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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2018 - Part 1


February 2018 - part 2 <--- March 2018 - part 1 ---> March 2018 - part 2


March 14, 2018


Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Ardbeg Ten vs. very old 18

There are mad sessions and there are madder sessions. How about a 80 to 85-years time gap? Under our microscope today, proper age-stated Ardbeg. Rings a bell?

Ardbeg 10 yo ‘Ten’ (46%, OB, +/- 2018)

Ardbeg 10 yo ‘Ten’ (46%, OB, +/- 2018) Five stars
Last time we tried our beloved Ten it was a circa 2015 bottling, and it was great (WF 89). Colour: white wine. Nose: I have the feeling that Ardbeg Ten got more crystalline, perhaps a tad simpler as well, and probably more distillate-driven than ever before. I’m so glad no obvious vanilla is dumbing it down, and of course no ‘wine’, so this is as bright as possible and full of lime, seawater, smoked salmon, and of these wee tarry/cardboardy touch that are so typically Ardbeg. Shall we call this nose ‘razory’? Mouth: lapsang souchong with lime, smoked almonds, kippers, plasticine, almond oil, whelks, brine, hessian… This is just perfectly perfect. Finish: rather long, smoky, almondy, lime-y, salty. Comments: the month is not over but Ardbeg 10 will possibly be March’s bang-for-your-buck bottling. Because in my little tasting book, Ardbeg 10 is simply back to…
SGP:357 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 18 yo (91.3° US proof, OB, USA, Kraus Import New York, 4/5 quart, 1930s)

Ardbeg 18 yo 'Special Liqueur' (91.3° US proof, OB, USA, Kraus Import New York, 4/5 quart, 1930s) Five stars
A ‘Special Liqueur’ indeed, possibly the rarest genuine Ardbeg ever, as almost all the very old ones one can find in various collections (and amateur books) are probably shameless fakes. But this is the real deal and the bottle has got some immaculate provenance. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this is theological whisky. It’s not superb because it’s old, or because it’s very rare for that matter, it’s superb because it’s superb (well thought of, S.) It’s got the two main markers of very old peaters of high quality, a stunning medicinal side, and a wonderful citrusy/tropical fruitiness. So imagine someone smart would have kept mangos and grapefruits in some old cough syrup for many decades, or something like that. Also amazing notes of linseed and graphite oils, two drops of genuine turpentine, and then a blend of almond and argan oils. Theological indeed. Oh and there is some brine as well.


Ardbeg Distillery circa 1930 (Cameron postcard)

Mouth: tireless and stunningly resinous, which was to be expected. It still kicks you after all those years, but I imagine Ardbeg was a very fat spirit when this was distilled, in the 1910 or very early 1920s. Some precious oils (argan again, perhaps), old tar liqueur (hygienic beverages), grapefruit oil (rubbed skin), then more and more bitterness while it gets very dry in a stunning way. High-end fino sherry, ashy tea, drops of artichoke liqueur… And it’s still got an impressive body, but it’s true that it was bottled at almost 46% vol. (you see, not a recent thing at all, contrarily to what some are saying, claiming to firsts when they’re just copycats). Finish: even long, wonderfully oily, almondy, salty, citrusy… Exceptional. Comments: exceptional indeed. This utter rarity was to be found at Glasgow’s Whisky Show Old & Rare. Old and rare? You bet! Perhaps my whisky of the year, and we’re only in March. We’ll see…
SGP:465 - 95 points.

What’s really impressive is that the Ten has put in a very creditable performance in this most dangerous context. Well done!

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ardbeg we've tasted so far


March 13, 2018


Highland Park, four of them

There are quite a few new undisclosed HPs labelled as ‘Orkney Malts’ around, as well as, shall I add of course, many new OBs. The owners are firing new ones almost every week. Right, every month… So, let’s have two newish OBs and two IBs, so that we have a proper quartet on the tasting table…

Highland Park ‘Voyage of the Raven’ (41.3%, OB, travel retail, 2017)

Highland Park ‘Voyage of the Raven’ (41.3%, OB, travel retail, 2017) Three stars
Another very Vikingy newish HP, mind you. But where is Ragnar Lodbrok? Sadly, no age statement here, but indeed it is/was for travel retail. Just wondering when they will rebrand as Høghländ Pårk … Colour: gold. Nose: a little metallic and kirschy, which may suggest it’s pretty young. Some grassier kind of sherry, touches of rubber, some ginger, whiffs of garden bonfire (the grass was still a bit wet)… Not too sure about this style, it’s still a little unpolished… Mouth: like this rather better. Smoky herbs and bitter fruits, grapefruits, notes of old walnuts, apples, always this wee rubberiness that I’ve already found in other new HPs, while it tends to become grassier and even rather bitter... Artichokes. Finish: medium, rather grassy, with some green smoke in the aftertaste. Cinnamon mints, green spices. Comments: well in line with other entry-level HPs for travel retail (Svein and all those). Quite fine, I think.
SGP:351 - 80 points.

Highland Park 18 yo ‘Viking Pride’ (43%, OB, +/-2018)

Highland Park 18 yo ‘Viking Pride’ (43%, OB, +/-2018) Four stars
Another newer expression of Høghländ Pårk, but it seems that it’s just a Viking rebranding of the popular, and excellent 18. Colour: gold. Nose: rather drier at first, and then more honeyed, but it’s still got quite a lot of grass and wee bits of rusty iron. Pinesap, honeydew, walnuts, plum eau-de-vie, turmeric, cinchona, ginger… In fact I think it’s less rounded and floral/honeyed than earlier batches. Mouth: firm, assertive, with some grapefruit marmalade, touches of fennel or celery, fir honey, a little bit of smoked malt, cinnamon rolls, a few raisins, Seville oranges, caraway, some kind of smoked toffee… I find this very good and very ‘HP’. Solid body at just 43% vol. Finish: medium, balanced, delicately smoky and honeyed. Is that really heather honey in the aftertaste? Oranges for sure. Comments: excellent, as always; still a classic.
SGP:552 - 87 points.

Highland Park 14 yo 1996/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #6457, 475 bottles)

Highland Park 14 yo 1996/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #6457, 475 bottles) Five stars
Another one from that crazy series that was simply too early in 2010. I believe they were simply too early. Colour: pale gold. Nose: brilliant chalky HP, much more mineral than the OBs, quite medicinal, phenolic, smoky… Plasticine, mercurochrome, lime, clay… One of these distillates that belong to the same cluster as that of Clynelish or Springbank, when sherry flavouring has not been used. Brilliant. Mouth: how good is this! Branche-y, chalky, salty, rooty, lemony, zesty, medicinal, mentholated, camphory… It truly is amazing. Finish: long, on just the same flavours. Comments: brilliantly distillate-driven, a shame that these wee bottles are nowhere to be found these days – or am I wrong here?
SGP:452 - 90 points.

Orkney 10 yo 2007/2018 (63%, Claxton’s, hogshead, cask #1836-008, 330 bottles)

Orkney 10 yo 2007/2018 (63%, Claxton’s, hogshead, cask #1836-008, 330 bottles) Four stars and a half
63% vol.? Wish me luck… Assuming that the cask was filled at 63.5% vol., we would say that much has been lost within those ten years… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather massive, raw, a tad burnt, a tad feinty, very porridge-y, but there are notes of wet rocks, limestone and chalk underneath… I can’t wait to add a good ten drops of Vittel (no Nestlé don’t send me any monies)… With water: perfect mineral, grassy, smoky, barley-y, lime-y distillate. What I sometimes call ‘a blade’. Some raw wool too. Mouth (neat): I think this is great, but I’m not too sure. Grapefruit, very lemony IPA (Citra-led), raw neutral eau-de-vie (apple), white cherries… With water: immaculate spirit. Smoky barley, limestone, plasticine, soot, lemon, smoky porridge, a touch of salt… Finish: long and dry, with more pepper. Bitterer aftertaste (leaves, chlorophyll). Comments: good, it’s perhaps not immensely complex, but it sure is one of the finest distillates on this planet.
SGP:362 - 88 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Highland Park we've tasted so far


March 12, 2018


Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Springbank Local Barley

We did another wee survey on WF's Facebook page last night, friends could choose between two ‘Time Warp Sessions’ to be published this morning. One option was Ardbeg Ten vs. 1930s, the alternative being Springbank LB 10 vs. 1966. I have to say I’m mildly surprised that Springbank won, albeit by a small margin (205 votes vs. 181 for the Ardbegs). Well, I’m sure some friends have done this already but I sure haven’t seen it. New Local Barley vs. old Local Barley, doesn't that make sense…

Springbank 10 yo 2007/2017 ‘Local Barley’ (57.3%, OB, 9000 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2007/2017 ‘Local Barley’ (57.3%, OB, 9000 bottles) Five stars
Indeed I’m late once again. One third sherry, two thirds bourbon, and of course Campbeltown barley. I thought the 11 yo was very good (WF 88). Colour: straw. Nose: not massive, and even a little lighter and more floral than regular Springbanks, but otherwise everything’s well in place, the chalk, the beach sand, the beeswax, the embrocations, the citrus, the hints of new natural leather (leather shop in Turkey)… With water: aspirin tablets in water with lemon juice and drops of honey and vanilla essence. Cures you. Mouth (neat): simply extremely good, as expected. Big mineral lemons, a feeling of garage tools, chalk and plaster, oysters, salted porridge, more lemon, even more lemon, thin mints… It’s bigger on the palate! With water: extremely good, purer, but with more smoke, and an overall profile that’s rather more medicinal. The lemon is perfect. Finish: long, pretty blade-y. Comments: an extremely pure expression of Springbank, rather less ‘dirty’ than others, and certainly more medicinal/lemony. Less tarry than the 11, as far as I can remember that one. I just do not seem to manage to resist this style. Lots of love.
SGP:453 - 90 points.

So, we said an old LB…

Springbank 1966/1998 ‘Local Barley’ (55.1%, OB, Taiwan, cask #496)

Springbank 32 yo 1966/1998 ‘Local Barley’ (55.1%, OB, Taiwan, cask #496) Five stars
Ex-bourbon cask. Every raw materials, not just the barley, were coming from within a radius of eight miles of the distillery, including the peat and the coal. Only exception, the bourbon casks, naturally. Colour: deep amber. Nose: guess what, there is some kind of parentage, but of course this is more complex, rounder, with many more dried fruits (a long list, with figs, currants, pears, dates…) plus this stunning camphory side, these old tobaccos, leather polish (Connolly), mentholy fudges and shortbreads, old cognac, old amontillado (indeed I’ve noticed this was ex-bourbon), toasted croissants… Simply one of those seminal noses that brought many enthusiasts to whisky in the 1990s. With water: got almost game-y. Parma ham, mutton suet, stewed prunes… Mouth (neat): oh would you please just call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade? Amazing mentholy sultanas and waxed figs, liquorice, citrons, mirabelles, heather and manuka honeys, a drop of miso soup, a tiny tobacco strand… This is glorious. Have you called the Brigade yet? With water: and it even gets funny, shooting drops of orange squash at you. The oak’s been mastered to perfection, no modern wood-technology in sight here. Finish: long and very resinous, mentholy, liquoricy, and yet kind of smooth. A miracle in your glass – provided there is anything left in that glass, which I’m sorry to say is not the case here and now. Comments: so I see you did not call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade.
SGP:562 - 94 points.

Frankly, I could see those modern batches of LB being kept in cask for twenty further years, and reaching the very same heights. Rejoice rejoice!

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Springbank we've tasted so far


March 11, 2018


Crazy new rums at random

Love coherent sessions such as ‘five Caronis’, but random ones are funnier to do, don’t you agree? So, completely and utterly at random (really!)…

West Indies Rum Distillery 17 yo 2000/2017 (51.8%, Whiskybroker, Barbados, barrel #46, 213 bottles)

West Indies Rum Distillery 17 yo 2000/2017 (51.8%, Whiskybroker, Barbados, barrel #46, 213 bottles) Four stars
WIRD, a distillery that Cognac Ferrand, a.k.a. Plantation Rum, have just bought. No sure this very one’s been heavily doséed, though… Colour: pale gold. Nose: rotting bananas aplenty, drops of diesel oil, some petroly ground (petrol station), some black earth, ink, older cane juice, crushed olives, and more of those rotting bananas, plus some liquid caramel. We’re somewhere midway between the high-ester ones and the easier, rounder rums. With water: hashish and a bit of manure, all the rest remaining unchanged. Mouth (neat): really very good, full, dry and yet not too dry, with some salty caramel and fudge, two black olives, and always this feeling of caramel. Almost forgot to mention the ‘rotting’ (not rotten) bananas. With water: rather more on those fruits, bananas, pineapples… Finish: medium, rather round, but there’s this caramely earthiness that works very well. A little salt in the aftertaste. Comments: much pleased with this one. A good introduction to the heavier, more bacterial ones (excuse me?)
SGP:652 - 86 points.

Diamond 13 yo 2003/2017 (53.1%, Kintra, Guyana, cask #7, 216 bottles)

Diamond 13 yo 2003/2017 (53.1%, Kintra, Guyana, cask #7, 216 bottles) Four stars
Colour: dark amber. Nose: ah, not much diamondness to this, it’s rather rounder, more prune-y, molasse-y and caramely than other Diamonds, as if DDL themselves had bottled it. Coffee liqueurs (Kahlua, Tia Maria…) In short, more South-American than Caribbean. With water: superb! Earth and oloroso, mushrooms… Mouth: old rancio, prune juice, earth, dried currants… Did anyone pour some good old Armagnac into the cask? Also some soy sauce, and just a touch of plain sugar, as if it was sweetened up at birth. With water: really wonderful, if not totally orthodox. Old Cognac, fir liqueur, miso soup, prunes, caramel, molasses… Finish: medium, just a tad thick and molasse-y. Comments: rather El-Dorado-y, I would say, only better than most, in my opinion. Lovers of old Macallan should like this one.
SGP:641 - 86 points.

Nyborg ‘Huracàn’ (58.2%, OB, Denmark, batch #118, +/-2017)

Nyborg ‘Huracàn’ (58.2%, OB, Denmark, batch #118, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
I don’t quite know what this exactly is, all I could find was on whacky websites full of umlauts and slashed letters (hey, peace!) On the other hand, I love a Lamborghini… Colour: gold. Nose: sour and spicy. Some kind of Thai sauce – or is it Vietnamese? – plus some absinth, aquavit, caraway, post-hipster gin, Tabasco, and Worcester sauce. With water: rounder and seemingly sweeter, with some mead and some soft gingerbread. The better ones, 50% honey at least. Mouth (neat): as we used to say, LOL! Liquid gingerbread, plus plain gingerbread, plus a good two slices of gingerbread. With water: a little earthier, and very bready. Moist pumpernickel – distilled. Finish: long and extremely gingerbready. Comments: yes it was labelled as ‘rum’. Doesn’t really taste like rum to me, rather like some excellent Christmas liqueur. Or gingerbread liqueur, as we have here in Alsace, but this loco Dane was better. Again, LOL!
SGP:742 - 78 points.

Travellers 10 yo 2007/2017 (66.6%, The Duchess, Belize, cask #14, 281 bottles)

Travellers 10 yo 2007/2017 (66.6%, The Duchess, Belize, cask #14, 281 bottles) Three stars
We’ve had some good Travellers in the not so distant past… But watch this devilish strength! Colour: gold. Nose: very nice, with some coffee but not too much, honey but not too much, molasses but not too much, preserved bananas but not too many of them, some butterscotch… As for that devilish strength, well, piece of cake! Quite… With water: you feel it’s rather very good bourbon than rum. Some proper Old Fitzgerald, for example. Mouth (neat): Pappy Van Winkle! Really! With water: well, we’re actually midway between bourbon and rum here, and that’s the cask speaking out. Full-flown American oak at work. Finish: rather long, caramely, toasty, fudge-y, bourbony. Comments: very good. To be poured blind to your absent-minded friends who know everything about anything. I mean, about anything boozy. Recommended.
SGP:630 - 82 points.

Isn’t this getting a little mad? Time to have a wee Jamaican? Wee?

Hampden <H> 7 yo 2010/2017 (62%, Velier, 70th anniversary, #107, 1679 bottles)

Hampden <H> 7 yo 2010/2017 (62%, Velier, 70th anniversary,Jamaica, #107, 1679 bottles) Five stars
Extremely high esters here, around one full kilogram per hectolitre of pure alcohol, so apparently, this is some even doomier kind of Octomore of rum. Let’s see what gives… And by the way, you MUST have a look at our friend Cyril's recent report about Hampden Distillery. It's stunning. Colour: pure gold. Nose: not that anyone should like record-breakers, but indeed this rocks. Not smoke though, rather wood glue. Litres of wood glue, plus a whole bucket of green olives and capers, some rubber patches, plus a full bottle of cologne. You know, N°4711. With water: some pencil shavings coming out, nail varnish, pinesap, rust inhibitor, last century banana wine… Mouth (neat): totally extreme and I extremely and shamelessly love it. Distilled lime, mezcal (sugarcane meets agave here), glue, seawater, kippers kept in varnish. What is not to like in all this? With water: mad but so very good… More wood glue and varnish. Finish: I’ve heard they’re distilling tourists… What’s funny is that it’s displaying heavy notes of strawberry flavouring at this stage, which is exactly what’s blowing out of Port Ellen Maltings on certain days.  What’s the name of that molecule again? Comments: sure it’s one of the most heavily-armoured Humvees of rum, but I just love it. Is it really bad, Doc?
SGP:472 - 91 points.

(Merci, Alex, Jürgen and other friends!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far


March 9, 2018


Two 15 years old Sp…

Springbank? Speyside? No, Speyburn! A malt whisky that’s sometimes Warholian and sometimes rather Beefheartian. Remember the good Captain’s Trout Mask Replica? Although a trout and a salmon are different fish (a tad exhausted these days, S.?) Respect for Speyburn!

Speyburn 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017)Speyburn 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017)

Speyburn 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
I have to say I’ve never tried the official 15 before. Colour: pale gold. Nose: leafier than the official 10, grassier, with even more raw barley, green tea leaves, grapeseed oil, some kind of greener plasticine, clay… Something clearly musty as well, the potato pit… etc. I find it really austere, but this rusticity’s pretty interesting. Unusual for sure. Mouth: rather sweeter and rounder, but all the leafy elements are still sitting there in the shadows. Vanilla-ed porridge, leather, bitter oranges, green tea, hints of spinach and sorrel… Good body at a good strength. Finish: rather long, rather on spices. Green spices, naturally, cardamom, a touch of mustard… Comments: serious whisky, perhaps a tad unsexy at times but at least it feels very honest, which I like.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Speyburn 15 yo (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, 2018)

Speyburn 15 yo (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, 2018) Three stars
Sorry, not much data yet, this one’s brand new. But we just couldn’t wait, indie Speyburns being quite scarce… Bottling code is ‘OLD0577’. Colour: straw. Nose: oh, an almost exact copy of the OB, with just a little more oomph and even more grass. Mouth: same comments, word for word. There was a wee roundness in the OB (after all) that is nowhere to be found in this grassy DL. Touches of lemon oil, perhaps, plus perhaps notes of fresh almonds and hazelnuts. Now it does tend to unfold a wee bit over a five minutes period, with some pleasant citrusy touches, rather peels. Finish: medium, lemony, some grapefruit, grass… Comments: you need to give it time. Actually, the OB needs time too.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Speyburn we've tasted so far


March 8, 2018


A Pulteney Quartet

Pulteney’s a solid northerner, it only lost a bit of lustre in my book when some writer made of one of them his ‘world whisky of the year’, with subsequent hot air blown by many shameless PR machines (you know, best whisky in the whole world and other nasty innuendos). But indeed, Pulteney remains a very solid northerner, provided you carefully avoid some of their pretty uninspired recent NAS bottlings. Remember you create NAS by adding £15 to some 5 yo whisky (used to be £10 just a few years ago)…

Old Pulteney 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Haven’t formally tried OP12 since the year 2010 (WF 81). Shame on me. Colour: pale gold. Nose: nicely coastal at first, then more floral and fruity. Quite a lot of damp crush chalk, clay, beach sand, then elder flowers and grapefruits. There’s some sourness to this but that’s a clear asset here. Mashed turnips and potatoes. Mouth: really coastal indeed, and in a way, close to some Clynelishes, minus the waxiness. Lemons, a little brine, more chalk, touches of salt, and a little ground white pepper. 40% vol. aren’t much, but I think the distillate’s fat enough to stand heavy reduction. Finish: medium, on just the same flavours, without any abrupt ending. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: very good. I could go one point higher, easily. Even two.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Old Pulteney 17 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Old Pulteney 17 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: extremely close to the 12, just even chalkier – and less fruity. Our old Tweed jacket that’s seen many rains, hessian, a little engine oil, soot, black earth, and in the background, some green bananas. Great nose, as far as the style is concerned, but it tends to whisper a bit low. Mouth: oh wow! Pepper, grass juice, seawater, lemon juice, turmeric, orange peel, paraffin, pumpkin seeds, wakame (one of the greatest edible seaweeds)… This, I enjoy really a lot. Finish: superb, but a tad short. Cutting a Frank Zappa tune before the end of the guitar solo. Grassy/bitter aftertaste. Comments: you should be given the option to add a few Euros to be allowed to buy it at a higher strength. Other than that, I find this recent batch pretty fantastic and more brilliant than older ones.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Old Pulteney 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017)

Old Pulteney 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars
Ah, there, a forty-six! I believe this is the one that got the kiss of death. I mean, in my own little book. Having said that, I was having it at WF 87 back in 2009… Oh and it seems that it’s not quite available anymore, am I wrong? Perhaps in Wick? Colour: gold. Nose: indeed it’s very pretty, and particularly firm, with citrons, wet beach sand, beeswax, muesli, cider apples, angelica, eucalyptus, and a little moss. Complex, stylish, and kind of wild. Mouth: a slightly rounder version of the 17, with a little more honey and raisins, then something slightly prickly that reminds me of Schweppes Lemon. You know, Uma Thurman’s favourite. Finish: rather long, with some green pepper and a bittersweet ending. Pickled fruits. Comments: I think I liked the 17 better, for it was more distillate-driven, but it remains (remained?) a pretty perfect malt.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Pulteney 11 yo 2006/2017 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads)

Pulteney 11 yo 2006/2017 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads) Three stars
We may be expecting something totally distillate-driven here… Colour: white wine. Nose: sunflower oil, chalk, menthol, aniseed, thuja wood, teak oil, green tea (a can of gunpowder tea), then more custard. Very ‘accurate’, I would say. With water: sweeter fruits come out, ripe gooseberries, cranberries, pears… I’m not finding much coastalness this time. Mouth (neat): tastes young, with sweet pears and apples ruling the show, before more vanilla, grapefruit and pepper start to pop out. A little too new-make-y for my taste, perhaps… (make up your mind, S., don’t you want them distillate-driven?) With water: better, because the herbs are coming back, together with some soft seaweed and, at last, a little seawater. Finish: medium, saltier, lemony. Green apples and Dr. Pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps just a few more years? Even if one of the Hhds was older?
SGP:561 - 82 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Pulteney we've tasted so far


March 7, 2018


Extremes of Japan

Just a small bag of Japanese whiskies, chosen (almost) at random…

Golden Horse ‘Musashi’ (43%, OB, pure malt, +/-2017)

Golden Horse ‘Musashi’ (43%, OB, pure malt, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
The label mentions Hanyu, but I highly doubt there’s any Hanyu malt inside, although I may be wrong. This is ‘pure malt’ but remember it’s not obligatorily ‘pure Japanese’, unless it clearly says so. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, fruity, barley-y, in the style of Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. Apples, hints of oranges, a touch of marzipan, a wee chunk of brioche. Very soft, very light, not unpleasant. Mouth: very young Scottish in style, with more apples, barley water, cake, a drizzle of acacia honey, a touch of cinnamon from the oak, a touch of vanilla… Nothing clearly Japanese in this, but it’s pretty good. Finish: medium, barley-y, very easy. Honey and cinnamon roll in the aftertaste. Comments: some loyal average young malt whisky. Nothing against this.
SGP:441 - 78 points.

Mars Komagatake ‘Shinanotanpopo’ (52%, OB, Nature of Shinshu, single malt, +/-2017)

Mars Komagatake ‘Shinanotanpopo’ (52%, OB, Nature of Shinshu, single malt, +/-2017) Three stars
This is clearly Japanese single malt (beware of the pure malts) and we’ve already tried a handful of rather brilliant Komagates. Colour: gold. Nose: some pencil shavings and quite a lot of vanillin, then rather apples and whiffs of coal smoke, which works very well. Some burnt brownies too, cooked honey, and a little camphor and thuja wood. With water: freshly sawn pinewood! Mouth (neat): you feel that the oak plays an important part here, and some could even find it a little oak-heavy, but the mentholy notes, as well as these hints of incense do bring something special to it. In short, it’s not ‘sawdust and basta’. With water: well, not quite. Finish: medium, rather pastry-like, with some drier honey notes. Comments: okay, the oak’s a little loud for me, but other than that, what a fine drop!
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Akashi 6 yo 2011/2017 (50%, OB, Eigashima, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, cask #61191)

Akashi 6 yo 2011/2017 (50%, OB, Eigashima, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, cask #61191) Four stars
I fully trust our friend Hideo Yamaoka’s selecting abilities. This was first matured in Cognac wood then finished in chardonnay for 8 months. Colour: pale gold. Nose: both the Cognac and the chardo are relatively discreet here, I’m rather getting some vanilla cake, some crushed fresh barley, some brioche dough, and just a lovely fresh maltiness. Japanese muesli? With water: not many changes, but it’s nice like this. Hints of Danishes, preserved apricots… Mouth (neat): ah, yes! Punchy and very fruity, with perfect wine gums, orange sweets, perhaps cranberries and gooseberries, touches of pineapples and bananas, and yet no dull(ish) ueberfruitiness. Perhaps am I dreaming but we’ve known Rosebanks… With water: gets pretty splendid and, yes, even more Rosebanky. Bananas, tangerines, vanilla, fresh figs, dried ones… Finish: rather long, and void of any obvious oakiness. Very smart. Comments: a little discreet on the nose, but the palate really delivered. Very well selected, Hideo.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

No Japanese session without a Chichibu, that’s our new motto…

Chichibu 2010/2018 (61.3%, OB, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, 188 bottles)

Chichibu 2010/2018 (61.3%, OB, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, 188 bottles) Five stars
You can’t do more Japanese, can you. And Hideo’s at it again… Colour: gold. Nose: on full fresh bourbon mode, apparently, but there is a pine-y feeling to it. Some butter cream, cedar wood, balsa wood, butter pears, custard… With water: ooh, perfect. Got softer, on true vanilla pods straight from, say, Madagascar. Mouth (neat): unusual and extremely good. White cherries, regular cherries, barley syrup, cinnamon mints, eucalyptus drops, candied citrons, beedies, then drops of cough syrup and a wee glass of retsina. With water: appeased, more on apricot tarte covered with custard. Like. Finish: rather medium, on fresh pastries at around 6:30am. Of course I know this from experience. Comments: totally loved this soft Japanese vanilla-ed cough syrup by another name.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Have we reached the pinnacle of Japanese whisky yet? Perhaps not quite…

Yoichi 11 yo 1990/2002 (61.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #116.2, ‘Spice box and orange oil’)

Yoichi 11 yo 1990/2002 (61.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #116.2, ‘Spice box and orange oil’) Five stars
One of the first Japanese whiskies from 28 Queen Street (although Queen Street had actually opened after this Yoichi was bottled - thank you Arthur), and a bottle that comes from Arthur Motley’s own stash. Thank you again Arthur! Colour: dark amber. Nose: wonderful, with some inoffensive patchouli at first, then a maelstrom of incense, menthol, coconut wine, moss… do you say ‘whirlwindy’? With water: there’s more varnish coming out, then some smashing notes of menthol cigarettes (remember Kool?) and eucalyptus. This may have shocked a few moustachioed noses in Edinburgh… Mouth (neat): heavy and unusual. Freshly baked pumpernickel, molasses, spearmint, liquorice, and tar. Richer than rich (no I haven’t trademarked that one). With water: very good, very thick, balsamic, with notes of triple-sec and crème de menthe. Almost refreshing and totally wonderful. Finish: very long and wonderfully mentholy. Comments: quite a star, with some incredible power. Now I do seem to remember a few controversies here and there when this monster came out…
SGP:472 – 91 points.

(Heartfelt thanks to Hideo, Arthur, Angus, and, well, everyone within the circles)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Japanese whiskies we've tasted so far


March 6, 2018


A rather long Longmorn session

Let’s see what we can find in the tasting library, as we’ve permanently got quite a few Longmorns that we haven’t tasted yet… Such as this one (let’s start this with an OB!)…

Longmorn 16 yo 1999/2015 (59.6%, OB, The Distillery Reserve Collection, butt, cask #10449, 816 bottles)

Longmorn 16 yo 1999/2015 (59.6%, OB, The Distillery Reserve Collection, butt, cask #10449, 816 bottles) Four stars
Indeed 816 bottles from a butt is a lot, but this is a 50cl bottle. Colour: gold. Nose: not all small batch OBs have been brilliant in the past, but I have to say this tobacco-y nose is of the highest order, with roasted chestnuts and peanuts, pumpernickel bread, toffee, so pipe tobacco, and a rather wonderful chocolaty maltiness that reminds me of chicory (Ricoré) and most certainly Ovaltine. So far, so perfect – and it’s cool to check that not only G&M have the very best Longmorns. With water: goes a little more towards brioche and biscuits. Which is very nice, naturally. Mouth (neat): rather rougher now, less broad and rich, and rather more grassy, peppery, and spicy, as if it’s more the cask’s tannins that are speaking out. New oak seasoned with sherry, I presume. With water: huge improvement. Marmalade, raisin rolls, cinnamon cake, green earl grey, dates filled with marzipan… Finish: long, maltier again, and grassier as well. Some tannins are back – as they say in opera, the finish never lies (what what what?) Comments: a very noticeable OB.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Longmorn 2003/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling)

Longmorn 2003/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Four stars
From the lovely series that they call ‘Distillery labels’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: get out of here! This is more Longmorn, it’s got these notes of honeyed fruits and beeswax, overripe apples, malted cereals, orgeat syrup, marzipan, cherries, smoked almonds… In truth this nose is extremely nice, and I especially adore these whiffs of wet limestone and chalk that are coming out after one minute. Mouth: so very good! Malt, apple pie, marmalade, tobacco-y raisins, lemon cake, French toast, then rather salty cakes, chicken cake, olive cake, leaven bread… That’s all extremely nice, and this wee saltiness in a Longmorn makes it all the more intriguing. Finish: medium, funnily soupy and even miso-y. Some kind of sweet and sour Japanese broth, and then quite some mead in the aftertaste. Comments: never, ever overlook these series.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Longmorn 28 yo 1989/2017 (45.4%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #17-128, 201 bottles)

Longmorn 28 yo 1989/2017 (45.4%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #17-128, 201 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: an all-natural Longmorn, all on cereals and vanilla, with no excesses. Muesli and oranges, white cherries and broken branches, cigarette tobacco and marzipan, mint and fresh mushrooms… And above everything, an armful of fern and a whole basketful of fresh croissants. Mouth: oh lovely. Tangerine-filled marzipan covered with thin milk chocolate and then more muesli and sweeter porridge. Then rather green tea, but always with an almondy side. They have these green (pistachio?) Turkish delights in Istanbul that are so good… Finish: medium, a tad more citrusy and candied. Orange zests in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re clearly approaching perfection here.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Longmorn 22 yo 1988/2011 (54.4%, Silver Seal, 138 bottles)

Longmorn 22 yo 1988/2011 (54.4%, Silver Seal, 138 bottles) Four stars
From when Silver Seal were doing their labels with an Atari. Or was it a Commodore? (will you ever forgive me, my friend?) Colour: gold. Nose: we’re quite close to the 1989, with this almondy and oily arrival on the nose, these whiffs of ‘a bakery around 6am’, then hints of rubbed mint leaves, the tiniest touches of natural rubber, baker’s yeast, and then a rather perfect development on all things orange-y. With water: orange zests and mud mixed together. No, that’s not unlikely at all. Mouth (neat): we’re extremely close to the 1989 again. Almonds, oranges, pepper, chocolate, dried ginger, dough… With water: more towards oranges, but there’s also more grass, green tea, bitter herbs… Finish: long, rather grassy, with some tobacco and touches of leather that make it a tad bitter. Comments: lost one or two points at the last moment, because of this growing grassiness. A great Longmorn anyway.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Longmorn-Glenlivet 26 yo 1990/2016 (55.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles)

Longmorn-Glenlivet 26 yo 1990/2016 (55.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: same kind of vintages, late 1980s to early 1990s, that was when Longmorn lost its sometimes extravagant (yet oh so sexy) fruitiness, and got rather grassier. We’re finding cut cactus, grassy mud, baker’s yeast, raw plum spirit, some kind of mentholy barley, fresh almonds, linseed oil…  With water: gets extremely earthy. Your face in the mud! (playing rugby, ha ha…) Mouth (neat): sweet barley, gingered orange squash, barley water, drops of grass juice, spinach, sour leaves, sorrel… With water: gingery almond and orange cake, leaves, grass, green pepper… Finish: quite long, green, a little yeasty, gingery… Comments: good but this Longmorn had lost a large part of its fruitiness. In other words, it’s good but rather un-Longmorn. IMHO.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

Agreed, we may need to go back in time… With something mad, perhaps?

Longmorn 1972/1985 (62%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #7.2)

Longmorn 1972/1985 (62%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #7.2) Five stars
Some young Longmorn from that seminal vintage, and only the second Longmorn ever by the SMWS. Game?... Colour: white wine. Nose: glory glory alleluia! Longmorn’s trademark (and amazing) fruitiness is back, with extraordinary notes of black cherries and red apricots, then the most complex honeyed combo ever. Lurking in the shadows are tangerines, fresh almonds, and even litchis. What a distillate! Please get ready to call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade… With water: oooh fruity/yeasty Swiss cheese and apricot bread! Mouth (neat): stop it, we can’t take this anymore. Luminous, bright, superbly fruity, fresh, peachy, mango-y, lemony, delicately earthy… And all this at 62% vol.! Seriously, who’s stolen the recipe? With water: please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade now! Extraordinary development on all citrus fruits and all fruitcakes, with this kind of fat lightness (no oxymoron) that’s so entrancing. Fantastic whisky. Finish: appropriately grassier and straighter, which leaves you with a totally clean palate. But the oranges are back in the aftertaste. Comments: were I to re-start a quality-oriented whisky collection (so many folks are collecting bad whisky these days!) I’d gather any whiskies that were distilled in 1972. Yes I know we’re a little late – are we?
SGP:562 - 94 points.

In theory, we should stop this here and now. But this is Whiskyfun, so…

Longmorn 43 yo 1968/2011 (55.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Van Wees, first fill sherry butt, cask #909, 523 bottles)

Longmorn 43 yo 1968/2011 (55.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Van Wees, first fill sherry butt, cask #909, 523 bottles) Five stars
To say that this baby’s got quite a reputation would be an understatement. Not only in the flatlands, mind you… Colour: amber. Nose: the guy who’s broken the mould should be prosecuted for such a crime. Why isn’t Longmorn (and many other single malts) as good anymore as it was in those years? Sure, yeast types, woods, condensers, hurry, greed, capitalism… But there must be other reasons! Anyway, love this blend of the finer things from oak with one of the fruitiest distillates ever. That gave us some king of cake-y bonanza that’s just very hard to beat. Some liquid banana cake, really. With water: some gunpowder, some cigarette ashes, some cured ham. Opening a pack of beef jerky. Mouth (neat): some kind of Asian arrival, with Thai or Indonesian spices (rendang, kafir…), then punchy green fruits (green bananas?) and a biting green tannicity that would remind us of the strongest Chinese green teas. This tiger roars. With water: ah, there, mead, orange wine, pollen, petit manseng (the grapes they use in Jurançon, for example), figs that are about to ferment… Finish: long, rather all on dried fruits, figs first. A stone-y feeling in the aftertaste. Comments: it just couldn’t beat the utterly stellar SMWS – some stratospheric whisky, really – but this old G&M/Van Wees sure is flying extremely high.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

(Thank you, friends!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Longmorn we've tasted so far


March 5, 2018


Balblair today and yesterday

Utmost respect and love for Balblair, a distillery (or a ‘brand’?) that never denied itself, never did – to my knowledge – any unlikely finishings (a.k.a. whisky’s lipstick and botox) and never tried to dip their fingers in the honey jar (a.k.a. do stoopid NAS). Kudos, Balblair!

Balblair 2004/2014 (46%, OB, travel retail, 1st release)

Balblair 2004/2014 (46%, OB, travel retail, 1st release) Two stars and a half
I know I’m late once again. Colour: straw/pale gold. Nose: noses sweet, all on orange cake and custard. Gets then even more citrusy (more oranges) while some tarte tatin’s coming out of the oven. In truth this is relatively simple, on the other hand it’s very well balanced. Easy pleasures. Mouth: rounded, sweet, barley-y, vanilla-ed, and very marginally coconutty. In all simplicity. Finish: medium, just as simple, perhaps a tad maltier. Muesli in the aftertaste. Comments: Certainly good, but a little too mundane, I think. Good enough for airport travellers, but that may be all. A little disappointing – perhaps too young?
SGP:541 - 78 points.

So, since that one was too young (IMO)…

Balblair 1999/2017 (46%, OB, 3rd release)

Balblair 1999/2017 (46%, OB, 3rd release) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, now we’re talking. There is a modern bourbony side (vanilla, charring, caramel) and indeed a little sawdust, but the yellow flowers (dandelions and such) and the lighter honeys (acacia) do work. Nice whiffs of fresh parsley and coriander on top of that. Mouth: oh this is funny, some ex-peater casks must have been in use, sure as there's carts to horses. Lapsang souchong, camphor, then smoked herbs (or seaweed?) and lemons. Very good. Finish: rather long, still smoky, with good citrus and green apples. Some smokiness left in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good one, with proper turns and twists. Balvenie were having a similar thing…
SGP:552 - 85 points.

Balblair 1990/2017 (46%, OB)

Balblair 1990/2017 (46%, OB) Four stars and a half
Which release is this? Not too sure, but it was launched around September last year. Colour: deep amber. Nose: ah, yes, this is superb Balblair, akin to what they had been distilling in the 1960s. Which means that it is much more tropical, that it’s got mangos, honeydew, aromatic herbs, figs, and high-end raisins that suggest that there was some good sherry involved. Great nose. Mouth: notes of rum, triple-sec, citron liqueur, then rather hay and tobacco, then mangos and papayas. High class, for sure. Finish: medium, excellent. Crystallised oranges, figs, raisins, honeydew, sweeter spices. Cinnamon cake. Hints of peachy Cognac in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re making excellent progress, aren’t we? More proof that with whisky, time does mater. Please don’t believe people who are getting paid to tell you otherwise.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

How shall we go on?...

Balblair 10 yo (100°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1970)

Balblair 10 yo (100°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1970) Five stars
Colour: amber. Nose: some perfect nutty and tobacco-y sherry at play here, some walnuts, something faintly metallic, cigars, dried porcinis… It’s the earthy side of it that’s really fantastic. With water: amazing, hazelnut liqueur, mild cigars, leather care cleaner (Connolly’s, naturally), mushrooms… Mouth (neat): puréed chestnuts and old Turkish date liqueur (arraks), figs aplenty, earthy nuts (chestnuts), cigars, Grisons meat… This is pretty amazing, in fact. With water: gets sweeter but even more complex at the same time. A good friend once ‘arranged’ some great old agricole rum from Martinique using dried figs, and he came up with something similar. Nobody would do that anymore. Finish: rather long and more ‘bouillony’. Maggi, bone marrow, parsley, chicken soup, chestnut soup… Comments: later G&M 10 100°proof had always been brilliant (late 1970s, WF 90), this is even greater. But insider’s stuff, I’m afraid.
SGP:561 - 92 points.

I think there’s room for one more…

Balblair 1986/2017 (49.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, for Whisky Show Old & Rare 2017, refill sherry hogshead, cask #12649)

Balblair 1986/2017 (49.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, for Whisky Show Old & Rare 2017, refill sherry hogshead, cask #12649) Four stars and a half
I agree, it was about time we tried this baby. We’re more than one year late, mind you! Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s the old 10, only simpler, less ‘wide’, less earthy, more straightforward, more immediate, more on dried fruits and, ach, err, fruitcakes. Pear cake, or tarte tatin with pears instead of apples. Charlie, are you listening? With water: damson / quetsche / zwetschke tarte, totally covered with cinnamon. Some pretty extreme Alsatian stuff, you know. Mouth (neat): rich, yet slightly mentholated, almost-zesty, very orange-y, and, yeah, rich. Cinnamon rolls and cask-strength panettone (ideas ideas…) With water: takes water extremely well. More cigary notes. Finish: fine herbs, mint, chives, dill… For a long time. Then butterscotch in the aftertaste. It was a good cask. Comments: I tasted this baby one good year after it came out, and will probably publish these notes even after the following Whisky Show Old & Rare Show. I hope you’ve already noticed that this lousy online tasting diary (nah, not quite a blog, since we’ll always refrain from rehashing old whisky content to death) was not really up to it. I am sorry.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Ite tasting session est, but stay tuned.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Balblair we've tasted so far


Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Caol Ila 2006/2017 (60.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butts, casks #306183, 306184, 306186, 306187) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Brora 1976/1989 (63.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #61.1, 75cl) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm’ (46%, OB, 2017 release)  - WF 89

Favourite malternative:
Domaine de Baraillon 1985/2012 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) - WF 92

March 4, 2018


French white rabb… I mean, rum

That’s the good thing when the raw materials are flavourful, you may enjoy the spirits made thereof even when they’re not aged in wood. But they may be aged in steel, stone or glass, or even aged in wood and then discoloured and/or heavily filtered. Let’s have a few white rhums today, randomly… But only high strength ones!

La Belle Cabresse (50%, OB, French Guyana, +/-2016)

La Belle Cabresse (50%, OB, French Guyana, +/-2016) Three stars
Said to be agricole on the label, so ex-vesou a.k.a. cane juice. What a delicious retro label! (not retro by design, just unchanged over the years). Colour: white. Nose: you would swear you’re nosing crushed olives, except that those olives were crushed quite some time ago. A little fresh glue. Beyond that, some pure, full-flown raw cane-iness. With water (although most people would add pineapple juice instead): more soap than with whisky (normal saponification), then some very nice whiffs of cut herbs, aniseed, fennel, plain grass… Mouth (neat): very good, surprisingly good. Sweeter, totally cane-y, and well, you must have quaffed some fresh cane juice before to be able to recognise it. I can’t quite find any other proper descriptors / analogies just now. With water: many pears, then a little tangerine. Finish: medium, with a wee feeling of saccharine but that’s probably natural. Comments: always thought this baby would be cheap on the palate, because it’s cheap. Not at all.
SGP:562 - 80 points.

Bologne ‘Black Cane 2016’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe)

Bologne ‘Black Cane 2016’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe) Two stars and a half
This is a limited edition of a rather rare rhum agricole, as only Bologne keep growing canne noire / black cane on La Guadeloupe. Same story as with malt whisky I suppose, lower yields means breed discarded, generally. Colour: white. Nose: bizarrely, it’s much less olive-y than the Cabresse, less heavy-estery, more refined, and much fruitier. You cannot escape these notes of bananas, papayas, mangos, and then rather caraway, which hints at kummel. With water: aniseed comes out, celery… Mouth (neat): there, it does get a little more phenolic / grassy, but that would rather be capers, perhaps… Other than that’s it’s a tropical fruit salad, with a sugariness. Some hints of fermenting peaches as well. With water: more sugar coming out. Not sure water is necessary here. Finish: medium, a tad too sugary for me. Liquorice allsorts, banana syrup. Comments: very good, but I liked the rawer style of the Guyanese rather better.
SGP:651 - 78 points.

Clément ‘Canne Bleue 2015’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole)

Clément ‘Canne Bleue 2015’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole) Two stars
No one could miss that this is canne bleue (blue cane). Did you know that sugar cane came in many colours? Colour: white. Nose: rather pears and IPA this time, with an even lighter style overall. Perhaps wee notes of light damp earth. Not very expressive, this blue cane… With water: no changes. Mouth (neat): a little indefinite and sugary, but rather good. Bonbons, pineapple syrup, Jell-O, wine gums… Not sure one should sip this like that… With water: same feelings. Finish: medium, sweetish, a tad spirity. Comments: what’s sure is that the makers have put every effort into the packaging. I thought Clément’s ‘Première Cane’ was much superior (WF 84) back in 2015. And more moderately packaged…
SGP:630 - 70 points.

Oh, I’ve found an older one at 40% vol…

Reimonenq ‘Coeur de Chauffe’ (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2005)

Reimonenq ‘Coeur de Chauffe’ (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2005)
Usually to be found at 50% vol. but this is well one at 40% vol. Kid’s rhum, in other words (S., shhh!) In my book Reimoneinq can be a little unusual… Colour: white. Nose: a little raw, slightly smoky, and grassy. Whiffs of wood alcohol and cardboard, then linseed oil and paraffin. I suppose no one ever thought somebody would ever try this without any fruit juices, Coke, or a mountain of ice. Mouth: sugar and pineapple syrup, which is a little cloying. Too sweet for me. Finish: medium, much more banana-y, which is much nicer despite the rather heavy sweetness. Comments: feels like someone added some kind of sweet concoction. Not too sure. Are we in Guatemala or Venezuela? DomRep? But listen, modern bottlings at 50% vol. might well be much better… Doesn’t feel agricole at all, might be ‘industriel’. The very idea of a ‘coeur de chauffe’ (heart) sounds a little weird in this context.
SGP:720 - 55 points.

Bielle ‘Canne Grise’ (59%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole, +/-2016)

Bielle ‘Canne Grise’ (59%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole, +/-2016) Three stars
And yet another cane colour, grise meaning grey, but with anything Bielle, you know we’re starting to talk… Colour: white. Nose: glue, asparagus, olives, nail polish, grass smoke (I mean, lawn grass), marzipan, ink. What’s not to like? With water: oh, moss, pine needles, asparagus soup, celeriac, even turnips… Love this mee lord… Mouth (neat): hot, very powerful, and frankly, a tad too spirity and aggressive for me. We’re almost drinking a blend of acetone and williams pears. So, quick… With water: extremely good, of high-mezcal quality, I would say. The sugar cane comes out, and so do artichokes, then fruits (fruits, at last!) Plums, pears, papayas, mandarins… Finish: medium, a tad sugary again, it seems that the finishes are these white rums Achilles’ heel. Comments: our favourite so far, but this is no surprise.
SGP:452 - 82 points.

Bielle, you say?...

Bielle 2016 ‘100% Canne Grise’ (72.8%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, 400 bottles, 2018)

Bielle 2016 ‘100% Canne Grise’ (72.8%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, 400 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
Matured for 22 months in stainless steel and bottled by/for these skilful French indie bottlers. Remember, maturation doesn’t always need oak (but flavouring sometimes does)… Now 72.8% vol.? Where did I put my latest testament? Colour: white. Nose: ha, piece of cake! I’m only half-joking, this is cane-y silk, but the tarry earthiness in the back just starts to roar. Also the usual strong glue, the rotting pink bananas, and just this feeling of tropical rain do rock. It’s sharper than the official, though. With water: o.l.i.v.e.s. When olives do come out, it’s always like when… Frank Zappa was coming up on stage after the band’s (very) long intro. Mouth (neat): immaculate and, dare I say, drinkable, even at this strength. Touches of litchi syrup, preserved guavas, Timut pepper, pink bananas, then more earth, a few fermenting fruits, and a feeling of sugar but that’s the alcohol, no doubt. With water: perfect, well chiselled, and very fat. It is a very fat spirit. Finish: long, a little sweet(ish) again but that’s all these white rums’ fate, while the sugarcane keeps singing in the aftertaste. Comments: would have made it to 90 without the finish. One of the best un-Jamaican whites I could ever try.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Séverin Blanc (55%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2016)

Séverin Blanc (55%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2016) Four stars and a half
Another rather weird bottle as it says ‘Rhum agricole de la Guadeloupe appellation d’origine’ while as far as I can tell, only sister island La Martinique does have a real appellation ‘agricole’. Oh and Madeira. This is not about the word agricole, it’s about the word appellation, but never mind… Colour: white. Nose: a bit of a death seat effect here, but its pretty nice, very cane-y, rounded, with a wee metallic side that’s not unpleasant at all, as well as a kind of fresh coastalness. Always forget, do you rather say coastality? With water: glue, glue, glue! Uhu, Pattex, Araldite… Love that. And smoked olives, love that even more. Mouth (neat): excellent! What a surprise, this has god aniseed, bananas, caraway, genepy, wormwood… Indeed, its almost like some kind of tropical absinth. With water: love it. Never thought I would. Lemons, olives, sucking waxed cardboard and sucking your cigar. Finish: long and marvellously green. I mean, olive-y. Comments: a tad flattering at times, perhaps, but it sure is one of the better ones. Despite the oh-so-un-New-York packaging. Well done, Domaine de Séverin!
SGP:652 - 88 points.

Good, let’s deviate a bit, and then we’re done.

Port Mourant ‘White’ (59%, Habitation Velier, Guyana, 2015)

Port Mourant ‘White’ (59%, Habitation Velier, Guyana, 2015) Five stars
Still had to try this one. Famous wooden pot still, high congeners (540 grams/hlpa if I’m not mistaken), some slightly boisterous bottlers… etc. If you’re on social media you already know about all that, if you’re not you’re a happy human being. Colour: white. Nose: different for sure. Roasted peanuts abound, and so do pistachios, roasted sesame, varnish, white pepper… With water: smoked pepper and ashy plasticine, no one can be against that. Mouth (neat): f**k, this is good rum. Goes to show that molasses aren’t obligatorily less good than vésou. Lime, olives, earth, kippers, smoke… This is almost Caol Ila made in Guyana. With water: perfect distillate. Smoky almonds and smoked ham, like they make in Schwarzwald (hallo Nachbarn!) Finish: long and perfect. Sublime smoky lemon. Comments: no oak needed when your spirit’s this good. I think I’m going to launch the White Distillates Association, but I’m not sure that would be politically sound these days… Oh, pass. Amazing white rum.
SGP:464 - 90 points.

Eight rums and more or less 550% vol. altogether, that’s enough (not sure that’s a sound calculation, S.)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far


March 3, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Caol Ila:
testing the limits?
Sometimes people very kindly send me samples of different batches of a specific bottling. In this case Caol Ila 25 year old, a whisky I usually find to be quite excellent. So, let’s see how we get on trying a number of different batches head to head over the course of one session.


This could either be fascinatingly illuminating, or frustratingly inconclusive. Anyway, let’s roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. Oh, and if you don’t mind, we’ll try to stick with short and concise notes.  


Caol Ila 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2010) Caol Ila 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2010)
Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Many earths, ashes, limoncello, wet rocks, kelp, soot and some briny and lightly fruity notes. Fresh green fruits such as green apples and pears. Lightly medical and kippery notes emerge as well. A permanent coastal bluster in the background. Mouth: Soft at 43% but the strength works. The light medical embrocations and soft, wispy peat smoke balances well with a little espresso, some mineral notes, lime zest, oyster sauce and a little smoked barley sugar. Finish: Medium - long. Briny, citric, lightly fruity, more soft smoky notes and a sooty aspects. Comments: Benchmark aged Caol Ila. An extremely pleasurable dram and one of the rare examples where a deliberately lower bottling strength works in its favour I’d say. Although I would love to see how the same liquid performed at 46% I have to say.
SGP: 356 - 87 points.


Caol Ila 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2012)
Let’s see if a couple of years made any difference... Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Perhaps slightly earthier with a little more up front minerality. A few mushrooms. But otherwise we’re in very similar territory, shell fish, seaweed, many seashore aspects, quite a bit of medicine, peat embers and wood ash. Still the same lovely profile. A slightly beefier barley sweetness, if you see what I mean. Mouth: Feels a little oilier and more robust but also more medicinal and peatier. Slightly more weighty than the 2010 which does it no harm at all. Kelp, tar and brine all sloshing about. Finish: Long, sooty, mineralic, citrus fruits and some farmyard qualities. Comments: Sold and consistent with the 2010, but I’d say the added weight and texture just nudges it a notch higher.
SGP: 366 - 88 points.


Caol Ila 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013)
Going forward another year or so... Colour: Pale gold (in all fairness there’s a good chance caramel is being used to create colour uniformity in this bottling, ho hum...) Nose: the same but slightly more minty and mentholated; a wee edge of eucalyptus resin and some tea tree oil. A little matcha and salted white fish along side all these typical medical, briny and bonfire aspects. The nose is really the most consistent part with these 25s I find so far. Mouth: Lighter and leafier again with a more ethereal minerality and a smokiness that veers towards ash, lemons, beach pebbles and sand. Finish: Medium length, some coal tar soap and lanolin and a touch of camphor. A little more nervous perhaps. Comments: It got slightly slighter again and perhaps a touch too fragile.

SGP: 245 - 85 points.


Caol Ila 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2016)
Jumping a head a wee bit... Colour: yup, you guessed it, pale gold! Nose: Oh, this one is a little sharper with more lively and pronounced notes of lime, fresh lemon juice a touch of grapefruit and some caphory, diesel notes. Hay, a farmyard, an old tool box in a garage, some clay, lapsang souchong and a smattering of punchy medical tinctures. A slightly greasier kind of peat. Mouth: The weight is back on again, and the peatiness is oddly more chiselled and focused towards things like mezcal and smoked agave. Paraffin, coal dust, smoked grist, kippers, peat ash, pencil shavings. Feels a little younger and more grizzly, which is no bad thing. I wonder if we are beginning to see the character of the Caol Ila distillate change a little since the earlier 1980s? Finish: Good length. Prickly peat, a warm kiln, kippers, soot, motor oil and boot polish. Comments: The most divergent so far I’d say. We’re moving towards a more simplistic and thuggish style I feel. Still a cracking dram though.
SGP: 266 - 86 points.


Caol Ila 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)
One more to bring us roughly up to date... Colour: do you really need me to write it? Nose: And again we seem to have swung back to a slightly more nuanced style. This one is pleasingly camphory, slightly buttery, some freshly chopped chives, coal dust, plenty of invigorating seashore character, lanolin, fresh linen, wet rocks, sandalwood and again this rather modern smoked grist/barley aspect which I find rather pleasing. Mouth: Sooty, waxy, farmy, medicinal and coastal. Some mercurochrome, tcp, ointments, preserved lemons, green olives in brine and kippers. Finish: Good length, warm, earthy, soda bread, black olives, seaweed and smouldering peat embers. Comments: These Caol Ilas are at their best when balance and complexity are allowed to shine I feel. Also, who says all bottlings decline in quality over time...?
SGP: 366 - 88 points.


A vatting of all five of those 25 year olds is rather excellent, all the best aspects seem to shine, as is so often the case with these sorts of fun experiments. For the record: SGP: 366 - 89 points.  


I feel it would be a shame not to have a few wee bonuses while we’re on the subject of Caol Ila...  


Caol Ila 31yo 1983/2015 (49.4%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #5291, 144 bottles) Caol Ila 31yo 1983/2015 (49.4%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #5291, 144 bottles)
Colour: Pale gold. Nose: A different level to the 25s. This is more concentrated and more complex as you might imagine. But at the same time it’s also extremely classical aged Caol Ila with these beautifully balanced medical, seashore and soft green fruit characteristics. Light tea notes such as green tea, mint tea, chamomile and lapsang souchong. Also many mineral qualities such as wet beach pebbles, sand and a few flinty notes. A couple of pineapple cubes, a few gorse flowers, sea salt, frying pancetta and underneath everything a wee slick of peat oils. Mouth: Soft, undulating, waxy peats. Almost like if you were to take a very old Glen Grant or something similar and infuse it with some aged peated malt somehow. There’s honey, glazed citrus peel, camphor, smoked oysters, a little cured meat and some earthy and background farmy notes. Goes on with smoked kelp, tar liqueur, lanolin, coal dust and herb infused olive oil. Finish: Long and showcasing a beautiful fusion of luscious green fruits and thicker, peats and waxy notes. Almost suggestive of some aged mid-1970s Broras. Comments: A beautiful and immensely quaffable Caol Ila that, unusually for an older whisky, comes across even better on the palate than on the nose. Top notch stuff!
SGP: 465 - 91 points.


Caol Ila 1977/1996 (60%, Blackadder, Limited Editions, cask #4, 360 bottles) Caol Ila 1977/1996 (60%, Blackadder, Limited Editions, cask #4, 360 bottles)
Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Fresh oysters covered in lemon juice, gravel, minerals, seashore, kelp, sandalwood and a lean, saline and potent peatiness rummaging away in the background. A pure and chiselled type of profile with petrol and germoline qualities sloshing about in the depths. The medical and salty aspects increase with time. Also becomes a little flinty and grassy with some fresh green herbs. With water: a little softer and more relaxed with an earthier style of peat. Mouth: Caol tar soap, olive oil, raw peat, soot, green peppercorns in brine, kippers, frying pancetta and beach pebbles. With water: softer, more lavishly medicinal, more mineral, more herbal and again more earthy. Some lapsang souchong and smoked fish in the background. Finish: Long, ashy, lemony, peppery and pretty perfect with some meaty shellfish qualities. Comments: There are many terrific old Caol Ila’s such as this one. Although, I feel the 1977s and 78s really possessed something ‘singular’ and a little separate from the earlier 74s and the later 79s-82s. Maybe that’s just me. Or maybe I need to do a vertical of Caol Ila from every vintage since the new distillery from 74 onwards? Or is that rather like trying to watch every single James Bond film back to back: insane and daunting?
SGP: 346 - 91 points.


Caol Ila 1977/1993 (65%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53.6) Caol Ila 1977/1993 (65%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53.6)
65%, I suppose I should sit down for this one... Colour: Pale gold (If distilleries had a colour I feel Caol Ila’s could quite easily be ‘pale gold’) Nose: A grouchy, austere, total brute at first nosing! Some simmering peat oils shyly lurking under a mountain of smoked cornflakes, shredded wheat, muesli and freshly malted barley. Although I feel this may kill you stone dead if you were to drink it for breakfast. With a little time it develops along more classical Caol Ila lines with these notes of petrol, mercurochrome, germoline and crushed sea salt. The very definition of purity and power! Possesses an almost blade-like precision.  Tiny touches of earth, lemon juice, iodine, seaweed and white pepper all whisper out at you. With water: citrus, wax, hospital corridors, a hay loft, brake fluid. Close to perfection really! Mouth: a maelstrom of syrupy peat oils, camphor, resins, minerals, various oils, soot, wax, gentian eau de vie, tar liqueur and herbal toothpaste (my beloved Euthymol). Goes on with warm peat embers, coal dust, sandalwood and pure brine. The austerity has eased off and in place is just a spectacularly powerful, pure and surprisingly complex Caol Ila. With water: a sweeping smokiness that takes in freshly malted barley, peat embers, kippers, hessian, farmyard and bonfire ash. Then veering towards to dried herbs, mint and various sooty aspects. Quite brilliant! Finish: Extremely long and superbly precise, sharp and vivid. With these wonderfully vibrant coastal aspects, blue peat smoke, black olives, kelp and olive oil. Comments: It’s a bit of a monster and it makes you work for it, but my God it’s worth it. A terrific and beautifully powerful but complex Caol Ila. I love it!
SGP: 367 - 93 points.


Thanks to Dirk and the Thompson siblings.  



More tasting notesCheck the index of all Caol Ila we've tasted so far


March 2, 2018


Another grainy day

We’re trying single grains almost every month, aren’t we. It’s just that while the were was only Cameron Brig and perhaps William Grant’s Black Barrel fifteen years ago, grains have started to invade our shelves. As a friend said to me, grain is to whisky what surimi is to fish. But not too sure about that one, and after all, half a loaf is better than none…

Dumbarton 29 yo 1987/2016 (56.5%, Whiskybroker for HNWS Taiwan, refill bourbon barrel, cask #25233, 185 bottles)

Dumbarton 29 yo 1987/2016 (56.5%, Whiskybroker for HNWS Taiwan, refill bourbon barrel, cask #25233, 185 bottles) Three stars and a half
Ballantines’ grain… And some kind of nice blue orchids on the label. Colour: gold. Nose: massive doses of sawdust and vanilla at first nosing, plus a smaller amount of coconut, then a large bag of pastry, which comes as nicer. It’s relatively fresh, but of course not deep. Not many grains are deep, anyway. With water: woosh, everything gone. Mouth (neat): well, there wasn’t much on the nose, but this has more knack, I’m finding dried mangos, notes of stewed rhubarb, coconut water, Turkish delights, rosewater, massive amounts of marzipan… I have to say I’m surprised, even if all this remains a little thin, as always with grain whisky. With water: oh, it goes the distance, with coconut balls, limoncello, and a good two litres of chamomile tea. Finish: not that short, and rather pleasant, even of just like almost all grains, there is a feeling of ‘whisky for kids’. That may be the coconut. Comments: you won’t need to spend too much time nosing this grain, but the palate does deliver indeed. If you need a Dumbarton, you may pick one of these 1987s. Or better yet, an old bottle of Ballantine’s 30 yo.
SGP:630 - 83 points.

Douglas Laing are always having a good handful of single grains, let’s quickly have a quartet if you don’t mind… (love Douglas Laing, love their crew, and love their single malts and blended malts, shall I add rather pre-emptively…)

Cameronbridge 26 yo 1991/2018 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular) Two stars and a half
Not too sure about the other details, this one’s brand new. Colour: white wine. Nose: stewed fruits plus a touch of coconut and custard. Whiffs of newly sawn plywood, and nosing a tea bag. With water: not much further development. Mouth (neat): good, easy, with apple syrup and notes of late-harvest pinot gris, which can’t be bad. With water: really pretty good. Passion fruit and avocado juice (like they make in Bali) and sweet cereals. Fruit Loops? Golden Grahams? Better stuff? Finish: medium and rather thin as always, but it’s going towards apple compote, and I’m an apple compote maniac. Must come from my childhood. Comments: the notes of apples were really lovely in this one, but it remains some high-column grain ‘whisky’. No glue in this one, hurray!
SGP:530 - 78 points.

Girvan 27 yo 1989/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # #12191, 148 bottles) Two stars
I don’t think I’ve ever had a really good Girvan. I mean, a Girvan that was to my liking. Or perhaps just one? In my book, Girvan is to grain what grain is to Scotch whisky. Colour: pale gold. Nose: between young Havana Club and young Bacardi. In other words, almost nada, niente, rien, nichts, nothing. With water: forget. Mouth (neat): mega-sweet and creamy, we’re bordering oak-flavoured vodka territories. I’m not saying it’s bad, and in truth it’s a good spirit drink, but it ain’t whisky in my book. Malibu, come out of this bottle! With water: let’s be fair, this goes down extremely well. Coconut plus butterscotch plus vanilla. Finish: short, and a little nicer, thanks to some fresh almonds. Perhaps amaretti? Comments: these ones really lose me, as a malt lover. In truth, I don’t know what to say… I was about to mention Coldplay, but last time I did, some friends called me an elitist and I caught a good shovelful.
SGP:620 - 72 points.

Port Dundas 28 yo 1988/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11526, 205 bottles)

Port Dundas 28 yo 1988/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11526, 205 bottles) Two stars
Colour: straw. Nose: wine gums and fruit drops, plus some ethanol. But remember, there’s little point in nosing grain whisky… With water: sawdust and coconut. I repeat, in my opinion, there’s little point in nosing grain whisky. Mouth (neat): not too bad, it’s fruity and sweet and I’m finding some kind of funny tea, with some rosehip flowers that would have been kept in a copper kettle. Or something like that. With water: some earthy tones, which adds a little depth to this otherwise thin and fruity spirit. Finish: rather short, sweet. Barley water (barley?) Comments: this, on ice, would kind of work around the pool. Nah, rather Champagne.
SGP:630 - 73 points.

Carsebridge 40 yo 1976/2017 (49.9%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #11587, 148 bottle)

Carsebridge 40 yo 1976/2017 (49.9%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #11587, 148 bottle) Four stars and a half
Indeed, when really old, grain whisky can become much more interesting, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: it hasn’t got the relative depth of some 40 yo ex-sherry Invergordons, but indeed it seems that molecules started to combine and to create more complex aromas, such as marzipan, papayas, teak oil, macadamia nuts, sugarcane juice… Fine, really fine so far… Mouth: ah, yess! Another galaxy, with many perfect tropical fruits, mangos, papayas indeed, hints of tamarind, persimmon, tangerines… Plus the expected coconuts. Natural coconuts, not their interpretation by some kind of booze consortium. Finish: surprisingly long, rather on citrus and herbal teas. Say tangerines and cold hawthorn tea. Comments: see, I’m not anti-grain whisky at all. All I’m saying is that since there’s almost nothing in the distillate, only time will bring complexity and interest. Anyway, I do recommend this very lovely old Carsebridge.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all grain whisky I've tasted so far


March 1, 2018


Democracy in action
A bunch of indie Glenrothes

As per a rather funny wee survey we did on WF’s Facebook page yesterday, asking ‘So what's on whiskyfun tomorrow morning ?’ eight Glenrothes won by 227 votes versus 190 votes for five rare Japanese whiskies, while 417 friends have voted altogether.
Good, it's always a joy to try a few Glenrothes, it is a very fine distillate that takes sherry well but that’s also bright and, well, sexy when au naturel. The indies seem to have quite a lot of Glenrothes too these days. Oh and I remember the first time I tried to visit the Distillery, around 25 years ago or so. Being a die-hard Cartesian, I drove to the town of Glenrothes, in the middle of Fife… And never, ever found the Distillery, no need to say. Luckily, I found it with the help of the Malt Maniacs, ten years later…

Glenrothes 11 yo 2006/2017 (58.9%, Sansibar, sherry, 305 bottles)

Glenrothes 11 yo 2006/2017 (58.9%, Sansibar, sherry, 305 bottles) Three stars
Colour: amber. Nose: a rather hot one, pretty kirschy, with notes of rubber and leaves plus stems. Quite some chocolate underneath this harshness… Water may be needed. With water: there, that works. More blood oranges, nectarines, malt, a wee game-y side, cured ham, walnut wine… Mouth (neat): a heavy beast, some kind of crossbreed between Glenfarclas 105 and A’bunadh, if that rings a bell. A lot of chocolate and a lot of kirsch again, plus always these leafy, almost rubbery touches when neat. With water: and there again, malty oranges, walnuts, and a wee bit of leather. Finish: long, getting peppery and a tad cactussy. I know, I know… A little rubber again in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m not sure I wouldn’t have reduced this wee beast prior to bottling, down to around 48-50% vol.
SGP:361 - 81 points.

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (53.6%, Sansibar, for Sweden, sherry hogshead, 300 bottles)

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (53.6%, Sansibar, for Sweden, sherry hogshead, 300 bottles) Four stars
Our friends in Sweden seem to enjoy their whiskies big and bellicose, so we’re warned… Colour: dark amber. Nose: well, actually, this one’s more civilised, almost kind of gentle, with notes of moss, roasted chestnuts, earth, mushrooms, and then a lot of raw cocoa and dark tobacco. Smelling a pack of Gitanes or Gauloises (or Roth-Händle), then some rancio, old Madeira… With water: umami sauce and Maggi! Mouth (neat): rich, creamy, with something that reminds me of the old Macallan 10 C/S, with a good deal of black pepper, bitter oranges, old walnuts, and now we’ve started eating that dark tobacco… With water: a less salty version of Maggi. Finish: long, dark, dry, ashy. Eating raw cocoa powder. Comments: some rather spectacular bone-dry ‘black’ sherry, more old oloroso than proper old oloroso.
SGP:261 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 1997/2017 (57%, Antique Lions of Spirits, 288 bottles)

Glenrothes 1997/2017 (57%, Antique Lions of Spirits, 288 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: this one’s rather rounder, with more honey and raisins. A more civilised version of the one for Sweden, if you like. Whiffs of stewed strawberries, perhaps. With water: these earthy smells once again, moss, tobacco, cocoa, even a little menthol… The roundness went away. Mouth (neat): rich, rather sweet again. Some kind of peppered orange liqueur with an earthier background (our beloved gentian eau-de-vie), plus some mead and sweet white wine. Perhaps proper PX? With water: pepper up big time. Finish: long, peppery, dry, with some coffee and almost a saltiness. Comments: a very good malt that goes from sweet(ish) to very dry.
SGP:361 - 83 points.

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (47.9%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (47.9%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Four stars and a half
Quite possibly in the same vein, let’s see… Colour: coffee. Nose: not one ounce of dryness in this one, rather lovely whiffs of chestnut honey and old Banyuls. Also dried currants and, above everything, bags and bags of dried dates. That’s perfect. Mouth: very good, closer to the best OBs, round, sweet, with wee notes of rum, even touches of preserved pineapple, then our friend the chestnut honey again. A cup of Cointreau, and perhaps even one of Cognac. Very good. Finish: love it that it got drier, with more cocoa, dark chocolate, and even some coffee. Oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: this is one you could quaff while watching the Olympics. It just slides down…
SGP:451 - 88 points.

Glenrothes 2005/2017 (58.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butt, cask #4789)

Glenrothes 2005/2017 (58.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butt, cask #4789) Three stars
Always a mystery why G&M have first fill sherries that are so light in colour. I mean, some of them. Fino? Or are they thoroughly rinsing/steaming them prior to filling? Colour: straw. Nose: indeed we’re closer to straight maltiness, and we’re finding croissants, lemon curd, fudge, barley, muesli… With water: porridge with touches of smoke and ink. Mouth (neat): there, the distillate speaks out. It’s not as gentle as expected, and I’m also finding notes of peppered cream cheese, which is a tad odd… Also dried porcini powder. A funny one, this one! With water: tonic water, lime, and chilli pepper liqueur. Indeed. Gets gentler over time, though, maltier… Finish: rather long, leafier, getting a little bitter. Green pepper. Comments: the (even) more austere side of Glenrothes.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Glenrothes 27 yo (51.1%, Elixir Distillers, Art of Whisky Ageing, 2017)

Glenrothes 27 yo (51.1%, Elixir Distillers, Art of Whisky Ageing, 2017) Four stars and a half
This by the mighty TWE squad. But you know, the ‘art of whisky ageing’, to me, consists in 1. fill cask, 2. wait. All the rest is carpentry. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s the most barley-y of them all, the closest to the spirit (indeed, that is the art of whisky ageing IMHO), with whiffs of bubblegum, marshmallows, sweet barley, custard, apricots, and raw carrots/celeriac. With water: a barley field in the midst of summer. Barley, earth… Mouth (neat): excellent. Many sweet vegetables and roots covered with barley syrup. Mashed sweet potatoes, parsnips… With water: gets a tad oilier, excellently malty, with touches of honey and brioche. Finish: medium, a tad grassier, drier, leafier. Malty aftertaste. Comments: well, I agree, this is the art of whisky ageing.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Glenrothes 12 yo 2005/2017 (59.4%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, for Switzerland, sherry butt, cask #13569, 204 bottles)

Glenrothes 12 yo 2005/2017 (59.4%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, for Switzerland, sherry butt, cask #13569, 204 bottles) Four stars
Sorry, no pictures. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather flinty mid-sherried sherried Glenrothes, with some cornflakes, notes of earth, barley, croissants, and of course muesli, since this was a bottling for our neighbours in Switzerland. With water: clean, barley-y, moderately sherried, with dried figs in the background. Perhaps pumpkin oil (one drop, no more). Mouth (neat): very very good, a bit unusual thanks to this very earthy kind of fruitiness, with quite a lot of tobacco, liquorice wood, pecans… With water: all good, good figs, good overripe apples, good tobacco, good roasted tea (hochicha or Hojicha – purists not like, I do). Finish: medium, lovely. Say more Hochicha? Comments: a very good young drop, for sure.
SGP:351 - 86 points.

Good, a last one. This one, for example, had slipped through my fingers when it came out …

Glenrothes 1988/2012 (53.4%, Archives, refill sherry hogshead, cask #7318)

Glenrothes 1988/2012 (53.4%, Archives, refill sherry hogshead, cask #7318) Four stars
From when our friends were having this post-industrial-starving-artist-on-acid kind of label. That’s right, before crabs and mussels took over. Colour: straw. Nose: barley, crushed barley, barley water, sweet oriental bread, figs, croissants, popcorn, triple-sec. Its bright, it’s un-doctored, it’s lovely. With water: the power of raw barley. Mouth (neat): very very good at first, with more barley, then grapefruits, but it tends to become just a wee tad soapy. Just a wee tad… With water: as often, oranges save it. Pink pepper, oranges indeed, barley, just three raisins. Finish: medium, cinchona-y, tonic, orange-y. Touches of honey in the aftertaste, plus hints of turmeric. Comments: some ups and some downs, well many more ups, actually.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glenrothes I've tasted so far

February 2018 - part 2 <--- March 2018 - part 1 ---> March 2018 - part 2



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 10 yo ‘Ten’ (46%, OB, +/- 2018)

Ardbeg 18 yo 'Special Liqueur' (91.3° US proof, OB, USA, Kraus Import New York, 4/5 quart, 1930s)

Balblair 10 yo (100°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1970)

Highland Park 14 yo 1996/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #6457, 475 bottles)

Longmorn 1972/1985 (62%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #7.2)

Longmorn 43 yo 1968/2011 (55.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Van Wees, first fill sherry butt, cask #909, 523 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2007/2017 ‘Local Barley’ (57.3%, OB, 9000 bottles)

Springbank 32 yo 1966/1998 ‘Local Barley’ (55.1%, OB, Taiwan, cask #496)

Chichibu 2010/2018 (61.3%, OB, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, 188 bottles)

Yoichi 11 yo 1990/2002 (61.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #116.2, ‘Spice box and orange oil’)

Hampden <H> 7 yo 2010/2017 (62%, Velier, 70th anniversary,Jamaica, #107, 1679 bottles)

Port Mourant ‘White’ (59%, Habitation Velier, Guyana, 2015)