its natural side. Dalmore is a great spirit. SGP:551 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Dalmore I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Bill Evans. Track: Some other time. This quiet little gem was recorded in 1972 in Paris. Please buy Bill Evans' music...

March 19, 2013


SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter ;-))
It's coming, it's coming...
Friends, thanks for all your messages of encouragement, they made me feel much better already and my nose starts to find a lot of coffee in coffee again.

Oh, and quite some mustard in mustard – and not the other way ‘round - so you may expect new tasting notes right tomorrow. In the meantime, this little conversation I had yesterday with a good friend. Good friend: ‘Serge, don't many bottlers send you samples because they know you’ll say what you think?’ Me: ‘Yeah but others won’t for the very same reasons’. Ahem…




Block Today: ENGLISH FOLK. Performer: June Tabor and the Oysterband. Track: If my love loves me. Good music for sippin' whisky. Please visit June Tabor's website and buy her music...

March 17, 2013


SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter ;-))
This long winter buggers everything up
Hell and putrefaction, I’ve been suffering from yet another string of bad nose days, thanks to an everlasting winter here in Alsace.

Actually, things are even more terrible because I had planned to taste quite a few Broras today, exactly thirty years after our beloved distillery in Sutherland stopped distilling for good, on March 17, 1983. So very sadly, no Brora today, and of course no Irish either (It seems that today is also St. Patrick’s day). Believe me, I tried everything, from eating exactly 20gr of fresh royal jelly in one go (yuk!) on Thursday to ingesting various kinds of pills and syrups, nothing worked and my nose remains almost totally mute while my palate will find the sweetest whisky as bitter as a blend of Fernet Branca, Unicum and Jaeger. No good! And to think that there are also so many new whiskies waiting on my shelves… Bah, as Rousseau once wrote, patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. Stay tuned...





Block Today: AMBIENT JAZZ. Performer: Eberhard Weber. Track: Sand Glass. 1975, the height of the ECM sound. Please buy his music...

March 2013 - part 1 <--- March 2013 - part 2 ---> April 2013 - part 1



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

Aberfeldy 19 yo 'Manager's Dram' (61.3%, OB, sherry cask, twist cap, 1991)

Macallan 25 yo 1958/1984 'Anniversary Malt' (43%, OB)

Macallan 25 yo 'Silver Jubilee' (45.5%, OB for Christopher & Co, magnum, 1977)

Macallan-Glenlivet 25 yo 1948 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood, +/-1973)

Macallan 1946 (80° proof, OB, Campbell Hope & King, cork, 26 2/3 fl ozs, +/-1961)

Macallan-Glenlivet 37 yo 1940 (34%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood, +/-1977)