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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2014 - Part 2

March 2014 - part 1 <--- March 2014 - part 2 ---> April 2014 - part 1


March 31, 2014


Tasting Springbank from 2004 to 1954

It’s a constant thrill to follow Springbank throughout the decades, and to try to check what’s changed and what has not. Let’s do that again today, over exactly 50 years.

Springbank 9 yo 2004/2013 'Gaja Barolo' (54.7%, OB, 11000 bottles)

Springbank 9 yo 2004/2013 'Gaja Barolo' (54.7%, OB, 11000 bottles) Four stars It seems that this baby's the very last expression in this series, and so that there will be no more. I have to say I've never been a huge fan of these red wine finishings or double maturings. In this case, the whisky spent more than half his life in the Barolo casks, so 5 years out of 9. Colour: pale gold. Rather strange as it’s supposed to be ex-fresh Barolo casks, but probably better like this. Nose: unexpectedly light, with some fresh butter, yellow flowers and touches of tangerines at first nosing, then even pears, guavas and pineapples. I do not find much red wine at this point, let alone a usually rather heavy Barolo feeling. With water: more ‘Springbank’, with quite some raw barley and a little chalk, but all the fruits remain there. Mouth (neat): sweet and creamy, with a lot of spicy European oak and quite some lemon zest, then the same fruits, including tropical ones, as in the nose. Also a little salt and brine, but not a lot of petroly/phenolic notes. With water: the heavy spices got milder, while the fruits got tarter. Maybe more mangos and rhubarb this time, as well as a discreet peatiness. Finish: long, zesty and rather cleaner than the usual young Springbank. Quite a lot of tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like this one. They must have carefully rinsed the casks, or maybe they even steamed them. All for the better in my opinion. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Springbank 15 yo 1996/2012 (56.3%, Douglas Laing, Directors Cut, sherry butt, DL ref 8700, 302 bottles)

Springbank 15 yo 1996/2012 (56.3%, Douglas Laing, Directors Cut, sherry butt, DL ref 8700, 302 bottles) Four stars and a half It seems that Douglas Laing have never bottled much Springbank. Colour: bright amber. Nose: big and very cigary at first nosing. Many tobaccos, cigars, pipe tobacco… And cedar wood, a little porridge, cherry stem tea, then a typical earthiness and quite a lot of bitter orange marmalade. And then metal polish, shoe polish, coal smoke and mown lawn. It’s a big nose, with a lot of presence. With water: more leather, seal blubber, liquorice wood, tobacco… I find all this beautiful and appropriately singular. Mouth (neat): very rich, extremely marmalady, spicy, with quite a lot of icing sugar as well, which keeps it kind of nervous. In the background, this earthiness and touches of salt. Really a big boy! With water: touches of thyme, more tobacco, chlorophyll, ultra-dried raisins and even a touch of smoked salmon. Finish: long, greener, grassier and more peppery. A drop of brine in the aftertaste and more green tannins. Comments: really a big boy! Characterful and flawless. SGP:452 - 88 points.

Let’s try to find two or three older Springbanks now…

Springbank 1975 (43%, The Merchant's Collection, Italy, +/-1998)

Springbank 1975 (43%, The Merchant's Collection, Italy, +/-1998) Five stars I think this series was bottled by Signatory Vintage. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: oh! This is wine indeed, like a wonderful dry chenin by a great maker, such as François Chidaine. A great Vouvray, really. Honeysuckle and lime-tea, then rather pink grapefruits and oranges, then grassier and more mineral notes. Limestone. The only problem is that it tends to lose steam over time, maybe that’s the 43% vol., but other than that, it’s a lovely ultra-fresh and clean Springbank that would rather hint at Rosebank in my opinion. Mouth: the distillery’s typical greasiness is back, together with pepper and a little ginger, as well as notes of ale. Beyond all that, the same fresh fruitiness, maybe rather peaches this time, rather than citrus, although there is some grapefruit again. Finish: not very long, but this blend of pepper and grapefruits works very well. Comments: this one reminds be of the young pale official ‘black labels’. It’s a wonderful old-school spirit, even if it was somewhat on the easier side. SGP:552 - 90 points.

Springbank 34 yo 1967/2001 (40.9%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection)

Springbank 34 yo 1967/2001 (40.9%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection) Five stars We’ve already tried many wonderful 1967s, it was a great ‘vintage’. Colour: light gold. Nose: I think it’s in those years that Springbank was closest to Bowmore, and vice versa. Indeed this bursts with tropical fruits such as mangos, passion fruits and papayas, before some fresh mint and fennel join in, as well as touches of vanilla and acacia honey. It’s not a hugely complex old whisky, but the fruitiness is totally impressive. Very elegant. Mouth: very same notes on the palate, expect that there’s a little white pepper from the oak. Same papayas, oranges, honey and mangos, with just touches of butterscotch and then a little more Springbankness, that is to say more oils and ‘mineral and grassy stuff’. Finish: long given the strength, with a little more grapefruits and some cinnamon and green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s the relative simplicity that will prevent me from going even higher, but what’s sure is that this baby’s one of the most easily quaffable old Springbanks. SGP:641 - 91 points.

Let’s compare that one with another 1967 that was bottled at the same time…

Springbank 33 yo 1967/2001 (41.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Ref #3370, 204 bottles)

Springbank 33 yo 1967/2001 (41.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Ref #3370, 204 bottles) Five stars I’ve already tried this baby two or three times and even scored it, but never managed to write proper tasting notes. Now’s the time. Colour: straw. Nose: there are some obvious similarities with the Hart Bros, but this one is fuller on all accounts. Very fruity but less emphatically so than the HB, and more Springbanky at the same time, that is to say with more linseed oil, pencil lead, grease, tar and hay heap. Cream. Wonderful notes of blood oranges, mangos and papayas, then a little more fresh wood. Broken branches. What a nose! Mouth: perfect. Grapefruits and oranges with many herbs and the same oils that we found in the nose. Perfect body. Tends to become slightly fizzy, with a feeling of Schweppes, but it’s never becoming akin to, well, gin and tonic. Phew! Finish: quite long, clean, very zesty and oily at the same time. Same spritzy feeling again, this could be Scottish champagne. Kind of. Comments: a terrific old Springbank, very fresh and very drinkable. So, if you ever find this oldie, watch out! SGP:642 - 92 points.

And now, a last one that’s a miracle...

Springbank 25 yo 1954/1979 (80°proof, Cadenhead, dumpy)

Springbank 25 yo 1954/1979 (80°proof, Cadenhead, dumpy) Four stars and a half Why a miracle, you may ask? Because there are many fakes around, and because it’s not very easy to put your hands on one that’s genuine, that’s all. But how do you know it’s genuine? First, the label looks right (no weakness in the finer parts of what’s in white) and second, it does taste like old Springbank. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s certainly drier than the 1967s, obviously sootier, somewhat fatter and, above all, well in line with this prestigious series’ style. For example, the Old Bottle Effect is rather metallic and phenolic, and we’re far from anything too, say fruity. So it’s obviously old whisky, certainly old-school, with ashes and coal smoke, rocks, sand, touches of old turpentine and wee whiffs of sea air. A little lemon oil too, waxes, plasticine, shoe polish... All that is really quite superb, but I think it’s not totally mesmerising. Mouth: tastes old indeed, quite peaty for sure, with a long development on orange juice and apple crumble, then more bitter marzipan and a little pepper. There are also touches of old chartreuse, peppermint liqueur, a drop of limoncello and something quite sooty and waxy again. Finish: very long, rather salty, smoky and peppery, with a lemony background. Comments: rather fat spirit, with a perfect oiliness, but I think we’re not quite in the same league as that of the swinging 1960s. Oh well, lets leave these to the collectors! SGP:563 – 88 points.

(Cheers Patrick, Philip and Tom)

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



Block Today: FZ. Performer: FZ. Track: Filthy Habits. Please buy his music...

March 30, 2014


The quest for malternatives,
today aged grappa

I do enjoy good grappa, but I believe grappa doesn’t quite fit Whiskyfun, unless it was aged in wood. Let’s try a small bunch today, we won’t do that often. By the way, grappa is distilled from spent grapes, just like marc in France. When it’s aged, it’s called ‘invecchiate’.

Torquadra 'Gran Riserva' (40%, OB, aged grappa, Italy, +/-2013)

Torquadra 'Gran Riserva' (40%, OB, aged grappa, Italy, +/-2013) Two stars and a half This one comes from Trentino and is distilled from Amarone grapes. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s quite aromatic, very grapey of course, and not very far from marc de Bourgogne, except that it’s a little less ‘rough’ than marc de Bourgogne. Grappa caries over the characteristics of the grapes, so this is rather less ‘wham-bam’ than, say Muscat or gewürztraminer. I also get a little vanilla from the wood but that’s all quite discreet, the distillate remains the king here. Mouth: very fruity, balanced, smooth, honeyed and most enjoyable. Creamy mouth feel. It’s not complicated spirit and we’re staying close to the grape again. Also touches of pineapples, perhaps? Finish: a little short but clean and delicately honeyed. Comments: the strength’s a little too low, and this is extremely easy, almost liqueury. So no big beast, but it’s, well, pleasant enough. SGP:730 - around 78 points.

Bepi Tosolini 'Grappa di Tocai' (40%, OB, aged grappa, Italy, castagno barrique, +/-2013)

Bepi Tosolini 'Grappa di Tocai' (40%, OB, aged grappa, Italy, castagno barrique, +/-2013) I think tocai means friulano rather than pinot grigio – while in Alsace, tokay was pinot gris aka pinot grigio. This grappa was aged in chestnut wood, which was also used for wine quite some time ago. Some say old chestnut casks are still to be seen here and there in Scotland, but I have never seen any myself. Colour: dark gold. Nose: extremely far from the Torquadra, this is much more complex, with many more spices and roundness from the wood. I find touches of ginger, some nutmeg for sure, lovely touches of rye (yes) and quite some cranberries and pomegranates. So this isn’t grapey as such, we’re much closer to malt whisky, in a way. Mouth: much sweeter than expected but the spiciness and the notes of flowers do remain. Actually too sweet for my taste, you almost feel sugar in there (did they add any?) Again, touches of rye, a little lavender (sweets) and even a violety side, but there aren’t any soapy notes. Drops of tequila. Finish: medium length, extremely sweet. Comments: I really liked the nose a lot but I think the palate is much too sugary, almost cloying. SGP:820 - around 68 points.

De Negri 'Barrique' (42%, OB, aged grappa, Italy, +/-2013)

De Negri 'Barrique' (42%, OB, aged grappa, Italy, +/-2013) Two stars De Negri are located in Veneto, near Treviso. Colour: white wine. Nose: something very different again, this time we’re more on herbs and very, very obvious notes of tea leaves. It’s just like opening a large box of black tea in a tea shop! I also find a little jasmine and even wisteria, then milk chocolate. Interesting and quite lovely… Mouth: sure it’s another very sweet one but this time it’s all rather better balanced, thanks to a kind of smoky grassiness. A little honey, orange liqueurs, touches of ginger and pepper… Finish: medium length, with even more pepper and ginger. That’s welcome, otherwise I fear we’d have had another cloying finish. Comments: a fine grappa despite the big sweetness. SGP:741 – around 75 points.

Maybe we should do what we usually do with whisky when I’m not too happy with a flight, that is to say resort to older bottlings…

Bosso 'Grappa di Moscato' 10 yo 1969 (45%, OB, aged grappa, +/-1980)

Bosso 'Grappa di Moscato' 10 yo 1969 (45%, OB, aged grappa, +/-1980) Four stars This antique grappa was aged in small oak casks for ten years. Colour: white wine. Nose: the colour suggested the casks were almost inactive, which is best with these kinds of distillate in my opinion. As far as quality’s concerned, this is another league, but maybe OBE is the guilty party here. What’s sure is that this is a much zestier grappa, much more elegant and pure, with wonderful notes of dry white wine (instead of just grapes), lime, pink grapefruit and red currants. Love this very fresh and clean nose! They said it was oak but it felt like more passive wood, such as beech. Mouth: oh sweet Jesus, Maria and Joseph, this is just perfect, chiselled rock crystal, fantastically fruity without any plain sweetness, with some Muscat for sure but nothing too sluttish. Exactly the opposite, in fact. The lime is back too. Finish: possibly the weaker part, it’s slightly sluggish and sugary to me. A grassier aftertaste, though. Comments: just another planet. I’ll have to check Bosso’s newer offerings in the coming... years. SGP:640 - around 87 points.

Some more please!…

Bosso 'Riserva Speciale' 1967 (45%, OB, aged grappa, +/-1980?) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: another beautiful one, quite different from the 1969. I don’t think this is Muscat in the first place. Wonderful whiffs of fresh parsley and dill, some lovage too, a little nutmeg, chives, lemon… It’s very complex. Very high quality grappa for sure. There’s even a kind of smoke. Mouth: it’s a rawer one, rawer than all the others, maybe they kept the stalks or a part of them. So it’s pretty grassy, almondy as well, with notes of walnuts, grapefruits and, again, grass. Feels more ‘artisan’, not obligatorily in a very good way. Finish: quite long, grassy, a little acrid. And yet there’s some sugar. Comments: I’m very fond of the nose, the palate being less interesting. Too ‘green’, maybe. SGP:561 - around 79 points.

Next grappa session planned for April 16, 2033. Stay tuned.
(With many thanks to Carsten)



Block Today: RETRO SOUL. Performer: Kicca. Track: Seven Day Fool. Please visit her website and buy her music...

March 28, 2014


Another little bag of honest Speysiders

This and that, in no particular order. In other words, three singletons that I didn’t want to pair with some of their siblings, sometimes simply because I did not have any at hand at time of writing.

Strathmill 17 yo 1995/2012 (43%, Signatory Vintage, casks# 2663+2664, 831 bottles)

Strathmill 17 yo 1995/2012 (43%, Signatory Vintage, casks# 2663+2664, 831 bottles) Three stars I quite like this unassuming and fairly priced series by Signatory. It represents a good opportunity to try some rare distilleries without having to sell your cat. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, it’s fresh nose, all on cut apples, barley and a little beer, with just touches of light honey. More complex than it sounds, especially since some very pleasant whiffs of herbs rise to your nostrils. I find a little sage and maybe tarragon. Mouth: all good, with good body, a feeling of sweet beer, some malt, apples again and then a little more pepper and, again, light honey. Good mouth feel, all is in Ordnung. Finish: rather long, now with touches of oranges on top of the pepper and honey. Comments: nothing to write home about, but it’s very honest malt whisky of good quality. Very fair and loyal, as we sometimes say. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Speyside 19 yo 1994/2013 (55.7%, Spirit of Caledonia, refill sherry hogshead, cask #478, 265 bottles)

Speyside 19 yo 1994/2013 (55.7%, Spirit of Caledonia, refill sherry hogshead, cask #478, 265 bottles) Three stars and a half That’s Speyside the distillery, not the region, and while some say it lies in Speyside indeed, other experts claim it’s a Highlander. I have to say I haven’t had much luck so far with Speyside distillery. Maybe things will change today. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s very aggressive at first nosing, and mega-grassy. That means we’re finding a lot of grass, obviously (bravo!), but also hay and apple peelings. Also a little raw barley and touches of ink and paper. A brand new book just from the printer, if you like. With water:  it got much sweeter, now with fruit compotes and jellies, plus a large bag of marshmallows, tinned pears and apricot and more marshmallows. Mouth (neat): very powerful, with a very creamy mouth feel. I find limoncello and yet again, a lot of grass. Barley syrup. With water: that’s funny, it’s the grass that came to the front this time. Gras jelly, do you know that. Works well with foie gras. Finish: good length. Sweet barley, sweet oak. Very grassy aftertaste, with a bitterness. Comments: it’s possibly my favourite whisky from Speyside Dist. ever. SGP:551 - 83 points.

Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2013 (49.5%, Tasting Fellows, barrel, cask #120610, 180 bottles)

Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2013 (49.5%, Tasting Fellows, barrel, cask #120610, 180 bottles) Four starsColour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a rather grassy whisky again at first nosing, with cut grass (bravo again!), broken branches, leaves, then rather more vanilla and touches of menthol. Develops more on ripe plums, apricots and a little fresh butter, with also a little sweet beer just like in the Strathmill. Goes more and more towards fruitsalady (!) notes, which isn’t uncommon with middle-aged Glen Keith. Mouth: it’s a very fruity one right from the start, with pineapple juice and a little coconut milk, then more butterscotch, caramel (Werther’s) and vanilla. Good grassy foundation, with even touches of salt. Also raisins and a little honey, then bitterer fruits such as grapefruits. This is excellent, I think. Finish: very long and much grassier. Fresh wood. Not my favourite part, but it’s all right. Comments: these 1992 Glen Keiths are almost always excellent. Pretty high standard. SGP:551 - 87 points.



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Don Cherry. Track: Karmapa Chenno. Please buy Don Cherry's music...

March 27, 2014

Today is International Whisky Day,
let's taste three Old Macallan

Cheers to Michael Jackson!


I believe it’s on March 27, 2008 that the idea of an International Whisky Day first came out on these very pages, thanks to our friend Hans Offringa, who was the originator. The idea was mainly to celebrate Michael Jackson’s life on this occasion. In 2009 there was a further declaration in Groningen, involving many friends such as Martine Nouet, Dave Broom or Charles MacLean. And then, year after year, we kept celebrating MJ and whisky as a whole on this very day, which was the great whisky writer’s birthday as you probably know.

Far from any recent commercial plagiarism, however enthusiastic it is or was, the actual aim of the International Whisky Day is mainly to try to raise money for – or rather against – Parkinson’s, the terrible illness MJ used to suffer from. Also to drink a toast to the great man, of course, and as far as Whiskyfun’s concerned, that’ll be some old official Macallans, as we already did in the past. Because MJ used to be a huge Macallan fan!

A votre santé, Michael!

There will be three different vintages that we’ve never tried before. Many adjacent ones have been stunning, so there are no reasons these won’t be just as stunning. Michael Jackson used to be right. And of course, all these were distilled from Golden Promise barley.

Macallan 1962 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, mid 1970’s)

Macallan 1962 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, mid 1970’s) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: instant thrill. Amazingly focussed and yet complex, with dried and fresh fruits mingled with coal smoke and various oils. Sounds simple, it’s not. What’s absolutely striking is something that’s relatively rare in whisky in my experience, and that’s to be found more often in great well-aged wines, which is a profile that’s essentially tertiary, that is to say a gathering of myriads of tiny flavours rather than a few massive ones. Pure poetry, in fact. Just a few examples, soot, passion fruits, papayas, graphite oil (its quite graphity, in fact), plum jam, pipe tobacco, rhubarb… And dozens and dozens of other aromas. What’s particularly impressive as well is the freshness, we’re absolutely not ‘all on raisins’. My, we could go on and on… Mouth: very huge whisky! Starts dry, rather on chocolate and raisins (I mean, the black, rather dry raisins), but it just does the peacock’s tail after that, with figs, various raisins, marmalade, jams, chutneys, chocolates, a touch of bouillon, cigars, tangerines, a tiny metallic side, a drop of limoncello, some almonds, herbs (rosemary, sage)… The list is simply endless. Now the background is also a little gritty and slightly coarse, so to speak, say with more cocoa powder. That’s cool, these great whiskies are never schmaltzy! Finish: maybe not the longest Macallan ever, and maybe the finish is a notch narrower, but these… raisins are beautiful. Comments: ultra-classic old-style Macallan. They can’t be faulted. SGP:562 - 93 points.

Macallan 1952 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, late 1960’s)

Macallan 1952 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, late 1960’s) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: exactly what we were expecting – not bragging here ;-) – which is a rather more austere, and smokier style after the 1962. It’s also grassier, with a little menthol, certainly a lot of fern, moss, maybe touches of myrtle, some charcoal, some bitter chocolate… I’m not quite sure Macallan were still using a lot of peat instead of oil/coal when malting In 1952, like they did just after WWII, but this is certainly quite peaty. Oh, and quite stunning, of course… After ten minutes, it’s really smoky chocolate than stands out. Mouth: almost a beast! Incredibly powerful, rather less polished than the 1962, more aggressive in a way – which we love, you always have to be a little masochistic when you’re deep into whisky – and indeed very smoky and herbal. Massive cough syrup and chartreuse (that’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it), triple-sec, a tiny drop of cologne and a spoonful of marmalade. In fact, it’s so big that the tinier notes that should be hidden somewhere are having trouble making it through. Hey, let’s try water… With (two drops of) water: hurray! We unleashed an army of dried and fresh fruits, especially zesty ones. Kiwis, oranges, rhubarb and such. Finish: extremely long, essentially on triple-sec, marmalade and white pepper. Comments: only one word, the word ‘body’. It’s this whisky’s body that’s its most impressive asset. 'As bronzed and muscular as a practitioner of the noble art', as MJ once wrote. SGP:563 - 96 points.

Macallan 1951 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, mid 1960’s)

Macallan 1951 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, mid 1960’s) Five stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: this one’s very different again. I really love it that Macallan were successively issuing very different batches within the same range and expression (they were all 15s, in fact), with little concerns for consistency, let alone homogenisation. The fresh fruits are back, while there’s rather less smoke than in the 1952 (yeah I know, that kind of invalidates my theories w.r.t. peat and post-WWII vintages at Macallan), and less dried fruits than in the 1962. In fact, what really comes out is fresh oranges, then cough syrup and liquid liquorice. This one’s maybe a little less complex than the others but they’re all very complex whiskies anyway. Oh, forget. Mouth: indeed, it’ very different. Some kind of orange salad with a few mint leaves and drops of olive oil, I’d say. And indeed it’s rather less peaty than the 1952, but peaty it is, in fact. It’s also rather earthy, and then very peppery. In truth, it’s stunning whisky, but it’s struggling a bit after that utterly amazing 1952. Queen Liz the Second would agree, I suppose. Finish: long but rather drying and, I have to say, tea-ish. Comments: great but I think it is the least impressive of them all. Oh how much I hate to sound like if I was turning my nose up, this is magic whisky! SGP:462 - 91 points.

Cheers Michael, till next year! And Diego, grazzie mille!


Worthy links:
International Whisky Day
International Whisky Day on Facebook
Donate to Parkinson's UK

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Dr John. Track: Monk's Blue Monk. Stunning, I think. Please visit the Doctor's website and buy his music...

March 26, 2014


Tasting three Balmenach

I haven’t got much to say about Balmenach, except that they can be quite orchardy and even display some zesty tropical fruits. Let’s see…

Balmenach 24 yo 1988/2013 (54.4%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #2794, 238 bottles)

Balmenach 24 yo 1988/2013 (54.4%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #2794, 238 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a punchy, rather grassy and pretty austere malt when unreduced, with notes of broken branches, mown lawn, leaves and even vegetables such as French beans or peas. A little vanilla and honey in the background, but all that’s quite shy. Also fresh walnuts. With water: the grass comes out even more. Apple peelings, walnut skin… Mouth (neat): huge contrast, although the notes of branches and grasses are back as well. Otherwise there are bags of apples and grapefruits. It’s not a very complex one, but it’s got good zing and mouth feel. With water: it was worth the wait, this time we’re finding much more fruits, apples, oranges, citrons, gooseberries… It remains a grassy whisky but it’s become less sharpish. Finish: quite long, mostly grassy and lemony. Nice zing. Comments: another one that needs water, and then it delivers. SGP:561 (with water) - 85 points.

Balmenach 25 yo 1988/2013 (55.6%, Signatory for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1132, 187 bottles)

Balmenach 25 yo 1988/2013 (55.6%, Signatory for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1132, 187 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: more or less the same profile on the nose, it’s just that the casks was probably more active – which is what the colour already suggested. So a little more vanilla on top of all these grasses, vegetables and herbs, as well as whiffs of butterscotch, mashed potatoes and turnips. With water: a little wet cardboard, more grass, more porridge, more apple peelings, even a little wood smoke. Mouth (neat): exactly the same differences again, this has more wood sweetness, apple compote and pie, vanilla, then apple peelings and plantain. It’s becoming quite spicy as well, with pepper and cinnamon. With water: once again, water works very well. Very zesty citrusy profile, tangerines, grapefruits, green apples… And drops of honey. Finish: good length, zesty and spicier. White pepper. Comments: water unleashes the fruits once again. A great Balmenach. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Balmenach 35 yo 1979/2014 (53.4%, Sansibar, 127 bottles)

Balmenach 35 yo 1979/2014 (53.4%, Sansibar, 127 bottles) Four stars and a halfColour: pale gold. Nose: a similar style again despite an older age, this is incredibly fresh at 35 years of age. The cask was probably quite lazy, which isn’t obligatorily a bad thing as we all know. A lot of grass again, this time with more apples and porridge. And leaves, moss, a little mud… With water: a funny salinity’s coming out. Sardines? Actually, that’s not that unusual in malt whisky. Mouth (neat): much, much close to the TWE, just a little more ‘infused’. That translates into more spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon again. It’s even a little biting at 35 years of age. With water: excellent. Sure the tannicity got bigger but I also find more tropical fruits. Especially, once again, bags of grapefruits. Finish: quite long, with a little more pepper on top of the grapefruits. Comments: lazy casks need time, but then they can become quite superb. SGP:651 - 88 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Duke Pearson's Big Band. Track: Bedouin. Please buy Duke Pearson's music...

March 25, 2014


A trio of Dalwhinnie

Dalwhinnie is a lovely distillery. Last time I was there with the MMs they were doing pairings with whiskies and chocolates and that’s been quite grand. Having said that, it’s not a malt I’m very familiar with, probably because there are very little expressions around. Let’s have two new official ones today, and then maybe a litte digestif…

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013)

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars Another one I haven’t quite followed in recent years. Mind you, the last version I’ve tried had been bottled around 1995. Mea culpa… Colour: gold. Nose: rather less polished that I remembered, starting with some farmy notes (hay, farmyard) as well as a blend of barley water and eaux-de-vie (plums). After that, a little fresh butter, caramel cream, grass, pollen and wood smoke. Also a little butterscotch and wee metallic touches (old coins). Mouth: same feeling of farminess if I may say so. Grass and hay, some candy sugar, plum eau-de-vie, chocolate, malt and ‘rough’ honey (chestnut). Its even a little wild, kind of uncommercial, whatever that means. In the background, that smokiness again (wood). Finish: quite long, a little acrid, grassy, malty, still quite farmyardy. Liquorice wood. Comments: certainly a Highlander in style, rather than a Speysider. SGP:352 - 82 points.

Dalwhinnie 1997/2013 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D. SU. 312)

Dalwhinnie 1997/2013 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D. SU. 312) Three stars and a half This one was finished in oloroso casks. Colour: gold. Nose: the Dalwhinnie DE might well be the DE that’s the closest to the ‘regular’ version. Indeed, I find this one very similar, just a notch bigger and rounder but profiles are almost identical. This has maybe a few more raisins and an added touch of yeast and porridge. So yeah, a little more wine. Mouth: the influence of the last casks is more pronounced on the palate, with more raisins and other dried fruits such as dried bananas. Other than that, it’s also even maltier and more honeyed, more chocolaty, and rather less farmy this time. Good body. Finish: quite long, with more bitter grass and liquorice wood again. Touches of oranges. Comments: a fine dram with a second maturation that remained unobtrusive. SGP:452 - 83 points.

And now the little digestif…

Dalwhinnie 1970/1993 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label)

Dalwhinnie 1970/1993 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: light and honeyed, with summery whiffs (overripe fruits, mostly) and lovely notes of wild yellow flowers. Around dandelions. A very delicate nose that reminds me of some old and lightish moelleux wine from Loire. Which I enjoy! Mouth: again, a light, honeyed dram. Cake, biscuits, heather honey, fudge and shortbread. Very Scottish, haha. Finish: pretty short but clean and perfectly honeyed. Comments: a very elegant Dalwhinnie, easy and even a little simple, that goes down well. I think these bottles keep popping up at auctions and go for reasonable ammounts, I believe they’re worth our attention. SGP:441 - 85 points.

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



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March 24, 2014


Tasting Sullivan’s Cove,
winner of the World Whisky Awards

So Sullivan’s Cove’s French Oak won the World's Best Single Malt Whisky award at Whisky Magazine’s World Whisky Awards. I’m not quite sure about which cask won, as they’re all single casks. I was a judge again this year but as it’s all blind, I just couldn’t tell you just now. I’ll try to enquire, but we’ve got other versions, so why not have them and compare French oak with American oak? This might be revealing, especially since both whiskies were distilled at the same time. Oh and it’s all full maturing, no quick or less quick finishing.

Sullivan's Cove 2000/2013 'French Oak' (47.5%, OB, Tasmania, cask #HH0392, 510 bottles)

Sullivan's Cove 2000/2013 'French Oak' (47.5%, OB, Tasmania, cask #HH0392, 510 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: it’s true that this baby’s superbly balanced, and that despite the fact that the oak feels, no one would say it’s overpowering. I find quite some menthol, a little eucalyptus, pine resin, all that on top of quite some tinned pineapple, a little fudge, marzipan, sultanas and orange blossom honey. A little wood smoke too, and maybe drops of Bénédictine. Not Scotch, but not totally un-Scotch either. What I also enjoy is the fact that there’s no gingery or very spicy oakiness. Mouth: spicy stewed fruits of all sorts! I’m a little less a fan now, because the oak did impart rather big notes of juniper, ginger and caraway seeds, so it kind of feels, but I won’t deny this remains absolutely lovely. There’s also a lot of pink grapefruit, which I like a lot. I have to say I’ve never found that much pink grapefruit in any whisky. Maybe not even in pink grapefruits… Finish: medium length. A little more caramelly. Comments: I find this quite impressive indeed. It’s different, and yet it’s orthodox whisky, so to speak. And it’s well aged! SGP:652 - 87 points.

Sullivan's Cove 2000/2013 'American Oak' (47.5%, OB, Tasmania, cask #HH115, 240 bottles)

Sullivan's Cove 2000/2013 'American Oak' (47.5%, OB, Tasmania, cask #HH115, 240 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: very interesting! This one is rather lighter, with much less resinous or mentholy influence and rather more ripe plums, vanilla for sure, maybe papayas, vanilla fudge… In a way, it’s more ‘normal’, and so less ‘different’ (bravo, S.!) Lovely touches of nectarines and apricots. Mouth: fruit juice and fruit salad. Very sexy, easy, fruity… And then oranges, with just a little white pepper. This is easier than the French oak, probably less complex, but the smoothness and the huge fruitiness make it extremely juicy. Finish: medium length. Same notes, same big fruitiness, with maybe more citrus and less orchard fruits. Comments: again, this one’s easier. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, it’s really all a matter of taste. What’s sure is that bother are flawless. All right, let’s favour complexity… SGP:641 - 85 points.

And just for fun, a blend of both, 50/50…
Yes! The nose is more complex and kind of fresher, while the palate really delivers, without the slightly excessive spiciness of the French oak and without the very faintly… err, arh… sluttish fruity side of the American oak. That also created a bigger chocolaty side. 88 points!

Hold on! How stupid am I? While checking the pictures in my database I just noticed that I also had a ‘Double Cask’ version from the MMs, and guess what? It’s a blend of American and French oak. Sadly, it was bottled at 40%, but let’s have it…

Sullivan's Cove 2000/2013 'Double Cask' (40%, OB, Tasmania, casks #HH0131-0137-0213-0523, 1398 bottles)

Sullivan's Cove 2000/2013 'Double Cask' (40%, OB, Tasmania, casks #HH0131-0137-0213-0523, 1398 bottles) Three stars This ‘double cask No.DC063’, in case you’re wondering. Colour: gold. Nose: crikey, this is the same as ‘my’ blend, only lighter and, apparently, a little leafier and slightly more milky. I really like these notes of tobacco too. Mouth: no, really, it’s very close, but it’s lacking oomph and tempo. I really think they should have bottled this little baby at a higher strength. Finish: same feeling. Comments: it’s a great whisky, it’s just a shame that they bottled it at 40% - and I have proof! (come on…) SGP:531 - 81 points.

PS: I had tried a few earlier bottlings of Sullivan’s Cove, these newer ones are simply on another planet in my opinion. Did they hire a magician?



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March 23, 2014


Blasts from the past,
Glenury 1973 vs. Glenugie 1973

We’ve built quite a few stupid line-ups for WF in the past, but I think this one will take the biscuit. Well, the vintages are the same indeed, but the only other things that Glenury and Glenugie do share are the same first five letters in their names. Oh, and a similar location on the east coast, not too far from Aberdeen. And the fact that both distilleries were closed for good – so to speak – in the early 1980s. Well, after all, this short session could make more sense than I had first thought…

Glenury Royal 24 yo 1973/1997 (53.7%, Signatory, Silent Stills, cask #6851, 364 bottles)

Glenury Royal 24 yo 1973/1997 (53.7%, Signatory, Silent Stills, cask #6851, 364 bottles) Five stars There was also another cask in the same series, #6857, that I haven’t tried. The Silent Stills was a great series that we all loved because it was coming with a miniature of the same whisky. Also with a piece of the cask, which was maybe a little more useless. Colour: deep gold. Nose: punchy and malty at first nosing, and rather citrusy. Oranges for sure, zests, then a little pinewood smoke, a little humus/earth and whiffs of sea air. More fruits develop, rather around nectarines and greengages plus almonds and small berries. Sloe? A lovely nose, so much nicer than later vintages in my opinion. Many 1973s have been great. With water: the smoke got bigger and so did the citrus. Marmalade, more greengages, maybe hints of banana skin. Mouth (neat): same as on the nose, just a notch jammier. Same feeling of pinewood, oranges, touches of earth, sweet malt, peaches, plums… But little salt this time. Also pink grapefruits, perhaps. Not perhaps, they are there! Excellent mouth feel. With water: it gets a little bitter, but nothing that really matters. Zests. Finish: quite long, curiously grassier. A lot of grapefruits and citrons. Comments: maybe was 1973 the vintage at Glenury? I like this a lot, even if I wouldn’t say this baby’s got a huge personality. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Glenugie 27 yo 1973/2000 (54.2%, Chieftain's Choice, bourbon barrel, casks #6543/6547, 317 bottles)

Glenugie 27 yo 1973/2000 (54.2%, Chieftain's Choice, bourbon barrel, casks #6543/6547, 317 bottles) Four stars Glenugie’s become so rare! In my little book, it’s one of the rare Grands Crus, Colour: gold. Nose: bizarrely, considering this is Glenugie, this baby’s more austere than the Glenury, and certainly much smokier, as if it was peated whisky (around 10ppm to give you an idea, say just below Ardmore). On the other hand, one can feel that this is very complex, with some tiny mushrooms, a little saltpetre, various apples, plums, a little melon, certainly quite some high-end tea, wulong… But let’s try to wake it up. With water: superb! There, all these fruits, guava galore, more melon, apricot juice… All this is very Glenugie. Mouth (neat): starts a little bizarre this time, I do get touches of lavender and violet sweets as well as a little milk and canned cranberry juice (not always perfect if you ask me), but after that all goes right, with this very peculiar fruitiness that’s very, well, Glenugie. Oranges and papayas, grapefruits, kiwis, then jellybeans and icing sugar as well as touches of burnt herbs. Thyme? Nah, it’s a little unusual indeed… With water: half wonderful, half bizarre. The greatest fruits on the one side, and a slightly soapy/lavendery thing on the other side. Finish: long, a notch bitter and too grassy. And this lavender’s always there. Comments: mind boggling whisky. I adored the nose and a large part of the palate, but rather disliked one side of the latter. A Bugatti with a crumpled wing. SGP:651 - 86 points.



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March 21, 2014


A wee verticale of Dailuaine

We’ll try to glide from the 2000s back to much earlier vintages. Oh and a little anecdote, Dailuaine was the first Distillery to be fitted with a ‘Doig’ pagoda – but enough wikipediaing, let’s try a few.

Dailuaine 7 yo 2005/2013 (41.5%, Douglas Laing, Single Minded, sherry butt)

Dailuaine 7 yo 2005/2013 (41.5%, Douglas Laing, Single Minded, sherry butt) Three stars From two casks. We’re seeing more and more baby whiskies these days, not too sure what to think. Colour: straw. Nose: I’m afraid this is pleasant ;-). You’re really nosing warm croissants and perhaps brioche straight from the oven, it seems that the casks were good enough to offset this baby’s obvious immaturity. Now, there is some porridge as well, muesli, dough, leaven… There’s a flinty side as well but no traces of s******r. Mouth: sure it’s light, but it’s certainly not feeble. Good maltiness, raisins, more croissants, pastries, caramel… All this works well and would convince many a blend drinker. Finish: it’s not even short, even if there’s a feeling of thinness. Malty and chocolaty. Comments: fine and not too young. The casks were good in my opinion. Only the low natural-looking strength is a tad too… low. SGP:441 - 80 points.

And now probably just the opposite…

Dailuaine 13 yo 2000/2013 (61.3%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, bourbon, cask #82)

Dailuaine 13 yo 2000/2013 (61.3%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, bourbon, cask #82) Four stars Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: James MacArthur like fully spirit-driven whiskies, and this baby’s a good example. No traces of oak, no vanilla either, only a combination of all things mineral (gravel, sand, flints) with tons of cut grass and a little sulphur. We’re not talking burnt sulphur or H2S, this is ‘good’ sulphur. With water: perfect barley and farmyard. After a heavy shower! Mouth (neat): a massive creaminess and litres of barley syrup, maple syrup and acacia honey, with touches of lemon in the background that keep it zesty. It’s simple, but it’s great. Even the high strength doesn’t make it any less drinkable. With water: it’s liquid honey. Or barley liqueur. Finish: plain barley liqueur indeed. Comments: I enjoy it when the barley kept control, especially when the whisky’s not beery at all. Pure barley liqueur indeed. SGP:531 - 85 points.

Dailuaine 21 yo 1992/2013 (53.3%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Dailuaine 21 yo 1992/2013 (53.3%, The Whisky Mercenary) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: this time it’s the moss, the fern, the ‘clean’ humus and the leaves that speak first, then touches of varnish (cellulosic), and then a lot of cider. Both apple and pear ciders, actually. I do not get anything flinty this time. After thirty seconds, we’re having more bubblegum, pear juice, jellybeans and tinned pineapple. With water: tends to become akin to the 2000, with a lot of sweet barley and the liqueurs and syrups that could be made thereof. Mouth (neat): liquefied jellybeans. Glen Haribo, anyone? Very creamy mouthfeel. Behind all this, almonds, grated coconut and marzipan. Very spectacular. With water: same, only smoother. An obvious feeling of acacia honey. Finish: medium length. Always on sweet barley, with touches of coconut oil. Comments: just excellent. Pure barleyish extravaganza. SGP:641 - 87 points.

I think all is going well, let’s jump into the 1970s…

Dailuaine 1974/2005 (46%, Berry Brothers Own Selection, cask #B111/2)

Dailuaine 1974/2005 (46%, Berry Brothers Own Selection, cask #B111/2) Four stars Colour: light gold. Nose: a sulphury touch at first nosing, but it’s a mineral kind of sulphur again, then a long development on fresh almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts. Obvious marzipan, then apple compote and drops of sunflower oil. It’s not that common to come across this kind of nutty profile! In the middle distance, rather overripe apples and quite some mint flavoured tea. Unusual indeed. Mouth: soft and complex. Touches of linseed and olive oils in the arrival, then rather lemons and citrons mixed with apple compote and walnut wine. Good body. After a few minutes, more lemon zests and, once again, this barleyish sugariness. This is much to my liking again. Finish: of medium length. Apple compote with some cinnamon and a dash of white pepper. Even more cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: this baby hasn’t got the 1992’s instant kick and pleasure, and it’s maybe a little more ‘in the middle of nowhere’, but quality remains very high. SGP:551 - 85 points.

And now, the early 1960s! But this will be the last one… We haven’t got any earlier Dailuaine anyway. Bah…

Dailuaine 1962/2000 (52.2%, James MacArthur, Millennium, sherry)

Dailuaine 1962/2000 (52.2%, James MacArthur, Millennium, sherry) Five stars I’ve just checked, this is actually the oldest Dailuaine I’ve ever tasted. Champagne! I mean, whisky! Samaroli had a 1962 but I’ve never tried it. There, a new goal! Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts with quite some antiseptic and bandages, as well as this very complex kind of mineral side that’s only to be found in some old whiskies. Not easy to describe, say wet limestone, old coal stove, fresh concrete… It could be that this is brilliant whisky. After a few minutes, cigars do arrive, old garage and old tools, touches of chicken bouillon, some grease, shoe polish… All that is very complex and absolutely wonderful. With water: wonderful! There’s now some aniseed, dill, fennel, sea water, fresh parsley… Mouth (neat): perfection made whisky. Punchy, creamy, fruity, phenolic/mineral (the dimension that so many new whiskies are lacking), with some mint, cough syrup, a camphory side, almond oil, some olive oil as well, then lemons that make it lighter and more lively, some marzipan, even bits of black truffle… What a maelstrom! With water: please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. Finish: just utterly and totally perfect. Even this baby’s inherent austerity is perfect. How I like this kind of unpushiness in whisky! Comments: not much to add. The humble James MacArthur company have issued some of the most legendary whiskies out there, and they keep doing the most honest of jobs with their whiskies. To your santé, Arthur! SGP:553 - 93 points.

(With mercis to Konstantin, Phil and Simon)

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



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March 20, 2014


Glenturret around the late seventies

Today we’ll have a few Glenturret from roughly the same vintages, but first a younger expression as the aperitif. In my exprience Glenturret can be very on/off.

Glenturret 15 yo 1990/2005 (51.7%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #1239, 308 bottles)

Glenturret 15 yo 1990/2005 (51.7%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #1239, 308 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: but where have all the ‘chemical’ Glenturrets gone? This is absolutely lovely, with baskets of fresh garden fruits, peaches, plums, apples… And on top of that, this very peculiar grassiness that, granted, could go towards chemicals in other bottlings. But not here, and there are also plenty of grapefruits. This starts well. With water: zests and almond oil. Perfect. Mouth (neat): clean fresh, fruity, zesty, citrusy, grassy, flawless. Perfect strength and perfect body. I’m not sure we should add anything else, should we. With water: more of all that. Perfect. Finish: not too long but always perfectly fresh and fruity. Peach syrup with lemon juice in the aftertaste. Comments: one of the hidden gems that one can still find at auctions for very fair amounts. One of the drinking bottle hunter’s preferred, I’d say. SGP:641 - 90 points.

Glenturret 19 yo 1978/1997 (51.5%, Signatory, cask #344, 290 bottles)

Glenturret 19 yo 1978/1997 (51.5%, Signatory, cask #344, 290 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: a huge difference, it’s a much greasier, oilier whisky. Actually it does reek of olive oil, then clay and chalk, carbon paper, plasticine… This is a profile that could be found in abundance ten years ago. The nose is pleasant, not only because it’s highly unusual, but the palate could be totally wrecked in my experience. Well see, but meanwhile… With water: haha, manure! Horse dung! New wellingtons (that was needed). Mouth (neat): indeed, its one the strange ones for sure, with some plastic and paraffin coming through the oranges and grapefruits, but it remains balanced and certainly not terrible. There’s also a lot of lemon. With water: now way! Doesn’t swim – on the palate. Becomes too chemical. Finish: long, hesitating between the farm, the plastics and citrus fruits. Comments: citrus saved this very strange and very entertaining one. A bottle to add to a blind tasting. SGP:461 - 78 points (because of the fun).

Glenturret 33 yo 1980/2014 (42,8%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 253 bottles)

Glenturret 33 yo 1980/2014 (42,8%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 253 bottles) Five stars Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s certainly one from the better batches, as we’re having a perfect, light yet aromatic profile made of many fresh fruits. That starts with peaches and apricots, goes on with plums (especially ripe mirabelles and zwetchkes), just before wee whiffs of fresh mint and dill start to pop out. Also, maybe, touches of sweet beer of high quality. I won’t quote any brands, simply because I just couldn’t. Mouth: absolutely excellent, fresh, light, fruity, delicate, very elegant… This time I also find quite some rosehip tea and rather more tropical fruits such as guavas. Maybe it’s a tad fragile altogether, but as the oak remained rather unobtrusive, it all works very well. Finish: maybe a little short and, indeed, fragile, but on the other hand, there isn’t any more oak than before. Comments: this is not malt whisky, it’s a delicacy. One of the great old ‘clean’ ones but watch out, it goes down too well. Remarkably un-oaky. SGP:641 - 90 points.

Glenturret 34 yo 1977/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask ref #1)

Glenturret 34 yo 1977/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask ref #1) Five stars Colour: light gold. Nose: more wood presence than in the 1980, which translates into a little more varnish and apple skins, but other than that it’s a plain and total fruit avalanche. This time we’re a little ‘wider’, because beside the peaches and plums, I also find some tinned litchis, some coconut and then a lot of small green fruits. Say gooseberries and say kiwis. From the wood department, whiffs of broken branches and roots. Mouth: the wood’s bigger than in the 1980, more obvious, but it talks to the fruits, if I may say so. And there are many fresh herbs too, wulong tea (the ‘blue’ one – I think - they have in Taiwan, delicious), peelings… What’s amusing is that it’s neither on western fruits, nor on tropical ones. In fact, it’s right between both. All that is bound with a little honey and barley syrup. Finish: of medium length, with a similar development. Comments: a wonderfully complex one, which suggests it’s a blend of two or three casks rather than just one. Extremely high quality again. SGP:641 - 90 points.

Let’s have a last one…

Glenturret 31 yo 1979/2011 (53.6%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #1441, 218 bottles)

Glenturret 31 yo 1979/2011 (53.6%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #1441, 218 bottles) Four stars Colour: light gold. Nose: a completely different story, it seems. This one has more power and many more green and grassy notes at first nosing. It’s also kind of peaty, and honestly, had you told me this was a lightly peated old Laphroaig, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Very interesting… There are medicinal notes for sure, but those are close to the paraffin we had found in the old 1978. As they say, the jury’s still out. With water: well, that didn’t work out, it’s rather more paraffin and even plastic that come out. Mouth (neat): serious, there is some peat in there, and as the lemony side is huge, all that combines perfectly well. Huge zestiness! With water: swims better on the palate. Huge lemons, no more peatiness (boo-hoo-hoo) and tons of lemon grass instead. Finish: long, very lemony. Comments: exactly the opposite of the previous ones. More adventurous, so to speak, certainly less perfect, perhaps more interesting… SGP:562 - 87 points.

(thank you Fabien and Konstantin!)

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



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March 19, 2014


Very old and even older are on a boat…

With whisky, there are two numbers that anyone can understand and that are seminal, so to speak, its age and its price. Granted, many distillers keep arguing that age doesn’t matter anymore (now that they haven’t got any old whisky left). Well, in truth and as Pete & Jack already noticed, age doesn’t matter when the whisky is young and does when it’s old. But of course! Others seem to think that there’s a sucker born every minute and that regarding prices, the sky is the limit. And then some believe in both. No age, higher prices! We can always predict that those might be in for a rude awakening, but as always, forecasters are the first to be proven wrong once the future becomes the present. Who knows? What’s sure is that a handful of brands and bottlers are trying to seize those opportunities to build-up attention and customer goodwill by actually lowering some prices. Glenfarclas did it first with their 40yo at £250, G&M have many very old Speysiders at fair prices as well, and now Master of Malt is in as well with a brand new 60 yo at… less that £1,000. Others would sell it for £5,000 and others yet for £10,000 if not more – granted, with a distillery’s name - but then again, maybe this 60 years old is just a very tired and flattish old whisky, in that case not even £300 would be a fair price. So let’s simply try this new baby and see what gives, just after a nice little aperitif of (almost) similar age…

Glen Grant 56 yo 1955 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, decanter, +/-2011)

Glen Grant 56 yo 1955 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, decanter, +/-2011) Four stars An arch classic bottling by G&M. Colour: amber. Nose: bang! Instant, implacable pleasure with just anything that’s to be expected from a great very old whisky, minus excessive woody notes. Quince jelly, figs, raisins, bergamots or earl grey tea, orange blossom, touches of menthol and camphor, some honey, sandalwood, cigar humidor, leather polish, liquorice, a little incense… All is perfect, just the menthol might suggest the palate will be oakier and dry, but I’m not sure… Mouth: well, it’s the kind of oak that works just like welcome spices, especially cinnamon. It’s a little dry, and sure it hasn’t got a huge body, but this blend of chocolate, orange zests and raisins works very well. The whole isn’t as exhilarating as this baby’s nose, but again it works and it’s very pleasant. I find more and more mead. Finish: a little short but clean and not overly drying. More oranges. Comments: its nose is this baby’s main asset, while the rather drying and slightly thin palate is no serious handicap. Lovely old thing… SGP:461 - 87 points.

Speyside 60 yo (42.5%, Master of Malt, First Edition, single malt, 2014)

Speyside 60 yo (42.5%, Master of Malt, First Edition, single malt, 2014) Five stars The distillery’s not disclosed, which doesn’t obligatorily mean it’s Glenfarclas. Hold on, does what you just wrote make any sense, Serge? Colour: amber with bronze hues. Nose: it’s drier, more humussy, more musty than the Glen Grant. I find more hay, more bark, more dried mushrooms, as well as several kinds of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, perhaps chestnuts… Then a little menthol again, as well as various herbal teas. Thyme, for example, or fennel. Then more and more tea, from earthy ones pu-erh style to complex green ones such as, say Longjing. These herbal notes may imply that the palate will be quite, err, green and tannic, but not sure, let’s see… Mouth: it is a little tannic, but we’re way, way below the limits. What’s more, the fruity part is big enough to make the oak almost trivial. There is some orange liqueur or curaçao, drops of crème de menthe, a good spoonful of apricot jam, tarte tatin and caramelised apples, then more Demerara sugar (but it’s no big candied whisky), cinnamon cake, orange marmalade… The spices are becoming a little more boisterous after half a minute, especially the peppery side, some caraway too, but it remains a smooth dram globally. Finish: medium length. Some peppermint sauce on orange zests and white pepper. A drop of cough syrup. Comments: not that I have tried many dozens of 60yo+ whiskies, but they usually tend to be a little fragile and kind of shaky/too drying. Not quite the case here, which is a kind of miracle in my opinion. So great whisky, all it’s lacking is a name – but then it would be much more expensive, wouldn’t it. I guess you cannot have it both ways. SGP:561 - 90 points.


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



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March 18, 2014


Four very unusual Dalmore

The official Dalmores, even the old ones, are often multiple-matured while the independent bottlers usually have some ‘natural’ ones that were integrally matured in one cask, often refill. And then there are odd ones, double maturations by the indies or… peated Dalmore!

Dalmore (49.1%, Asta Morris, cask #AM005, 2013)

Dalmore (49.1%, Asta Morris, cask #AM005, 2013) Three stars No age and no vintage, which is unusual at the independents. This one comes with a nice ‘Roy Lichtenstein’ label. Will it be WHAAM! indeed? Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little hot and buttery, fudgy, rather without the usual orange and chocolate notes. Interesting notes of arak, raisins and then more and more butterscotch as well as custard and apple pie. I also find quite some marzipan, cedar wood and, indeed, more and more chocolate after a few minutes. Brownies, roasted malt, a little earl grey tea, brioche, vanilla… It’s rounded and clean at the same time. Mouth: starts big, with gingerbread and speculoos that suggest some fairly active wood was involved. Even a little capsicum, then more roasted malt and toasted oak. Also burnt brioche, touches of thyme and a growing cardamom. Finish: quite long, a little drying, with some oak and bitter chocolate. Comments: very, very fine but the oak’s a little too loud for my taste, and distillery character a little too discreet. This baby had something of its neighbours the ‘special’ Glenmorangies. SGP:451 - 80 points.

Dalmore 12 yo 2000/2013 (46.1%, Single Cask Nation, finished in PX hogshead, cask #6951, 238 bottles)

Dalmore 12 yo 2000/2013 (46.1%, Single Cask Nation, finished in PX hogshead, cask #6951, 238 bottles) Three stars and a half Another one by this small American bottler that thrilled us with a fantastic very young Laphroaig last year. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a little fresher than the Asta Morris, fruitier as well, with less straight oak and more raisiny notes, probably from the PX. Having said that, it’s not very different on the nose. Also orange blossom honey, Turkish delights and, maybe, one orange. Mouth: it’s firm and sweet at the same time, the PX is very obvious and yet there isn’t any straight winey notes, rather juicy big dried muscats and some orange liqueur. There are some similarities too, especially this gingery side and the notes of white pepper and capsicum. Finish: rather long, a tad oaky again, with some orange-filled dark chocolate and a rather peppery aftertaste. Comments: another unusual one that displays both a sweet jammy side and a peppery and oaky backbone. I enjoyed it quite a lot, even if it’s not my preferred style. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Dalmore 1996/2010 (56.7%, Chieftain's, pinot noir finish, cask #91671, 335 bottles)

Dalmore 1996/2010 (56.7%, Chieftain's, pinot noir finish, cask #91671, 335 bottles) Four stars and a half This one was bottled for Germany and the pinot noir cask came from Franconia. I’ve already tried some superb Franconian whites, but a pinot noir, never. Colour: deep gold, which is reassuring (no pinkish tones). Nose: appealing! No excessive blackcurrant, no capsicum or ginger, no untameable raspberries, rather peaches, watermelons, plums and oranges. So far, so gut. I mean good. With water: even more fresh yellow fruit, butter pears, melons, apricots… All that hints at a sweet white wine (Trockenbeerenauslese style) rather than at pinot noir, but I’m sure it’s me. Mouth (neat): there are some red berries this time, and a lot of cherries, but the feeling of blood oranges is enticing. I think it was a very ‘light’ finishing, probably all for the better. With water: excellent, creamy, fruity, fresh and… very Dalmore! Finish: of medium length, always clean, fresh and fruity. Peaches are even more obvious. Comments: ja! A finishing very well done. SGP:641 - 88 points.

And now something rare…

Peaty Dalmore 2000 (+/-59%, OB, cask sample, +/-2013)

Peaty Dalmore 2000 (+/-59%, OB, cask sample, +/-2013) Four starsMany ‘unpeated’ distilleries also do peated from time to time, and Dalmore’s no exception. These batches have been used in the famous Shackeltons. I think it’s the first time I’m trying a peated Dalmore, so I’m very curious. Colour: white wine. Nose: hold on, this is perfect! I don’t know whether the northern east coast of Scotland is the best non-Islay place for peaty whisky or not (think Brora) but this spirit is ultra-pure, unadorned and, well, extremely peaty. It’s one of the whiskies I could nose that are the closest to burning peat. So yeah, peat smoke… And maybe a little coal smoke as well. Very narrow, which is great in this context. With water: the barley comes out. Pure kilned malted barley. Mouth (neat): once again, a lovely malt, very narrow again. There are only two flavours, in fact, smoky ashes and lime. Works greatly unless you’re looking for something complex.

With water: oops, something went wrong, some soap appears. Saponification often happens when you add water but it’s usually not this noticeable. Let’s wait… zzz… zzz… zzz. After fifteen minutes: not quite, some oils remain and keep making it a little soapy (yes I’m using my usual Vittel water). Finish: long, very barleyish. Crunching some peated barley right after kilning. Comments: did the stills’ famous flat tops do that? The soapy tones were anecdotal. The owners should bottle some! SGP:347 – 87 points. (picture, the old truck that’s in front of the Distillery’s entrance)

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



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March 17, 2014


Going for another wander
around the Lowlands

The weather has been amazing over Alsace, which called for a few supposed-to-be-light Lowlanders. There will be new or recent ones, and maybe also one or two oldies, we’ll see.

Glenkinchie 2000/2013 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, G/286-7-D)

Glenkinchie 2000/2013 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, G/286-7-D) Three stars Like every year, this one was finished in amontillado. Let's see if it could be included in an Edgar Poe novel... Colour: gold. Nose: I find the presence of a rather dry sherry quite obvious, and pleasant I have to say. That would mean walnuts and pecans, a flowery side, touches of mustard and sultanas, ripe mirabelles, and then more of the usual sweet barley and apple tart, as well as quite some crème au beurre. There’s more happening than I would have thought, and I find it much more elegant than earlier bottlings. Mouth: rather more ‘Glenkinchie’ this time, that is to say more on barley and apples, tea, cigarette tobacco, maybe a little cider… Fine and not that light. Finish: short this time, a notch bitter (green tea, white pepper). Comments: I think this well-known baby has come on well last year, we’re reaching the 80-mark. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Auchentoshan 1998/2013 'Tarte au Citron' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 342 bottles)

Auchentoshan 1998/2013 'Tarte au Citron' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 342 bottles) Two stars and a half This should be uebersweet. Colour: straw. Nose: not uebersweet but rather fresh and clean, with a very light style. Marshmallows everywhere, then bags of gooseberries and drops of barley water. So, tarte au citron? Maybe, or rather lemon-flavoured fudge, perhaps. Nice, ultra-clean nose. There are even touches of roots, always welcome in my book. Mouth: starts very sweet and fruity (thank you Haribo), but gets then rather grassier and, indeed, more lemony. There’s even a lot of lemon grass, lime and some kind of sweet pastries. Danish? Again, a fine dram. Finish: long and much grassier and spicier, surprisingly, with quite some pepper and tea tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: as I wrote, it’s very fine, but I think I liked Wemyss’ earlier 1998s better (Lemon Sorbet and Candied Fruits). SGP:551 - 79 points.

Bladnoch 11 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013)

Bladnoch 11 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars This one’s nicknamed ‘distillery label’. No sherry and no peat here, it’s the ‘fully natural’ one. Colour: white wine. Nose: in my feeble experience, older young Bladnoch could be very citrusy, but it’s not the case at all here – at least not at first nosing, as we’re rather moving along various cereals, porridge, oatcakes, farmyardy notes… Some butter as well, and then indeed, touches of grapefruits and cut grass, but we’re far from the old lemon bombs. Mouth: I like this, it’s a fairly oily spirit, obviously young, with more spices than expected, especially mustard and some kind of mild curry powder. On top of that, some barley sugar and touches of aniseed and caraway. A little lemon too, but rather as, wait… a tarte au citron? Finish: relatively long, always spicy, with barley sugar underneath the spices. Comments: another one that’s pretty fine, wondering if ‘fine’ won’t be today’s keyword. SGP:451 - 80 points.

But let’s go to Littlemill…

Littlemill 1989/2014 (47.6%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon)

Littlemill 1989/2014 (47.6%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon) Five stars Frutti si or frutti no? Colour: pale gold. Nose: frutti si. Classic passion fruits and mangos, with a slice of banana, two quarters of tangerine and a little apple juice. Hold on, or sweet rosé cider like they now make in Brittany. No more, no less, and that’s already more than enough. Mouth: the fruitiness is really huge, it’s actually one the most extreme fruitbombs from Littlemill I could taste, and I’ve tasted a few. It’s actually plain fruit juice, around multi-vitamin and peach/maracuja. The alcohol is only of passing interest in this context. Finish: quite long, now grassier, which is rather an asset as it balances the whole and makes your palate cleaner and fresher. Grapefuit skin. Comments: a very impressive Littlemill. I had feared the source had dried up, I was wrong, apparently. SGP:751 - 90 points.

That baby called for more 1989…

Littlemill 24 yo 1989/2014 (50.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 212 bottles)

Littlemill 24 yo 1989/2014 (50.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 212 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is funny, this one is very fruity as well but much firmer than the Fässle, which makes it smell peaty and medicinal in comparison. Of course it’s not, but those are the joys of ‘comparing your drams’. So, no peat and no medicinal notes either, rather some grassier fruits, which would actually be exactly the same fruits as in the Fässle, only a little less ripe. Oh well… Mouth: exactly the same feeling, some medicinal touches (in comparison) and more grass, more skins, more peelings, more leaves, more stems… And that works brilliantly again. It’s just sharper and zestier, and maybe a little more mineral as well. Finish: long, this time with wee notes of Schweppes and aspirin. Comments: great again, more potent than other fruity Littlemills. SGP:651 - 89 points.

St Magdalene 30 yo 1982/2013 (58.5%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, refill butt, 99 bottles)

St Magdalene 30 yo 1982/2013 (58.5%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, refill butt, 99 bottles) Five stars A very small outturn this time, and a very high strength for this age. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s neither the first, nor the last time that I’ll say that old spirits tend to converge, and we have another example here, with notes of candy sugar that hint at old rum. Very high quality old rum! After that, a typical St-Magdalenian development, that is to say many, many tiny notes and touches rather than just three of five bold aromas. That’s what many people, including this humble taster, like in St Magdalene. Leaves, tobacco, aromatic herbs, leather, various woods (oak, sandal, cedar…), coals and oils, rocks, grasses, dry fruits, peppermint, herbals teas… And god knows what else. Curious about what water will do to this baby… With water: s.u.p.e.r.b. Great old wine vinegar, citrus, herbs, soot, old books, ‘antique shop’… Mouth: exactly the same feeling when neat, it’s a whirlwind of tiny flavours, first grassy and herbal ones, then dry and zesty fruity ones, then spicy ones. It’s a rather austere dram but the complexity is just amazing. And how elegant! With water: oh, now it got more compact, even more herbal… Finish: long, mentholated, herbal, grassy, and that cane sugar is back… And all that is beautiful. Comments: you just cannot not have respect for this kind of old uncompromising and totally un-commercial whisky. Love this. SGP:472 - 93 points

We’d better stop now but you may expect a little St Magdalene verticale soon. Oh and a Bladnoch verticale as well.

(many thanks Tomas!)



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March 16, 2014


Quite a bunch of Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich have become more, say moderate with their new bottlings once they could come up with a ‘new’ ten years old three years ago. But before that, oh my, there’s been strange things. We’ll have a few from both eras today, and maybe go further back in time.

Bruichladdich 2007/2013 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, Rockside Farm)

Bruichladdich 2007/2013 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, Rockside Farm) Three stars and a half Made from barley harvested on the Rhinns of Islay in 2006. Had this been wine, it would have been a 2006, but it’s the year of distillation that counts. Colour: white wine (!) Nose: what strikes first is a huge freshness and an obvious coastal side. Probably one of the most coastal unpeated malts I could nose thus far. So peaches, apples, plums and melons plus whiffs of sea air and the faintest notes of shortbread and vanilla crème. This freshness is very lovely! Mouth: maybe a little less mature than on the nose, with a few roughish eau-de-vie notes (plums, kirsch) but also pleasant notes of oranges and watermelons. Barley sugar. I seem to find a little salt as well but I may be dreaming, not too sure. Autosuggestion? Finish: quite long, clean, fruity and rather barleyish. Comments: a little young but it’s a sweet, pure and fruity malt with a lot of freshness, as I may have written before. I also found traces of peat. SGP:542 - 84 points.

Br5 (53.8%, Speciality Drinks Ltd, Elements of Islay, 2013)

Br5 (53.8%, Speciality Drinks Ltd, Elements of Islay, 2013) Three stars and a half It’s true that with distillates that have changed a lot through the years, it would be nice to know about vintages. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s amazing how close we are to the official, this baby is most certainly ‘McEwan-made’. Same notes of apples, melons, peaches… Maybe less coastal notes, though, and rather more roundness and sweetness, probably from some more active bourbon wood. Vanilla and just touches of fresh sawdust. One or two jelly babies too. With water: more apple peelings. Mouth: same, very fruity and sweet and always with a freshness. Bags of oranges drops and bottles of peach syrup, plus many cut apples. With water: works very well, it’s even fruitier and cleaner. A little grass appearing, all for the better. Finish: not very long again, but still very fruity and clean. Comments: a very easy dram, on high quality orchard fruits. SGP:641 - 84 points.

Maybe we could go on with a few old valinches that I had never tasted before…

Bruichladdich 1988/2003 ‘Valinch Malt of the Year’ (56.2%, OB, American oak, cask #1132, 300 bottles)

Bruichladdich 1988/2003 ‘Valinch Malt of the Year’ (56.2%, OB, American oak, cask #1132, 300 bottles) Two stars Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s rather a rougher malt, with more farmy notes, a lot of grass, some porridge, damp oatcakes, some charcoal smoke that’s a little bizarre in this context… And whiffs of varnish. Not too sure about this one at this point… With water: even more grass. Quite un-Laddie. Mouth (neat): the varnishy notes grew even bigger, there’s a bitterness and even soapy touches on top of the usual fruits (melons/peaches). With water: same profile, although the soap was tamed. There wasn’t much anyway… Other than that, the grass rules. Un-Laddie indeed. Finish: medium length. A little lemon balm, which is nicer. Comments: I think you already understood that I’m not a huge fan of this valinch. SGP:461 - 75 points.

Bruichladdich 1994/2008 'Valinch Festival Crew' (59.4%, OB, Bourbon ACE'd in Chenin Blanc, cask #40, Feis Ile 2008)

Bruichladdich 1994/2008 'Valinch Festival Crew' (59.4%, OB, Bourbon ACE'd in Chenin Blanc, cask #40, Feis Ile 2008) Three stars and a half Colour: rosé gold. Nose: straight to the wine. It was probably sweet chenin Chaume-style. Yellow plums aplenty, walnuts, tree bark, moss, apricots and touches of pear cider. I’m not sure the distillate has much to say but this nose is funny and pleasant. With water: more moss, humus, mushrooms, old cellar… I like this musty side. Mouth (neat): oh yes, it’s the wine and the cask talking. This time we’re rather having a lot of liquorice, some pepper and cinnamon, ultra-ripe apricots, sultanas and Turkish delights. The chenin is very vivid in the combo, very noticeable. With water: fudge! Finish: rather long, clean, very much on sweet chenin again, especially since the citrons came out. Comments: one of the Ace-ings that worked pretty well in my opinion. Very singular whisky, not sure we’ll ever see this style again. SGP:641 - 84 points.

Bruichladdich 1989/2006 ‘Valinch Changing the Guard’ (53.1%, OB, American oak, ACEd in hermitage blanc, cask #5, 420 bottles)

Bruichladdich 1989/2006 ‘Valinch Changing the Guard’ (53.1%, OB, American oak, ACEd in hermitage blanc, cask #5, 420 bottles) one star and a half Colour: gold. Nose: very strange nose. White hermitage is a big, spicy wine with plenty of character, and that shows here. There’s a strange kind of spicy earthiness, a lot of chalk, strange notes of overripe gooseberries, then a growing ‘old barrel’ side, quite musty and maybe not of the best kind. Some burnt fruits too, burnt raisin cake… With water: some sulphur coming through. Hardboiled eggs. Mouth (neat): very bizarre. Marshallows and pepper? Plum jam, lees, blood oranges, caramel… Really unusual. With water: becomes more unlikely. Tinned pineapples and burnt wood. Finish: quite long, both fruity and bitter. Yeah, pineapples and burnt wood. Comments: it’s got some nice sides, but otherwise it’s quite wobbly in my opinion. Ha, experimental whiskies! SGP:641 - 69 points.

Bruichladdich 1989/2006 ‘The Tonga Valinch’ (57%, OB, American oak, rum ACEd, cask #1880, 330 bottles)

Bruichladdich 1989/2006 ‘The Tonga Valinch’ (57%, OB, American oak, rum ACEd, cask #1880, 330 bottles) Two stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: it seems that we’re somewhere between whisky and rum indeed. Some candy sugar, even plain sugar cane, no molasses though, happily. Then a little butter and butterscotch, sponge cake, and this feeling of burnt fruits that we already found in another one. Also something a little metallic. With water: more burnt fruits and a little eau de cologne. Some mint as well. Mouth (neat): a strange half-grassy, half-sugary profile, hard to describe. Notes of burnt herbs, candy sugar, cake, a little rubber… With water: the cologne is back. Orange blossom water too, which is nicer. Finish: rather long, with more burnt sugar. Touches of soap in the aftertaste. Comments: another unidentified flying Bruichladdich ;-). SGP:641 - 72 points.

Bruichladdich 1989/2003 ‘Valinch 40 Not Out' (56%, OB, Refill Sherry, cask #160, 300 bottles)

Bruichladdich 1989/2003 ‘Valinch 40 Not Out' (56%, OB, Refill Sherry, cask #160, 300 bottles) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: pleasant notes of caramel and liquorice, then raisins and dried figs. This one seems to be nicer! Also some wood smoke and a few floral notes, as well as drops of mead. Very decent. With water: some grass and some mint coming through. Mouth (neat): again, a pleasant start, with some cherries and again some caramel, then quite some orange marmalade and, alas, a little rubber and soap. Just a little… With water: the expected melons are making a late arrival. Hello! Finish: medium length, raisins, butterscotch, oranges zests. Comments: this one worked quite well in my opinion. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Let’s try something a little less experimental if you don’t mind…

Bruichladdich 21 yo 1991/2013 (55%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #3047, 282 bottles)

Bruichladdich 21 yo 1991/2013 (55%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #3047, 282 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: this time we’re all on sweet barley, muesli, sweet grasses, fruit peelings… Very natural, very malty, pleasant but I wouldn’t say this baby’s got a huge personality. With water: no changes whatsoever. Mouth (neat): I like this, it’s all rather candied and citrusy. Seville oranges, barley sugar, sweet bread (pumpernickel) and vanilla fudge. With water: touches of mint, but otherwise no changes. This baby’s waterproof! Finish: medium length. It’s rather the grassy side that got bigger. Muesli-ish aftertaste (excuse me?) Comments: fair, loyal, natural and honest. SGP:441 - 83 points.

Let’s round this off with an older official if you don’t mind, which was bottled when Invergordon used to own the distillery…

Bruichladdich 22 yo 1969 'The Stillman's Reserve' (43%, OB, +/-1991)

Bruichladdich 22 yo 1969 'The Stillman's Reserve' (43%, OB, +/-1991) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: it’s amazing how much this is almost like a ‘blend’ of Sauternes with sweet chenin from Loire. And yet there isn’t any inside, I suppose… So ripe plums, acacia honey, apricots, beeswax, touches of lilies, custard… Also baklavas, orange blossom honey, rose petals… The whole is very aromatic and, I must say, very lovely. Also a newly opened pack of shortbread. Mouth: less Sauternes-y, obviously, but plums and apricots are well there, as well as honey and shortbread. This is almost liquid pastry, even when you add sweet notes of malt and brioche (obviously). Excellent body at 43%, this is perfect distillate, perfectly aged. Smooth and firm at the same time. Finish: long, rather more on candy sugar and even more honey. Very nice herbs and spices in the aftertaste (mulled white wine). Comments: great whisky. Like elsewhere, I believe the distillery had harder times during the 1980s and 1990s, but I think they’re back to their pre-1975 glory since quite some years as far as their distillate is concerned. SGP:541 - 89 points.

(thank you Konstantin and Tom)

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



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March 2014 - part 1 <--- March 2014 - part 2 ---> April 2014 - part 1



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Dailuaine 1962/2000 (52.2%, James MacArthur, Millennium, sherry)

Glenturret 15 yo 1990/2005 (51.7%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #1239, 308 bottles)

Glenturret 34 yo 1977/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask ref #1)

Glenturret 33 yo 1980/2014 (42,8%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 253 bottles)

Glenury Royal 24 yo 1973/1997 (53.7%, Signatory, Silent Stills, cask #6851, 364 bottles)

Littlemill 1989/2014 (47.6%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon)

Macallan 1951 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, mid 1960’s)

Macallan 1952 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, late 1960’s)

Macallan 1962 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Rinaldi Italy, mid 1970’s)

Speyside 60 yo (42.5%, Master of Malt, First Edition, single malt, 2014)

Springbank 33 yo 1967/2001 (41.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Ref #3370, 204 bottles)

Springbank 34 yo 1967/2001 (40.9%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection)

Springbank 1975 (43%, The Merchant's Collection, Italy, +/-1998)

St Magdalene 30 yo 1982/2013 (58.5%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, refill butt, 99 bottles)