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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2015 - Part 1


February 2015 - part 2 <--- March 2015 - part 1 ---> March 2015 - part 2


March 13, 2015


Three arrant Arrans

Sorry about that stoopid headline. Arran’s whiskies are sometimes called Arran, and sometimes Isle of Arran. What’s sure is that the first batches are now fully mature and that some are approaching their 20 years of age. Today we’ll have three independent versions.

Isle of Arran 14 yo 1997/2012 (46%, The Maltman , cask #747)

Isle of Arran 14 yo 1997/2012 (46%, The Maltman , cask #747) Three stars and a half There’s also been a very good 16 yo by The Maltman (WF 86). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather firm, pretty marzipany, with plenty of barley, roots, clean damp wood, vanilla and cornflakes. In the background, whiffs of lemon balm and a little earth. Very good balance between the malt and the oak, methinks. Some honey as well. Mouth: all the same, with good punch. It’s the oak that talks first (pepper) and then come apples, more marzipan, vanilla, butterscotch and some kind of earthy coffee, mocha style. Finish: good length, with a bit of bitter oak that works well here, green apples, some bitterish green tea. The white pepper is back in the aftertaste, together with a little salt. Comments: a fine drop, very natural, very close to both the barley and the oak. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Arran 17 yo 1996/2014 (50%, Highland Laird, Bartels Rawlings)

Arran 17 yo 1996/2014 (50%, Highland Laird, Bartels Rawlings) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: there’s much less oak in this one, which the colour already suggested. A funny feeling of diesel oil, then kirsch, gooseberries, rhubarb and the obligatory apples. Oh and tons of barley. In other words, a very barleyish malt whisky. With water: more soaked barley. Visiting a malting plant that wouldn’t do peated. Some barley water as well. Mouth (neat): the texture is fatter than that of the 1997, and once again this is rather on the fruity side. Lemons, grapefruits, rhubarb, kiwis and such, plus some grass. With water: fruit syrup galore, and more barley water. It’s become rounder and rather sweeter. Acacia honey. Finish: medium length, with rather more oranges, including zests in the aftertaste. Was that Fanta? Comments: very likeable. Not quite characterful spirit IMHO, but it’s very, very pleasant. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Isle of Arran 18 yo 1996/2014 (53.2%, High Spirits for Lospiritodeitempi.it)

Isle of Arran 18 yo 1996/2014 (53.2%, High Spirits for Lospiritodeitempi.it) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: it does start with a little ethanol and varnish, perhaps, but that may be the higher strength. After that, we’re rather having mints, marzipan, broken branches and roots, a little muscovado sugar, touches of eucalyptus and drops of café latte. Also this very strange hazelnut-flavoured coffee they make at Sturbacks (hey, they always wreck my name, I can wreck theirs!) With water: overripe sour apples and a touch of pasticine. Mouth (neat): there’s the same kind of sharpy, estery arrival, and then the same kind of lovely development on marzipan, orange sweets, candy sugar, coffee and mint. Excellent body. A little fat sweet beer too. With water: same feeling of tinned fruits sprinkled with light honey. Finish: medium length, a little maltier. Some liquorice wood and a little coffee. Regular coffee this time. Comments: same ballpark, I find this very good, and very ‘natural’. SGP:551 - 85 points.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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March 12, 2015


Another hotchpotch of undisclosed malts

A mixed bag of recent singles and maybe vatted, we’ll see what we can find. We’ll do that in no particular order.

Prometheus 26 yo (47%, Glasgow Distillery Company, first fill sherry)

Prometheus 26 yo (47%, Glasgow Distillery Company, first fill sherry) Four stars After HP’s Norse gods, here come the Romans. Yeah I know, Prometheus wasn’t exactly a god, was he? As for the distillery this new baby’s coming from, mum’s the word! Colour: deep gold. Nose: a Speysidy side, with overripe apples, roasted malt and nuts, some honey, touches of grass and hay, an earthiness, notes of orange marmalade, raisins… Grass and barley win in the end, which is just as nice. Also roots and touches of stout. This is a complex nose, and the orchestra plays in tune. Mouth: we’ve had some old style Glenlivets that were exactly like this – not saying this is Glenlivet of course. Ripe apples, tarte tatin, sultanas… Having said that, there are also smoky and honeyed/leathery notes that do hint at Highland Park. Oh well, let’s not try to find out, that’s impossible anyway. Notes of dried pears as well. The mouth feel is pretty perfect. Finish: quite long, honeyed and fruity, with a smoky touch. Comments: nah, I think this is a good old lightly sherried Speysider. And a rather pricy one, at around £380. But after all, although we don’t have the name, we’ve got the age. Ha! SGP:452 - 87 points.

Let’s simply go on with random undisclosed ones…

Speyside 23 yo 1991/2014 (48.8%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 363 bottles)

Speyside 23 yo 1991/2014 (48.8%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 363 bottles) Four stars So, do you see this label white or do you see it blue? ;) Colour: straw. Nose: smells rather natural, perhaps a tad raw and spirity, but with some pleasant orchardy notes. We’re talking apples, greengages and candy sugar. In the background, a little chalk and unexpected medicinal notes. A drop of antiseptic on a large basket of ripe apples. Mouth: ah, this has power and structure! Again, no fancy tastes and flavours, but it’s quite precise on sweet barley and butterscotch. Notes of Werther’s Originals, and maybe Mars bar while we’re at it. Some caramel for sure. Finish: quite long, sweet and malty. Ovaltine. Comments: it’s not that often that you come across some very malty malt whisky. A paradox? Good stuff for sure. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glen Gordon 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1986)

Glen Gordon 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1986) Two stars Don’t we all love this very outmoded label? Glen Gordon’s always been said to be Macallan, but nobody will ever swear that it is. Colour: full gold. Nose: oh lovely! This is very floral, with lilies, large bouquets, also cut grass, fresh walnuts, all these sorts of things… As a consequence, I don’t find much fruits, nor do I find nutty or honeyed smells. Floral it is! And a little mentholated too. Mouth: OBE in action here, with mint and camphor, tar, old herbal liqueurs and all that. There’s some complexity to it but the profile has probably been bent by time in glass. A touch of soap as well, something metallic… That’s not really normal. And yet, no loss of body, it’s even a little fat. Finish: medium, grassy and bitter. Comments: I’ll score this baby because that’s my duty (heavy duty), and because the nose was really pleasant. But this score only goes with this particular bottle, I’m totally sure that other bottles will be much better. SGP:271 - 70 points.

We’re going downwards, aren’t we? Maybe a youngster…

Whisky Galore 5 yo (40%, Whisky Galore, +/-2014)

Whisky Galore 5 yo (40%, Whisky Galore, +/-2014) Three stars The company's located in Huntly, which may hint at Duncan Taylor. I appreciate the fact that they do not hide the age of this wee baby, which is a single malt. Colour: straw. Nose: I’ll tell you what, it reeks of fresh barley, dough, brioche from ten minutes ago, baker’s yeast, cut pears and plain bread, but that’s just very fine. I also seem to detect whiffs of kippers or rollmops, not too sure where that comes from. Mouth: excellent! Barley again, salted fish, overripe apples, sour dough, porridge, grass, Maggi sauce… Young malt as nature intended, full of flaws, full of character, and very honest. A mezcal from Scotland. Finish: rather long, salty, bready and yeasty. Comments: a great surprise. Sure this isn’t 85 or 90 material, and the 40% vol. might be a bit low, but I could sip this away for hours. Right, minutes. SGP:362 - 82 points.

Let’s try to find a worthy finale… Fireworks and drum roll please!

Glen Calder 40yo 1949 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1989)

Glen Calder 40yo 1949 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1989) Four stars and a half A very unusual bottling, as this is a blended Scotch - not blended malt, and yet it’s a single vintage bottling. How unusual indeed, do you know of many vintage blends? Colour: full gold. Nose: I sometimes find old whiskies that do nose like a great old Sauternes, and this baby’s one of them. Some roasted things, plenty of ripe and jammy yellow fruits, a good deal of honey, more raisins than in Raisinland, and a distant smoke that rather hints at coal or charcoal. You’re feeling like you’re sitting with Sir Winston in some much polished London club, a long time ago. Mouth: is there any grain whisky in there? May we see the papers? There’s some artisan cider, some mead, plenty of raisins again, a combination of my favourite honeys (chestnut, thyme, fir), and, of course, a good glass of Yquem and their ilk. Although the roasted side may rather hint at Barsac (showing off now). Only flipside, the low strength makes it slightly ‘hollow’. Finish: maybe a bit short, but what a marvellous old wine. I mean, whisky. Comments: superb. Really old style whisky de salon, only the low power makes it a tad too uncontemporary. SGP:641 - 89 points. (and thank you Sir Angus)



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March 11, 2015


Clynelish 1972-1997

It would be fun to have a few Clynelishes again, but not only ‘new stuff that’s very great but more or less always the same’.

Clynelish 23 yo 1991/2014 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, hogshead, casks #13213+13214, 507 bottles)

Clynelish 23 yo 1991/2014 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, hogshead, casks #13213+13214, 507 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: probably not the waxiest years, ort let’s put it this way, it’s more beehivy than downright waxy, but all that remains lovely. Pollen, overripe apples, flowers, oranges, a touch of seawater, honey… So not a crisp sharp Clynelish either. Its easiest side, so far. Nothing to complain about if you ask me. A few chalky and medicinal touches arising after a few minutes. Chalk and bandages. Mouth: perfekt! It’s got more power now, wax and minerals, a feeling of lamp oil, citrons and lemons, this chalk again, a touch of salt, a camphory side, and always something distinctly medicinal that may annoy a few people. More for us! Finish: long, full of Clynelish character. A very salty and mildly smoky aftertaste – it’s actually one of the saltiest Clynelishes I’ve ever ‘met’. Ex-Laphroaig hogshead? Comments: fantastic. Starts easy and becomes almost a brute, that’s pure life. SGP:462 - 89 points.

Clynelish 1997/2014 (53.3%, Liquid Art, 132 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2014 (53.3%, Liquid Art, 132 bottles) Five stars What’s great with these ones is that they’re both superb and easy to find (generally speaking, many casks of 1997 have and will be bottled). Colour: gold. Nose: this one is a little fatter indeed, a tad smokier as well, and certainly quite waxy. This feeling of waxed citrons that’s so stunningly lovely in my book. And apple peelings, zests, clay… With water: damp clay and chalk all over the place. Plus ink, a touch of humus and of course quite some wax. Linseed oil. Mouth (neat): instantaneous Cleynlishian hit. Wham wax bang clay and zing lemons. Just fab. With water: a little putty, almond crème, faint touches of bleach that are anything but unpleasant here, waxes, salt… Finish: quite long, on salted almonds and all the rest. Comments: one of the best. Hard to beat and so deliciously unmodern. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Good, after that very lovely 1997, why not have other epitomical vintages of Clynelish? Would 1983 and 1972 do?

Clynelish 22 yo 1983/2005 (54.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.45)

Clynelish 22 yo 1983/2005 (54.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.45) Five stars This baby was called ‘sweats and peats’. I’m not sure they racked their brains to come up with that one ;-). Colour: straw. Nose: while we’re clearly in the same family, these 1983s always had more citrus skin, making for a nice bridge between the ueberfruity early 1970s and the more mineral 1990s. This baby’s also got more flowers (dandelions) and a sweeter kind of wax, while many tinier aromas need a little more time to show up. Brine, antiseptic… What’s sure is that the end result is pretty perfect, as expected. We’re approaching old Laphroaig and Ardbeg, in a way. With water (while it turns very cloudy): all waxes of the creation. Mouth (neat): loud applause. It’s zestier this time, sharp, with massive oomph, plenty of lemon, salt, waxes, salt, cough syrup and grapefruit juice. I find this just perfect and pretty unbeatable. Some fudge too. With water: the almondy, putty-like side comes out, together with more rounded citrus. Mattei’s Corsican citron liqueur (whatever!). Finish: rather long, appropriately waxy and citrusy. The aftertaste’s a little bitterer, though. Rubbery smoky mint. Comments: no surprises here, these 1983s are right up my alley, but the 1997s are putting on quite a show as well. SGP:353 - 91 points.

Let’s put an end to this with the 1972. Nope, no 1965 today.

Clynelish 28 yo 1972 (57.3%, Adelphi, cask #14264, 331 bottles, +/-2000)

Clynelish 28 yo 1972 (57.3%, Adelphi, cask #14264, 331 bottles, +/-2000) Four stars What a strength, what a pedigree! Colour: white wine. Nose: uh, pears? No, wait, there’s also apricots, mirabelles… And honeydew, tinned oranges, soft ‘pink’ olive oil, a touch of saltpetre, humus, sweet fresh mushrooms (Caesar’s mushrooms, the king of them all in my book), wee whiff of vetiver and green oranges, lemons, chalk… In fact this is all rather delicate, very complex, and not as immediate as others. Forgot to tell you, the pears are gone. With water: not a fruitbomb at all. So not quite a typical 1972 Clynelish, and we’re even rather close to the mineral 1997s. It’s just a little more flowery and honeyed. Mouth (neat): loses you in a ‘focussed whirlwind of flavours’. I know, that doesn’t make much sense. The small problem is that there’s a kind of slightly rubbery side that prevents it from totally unfurling its usual waxy and fruity sails. On the other hand, everything’s there, mint, chalk, crystallised citrus, inky things, plasticine… In fact, I find it a little too rough for a 1972 Clynelish. Maybe water… With water: yes and no. It got rather simpler, in fact, sweet, very pleasantly fruity – but those are only tinned fruits. Finish: medium length. Mildly waxy tinned oranges and plums plus honey. Comments: very excellent, ‘of course’, but I’m not sure it had some other 1972s’ magnificence and lavishness. So, let’s say this is a mild disappointment. SGP:551 - 87 points.

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



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March 10, 2015


Youngster Madness

Today we’ll have very young whiskies that do not hide their ages. But warning, I have selected these youngsters upon their quality, this is no ‘random’ session. And no worries, we’ll carefully avoid any immature or wine-ised ones … No I don’t consider sherry as ‘wine’ – although of course, sherry’s wine. Well, it’s complicated…

Benromach 5 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Benromach 5 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Benromach! What a coup! Their rebranding (and their whiskies) are doing wonders, and this is yet another smart move, a very young, unassuming malt that did not take the NAS plus silly-names-straight-from-Wikipedia route. Just the opposite! Of course the chatting circles are applauding, and rightly so if you ask me. Colour: white wine. Nose: there, and it’s not been doped with new oak and/or wine! This is some immaculate, smoky/ashy and lemony malt whisky that’s also full of ripe apples and acacia honey. Tight, clean, fresh and lovely. Mouth: extremely summery, fresh, mildly peppery, saline, with apples and this wee ashy sootiness that sometimes hints at Springbank. And it’s so b****y drinkable… Finish: not short, with a bit of fudge beyond the ashes and pepper. A touch of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: nothing’s hidden in this baby. I wouldn’t like to overrate it, but there… SGP:452 - 84 points.

Miltonduff 7 yo 2005/2012 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask # 9239)

Miltonduff 7 yo 2005/2012 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask # 9239) Three stars and a half These humble babies usually go unnoticed (maybe sometimes because they’re too expensive). But… Colour: deep gold. Nose: do you like fudge? Shortbread? Butterscotch? Werther’s Originals? Milk chocolate? Deep-fried Mars bars? Right maybe not deep fried Mars bars, but this in quite perfect if you like those sorts of things. And there are also finer notes of linseed oil and orange liqueur in the background. Sweet oak. Mouth: you could thinks this is bourbon at times, and the oak was very active for sure, but this very rounded mix of maple syrup, butterscotch and oranges works pretty well. Simple pleasures, but pleasures. Finish: quite long, rounded, bourbony and fudgy. Cinnamon cake in the aftertaste – the oak again. Comments: on par with the Benromach, while it’s its antithesis. In the Benromach, it was almost all about the distillate, while in this case, it’s the sweet oak that did the trick. Quality’s equivalent in my book. SGP:541 - 84 points.

Tomatin 2004/2014 (59.1%, Svenska Eldvatten, sherry butt, 168 bottles)

Tomatin 2004/2014 (59.1%, Svenska Eldvatten, sherry butt, 168 bottles) Four stars I agree, this baby’s not that young. Colour: gold. Nose: moist blond tobacco everywhere, then the same kind of fudgy, shortbready notes as in the Miltonduff. The sherry brought raisins, as usual, but also very lovely notes of old earthy tea. Salted butter fudge, love that! With water: oh soaked barley and hay and malty beer and custard and fudge and orange cake! And honey. Mouth (neat): sweet oak, even rye, pepper, nutmeg, ginger liqueur (do you know Domaine de Canton?) and bitter oranges. Almost entirely cask-driven, and yet that worked a treat. A lot of custard after five minutes. With water: sweet malt and sweet spicy oak all over the place. Isn’t that what we came for? Finish: long, sweet, malty, oaky… Could someone bake an oak cake or something? White pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: oh, that was a Tomatin? I haven’t noticed. Only half-joking here, this is excellent woodwork. SGP:651 - 86 points.

Edradour 7 yo 2006/2013 (59.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, oloroso sherry, cask #240, 452 bottles)

Edradour 7 yo 2006/2013 (59.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, oloroso sherry, cask #240, 452 bottles) Four starsI’m meant to do a large Edradour session one day. I will, I will… But in the meantime, let’s have only one. Colour: dark rich amber. Nose: once again, this is fully cask-driven, and once again, that was a great cask. Pencil shavings (cedar wood, of course) and stuff ending with ‘-ol’, then raisins and pipe tobacco, then, oh, ripe mangos! The whole’s not subtle, but balance is perfect and, well, this nose is almost perfect in its non-tertiariness (aren’t you a bit tired, S.?) With water: bready sherry, does that exist? This is fresh pumpernickel dipped into genuine muesli (not those ugly supermarket mueslis). Mouth (neat): Willet! I’m not joking, and I know this was sherry wood, but we’re close to some old Willet bourbon at super-high strength. Sloe, pepper, flower jam, caraway, wholegrain bread, juniper, spicy chutneys… It’s just huge, a true spice cake (not a space cake, eh!) With water: rather fantastic. More spacey spice cake. Finish: long, even spicier, but there are now bags of bitter oranges. Some almonds and plasticine in the aftertaste, that’s the distillate talking. Comments: Edradour’s spirit has improved a huge lot since it was taken over ten years ago or so. This is more evidence – even if the cask helped a lot. SGP:571 - 87 points.

Bunnahabhain 2005/2010 (55.9%, Malts of Scotland, oloroso sherry barrel, cask #3990, 242 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 2005/2010 (55.9%, Malts of Scotland, oloroso sherry barrel, cask #3990, 242 bottles) Four stars and a half I think this one’s not even five. Colour: gold. Nose: it is a little extractive, but what it extracted from the cask consists in menthol, eucalyptus and natural vanilla (pods), while the clear and loud notes of raw malt give it a ‘natural’ side that works really well. Very lovely whiffs of horse stable, farm, hay… With water: perfect peat! As if you were burning lemons in a giant seaweed and hay fire. Mouth (neat): some explosive peat and pink grapefruits! Straight, in your face, but while it’s a little mono-dimensional, the focus is perfect (pure logic, don’t you think?) Excellent lemony mouth feel, and notes of yellow chartreuse as well. Some salt playing around on your lips. With water: amazing straightforwardness. This is peaty limoncello. Finish: long, zesty, yet rounded and polished. Ashy aftertaste. Comments: to be poured blind. Most friends will tell you this baby is 12 or 15. Superb! SGP:566 - 88 points.

Kilchoman 2008/2013 (61%, OB for The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, bourbon, 473 bottles)

Kilchoman 2008/2013 (61%, OB for The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, bourbon, 473 bottles) Four stars Another one that wasn’t quite 5 when it was bottled. Colour: white wine. Nose: very elementary, in a good way. So ultra-narrow, so very sharp, so perfectly chiselled. Lemon juice, seawater, cider apples, beech smoke, and basta. Almost riesling, in other words. With water: we’re locked in a working kiln. Mouth (neat): a blend of lemon juice with white artisan mezcal. It’s very minimal, almost Japanese in a way (we’re talking Japanese design, not whisky). There, I even find sake. With water: brine. Finish: brine, lemon and ashes, for a very long time. Comments: when some whisky’s that narrow, what’s there has to be totally perfect. That was the case here, in my opinion. Almost more Chinese calligraphy than whisky, if you see what I mean. SGP:357 - 87 points.

Port Charlotte 2003/2014 (62.9%, Svenska Eldvatten, 156 bottles)

Port Charlotte 2003/2014 (62.9%, Svenska Eldvatten, 156 bottles) Four stars and a half I know, this baby’s not that young either, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to try a PC after the Kilchoman, while we were in the Rhinns of Islay. I think it’s going to be this session’s last whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: much rounder and fruitier than the Kilchoman. Fresh butter, cut Golden Delicious, plenty of custard, and not much smoke. But yeah, that may be the super-high strength… So with water: there are a few fermentary notes (sportsmen might quote gym socks) but in a strange way, those do go very well with the heavy ashes and the kilny whiffs. Old coal stove. Touches of pears in the background – I told you, this is still quite young. Mouth (neat): the strength makes you yodel. High lemon, grapefruit and, now it’s coming, ‘green’ brine. Probably as finely chiselled as the Kilchoman, it’s just that I need my tongue (for respectable purposes, mind you). With water: almonds, anchovies, lemon, kippers… You name it. Coastal ashes. Finish: long and very ashy. You’d think you just had the ashtray instead of your sandwich. Ha! Pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: very funny, very entertaining, and very extreme. For big boys – or Swedes ;-). SGP:358 - 88 points.



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March 9, 2015


HP Odin and consorts

Today we’ll have the much talked about Odin, and then a careful selection of emblematic HPs, some pretty recent.  Now, novelties remain novelties for around 7 days, 4 hours and 32 minutes these days, and then they’re already old news. In short, the past.

Highland Park 16 yo 'Odin' (55.8%, OB, Valhalla Collection, 17000 bottles, 2015)

Highland Park 16 yo 'Odin' (55.8%, OB, Valhalla Collection, 17000 bottles, 2015) Four stars From a combination of firstfill sherry casks and refill hogsheads. As usual, all this Norse paraphernalia tends to leave us Latins rather cold, but after all, it’s the content that counts. I mean, the bottle's content, not the marketing content. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the sherry feels, and comes with some raisins soaked in kirsch as well as touches of gunpowder and nutmeg. Then we find more eau-de-vie-soaked cake (fruitcake with dates and figs), charcoal, burning pipe, struck matches and strong mead, with a fermentary side. It’s a little rough, perhaps, and may lack a bit of the luscious complexity of older sherried Highland Parks. With water: some kind of smoked stout, smoky mustard, walnuts… A wee feintiness, perhaps, but after tne minutes, more biscuits do emerge and it rather gets rounder. Mouth (neat): rather hot and spicy. Cumin, pepper, bitter oranges, raisins, slivovitz, ginger. Rather gritty, with a slightly acrid smokiness. With water: the spices keep singing (nutmeg, caraway, ginger) and suggest some active oak’s been used. Smoky walnuts and more bitter oranges. Ginger liqueur. Finish: rather long, peppery, slightly salty/smoky. Bitter oranges again in the aftertaste. Comments: very fine, rather powerful, but not very ‘polished’. The oak’s spices are a tad loud for my taste. Was that Odin’s personality? SGP:462 - 86 points.

Highland Park 14 yo 1999/2014 (52.1%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, cask #800172, 227)

Highland Park 14 yo 1999/2014 (52.1%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, cask #800172, 227) Four stars and a half The price is a little more than 1/3 of that of Odin, but the packaging isn’t as fancy, is it. I know, I know. Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s fully natural, that is to say very mildly smoky but quite mineral, with oils, then grass and apple peelings, then this coastal je-ne-sais-quoi that’s very Highland Park, then ripe apples and unrefined sugar. In a way, this is the antithesis of Odin. With water: coal smoke, grass, a little porridge, ashes, lemony barley sugar. Mouth (neat): it’s an old-Highlands kind of HP, smoky (much smokier than the nose suggested), peppery, very mineral, with some linseed oil as well, green apples, some salt for sure – I mean, a saltiness – and then wax and lemons that make it more Clynelishian. With water: perfect old-Highlands style, self-restrained, elegant, mineral, smoky, kind of engine-y, salty… Finish: quite long, with this mild grassy bitterness that works so well in a finish. Comments: I really prefer this cleaner, more natural style. That’s me. SGP:452 - 88 points.

But back to sherry…

Highland Park 22 yo 1992/2014 (59.6%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 234 bottles)

Highland Park 22 yo 1992/2014 (59.6%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 234 bottles) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: hold on, Cadenhead, there’s a typo, this must have been a rum cask! And a ‘heavy’ one, Trinidad or Jamaica or something, because I find these olivy dried fruits and these orangey bananas… or something. And earth, tobacco, wee whiffs of cow stable, fermenting oranges, almond oils, walnuts, mustard… Now maybe was it some sherry wood-matured rum? Forgot to tell you, I love this nose. With water: clean earth and leather, if you see what I mean. Mouth (neat): a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Green lemons, yellow tobacco, pink olives, blue peat and strong agaves (rather than sugar cane). I may have muddled up my adjectives, apologies. With water: maybe was it a sherry cask indeed. Tart oranges, salt, a touch of antiseptic and always quite some tobacco. Finish: long, on the same notes plus an earthy/leathery side. Fresh limoncello in the aftertaste. Comments: how embarrassing, Cadenhead did it again. To be very honest, the last thing I want is to sound as if I was biased toward those good people, and I’ve even considered not reviewing the new ones for a while, but that would be just… stupid. And rather masochistic. Between us, the best thing that happened to Scotch malt whisky in the last two years was Cadenhead’s incredible revival. Not that they were down, of course, not at all, but there… Loud (albeit uncomfortable) applause! SGP:552 - 91 points.

Could some older official compete? Let’s see…

Highland Park 30 yo (48.1%, OB, +/-2014)

Highland Park 30 yo (48.1%, OB, +/-2014) Five stars It is the current ‘regular’ 30 years old, bottled at reduced strength since quite some years. What, 2007 or something? We’ve tried earlier batches many times and always liked it a lot, so… let’s see. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: yes. Kills Odin and all the gods, semi-gods and quarter-gods that they have up there at our great friends’ in Scandinavia. This is much more complex, ‘traditionally’ HP (heather honey and stuff), orange-y, brioche-y, fudge-y, perfume-y (that’ll do, S.)… And I simply love these notes of ‘a new pack of Camels’, even if I haven’t smoked any since ages. But I remember them well, I believe Camel was the first, and later on the very last pack of cigarettes I’ve bought. But we’re digressing, aren’t we. Mouth: oh sweet Vishnu, this is perfect. It’s got the bite, the coastalness, the peppery smoke of any true HP, and then the rounder, aromatic, glazed-chestnut-like notes that complement the saps and honeys that are so emblematic of HP in my own little book. And this lovely old rancio from the sherry casks. Perfect. Finish: long, both lively and rounded, with a perfect complexity. Does ‘the peacock’s tail’. Great smoke and saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: this, is luxury whisky, and it is understandable that this kind of bottle wouldn’t be priced like any junky modern wood-and-wine-driven-hidden-age composition. Expensive, but I’m afraid it’s worth its price. SGP:552 - 91 points.

Why not have a last one? Just for fun, but we’ll try to ‘climb over’ both the 22 CAD and the 30 OB…. Let’s try (please fasten your belts)…

Highland Park 35 yo 1973/2009 (56.3%, OB, Velier, Italy, cask #13352)

Highland Park 35 yo 1973/2009 (56.3%, OB, Velier, Italy, cask #13352) Five starsWe’ve already tried a few stunning 1973s. Binny’s, anyone? (WF 94). Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s not one of these old-style sherried one, or maybe are we experiencing the wonders of some perfect refill cask. It is entrancing whisky. The complexity is amazing. The beehivy/waxy/honeyed fruitiness is flabbergasting. The floral side is ensouling. And I’m in awe. This is why Scotch malt is a superior spirit that (can) beat them all. Also love the minerality, the salinity and the earthiness. It’s meta-whisky. With water: minerals, pu-erh tea, earthy tobacco, old leather, rubbed orange skin. Mouth (neat): it’s quite brutal, it’s got earth, roots and saps, it’s slightly resinous… And it’s stunning. Have you ever tried the legendary 1962 ‘John Goodwin’? This is rather similar as far as profiles are concerned, only more brutal, potent and mineral. In short, this is fruity cough syrup at very high strength. With water: citrons, eucalyptus, cough syrup, a touch of olivy brine and… please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: long, citrusy, mineral and even saltier than before. Shouts ‘coastal Highlands forever!’ Smokier aftertaste. Quite some lemongrass too. Comments: forgot to tell you that the mouthfeel was fat and oily, almost like oily honey, and yet the freshness was incredible. Other than that, some perfect sherry casks may have been even ‘higher’ in the past, but this pretty naked style is/was simply masterly. Luca, belated congrats. SGP:562 - 93 points.

That’s it folks. (with thanks to Marlene)

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



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March 8, 2015


Malternatives on Sunday,
yet another bag of rums

With quite a few hundred different rums behind your tie, we might be approaching some kind of very low-grade connoisseurship. Let’s say we’re not quite total beginners anymore, so while we’ll still have a mixed bag today, we might start to do better ‘focused’ sessions soon, such as single countries, styles, ages… We’ll see. But in the meantime…

Caña Brava 3 yo (43%, OB, Panama, Las Cabres Distillery, +/-2014)

Caña Brava 3 yo (43%, OB, Panama, Las Cabres Distillery, +/-2014) This is molasses rum that’s aged for two years in virgin American oak, then one further year in refill barrels, then blended with older rums, then carbon filtered and chill filtered, which removes the colour and any excessive oakiness. I believe that’s called the ‘carta blanca’ style. Colour: white. Nose: dry, slightly feinty and very spirity. Whiffs of wood alcohol and raw kirsch. Not too sure this should be nosed. Pass. Mouth: sweet this time, almost sugary. Sugarcane syrup mixed with slivovitz. Finish: rather long, very spirity and sugary. Crunching muscovado sugar dipped into kirsch, what we call ‘un canard’ over here. Maybe a little pineapple in the aftertaste. Comments: not for sipping. Maybe in cocktails, but it hasn’t got much character. SGP:720 – 35 points.

I’ll try to find more rewarding rums later on… We deserve them! But let’s try another ‘white aged rum’, you never know…

The Real McCoy 3 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, Foursquare Distillery, +/-2014)

The Real McCoy 3 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, Foursquare Distillery, +/-2014) The process is similar to that of the Cana Brava, but of course Foursquare’s got a much higher reputation and their rums are usually much more flavourful. Let’s see… Colour: white. Nose: yeah, there’s something happening in this one. Olives and tar plus plasticine and clear notes of sugar cane. It’s not big, and it’s even a little frustrating, but yeah, something’s happening. Mouth: indeed, there’s more ‘stuff’ than in the Panamanian, but I still find it spirity and rough, and quite narrow. Less sweet, but the spirity side is obvious. Not a sipper either, I’d say. Finish: rather long, a bit hot and rough, then sugary. A touch of olive brine in the aftertaste, phew! Comments: for a mojito, not for a tasting glass, unless you add piles of ice. SGP:531 - 59 points.

There’s also a properly aged 12 yo, let’s try it!

The Real McCoy 12 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, Foursquare Distillery, +/-2014)

The Real McCoy 12 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, Foursquare Distillery, +/-2014) Two stars and a half What’s very important is that Foursquare do not add any ‘sugar, flavours or perfumes’ to their rums. Bravo! There are so many ugly sweetened rums around… Colour: dark gold. Nose: there! Sure there’s a little new oak (coconut, pencil shavings and warm sawdust) but all the rest is extremely pleasant, both rounded and with asperities (is that possible, S.?) Dried bananas, a touch of tar and ink, something slightly coastal (tarry ropes on an old boat and all that), then more toasted bread and brioche. Very nice balance. Mouth: a bit on the sweet/liqueury side, with some coconut biscuit and macaroons coated with a little sweet oak and quite a lot of vanilla, but I find it pleasant. It’s rather Foursquare light, I’d say – as far as I can tell. No big body this time. Finish: short, on vanilla and toasted bread. Comments: a modern style that reminds me of some contemporary light yet oak-driven Scottish malts. But it goes down very well. SGP:620 – 78 points.

Nicaraguan Rum 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, +/-2012)

Nicaraguan Rum 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, +/-2012) Two stars Nicaragua does not quite make my favourite style of rum, but you never know… Colour: dark straw. Nose: shy. Sugar and grass, perhaps? Some hay, some gravel, some paper, perhaps… Hello? It’s only after ten good minutes that a little tobacco comes through, as well as very faint notes of fermentation, manure and things. Also coconut of vanilla from the cask, but the whole remains very quiet. Mouth: nah, it’s pleasant, sweet but not too sweet, roundly grassy, with some hay and tobacco again. But other than that, not much. A shy distillate. Finish: short, a tad dirty (dust, cardboard). Comments: probably not bad at all, just kind of uninteresting. Unless you try to bottle rum from just any country that makes rum, of course. SGP:430 - 70 points.

... And while I'm no Zacapista...

Zacapa 'Centenario XO Solera Gran Reserva Especial' (40%, OB, Guatemala, decanter, +/-2013)

Zacapa 'Centenario XO Solera Gran Reserva Especial' (40%, OB, Guatemala, decanter, +/-2013) Two stars Another go at Zacapa. Little luck so far, I’ve always found the Zacapas way too sugary. Colour: dark amber. Nose: oh but this is rather nice, very fragrant, flowery and fruity. Rosewater, orange blossom, banana liqueur, then caramel, praline, warm croissants, raisins and honeysuckle. More and more honeysuckle, actually, this is fun! A feeling of self-restrained PX. Mouth: yeah, this is where the problem lies, it’s more liqueur than spirit, and the mouth feel is light and even thin. Raisins, banana liqueur, Turkish delights, Cointreau, more Cointreau, and even more Cointreau. Oak-aged triple-sec. Finish: short and sweet. Comments: you just need to have a sweet tooth, and then I’m sure you’d like this, because it’s well made. I haven’t. SGP:820 - 74 points.

Enough with the weak ones, let’s have a monster!

Travellers 8 yo 2005/2014 (64%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #SF48, 277 bottles)

Travellers 8 yo 2005/2014 (64%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #SF48, 277 bottles) Three stars and a half Let’s hope this little baby won’t tear our tongue out. Colour: amber. Nose: Werther’s Originals, vanilla, warm brioche, caramel and milk chocolate. It might be a little blocked. With water: the sugarcane is coming out, and so are the cigars, raisins, dried porcinis, menthol, seawater… I love water! Mouth: bang! Burns you a bit. Marshmallows and caramel plus coconut and vanilla. Mars bar at cask strength. Water is obligatory, its rather locked when neat. With water: hurray! We’re right between the phenolic Jamaicans and the rounder and sweeter South-Americans, although it’s the sweet sides that tends to take over. Finish: long, with a little more grass, oranges and molasses, as well as more spices and liquorice. Comments: as I wrote, water is deeply needed here, but then it really delivers. SGP:651 - 83 points.

Let’s try to find something older and rarer as the digestif…

Appleton Reserve 20 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, stone flagon, +/-1970)

Appleton Reserve 20 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, stone flagon, +/-1970) Five stars We’re bordering rum mania with this kind of bottling, aren’t we? And there will be more of those kinds in the future. I have to say I have found the modern aged Appletons I could try pretty uninspiring (and almost sickly sweet), while the younger ones have been much more to my liking. But let’s try this oldie… Colour: amber. Nose: bingo! This is some pure Jamaican, with everything briny, tarry, olivy, and tropical at the same time. For example, there are these passion fruits and mangos that are akin to those found in some old Laphroaigs, such as the first 10 yo CS (green stripe) or the famous Bonfantis. There’s also a tarry earthiness, perhaps a mix of pitch and clay? A wonderful nose, this baby kept well in its stone flagon. Mouth: exactly the same as in the nose, word for word, plus a touch of honey and toffee. Exceptional     notes of sugar cane and tropical fruits, especially a lot of citrus and mango. Blood oranges. Finish: not extremely long, possibly because of the lower strength, but the freshness and the sappy/phenolic side are quite stunning. A touch of salt in the aftertaste. And tinned sardines and anchovies! Comments: some (including this humble taster) usually claim that rum, however great, is rather less complex a spirit than malt whisky. Well, this is a perfect counterexample then. Please call the Anti-Rumoporn Brigade! SGP:653 – 92 points.

Oh hell, we could as well try another ‘last old glory’ while we’re at it. Let’s try to match that brilliant old Appleton with some agricole…

Montebello 1948/1990 (47%, OB, France, Guadeloupe)

Montebello 1948/1990 (47%, OB, France, Guadeloupe) Four stars and a halfMontebello’s not a very old distillery, as it was built in 1930 as ‘Distillerie Carrère’. I remained very small and right after WWII – so when this baby was distilled – it was almost transformed into a theatre. I’ve read that Montebello believe in longer fermentations, which can’t be bad. Having said that, not 100% sure this 1948 is rhum agricole, not all distillers in the French Caribbean only make agricole, contrarily to popular belief. This 40yo was matured in an ex-armagnac cask. Colour: amber. Nose: this should be agricole. It’s got these very phenolic and tarry notes that can be found in contemporary Bellevue from Guadeloupe – and possibly in modern Montebello, not too sure as I haven’t tried them yet. Soot, liquorice, cellar earth, burnt caramel, tarry ropes, seawater, salty ham-filled prunes, fir liqueur, cough syrup… This mentholy and tarry earthiness is truly wonderful. Mouth: a tad smoother than the Appleton, but we’re well in the same ‘dundery’ family, with plenty of phenols and ‘congenery’ notes, salt, black olives, rotting oranges, other fermenting fruits (bananas), some eucalyptus, myrtle, caraway… All that on top of some raisiny oranges that bring a sweeter side. Finish: it’s funny that the sweeter side took over (crystallised oranges) but the salty liquorice hasn’t given up, especially in the aftertaste. Comments: less an instant hit than the Appleton, and it may well be a little less complex, but brilliant old rhum it is. SGP:642 - 89 points.

(and grazzie mille, Francesco)

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



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March 6, 2015


Two Oban

It’s a bit sad that there aren’t more occasions to taste new Obans these days, as no indies have any, apparently. In short, a different Oban is as rare as an action movie without Liam Neeson these days. Let’s see if we can taste these worm tubs… ;-)…

Oban 1998/2013 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, Montilla fino finish) Four stars No, Montilla isn't sherry, as is often written, but it's very close. Last time we tried Oban DE that was in 2009, with a 1993 that I really liked (WF 86) even if it's been rather destroyed by the extraordinary young 2000 'Managers' Choice. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there’s this salinity at first nosing, which comes with walnuts and tobacco, as well as touches of moist coffee grounds. Also some brine and – am I dreaming – seaweed. I find it more coastal than before. Notes of old wine cellar, a mustiness, infused mint leaves… All that is pretty complex! Mouth: spicy oranges with a layer of sweet mustard and sour apple cake, then more smoky notes. Green and spicy peat. The impression of chewing a good cigar. The strength works well, the sprit’s big enough. Finish: quite long, with some juniper, marmalade and a salty touch that plays with your lips. Comments: some personality! At times you’d think Oban is keeping a close eye on Campbeltown. Score unchanged, would probably be significantly higher at 45-46%. SGP:452 - 86 points.

Oban 'Little Bay' (43%, OB, 2015)

Oban 'Little Bay' (43%, OB, 2015) Four stars Another new NAS that comes with a story about wood management, but this time it’s a bit ‘different’. Various casks of different ages have been married together in 'small and relatively inactive' American oak barrels. That, I cannot not like, I've often shamelessly advocated the idea of using active wood first, rather than the opposite as is customary everywhere in Scotland (finishing). I also quite like the name 'interactive maturation'. Smart! Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s not impossible that I should have had this baby before the DE, as it’s a little silent after that one. It noses like a milder, shier DE, but the distillery’s character still shines through, which is the main thing in my opinion. In fact it’s a little dryer, probably a little smokier, with less musty notes, but maybe a few more farmy ones. Slightly feintier as well. After ten minutes, we got even closer to the DE, but the little bay remains smokier. Some sawdust, but very little. Mouth: very close indeed! Quite an achievement, as this Little Bay is probably much younger than the DE. A little more on pepper, perhaps. Finish: quite long, rather dry, peppery, smoky and slightly grassy… Comments: forgot to say, Little Bay in Gaelic is… Oban. So this is Oban Oban. NAS with body and structure that doesn’t only come from the wood. SGP:363 - 85 points.

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



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March 5, 2015


Seven ryes

Some say that rye is any malt enthusiast’s favourite American whiskey. That may be true, but rye doesn’t only come from North America these days. What’s very funny is that in America, and unless I’m completely wrong, whiskey must be made from a grain mixture that’s at least 51% rye to earn the right to be named ‘rye’. Why not 100%? Anyway, let’s have a few ryes of the world, more or less at random…

Michter's ‘US*1 Straight Rye (42.4%, OB, USA, +/-2014)

Michter's ‘US*1 Straight Rye (42.4%, OB, USA, +/-2014) Three stars and a half This is most probably sourced rye. Michter’s bourbon was sourced as well, and yet we quite liked it. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got this perfumy and spicy nose, with bready notes as well, but also quite some brioche, fudge, shortbread and maple syrup that make it round and very approachable. A touch of lavender, some cracked pepper as well, and some marzipan. Very smooth. Mouth: like this. It’s easy, and yet it’s firm, spicy but not too much, with a hoppy side, notes of pumpernickel bread, gingerbread, some honey, geranium, bitter oranges, a touch of Chinese anise… The oak’s noticeable of course, but it never gets in the spirit’s way. Finish: medium length. Easy, earthier now, which is great. Comments: the new Michter’s may not make this themselves, but I find it just excellent on a Mitteleuropaisches palate. This session starts well. SGP:461 - 84 points.

Sonoma ‘County Rye’ (48%, OB, LMDW, USA, 2014)

Sonoma ‘County Rye’ (48%, OB, LMDW, USA, 2014) Four stars We had tried an earlier bottling that was done under the ‘1512 Spirits’ name, and liked it a lot (WF 85). Colour: full gold. Nose: oh this is wilder, rougher, less tamed with sweet oak than the Michter’s, closer to the grain, more bready and more herbal. I love this, however young it is. It’s like if you had let some bread ferment, and then just distilled it. Stunning notes of concentrated tar and gingerbread liqueur (like some make here in Alsace – but this is much nicer). Mouth: really my thing. Some kind of spicy molasses, all kinds of wholegrain breads, some liquorice (no, truckkkkloads of liquorice) and some unsweetened almond paste – which wouldn’t be marzipan. Some might find this a little sticky, but I… no, right, it is a little sticky. Finish: very long, spicy. Cinchona, kummel, juniper and gingerbread. A lot of gingerbread. Comments: they may be improving. This, is true artisan spirit, kudos! And I believe it’s 100% rye. SGP:471 - 86 points.

Copper Fox Rye (45%, OB, USA, Bottled April 2013)

Copper Fox Rye (45%, OB, USA, Bottled April 2013) Two stars and a half Better let the good folks at Master of Malt tell us what this is. Well, it’s ‘2/3 rye grain and 1/3 malted barley, kiln dried using 60% Applewood and 40% Cherrywood. Following that it was double pot-stilled and left to age in a bourbon barrel, along with new and used Applewood and oak chips, finally to be finished in a second fill bourbon barrel.’ Some cookery! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not ridiculous at all after the Sonoma, I have to say. Not on par, but not ridiculous. Far from that! It’s got a fresh, herbal side that works very well, lavender and geranium, cut grass, hay, then brown bread and baker’s yeast. Like this nose, we’re very far from the early Wasmund’s that used to make us all kind of laugh… I even find whiffs of kippers! Mouth: yes! Better this than immature oak-doped Scotch? The woods may do all the work here, but this spicy herbalness just works on my palate. Mint, juniper, liquorice, myrtle, pink pepper, more juniper. The body’s a bit light though, what may be lacking is depth. In other words, an horizontal whisky – which doesn’t mean it’s flat, eh. Finish: tends to lose steam, but that’s all right. Comments: a very encouraging rye. Only the light body was a little frustrating, after the thickish Sonoma. SGP:461 - 79 points.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 yo Rye (49.5%, OB, USA, +/-2014)

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 yo Rye (49.5%, OB, USA, +/-2014) Three stars A lot of story comes with this sourced whiskey, but that doesn’t always mean less substance – and there’s 95% rye in the mashbill, hurray! Colour: full gold. Nose: this one’s rather more discreet, self-restrained, flowery and kind of fresh. Moist full-honeyed gingerbread, spice cake, kummel and oak-aged gin. Quite some maple syrup too, then fennel and dill aplenty. Another one that works, in other words. Mouth: this is liquid gingerbread! The kummel is big too, you would think it’s oak aged aquavit or something. Big cloves, mouthwash, more caraway and cumin… No, even more than that, plus the usual bready notes. Finish: quite long, with a few varnishy notes now. A bit harsh. Comments: I find it a little bestial, but other than that, there isn’t much to complain about. Maybe the most bourbony of them all so far. SGP:371 - 80 points.

Buffalo Trace 2001/2013 Rye Bourbon 125 (45%, OB, Experimental Collection)

Buffalo Trace 2001/2013 Rye Bourbon 125 (45%, OB, USA, Experimental Collection) one star and a half The word ‘experimental’ along a product that’s meant to be pretty traditional is always a bit scary, but let’s see. We’ll spare you the any details about this ‘experiment’, I haven’t even checked them myself. Colour: deep gold. Nose: honey and rye, vanilla, warm sawdust, maple syrup, maybe hints of agave syrup, more vanilla, some caramel. Not a lot of individuality after the others, it seems. This one’s rather more caramelly, and lacks the freshness that was in the Smooth Ambler, for example. Mouth: no no no… It’s too varnishy, oaky, biting, rough… Not quite oak juice, but there… Finish: long but drying, oaky… Comments: too much oak for me, and not enough rye. SGP:371 - 68 points.

New York Distilling Company Rye (Unknown ABV, cask sample, 2014)

New York Distilling Company Rye (Unknown ABV, cask sample, 2014) Three stars and a half We don’t do cask samples – or we’d be dead – but his is different, it’s a cask sample from the new NYC Distillery that our good friend Jon Beach brought back from Brooklyn. Around two years old, according to the colour. Colour: deep gold. Nose: not yet big, but balance is already there, with these lovely notes of bread, brioche and gingerbread, plus these touches of juniper and geranium. When I write geranium, I mean flowers, not leaves – which would be a flaw. This baby seems to be rather smooth and rounded, not wild unbridled rye. We’re in a large city after all. Mouth: they could bottle this, easily. Freshly squeezed oranges, lavender sweets, Alsatian spicy hard gingerbread, a little earth, earthy tea pu-erh style, mushrooms… But this is quite perfect! Finish: long, rather on the spicy side. Nutmeg and cloves plus caraway and juniper berries. Comments: some great spicy rye for sure. Quality’s very high. I’ll buy a bottle when this is out. SGP:461 - 84 points.

A last one, just for fun…

Juuri 'Unaged Rye' (46.3%, OB, Kyrö Distillery, Finland, +/-2014)

Juuri 'Unaged Rye' (46.3%, OB, Kyrö Distillery, Finland, +/-2014) A new distillery. I haven’t done my homework, I do not know much about them, I’m afraid. The Swiss-Japanese packaging is nice, though. Colour: white. Nose: hot and raw, this is new make. Some of you might know that I do distil some stuff myself every year since 25 years (with a bunch of old friends), and what I can tell you is that our ‘new make’ – whichever the fruits and stuff we’re distilling – is less harsh and rough than this. More or less yogurt at cask strength ;-). Mouth: better on the palate. Warm butter, sour cream, fish, yeast… and all that. Sour apples. Finish: long, spirity and yeasty. Comments: I’m deeply sorry, I’m sure the people up there are great, and cool, and knowledgeable, and enthusiastic, and passionate (and they might even love Frank Zappa), and yeah the packaging is great, but I think this is not quite the kind of unaged spirit that anyone should ‘throw’ into the market. Apologies. SGP:341 - 40 points.

Session killed.



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March 4, 2015


Little duels, Balbair OB vs. Cadenhead

In theory, an older unfiddled with indie malt should defeat a much younger OB at a lower strength, but this is Balblair and Balblair’s recent bottlings, even when young, have often been… just perfect. So let’s not start counting our chickens just yet…

Balblair 1999/2014 (46%, OB, 2nd release)

Balblair 1999/2014 (46%, OB, 2nd release) Four starsColour: full gold. Nose: traces of juicy golden sultanas may suggest there’s some sherry in this, but it does not nose ‘sherry’. What’s loud and clear is rather the trademark fruitiness, with a crushed slice of ripe banana on top of many apples, blood oranges, ripe greengages and a solid dose of custard, probably from some fairly active American oak. Also whiffs of clay and cut grass for good balance. Very, very “Balblair”, fresh and fruity.  Oh and there are also whiffs of white flowers. Mouth: balanced fruits indeed. Ripe apples and mirabelles, then a greener oak, quite some mead (also what they call chouchen in Brittany, which is a fermented mix of apple juice and honey), then more and more lemon drops, limejuice, a slightly bitter grassiness that kind of loops with the green oak, and even something faintly medicinal. Cough syrup? Finish: quite long, rather on lemons and their skins. Comments: not just fruits. A rather bigger middle-aged Balblair. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Balblair 1990/2015 (52.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Balblair 1990/2015 (52.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: there are notes of almond fudge and pinesap at first nosing, possibly from oak oils, as well as a little damp clay and wee notes of vase water, or ‘duck pond’. But the fruits are soon to come to the surface (ha!), with a greener profile than that of the OB. So rather green apples, gooseberries, also grapefruits… With water: fruits in the front. In a way, it’s rather narrow, but that’s a pleasant narrowness. No wait, after ten minutes, more aromatic herbs do come out, especially spearmint. Mouth (neat): a rather perfect blend of lemon squash, barley water, maybe drinking clay, with a few tiny drops of Red Bull (with apologies to W.M. Cadenhead). Quite zesty! With water: fruits and mint. These herbal/minty notes that water brings out really are assets. Finish: rather long. A funny feeling of Scottish mojito. Comments: this baby loves water. It was a close call. SGP:561 - 86 points.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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March 3, 2015


Benriach, quite vertically

We’ll try quite a few Benriachs today, and we’ll start with an easy aperitif…

Benriach 20 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2013)

Benriach 20 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2013) Three stars and a half The first time I tried the ‘new’ 20 in 2010, I really enjoyed its fruity lightness (WF 86). Colour: pale gold. Nose: as I remembered it, that is to say light and fresh, full of yellow flowers, apple juice, heather honey, then rather some faint mineral touches including a wee chalky side. Whiffs of unlit blond cigarettes. Say Camels. And vanilla. It’s a delicate, yet very easy one. Some would call this ‘feminine’, but I know women who wouldn’t agree. Mouth: apple juice and apple pie in the arrival, very little tropicalness if you really need to compare it with older Benriachs, notes of candied beer, vanilla, a touch of walnutty dry white wine (the oak talking, I guess) and more apples. A little less fresh and fruity than the nose suggested. Finish: not very long, with more apples and walnuts. Comments: little obvious Benriachness in this one, and in a way it reminds me of the previous owners’ 10 years old, but its solid, honest lightish malt. SGP:641 - 84 points.

Benriach 1998/2014 (56.1%, OB for Independent Spirit, triple distilled, PX sherry finish, cask #7630, 631 bottles)

Benriach 1998/2014 (56.1%, OB for Independent Spirit, triple distilled, PX sherry finish, cask #7630, 631 bottles) Three stars These triple distilled batches should be (even) lighter, unless the PX speaks loud. Colour: amber. Nose: we’re rather in fortified wine territories here, with some ‘pale’ spicy fruitcake. Dried apricots, touches of ginger and star anise, a little leather and soft mustard, some fruity pipe tobacco and various kinds of raisins. With water: maple syrup and mirabelle juice in an old wine cellar. I have to say this works very well at this point. Mouth (neat): I find this one rather strange now, as it blends some sweet bonbons with a rather sharp spiciness. Crushed orange drops mixed with ginger and cumin liqueurs, or something like that. Add two glasses of bitter walnut wine. A little Campari-like, if you will. With water: some saponification happening. Hints of violet sweets coming through, together with more grass. Finish: rather long, spicy. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: typical finishing, not too sure everything had enough time to mingle together. For Benriach lovers who’re seeking different Benriachs, perhaps. Loved the nose when diluted, though. SGP:651 - 80 points.

Benriach 1994/2014 (54.6%, OB for Independent Spirit, peated, oloroso sherry finish, cask #806)

Benriach 1994/2014 (54.6%, OB for Independent Spirit, peated, oloroso sherry finish, cask #806) Five stars Let’s be careful, this one’s peated! Colour: dark amber. Nose: yes! As usual, and in my own little book, oloroso does the trick much better than PX, and blends so much better with a peater, even if this is only a finishing. Some good chocolate that you would crunch on the shores of the Atlantic while burning dried seaweed and singing Dylan. You may cancel the last bit. With water: a little ink, old leather (old style wine enthusiasts would quote Russian leather), putty, carbolinium, creosote… What’s not to like? Mouth (neat): there is a touch of violet once again, but also plenty of brown tobacco (sucking an untipped Gauloise), chocolate, very salty black olives and maybe one prune. With water: tar, brine, olives, ink and all that. Oranges at the fruit department. Finish: long, beautifully dry, smoky and orangey. The aftertaste is rather farmy. Comments: now we’re talking! Success all around. SGP:466 - 90 points.

Benriach 16 yo 1996/2012 (51.1%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon hogshead, 275 bottles)

Benriach 16 yo 1996/2012 (51.1%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon hogshead, 275 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: sweet barley and ripe western garden fruits all around, plus a little sunflower oil. Straight, easy, balanced, full. You may add a little Fanta, perhaps. With water: more butterscotch, Werther’s Original and acacia honey. Indisputably very nice. Mouth (neat): sweet, creamy, slightly liqueury western fruits. Plums, apples, white cherries, gooseberries, all that coated with custard and a little fudge. Simple and excellent. With water: barley sugar and water! Finish: medium length, clean, fudgy and fruity. Pears in the aftertaste. Comments: irrefutable. Very easy and very good. Just not extremely complex, but who cares! SGP:551 - 85 points.

Benriach 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 14017, 282 bottles)

Benriach 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 14017, 282 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: very similar. Very very similar. Totally similar, in fact. The oak’s a notch more apparent, maybe, but we’re splitting hairs again. Mouth: same very good blend of garden fruits with vanilla, butterscotch, light honey and fudge. Goes down well, very well. Finish: same comments. Fudge and apples, pears and gooseberries, plus a little sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: I can’t see who wouldn’t enjoy this easy and perfectly balanced style. Maybe narcissistic, obnoxious perverts? SGP:551 – 85 points.

Benriach 20 yo 1993/2014 (52.3%, OB for The Whisky Agency, virgin American oak finish, cask #7977, 277 bottles)

Benriach 20 yo 1993/2014 (52.3%, OB for The Whisky Agency, virgin American oak finish, cask #7977, 277 bottles) Three stars I usually find virgin oak very scary, but I’ve tried some ‘viriginised’ Benriachs that have been to my liking in the past. Colour: gold. Nose: I would not say this is downright plankish, it’s rather notes of green tea, other teas and green bananas that seem to have been added to this otherwise slightly silent Benriach that’s globally shyer than the others. Touches of dried coconut. With water: apple juice. Mouth (neat): bourbon! Was this Benriach triple distilled? So coconut, vanilla, fudge, maple syrup and a touch of rye. Rye? With water: more malt, but the bourbony side’s still there. A little mint, possibly a wood extract. Finish: not too long, but pleasantly fruity and fudgy, not unlike the 1996s. Comments: enjoyable but I find it a little dispensable, given that there are so many good middle-aged Benriachs around. SGP:541 - 81 points.

Benriach 24 yo 1990/2014 (50.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #100142, 315 bottles)

Benriach 24 yo 1990/2014 (50.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #100142, 315 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: the wonders of old refills! This is fresher than most others, more delicate, and yet it’s no fruit bomb, as if the longer ageing had just made it more, yeah, delicate. Funny notes of poiré (pear cider), then marshmallows, tangerines, blueberries and the lightest marzipan. As Art Blakey would have said, it’s whispering low but you can still hear it. With water: a touch of farminess. Mouth (neat): not that delicate anymore, and even rather spicy, beyond the crisp fruitiness. Oranges and barley water, pink grapefruits, a touch of ginger and nutmeg from the oak. With water: a fruit salad, with both fresh and tinned fruits. Finish: medium length. More fruits in soft spices. Comments: not quite wow, but very hey hey (diving to new lows here, S.) SGP:651 - 87 points.

Benriach-Glenlivet 22 yo 1992/2015 (52.9%, Cadenhead, rum cask)

Benriach-Glenlivet 22 yo 1992/2015 (52.9%, Cadenhead, rum cask) Four stars This new baby has spent its last years, that is to say from October 2007 to this year, in a rum cask. BTW some great really old rums by CAD are in, check these pages on Sundays… Colour: straw. Nose: the rum is loud and clear, and it’s from the infernal French agricole-Jamaica-Demerara triangle if I’m not mistaken. And it’s really funny to check how well it blends with modern Benriach’s garden fruitiness, despite a few touches of rubber that are floating here and there. With water:  an earthy smokiness and, perhaps, whiffs of marijuana. Mouth (neat): fun stuff! Pears cooked in sugarcane syrup, a touch of eucalyptus, and a little liquorice. Frankly, this is a bit unlikely, but the combo worked a treat. Liquorice allsorts, banana compote, mead… Fun fun fun. With water: smoky pears come out. Finish: quite long. A fruit salad with fresh coriander and mint leaves. Comments: this is not serious whisky, it’s almost a joke, but a very, very lovely one. Middle-aged Benriach seems to take rum extremely well. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Good, let’s tackle some older ones as the digestifs, such as some 1976s that we haven’t tried yet…

Benriach 35 yo 1976/2012 (43.8%, OB for Kinko, Japan, hogshead, cask #3035, 158 bottles)

Benriach 35 yo 1976/2012 (43.8%, OB for Kinko, Japan, hogshead, cask #3035, 158 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: plain guava and papaya juices and syrups, with a drop of almond oil. That’s all, folks, but that’s already a lot. Mouth: please call the Japanese anti-maltoporn police! Pure tropical fruit juice, mangos, papayas, guavas, passion fruits… Plus, perhaps, a little avocado purée and fresh parsley. I know a place in Ubud where they used to make this kind of cocktail… Oh forget! Finish: the only part that’s a little less entrancing, because of wee touches of oak that are a bit unnecessary. Comments: one day, we might learn that Glenlivet’s good people used to add tropical fruit concentrate to all casks of Benriach’s new fillings back in 1976. SGP:741 - 92 points.

Are you up for some more?...

Benriach 36 yo 1976/2012 (43.1%, OB for Usquebaugh Society, refill bourbon, cask #3031, 124 bottles)

Benriach 36 yo 1976/2012 (43.1%, OB for Usquebaugh Society, refill bourbon, cask #3031, 124 bottles) Five stars Any Sherlock will have noticed that this is a sister cask. Colour: gold. Nose: a subtler, slightly toned down version of these tropically-fruity extravaganzas. In a way, that’s even better, because you also get delicate whiffs of roses, ripe Muscat grapes, tinned litchis… But other than that it’s all guavas and papayas again. I’m asking you, who wouldn’t love this? Touches of tin after a few minutes. Mouth: the tropical fruits are dancing on your tongue like there’s no tomorrow, and they’re a little sourer now, more metallic again, perhaps. A wee feeling of silverware. Eating oranges using a silver spoon. Finish: quite long, very fruity, with notes of rotting fruits that make it a bit decadent, in a good way. Comments: I liked this nose a little better than that of the Kinko, and the Kinko’s palate a little better than this one’s. SGP:741 - 92 points.

How many have we just tried? Time to put an end to this verticale, with an even older official Benriach, while remembering those good times when the current owners launched their first bottlings that blew us all away, while earlier official Benriachs had been so… say pedestrian. And unnoticed. And so few.

Benriach 38 yo 1970/2009 (49.1%, OB, Pedro Ximenez sherry finish, cask #1035, 250 bottles)

Benriach 38 yo 1970/2009 (49.1%, OB, Pedro Ximenez sherry finish, cask #1035, 250 bottles) Four stars It must have taken some guts to do a finishing on a 1970! Colour: dark amber. Nose: this is no whisky, this is jam and soup. The complexity is pretty astounding, much more so than with the rather more ‘evident’ 1976s. Figs, chocolate, dates, pipe tobacco, fermenting oranges, notes of Spanish ham, sweet game, beef stock, marrow, chives, chicken bouillon… On the other hand, there are also notes of plasticine that may not quite fit here, but that borders on marzipan, which kind of works. Ooh that’s complicated. Mouth: a little bizarre, as it’s a bit disjointed for a start, and as it displays loud notes of mulled wine and even sangria. Really, there are plenty of oranges, red wine and spices. That makes it a little unnatural in my book. Not too sure… Finish: long, rather tannic. Black tea, rosehip, tobacco… A soapy and winey touch on the aftertaste. Old red Bordeaux. Comments: I don’t quite know what to write. Sometimes it’s totally great, and sometimes it’s kind of inconsistent. Not too sure, not too sure… SGP:661 - 85 points.

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



Block Today: SOUL. Performer: 3 Brave Souls ft. Darryl Jones. Track: Stay. Please visit their website and buy their music...

March 2, 2015


Indulging in Springbank again

We’ll first have the newish (well, I might be a bit late) ‘Green’ and then unwind with two older Springbanks. Or Springers, as some like to call them.

Springbank 12 yo ‘Green’ (46%, OB, organic barley, 9000 bottles, 2014)

Springbank 12 yo ‘Green’ (46%, OB, organic barley, 9000 bottles, 2014) Four stars This baby came out in December last year, and it’s not the same kind of ‘green Springbank’ that Cadenhead had quite a while back. Those were actually green, while this one’s just organic. Hope it’ll be more to my liking than the organic 7yo ‘Da Mhile’ from round ten years ago. Colour: white wine. Nose: were well at Springbank, but it’s a tad more porridgy and yeasty than usual, while the sooty side remains there. Nosing a can of pickled gherkins, fresh paint, damp gravel, and clay. The oak’s influence is rather minimal. Mouth: sooty lemons, ashes, smoked things, brine, a touch of honeydew, a chewy mouth feel. Green apple peelings, walnuts, some mustard, quite a lot of nutmeg… It’s a Jansenist’s Springbank! The smoke’s rather bigger than usual. Finish: quite long, spicy, ashy, salty. Comments: the distillate does all the talking, and it talks well (albeit with a strange accent ;-)). One of the austere Springbanks, right up my alley. SGP:364 - 87 points.

Burnside 15 yo (46%, Eaglesome Ltd., 1993)

Burnside 15 yo (46%, Eaglesome Ltd., 1993) Five stars So, this Burnside isn’t Balvenie in disguise (or teaspooned Balvenie), it’s well a single malt from Springbank, bottled in 1993 by one of their sub-companies, Eaglesome. Colour: pale amber. Nose: jawohl! Archtypical Springbank from that time, with a coastal sootiness that was toned down a bit, and many more honeyed notes. It’s very beehivy, as I like to say, with nectar, ripe mirabelles, pollen and nectar, beeswax and all that. Stunning whiffs of fruitcake and pipe tobacco, plenty of raisins and quite some sweet raisiny sherry, a bit ‘PX’. Everything’s in place, this is flawless. The touches of menthol that arise make me think of some great old Sauternes – starting with a Y. Mouth: as an Italian friend uses to say, ‘you drink this, you cry’. With tears of joy, of course. An avalanche of sooty raisins, smoked honey pearls, salted overripe plums and, well, regular tobacco. The strength is perfect, the mouthfeel is perfect. Classic stuff. Finish: long, rich, but with a growing dryness that will let your palate clean and fresh. Comments: I don’t think this baby was 15 years old sharp. There must have been some older juice poured into the vatting tank. SGP:552 - 90 points.

Good, as the last one, let’s try to find one that was bottled around the same era…

Springbank 19 yo 1972 (46%, OB, +/-1991)

Springbank 19 yo 1972 (46%, OB, +/-1991) Five stars We already had another 1972 that was bottled for Taiwan around 1991 as well. It was good, if not totally great. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re very close to the Burnside. A tad oilier and more mineral, a notch less raisiny and sherried. Long story short, this is brilliant. Mouth: same feeling, word for word. This profile is directly connected to that of today’s Springbanks, with maybe just more sherry wood. Finish: long, on smoked raisins, mineral notes, bitter oranges and salt. I mean, a feeling of salt. Comments: identity, character, idiosyncracies and differences. Pretty pleasant combo. SGP:453 - 91 points. (and gracias, Jeroen)

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2015

Favourite recent bottling:
None in February

Favourite older bottling:
Port Ellen 12 yo (OB, The Queen’s Visit to Port Ellen’s Maltings, 1980) - WF 99

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
None in February

Favourite malternative:
Demerara 32 yo 1975/2008 (57%, Norse Cask, barrel #1231, 178 bottles) - WF 90



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: the Yosuke Yamashita Trio with Joe Lovano. Track: Kurdish Dance. Please visit their websites and buy their music...

March 1, 2015


Sunday Malternatives, more rum

We’re simply going on with our little exploration of the world of rum.

Watson's 'Trawler Rum' (40%, Ian McLeod, blended rum, +/-2013)

Watson's 'Trawler Rum' (40%, Ian McLeod, blended rum, +/-2013) Two stars A pretty cheap blend of Guyana and Barbados rums that matured on location. We seldom see these ‘UK navy’ styles on our shores. Colour: coffee. Nose: how much caramel there is in this, I don’t know, but I do find notes of burnt sugar, mocha, some Coca-Cola (I swear that’s not because of the colour), then whiffs of hay and soy suace. It’s not extremely aromatic, and I don’t find it unpleasant. Mouth: full coffee liqueur and triple-sec, plus oaky tones. It’s sweet but not too sweet, and there are even tarry notes that come through, possibly the Guyanese part. Okay body. Finish: medium, not too sweet, always on coffee, oranges and liquorice. Comments: what we would call an honest and loyal rum. Not really heavy. I liked it better than Watson’s Demerara, which I had found too sugary. SGP:452 - 72 points.

Dictador 'Solera XO Perpetual' (40%, OB, Colombia, +/-2013)

Dictador 'Solera XO Perpetual' (40%, OB, Colombia, +/-2013) Question, is this over-packaged? What’s sure is that it’s expensive rum at around 115€. Colour: amber orange. Nose: not that different from the much cheaper (five times cheaper) Watson’s, only sweeter, rounder, with more vanilla, fudge and butterscotch. Hints of pencil shavings, American oak, coffee, milk chocolate and just a hint of damp earth. It’s all very soft, without many ‘asperities’, as they say in advertising. Mouth: very sweet, and oaky as well. Not my style, that’s for sure. Honey, caramel and corn syrup plus chocolate and cinnamon/nutmeg. Oily mouthfeel. Finish: quite long, and very caramelly. Oak-aged caramel? Comments: not my kind of rum at all, that’s all. Too sweet. The bottle is nice, though. SGP:740 - 65 points.

Montero 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Granada, +/-2014)

Montero 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Granada, +/-2014) Two starsFirst time we’re trying a Montero. I’ve heard they were part of the ‘better’ Spanish-style rums. Colour: gold (hurray). Nose: ah indeed, bye-bye sweetish syrupy liqueury notes, this rather reeks of wet paint, new leatherette and tarmac, which rather hints at Trinidad or Jamaica. Hurray indeed. The downside is that there isn’t much after that, it deflates like a balloon. But I really enjoyed that fresh paint (oil paint, artist studio). Mouth: no, there is some sugar now, and I wouldn’t say that works a treat on the rather phenolic, paint-like profile. Almonds, oranges… Even a little salt. No, I like it for its uncommercialness. There. Finish: not too long, on the same notes. Cointreau, tar liqueur and pieces of bicycle inner tube. Comments: a funny one! Would love to try it at a higher strength. SGP:562 - 75 points.

Vizcaya 'VXOP Cask No.21' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014)

Vizcaya 'VXOP Cask No.21' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014) one star and a half Said to be made from cane juice, not molasses, but I’m wary of Dominican rums, many are way too sugary for my taste. Also the ‘21’ figure that’s placed like if it was an age statement… Booo… But that’s not any worse than a ‘solera number’. I’m looking at you, Z. Colour: dark gold. Nose: akin to the Dictador. Almost undistinguishable. Bananas flambéed, caramel, oak, coffee, chocolate. Touches of tar as well, which is obviously better. Mouth: very sweet, sugary, liqueury… In its own style it’s certainly not bad, but as I’ve already written 4712545656 times, too sweet, I quit. Millionaire shortbread, banana liqueur, maple syrup… The sugar really feels! Finish: rather long, but it’s the sweetness that makes it last. A feeling of having just taken six spoonfuls of maple syrup. Comments: it’s s a style. Like them sweet? You’ll love it. Actually, I liked it a little better than the Dictador. SGP:740 - 68 points.

This has happened so many times when starting with sweet rums: let’s simply change categories!

Long Pond 18 yo 1992/2010 (45%, Alambic Classique, Jamaica)

Long Pond 18 yo 1992/2010 (45%, Alambic Classique, Jamaica) Five stars In my measly experience with rum, I’ve noticed that Long Pond can be very complex! Dunder dunder. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah yeah yeah! This is ridden with carbolic notes, engine oil, pitch, black olives, dried cow dung, fermenting fruits, putty, brand new leather jacket (or shoes)… In short, I find this nose appropriately perverse. Brilliant. Mouth: and there, gherkin juice, salty liquorice, black olives, After Eight mints, seawater, cane juice, chewing your cigar, strong black tea… And all that. Finish: endless, very salty. You keep feeling the salt on your lips even after fifteen minutes. Comments: only regret, that this amazing baby wasn’t bottled at 50% or more for even more powah. You can still buy this bottle from Germany. Do it! SGP:464 - 90 points.

Now, go try to climb over that one… Wait, this may work…

Caroni 1985/2006 (58.8%, Velier, Trinidad, 6600 bottles)

Caroni 1985/2006 (58.8%, Velier, Trinidad, 6600 bottles) Three stars and a half This is heavy style Caroni, and it is a large vatting of 22 drums. Remember a drum typically contains 650 litres. Colour: reddish coffee. Nose: it’s heavy, but not that heavy. Certainly fruitier and oakier than the Long Pond, less phenolic, more on classic high esters. A bag of liquorice allsorts, some polished rosewood, strawberry jam, and only in the background, some seawater, brine and olives. Little tar that I can get so far. With water: can you age strawberry jam in oak? I guess you can… Some sappy tones as well. High oak extraction. Mouth (neat): lots of oak and menthol! Bites you a bit, I have to say. A lot of quince jelly too, which I love, but the oak really is massive. You have the impression of quaffing walnut stain, in a way. With water: much, much better. The oak remains there and keeps biting you a bit, but the expected notes of tar, olives and polish manage to come through. Finish: very long, oaky, mentholy, with drops of salted Grand-Marnier. Comments: another one that takes your tongue hostage if you’re not careful, but water helps loosening up the ties. SGP:652 - 84 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Benjamin Henocq and Pierre de Bethmann. Track: Not Yet. Please visit their websites and buy their music...

February 2015 - part 2 <--- March 2015 - part 1 ---> March 2015 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Appleton Reserve 20 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, stone flagon, +/-1970)

Benriach 1994/2014 (54.6%, OB for Independent Spirit, peated, oloroso sherry finish, cask #806)

Benriach 35 yo 1976/2012 (43.8%, OB for Kinko, Japan, hogshead, cask #3035, 158 bottles)

Benriach 36 yo 1976/2012 (43.1%, OB for Usquebaugh Society, refill bourbon, cask #3031, 124 bottles)

Burnside 15 yo (46%, Eaglesome Ltd., 1993)

Clynelish 22 yo 1983/2005 (54.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.45)

Clynelish 1997/2014 (53.3%, Liquid Art, 132 bottles)

Highland Park 22 yo 1992/2014 (59.6%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 234 bottles)

Highland Park 30 yo (48.1%, OB, +/-2014)

Highland Park 35 yo 1973/2009 (56.3%, OB, Velier, Italy, cask #13352)

Springbank 19 yo 1972 (46%, OB, +/-1991)

Long Pond 18 yo 1992/2010 (45%, Alambic Classique, Jamaica)