(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo

Whisky Tasting





Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2018 - Part 2


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


March 31, 2018




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Glendronach 21 yo: A dissection. Plus bonus.
Another of these wee investigations into the evolution of a specific official bottling. Made possible thanks to the generosity and commendably geeky determination of a fellow whisky enthusiast. This sort of session can be fun/frustration and/or illuminating/baffling. Let’s see what we will find. I should say, I generally enjoy the official 21 yo Glendronach, on the occasions in the past when I’ve tasted it.


Glendronach 21 yo (48%, OB, ‘Parliament’, 1st release, 2011) Glendronach 21 yo (48%, OB, ‘Parliament’, 1st release, 2011)
Colour: Amber. Nose: A nicely stodgy nose at first, a thick morass of prunes, date puree, wet earth and treacle. Some dark chocolate, a hint of dusty dryness, some graphite oil and a very lightly mineral edge. Good. Perhaps a little honey and some strawberry liqueur with time. Mouth: Drying at first, still quite earthy, pleasantly herbal, a touch sooty and gravelly as well. Some more dark fruits, a few sultanas and also quite a bit of meatiness: cured meats, game, oxo granules. Finish: Medium length with a lingering earthiness, some orange peel, cloves and a little dried tarragon. Also a nice peppery bite in the aftertaste. Comments: Good, solid, muscular sherried whisky.
SGP: 452 - 86 points.


Glendronach 21 yo (48%, OB, ‘Parliament’, 2nd release, 2011)
Colour: Amber (a notch darker). Nose: Breadier, more chocolatey and slightly more towards Demerara rum and wet leaves. Some cocoa, tapioca pudding and a slightly greener, fruitier aspect. Some plum jam and dried apricots. Still pretty earthy overall as well. Mouth: A more resinous, nervous sherry. Still earthy, chocolatey and peppery but also with a little espresso and roasted nuts. With time some dried mint and cranberries. Finish: Longer and earthier and broadly more spicy. Some red fruits such as glazed cherries and dried cranberries again. Comments: I prefer this one a notch over the first one I think. It’s got these typical earthy Glendronach qualities but it’s also a little rounder, fresher and perhaps just more easy.
SGP: 452 - 87 points.



Glendronach 21 yo (48%, OB, ‘Parliament’, 3rd release, 2012)
Colour: Amber. Nose: Veering back towards austerity again this time, some agricole rhum,  a little grass, some pollen, plenty earth and bitter chocolate, date-ridden muesli and milky cocoa. Also some cinnamon and nutmeg. There’s a touch of balsamico and raspberry jam as well. Mouth: Some fudge, wet earth, hessian, soot, a little wax, some green tea, lemon skins, walnut oil, more muesli, freeze dried strawberries and again a little dustiness which recalls the 1st release. Finish: Long, all on herbal bitters, dry earth, dark chocolate, some dried mushroom powder and a few dark fruit jams. Comments: Same quality as the second one I feel but also somewhere between the first and second in terms of character. Although, there really isn’t too much between them all. Probably a slightly silly session I suppose, but then again, this is Whiskyfun is it not?
SGP: 452 - 87 points.



A wee bonus...



Glendronach 25 yo (41.2%, Cadenhead’s Original Collection, 1990s) Glendronach 25 yo (41.2%, Cadenhead’s Original Collection, 1990s)
Based on the stocks that other bottlers had around this time and when this series was being bottled, it’s likely that this is either a 1970 or 1972. However, if anyone knows better, please do tell me... Colour: Deep bronze. Nose: What’s striking is how the overall profile of roasted nuts, earth, chocolate and dark fruits is quite similar but the depth and concentration of the aromas is unequivocally more intense and integrated into a more thrilling whole. Wee tertiary notes of salami, very soft peat, maraschino cherry, old fashioned cocktail, mineral oil, coal heaths and very old balsamico. There’s also a rising rancio note and notes of old cognac, raisins and cinnamon dusted banana cake. Mouth: Although the strength is pretty light it’s full of red fruits, muscovado sugar, brown bread, olive oil, rancio, old oloroso sherry, a little black pepper and some mint tea. Devastatingly quaffable juice. Finish: Long, resinous, earthy, full of high quality dark chocolate, frehsly roasted coffee beans and more notes of glazed cherries and dark fruit compotes. Comments: It’s a rare dram in that it combines some pretty high-intensity sherry characteristics with freshness, lightness and supreme drinkability and pleasure. To think indy bottlings such as this were once pretty standard fare...
SGP: 563 - 91 points.



March 29, 2018


Another bag of Bowmore

It is so good that the 1980s are over! Because in the 1980s, you had both those stupid electronic drum kits and the strangest Bowmores ever distilled. Lavender lozenges, violet and geranium air fresheners and Marks & Spencer’s own cologne all at the same time, remember? A proper tour de force!

Clydeside Distillery 10 yo ‘Islay’ (40%, OB, for Hideo Yamaoka, 2018)

Clydeside Distillery 10 yo ‘Islay’ (40%, OB, for Hideo Yamaoka, 2018) Four stars and a half
This is not, mind you, from the actual new Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow, but it was bottled for them and poured over there. A little bird told me it’s Bowmore, but of course I have no proof, your honour. I remember Kilchoman had done more or less the same in their early days. Colour: white wine. Nose: crystalline, peaty, coastal, with whiffs of pink grapefruits and a drop of agave syrup. Beach sand and hessian. Mouth: impeccable, very good, not weak, smoky, citrusy, with notes of kippers and fatter seashells (clams?) Kind of self-evident, and simply extremely good. Such a classy spirit when no flavouring oak gets in the way! Finish: it’s even long, oily, earthy, just totally perfect. Comments: in theory, this was distilled in the late 2000s. Watch these, watch these (and just avoid any mizusherryvirginport casks – if I may).
SGP:456 - 89 points.

So, at random… (didn’t we say we’d do this randomly?)…

Bowmore 26 yo ‘The Vintner’s Trilogy’ (48.7%, OB, +/-2018)

Bowmore 26 yo ‘The Vintner’s Trilogy’ (48.7%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars
I would say the name’s a little scary. What would vintners have to do with whisky? Would you call some bread ‘The Butcher’s Reserve’? You say yes? Good, good… This is ex-French oak barrique by the way, but they wouldn’t say if it was just a finishing. Which means that it was just a finishing. Come on, show a bit of courage, Serge. Colour: deep gold. Nose: burnt wood and lavender lozenges, plus cassis jam, struck matches and touches of manure. Not sure, really not sure. In my book one of Bowmore’s main assets is the ‘chiselled purity’ of its spirit, but this is the exact opposite.  A bit of a mess, in my opinion. Mouth: a tad nicer but unbalanced, with more blackcurrants, Fanta, cloves gone mad, lavender indeed, and a whole pack of cheap sweets from Amazon’s. Finish: long but difficult, too leathery, with these green tannins. Proper ‘black’ tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: not quite a Vintner's Tragedy, but I think the whisky makers should simply stop plundering the wine world - aimlessly. Yeah, go score such an oddity (knowing that I do not want to offend anyone, but also that that would be £350 a bottle)…
SGP:665 - 72 points.

We need redemption, don’t we (although 72 is not such a bad score, really…)… but we’re also very single minded…

Bowmore 18 yo ‘The Vintner’s Trilogy’ (52.5%, OB, +/-2018)

Bowmore 18 yo ‘The Vintner’s Trilogy’ (52.5%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Manzanilla this time, and I just love manzanilla. As you may know, that’s some fino that’s matured in or around Sanlucar de Barrameda, on the coast. It’s a bone-dry salty and nutty white that I simply adore. And indeed this is a finishing again… Colour: gold. Nose: driving a 911 after a Trabant. Bowmore’s markers are well in place, with some kelp and seawater, carbon paper, Play-Doh, ashes, hessian, grass, and lemons. As for the manzanilla… well… Mouth: ah yes! Lemons and brine, oysters, the tiniest touch of mustard, black pepper, and just a little too much grassy grass. See what I mean? It’s true that manzanilla can be a little ‘pervasive’ at times. Finish: long, a tad gritty, green, leafy. Green tannins and bizarrely, some sugar in the aftertaste. Lemon curd. Comments: of course this would be even better without the wine thing, but it’s one of the good ones, in my opinion. Liked a recent regular 18 better, having said that (WF 87).
SGP:375 - 83 points.

Couldn’t we go back to normal? Those wineskies can get pretty tiring… Oh I think I’ve got a wee CAD that I haven’t tried yet…

Bowmore 15 yo 2000/2015 (58.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 180 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo 2000/2015 (58.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 180 bottles) Five stars
I fear this will be quick. Colour: white wine. Nose: immaculate waxy lemony coastal ashy nose. Doesn’t need anything more, especially not wine, or that would be like Mr. Bean drawing over a Picasso. With water: hessian, ever heard of hessian? And bread dough. Mouth (neat): of course. With water: phew! Finish: yep. Crystal-clean lemony and brine-y and smoky Islayer. The kind that, in theory, no one should touch. Comments: why anyone would decide to murder (read flavour – so finish in official whisky vocabulary) this kind of perfect distillate is just incomprehensible. Even from a marketing point of view. Even from a marketing-on-peyote point of view. Or on Brewdog.
SGP:457 - 91 points.

Good, one last little Bowmore, from the old boxes, for the road…

Bowmore 12 yo 1998/2010 (51.8%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon barrel)

Bowmore 12 yo 1998/2010 (51.8%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon barrel) Four stars
I’m eight years late, that’s nothing, is it! Colour: white wine. Nose: ah I remember, you could still find some wacky ones in the late 1990s, but they were always interesting and often even superb. In this very case, we’re finding asparagus, shoe polish, artichokes, and perhaps even broccolis, and only then proper coastal notes, kelp, tarry ropes, that old tweed jacket after a walk in the rain… With water: mud, and visiting the Islay Woollen Mill while on Bowmore Bicentenary. Mouth (neat): right, Bowmore’s distillate was already immaculate in the late 1990s, as long as crazy newborn finishionistas were kept at a distance. Or sent to hell, together with oak-technologists and republican lawyers (hey, I’m only joking!) Perfect oily notes of smoked fish, oranges, ashes… So good, so good… With water: no, careful with water. A drop of Vittel will suffice. Of course the water you’re using is of utmost importance. Finish: smoked cod oil and paraffin, plus hints of cinnamon roll. That part came unexpected. Comments: there are rumours that some Scottish distillers are about to use malbec. Hang those heretics high! (indeed, carried away…)
SGP:357 - 87 points.

(Gracias, Hideo, Philip and Tomislav!)

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


March 28, 2018


Very good blended malts, randomly

New ones and ones that may not be that new, as they come out of the boxes and the shelves. Let’s see what we’ll find…

Nectar Grove (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, 9000 bottles, 2018)

Nectar Grove (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, 9000 bottles, 2018) Three stars
This one’s brand new at time of writing, and has been finished in Madeira casks. Let’s try to find out if those were sweet or dry Madeiras… Colour: straw. Nose: porridge, dough, fresh baguette, then dandelions and chamomile tea, then williams pears and white chocolate. I don’t find any obvious notes of Madeira ‘as such’, but indeed there’s also a little tobacco somewhere in the background. Mouth: sweet! So it was probably sweet Madeira, and you would find some melon syrup, Spanish apple liqueurs, tinned pineapples, and simply quite a lot of barley sugar. Demerara sugar. Feels a bit beefed-up but the feeling isn’t actually unpleasant. Tiny-grain muscat. Finish: medium, with rather preserved pears. Comments: the sweetness feels a bit ‘pushed’ but this is not quite as stuffy as some of the heavily PX-ed malts. A very fine blended malt in an unusual style.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Fine Blended Malt Whisky 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.3%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry hogshead)

Fine Blended Malt Whisky 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.3%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry hogshead) Four stars
Watch it, some ‘blended malts’ could actually be teaspooned malts, so virtually singles. Single in the bottle, blended on the papers. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather leafy and tobacco-y sherriness, with some dried beef, jerky, sweeter bouillon, black Demerara, and then menthol and bitter chocolate. A bold style that’s very sexy, provided the palate doesn’t get too awry, we’ll see… With water: mud, earth and chocolate. Mouth (neat): old Armagnac at cask strength. Prunes, English brown sauce, perhaps Marmite (apologies), and a large bag of big black raisins dipped into chocolate. With water: sweeter. Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Tokaji, Moscatel and all that, but without any excesses. Finish: long, with rather more fresh fruit, which is good. Oranges and cranberries, perhaps. Comments: excellent. We’ve known similar very good sherried malts that were coming from Ballindalloch.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Cadenhead Creations 26 yo 1991/2018 (43.8%, Cadenhead, vatted malt, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles)

Cadenhead Creations 26 yo 1991/2018 (43.8%, Cadenhead, vatted malt, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles) Four stars
Indeed those very engaging rebels in Campbeltown are calling this a vatted (instead of blended) malt. Just for fun, I suppose. It shelters Glenlivet, Bruichladdich, Glen Grant, Aultmore, Tamdhu, Strathisla and Braeval. Colour: gold. Nose: very nice, waxy, barley-y, cake-y, exactly what you’d expect from a middle-aged unpeated blended malt. Apple cake and just a whiff of menthol, as well as, perhaps, a touch of camphor. Mouth: excellent composition, with some kick, green tea, fresh mint, apples and pears, white cherries, marzipan, oranges, barley, cereal bars, butterscotch… Finish: medium, rather bright, with a wee waxy earthiness that goes extremely well with these fruits. They almost managed to recreate Pulteney! Comments: very well done indeed, with a style that’s exactly the opposite of that of the little cask (the Fässle)
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Vega 40 yo 1977/2018 (48.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 400 bottles, 2018)

Vega 40 yo 1977/2018 (48.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 400 bottles, 2018) Five stars
There was a 23 yo Vega last year and it was just excellent (WF 87). Colour: amber. Nose: doesn’t feel very ‘blended’, and does feel very classically sherried, without excesses, with a perfect chocolate-iness, some cigars, a touch of hessian, some blackcurrants, some old oloroso, a little earth, whiffs of clean old wine barrel, and a handful of wild mushrooms. Proper raw chocolate beans, torrefaction, roasted coffee… Everything’s just impeccable. Mouth: it’s the freshness that’s pretty impressive, the fruits (freshly squeezed orange juice with cloves), and the light chocolate/coffee/clove combo. Gets then more oloroso-y, darker, with more bitter chocolate and ‘crunching coffee beans’. Mexican mole sauce. Body and strength are just perfect. Finish: medium, on oranges and chocolate. Jaffa cake, orangette, Demerara sugar. A touch of beef bouillon and black tobacco (Gauloise) in the aftertaste, plus mushrooms, penny buns, shitake… Comments: did you notice that we haven’t used the word ‘oak’? Not even once?
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Good, a little NAS peat to clean everything up…

Big Peat ‘London Edition’ (48%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, 2017)

Big Peat ‘London Edition’ (48%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, 2017) Four stars
Why not. We’re expecting a Turckheim edition soon. This series is highly successful anyway, but I’m not sure they’re still adding drops of Port Ellen to it, are they? Colour: white wine. Nose: lemon, pears, smoke, cider apples, smoked barley, a drop of fish oil. Very simple, very nice. Mouth: ashes and apples, salty seashells, brown bread, Pilsen Urquell, lemons. Extremely simple, millimetric, almost constructivist. No, complexity is not always obligatory. Finish: rather long, ashy, smoky, simple, greener. Saltier and then sweeter aftertaste. Comments: that was quick and short. These blended malts are kind of ‘evident’, you just cannot be against them. Palate is clean now, session is over, we can have our asparagus with mayonnaise and a good glass of riesling from my village. While expecting for an Ulan-Bator edition of Big Peat, I say bye-bye.
SGP:457 - 86 points.

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


March 27, 2018


Happy International Whisky Day!


Every year since 2008, the original, true non-commercial International Whisk(e)y Day celebrates the birthday of the late Michael Jackson, eternal king of whisky writing. Today raise a glass to Michael Jackson and please help fight Parkinson's Disease!

International Whisky Day

What's more, it’s become a tradition at WF Towers to have some Macallan on March 27, to celebrate Michael Jackson’s life and work. And this year, we’ll try to have one that he may well have sipped on numerous occasions...

Macallan 10 yo ‘100 proof’ (57%, OB, 75cl, +/-1990)

Macallan 10 yo ‘100 proof’ (57%, OB, 75cl, +/-1990) Five stars
This is the one that had ‘This Whisky is 100 proof’ on a large red sticker, I suppose some good folks had been buying it without noticing, and had been surprised when pouring their first dram. At that time, such high strengths were often seen as too extreme if not totally crazy. Things may have changed… Anyway, here’s to you, Michael! Colour: dark amber. Nose: essentially Macallan, with all the raisins, dried figs and dates of the creation, plus touches of thin mints, cough syrup, fir wood, and espresso coffee. I think it’s the sappy/honeyed combination in the background that gives it away. There are also flints and a little wood smoke. A big dram, actually subtler than I remembered, but that maybe be OBE. With water: oh great, fern, autumn leaves, beef stock, Grisons meat, even marrow soup… Mouth (neat): very potent, almost viscous, and extremely rich. Did someone invent fruitcake after this, or was it the other way around? Many many raisins, also coffee liqueur, and an ‘intense’ (MJ’s very word) fruitcake-iness. Under that thick raisiny layer, notes of cough medicine, pine liqueur, and a little charcoal. Plus marmalade, of course. With water: it’s pretty perfect and seemingly more herbal/pine-y that the low-strength young Macs from that period of time. Finish: very long, and rather more oloroso-ish, that is to say drier. Walnuts and all that. Comments: had it at 89 around the year 2000, but OBE may have brought one more point to the table. Dear MJ had it at 89 points, by the way. Cheers Michael!
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Good, I think that little Mac is now feeling alone. So let’s find an older one, and we will be done.

Macallan 1967/2005 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt)

Macallan 1967/2005 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt) Four stars and a half
Watch it, there was recent 1967 Speymalt at 43% vol., but this very one was indeed offered at 40%. Another cask that the official owners haven’t bought back. Colour: amber, I would have almost written ‘Cognac’. Nose: rounder and, above all, smoother, we are indeed in old Cognac territories, with notes of stewed peaches, sultanas, pollen and honey, broom and wild daffodils, then a lighter fruitcake after the 100 proof, with figs, a touch of butterscotch, milk chocolate… What’s striking here is the elegance of this nose, but at this low strength, the palate could be a little, say fragile, let’s see… Mouth: no it’s not, although I wouldn’t say it’s a fearless fighter. A wee tannicity right from the start (black tea), then rather coffee and chocolate, Smyrna raisins, perhaps prunes… But it tends to nosedive a bit after ten seconds, and that’s the lower strength. Having said that, there are funny notes of old Demerara rum, bordering on dried bananas, while it remains rather chocolaty and coffeeish, even while it starts to whisper really low. Finish: a little short, dry, with tannins, coffee… The finish is not the best part. Comments: some superb phases, some weaker spots and that’s all because of the low strength. But it’s a fantastic whisky, one should almost redistill and re-mature these bottles (S., you Philistine!)
SGP:451 - 88 points.

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


March 26, 2018


Glenmorangie and Glenmorangie

There’s a newish Glenmorangie called Spios, let’s try it. But first, a sparring partner… Oh I think we haven’t tried the very French-sounding Nectar d’Or since quite a few years…

Glenmorangie 12 yo 'Nectar d'Or' (46%, OB, Sauternes finish, +/- 2017)

Glenmorangie 12 yo 'Nectar d'Or' (46%, OB, Sauternes finish, +/- 2017) Four stars
Actually, it seems that we last tried this one in 2011, while it wasn’t having any proper age statement yet (WF 86!). Colour: gold. Nose: I think I’m getting less Sauternes-ness this time, rather the usual soft sawdust, vanilla, croissant, sweet dough… Good, perhaps touches of apricots and light raisins? Nice, but rather more ‘in the middle of the road’ than expected. Mouth: ah, no, it’s sweet and it’s a touch winey, rounded, rather sexy, with good complexity, raisins, ripe mirabelles and other sweet plums, damsons, apricot jam… In theory, I shouldn’t like this too much, but in all reality and honesty, I do. I think it’s extremely well made. Finish: medium, perfectly balanced, without anything cloying or too sweet. Comments: perhaps just a tad less complex than the early batches, but that’s not unseen in Scotland, is it.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenmorangie ‘Spios’ (46%, OB, Private Edition 9, 2018)

Glenmorangie ‘Spios’ (46%, OB, Private Edition 9, 2018) Four stars
NAS and a rye finish, that’s the thing these days. The Spice Girls have been a thing as well. Hold on, it is not a rye finish, it was fully matured in rye casks! But 100% rye, or just ‘American rye whiskey’? Not too sure… Never mind… Colour: straw. Nose: relatively light, bready, pastry-like, with touches of menthol and caraway. Hints of broken branches as well. I had thought this would be much bigger, but it’s rather whispering, which isn’t obligatorily a bad thing in my little book. Mouth: it’s coherent, sweet, certainly not ‘spicy’ as such – but we’ll check that in the aftertaste – and rather on maple syrup and mirabelle liqueur. The Nectar d’Or was rather bigger, to give you an example. I find it easy and indeed, well made. Finish: medium, rounded, with a little caramel, more mirabelle jam, and a very discreet spiciness. Comments: frankly, I like this. It’s uncomplicated, it’s not quite my style, but its got this huge drinkability that’s clearly an asset. In Alsatian we would say that it’s very ‘süffig’. A draw.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

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


March 25, 2018


Yet another bag of rum

Since this is Sunday! In short, another hotchpotch that may not make much sense, but there, here we are…

Nautilus Rhum Ambré (40%, Cora, Rhum Traditionnel des Antilles Françaises, +/-2018)

Nautilus Rhum Ambré (40%, Cora, Rhum Traditionnel des Antilles Françaises, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A supermarket brand while this is a blend of ‘rhum traditionnel’, meaning not agricole. The Antilles Françaises (French West Indies) include the rhum producing Guadeloupe, Martinique and Marie-Galante, plus Désirade, les Saintes, Saint-Barthélémy and Saint-Martin. Lovely places… Colour: amber. Nose: pretty nice! A tarry, almost rubbery side at first, then some burnt caramel, overripe bananas, dried pineapples, and a little grassy side that’s most pleasant. Not exactly cooking rhum so far, and it may even be a cheap wee sipper… Mouth: yes, it’s not bad at all. Perhaps a tad too burnt and caramelly, but there are pleasant notes of, well, bananas flambéed and sugarcane syrup. Finish: rather short but clean, rather cane-y, and indeed ripe-banana-y. A touch of salt and even a grassy agricole side. Comments: I had feared this would be much, much worse. Very honest and loyal.
SGP:431 - 78 points.

Diamond 2005 (40%, Mezan, Guyana, +/-2017)

Diamond 2005 (40%, Mezan, Guyana, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: perfect, grassy and very cane-y, with touches of benzine and coal tar, then fresh oranges and whiffs of elderberry and zucchini flowers. High precision low strength rum, very charming. Mouth: sure a higher strength would have been welcome, and indeed this is a little frustrating, but the bananas and pineapples plus tarry and petroly herbs combination just works a treat. A little seawater as well, with a feeling of ‘Coal Ila of Demerara’, whatever that would mean. Finish: short to medium, grassier. Greenish pineapples, some brine and ink in the aftertaste. Comments: not a blitzing rum because of the low strength, but the distillate is pure class.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Diplomatico 2011/2017 ‘No.1 Batch Kettle Rum’ (47%, OB, Venezuela, 5000 bottles)

Diplomatico 2011/2017 ‘No.1 Batch Kettle Rum’ (47%, OB, Venezuela, 5000 bottles)
Together with Don Papa, Diplomatico is one of those brands that rum geeks just hate because it’s said to be heavily doctored. So it’s become one of those heavy-selling ‘seemingly lying brands’ that no one within the chatting circles really trusts anymore, but they're actually good people and are very successful as soon as we're outside rum geekery, so let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: rather unpleasant, with something coppery and quite some oak juice. Little depth, although it would tend to improve, with notes of oranges and hay. Very light rum, it seems… Some charcoal smoke as well. Mouth: it’s got that expected sweetness but not too much of it, the problem would rather lie in the weak body. Strawberry liqueur plus toasted oak and cardboard. Tastes ‘cheap’. Finish: short and a little bitter. More cardboard, hay, caramel… Comments: still no luck with Diplo, but I have to say it’s less cloying than their extravagantly sweetened regular expressions.
SGP:440 - 65 points.

Let’s try again, son…

Diplomatico 2013/2017 ‘No.2 Barbet Rum’ (47%, OB, Venezuela, 5000 bottles)

Diplomatico 2013/2017 ‘No.2 Barbet Rum’ (47%, OB, Venezuela, 5000 bottles) one star and a half
Barbet’s the name of a kind of column still. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s shier, but that’s not always a bad thing. Touches of preserved pineapples over a light ‘grainy’ profile, with a feeling of light vodka. A little vanilla from the oak. Mouth: not much happening, it’s light rum, only the higher ethanol gives it a little kick. Notes of banana sweets, raspberry drops, and the lightest honey ever made by bees. Finish: short, sweeter, a tad sugary, not totally unpleasant. Some cane syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: okayish but superficial. Please note that this is sometimes advertised as ‘Botucal’ instead of ‘Diplomatico’.
SGP:540 - 68 points.

The Cassandras amongst us will claim that since those two rums are actually components that are usually blended together into regular Diplomaticos, they explain why the distillers would indeed have to ‘enhance’ their bottlings. But I’m not one of them, am I? Good, we may deserve this now…

Rockley Still 17 yo 1986 (46%, High Spirits, Barbados, +/-2003)

Rockley Still 17 yo 1986 (46%, High Spirits, Barbados, +/-2003) Three stars and a half
I think this from the famous double pot still at W.I.R.D. a.k.a. Blackrock. It’s supposed to be ‘much heavier than others’. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, it’s got more waxy and petroly notes than usual, some brine for sure, a welcome dirtiness (crushed grass and mud), and above all, quite a lot ink, new magazines, then a little soy sauce, miso soup, fermented tofu, and cigar smoke… Mouth: starts dirty and jumbled, but that’s an asset. I’m finding some liquorice, rotting bananas, ashes, ink indeed, more liquorice, a little mustard, sour olives, some cane syrup, a little maple syrup, a little Parma ham, Parma violets while we’re there (really), and lastly, more brine. It’s actually rather sweet and one could think it was a little sweetened up at some point. Finish: rather long, hesitating between the sweetness and the tar/liquorice. Comments: not a easy one, I like it a lot but indeed, it is a little jumbled and ‘undecided’.
SGP:552 - 83 points.

(Grazzie mille, Francesco)

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


March 24, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
A Trio Of Deanston
What’s to say about humble Deanston? Well, they have a rather astonishing and very cavernous warehouse that looks more like some kind of gothic Sherry Bodega than a traditional dunnage warehouse. But then, of course, Deanston was converted from an old mill in 1967. But enough trivia, let’s try three of them today...


Deanston 19 yo 1997/2016 (52.6%, The Whisky Cask, Bourbon cask) Deanston 19 yo 1997/2016 (52.6%, The Whisky Cask, Bourbon cask)
Colour: Light gold. Nose: Sourdough bread and butter. With plenty sage, chives and cereals such as shredded wheat. A lemony yeastiness underneath and then more cereal notes such as fresh malt and milky cornflakes. Some aspirin and a hint of lavender in the background as well. With water: Gets rather sootier, more mineral and some soft notes of damp soil emerge. Rather grassy and mossy as well, although still gently herbal. Mouth: Nice! Lots of lemon and barley water. A little chalk, some malty sweetness, buttered digestives, oatmeal, rice cakes, a lick of hessian. Some eucalyptus in the background as well. Very clean and quite pleasant. With water: a little more punchy and peppery with water. White pepper and lemon oil to be precise. Some white chocolate as well (or is this mental ‘colour themed’ suggestion?) A gravelly minerality and lots of fresh hay and a little honeyed porridge. There’s even a rather elegant waxiness to it after a while which adds texture. Finish: Good length. Warm croissant, soot, chopped parsley, sunflower oil, grass and a little lingering pepperiness. Comments: This session starts well, we’ve found a rather ‘braw’ Deanston.
SGP: 341 - 86 points.


Deanston 16 yo 1977/1993 (55%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)

Deanston 16 yo 1977/1993 (55%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)
Colour: Gold. Nose: This one is more buttery but also much greener and more ‘organic’. These notes of geraniums in a warm greenhouse spring to nostril. However, there is also a shared bready quality between this one and the 1997. But here you also have more wax, more wild flowers such as daisies and also a fatter and richer cereal quality. It’s still globally a rather austere and unsexy style (do the laws of physics allow such a thing as a ‘sexy Deanston’ in this universe? Discuss...) However, I do enjoy the richer and more waxy, oily and textured style of this one - it’s reminiscent of good old school highland malt whisky. With water: more butter, olive oil, bung cloth and a soft lamp oil note. Very lovely! Mouth: Starts good on digestives and malt bread but then veers oddly towards warm plastic and plasticine, taking a detour on the way at porridge, chalk and white pepper. It’s a tad acrid and a bit unusual I have to say (you’re in Deanston pal!). With water: at first it seems water sorts things out a bit with some nice watercress notes but then it swings back to acridity and plasticine. A little burnt bread, muesli and milky porridge. Tough. Finish: Medium in length and rather peppery and still a bit acrid and plasticky. Comments: Ahh, Deanston... it all started out so well too. Not that this is a particular disaster mind you, the nose is certainly quite lovely, but it’s what Whiskyfun Senior might call an ‘intellectual’ malt. Maybe buy the mini rather than the 70cl...
SGP: 351 - 72 points.



Let’s see if sibling casks given a few more years can do better...  


Deanston 21 yo 1977/1999 (53.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles) Deanston 21 yo 1977/1999 (53.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles)
Colour: Gold. Nose: Doth mine nostrils deceive me? Is that... tropical fruit??? In a Deanston? No, seriously, notes of dried mango, a little guava and some pineapple at first. Then custard. Then a few more traditional ‘Deanston-esque’ characters begin to appear: aspirin; malt loaf; olive oil. But it’s really quite lovely I have to admit. Now butter, chives, hummus, green tea, lemon rind. It’s surprisingly complex this one. With water: a little straighter with water. More on grass, oats, honey, Deanstony cereals, a few mineral aspects. These fruitier qualities manage to remain as well though. With a bit more time there’s also a rather striking mustard powder note as well. Mouth: Still these rather beguiling fruity aspects! Some green fruits, ripe banana, a little kumquat (I think Deanston used to be a Kumquat mill, isn’t that right Serge...?), lemon rind, a chocolate lime or two, more vanilla custard, cherry bakewell. Again, surprisingly, and pleasingly, complex. With water: custard creams, candied tropical fruits, flapjack, a few wood resins and some earl grey tea. Finish: Long, and with a wonderful lingering fruitiness. Comments: Let me just check the label on this sample bottle... nope, definitely Deanston. A great surprise and a world apart from the other 1977. A dodgy cask in the previous bottling perhaps? Anyway, I was hovering around 89 but I feel for the fun and pleasure of it this one should be...
SGP: 531 - 90 points.


(Thanks Dirk!)  



March 23, 2018


A Clynelish trio

It seems that there is a little less Clynelish from the indies’ these days, and of course we’re crying our eyes out. But there is a little left…

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (54.6%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #12014, 265 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (54.6%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #12014, 265 bottles) Four stars
Good vintage, good series, what could go wrong… Colour: straw. Nose: this is young riesling from a not-so-mineral terroir. Grapefruits and ripe gooseberries at first, and only then a little limestone and a blend of aniseed, fennel, and beeswax, although it wouldn’t be as waxy as others. With water: the wax comes out. Paraffin, candle wax, whiffs of wet wool… It needed water to become more Clynelishy. Mouth (neat): indeed it is not one of the waxier Clynelishes, but it’s got a lot of citrus, coated with some shortbread crumbles, citron liqueur and a wee phenolic side that’s only marginally smoky. Some pepper too. With water: once again, water brings out wax and minerals. Finish: medium, with a touch of ginger, couscous spices, and custard. A little grassy smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: not a wham-bam-here-I-am Clynelish. A little ‘gentle’, but of course very good.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (57.9%, Elixir Distillers for Scotch Malt Sales Japan)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (57.9%, Elixir Distillers for Scotch Malt Sales Japan) Four stars and a half
With this lovely ‘retro’ label that that the TWE gang have already used in the past. Colour: gold. Nose: same vintage but more fatness and boldness, more waxy elements, earth, clay, paraffin, leather, also more citrons and yuzu, camphor… This is very complex so far and fully Clynelish. The cask may have been more active, which the darker colour already suggested. With water: some fresh walnut cake, some cigars, and some unexpected notes of rye, wholegrain bread, menthol, tiger balm… What cask was it? Mouth (neat): brilliant Clynelish, very complex, with notes of toasted oriental pastries, quite a lot of walnuts, wax, caraway liqueur, sweet mushrooms, bergamots… Really big-bodied, at that. With water: same feeling of American rye, which is really funny – and really good, albeit unexpected. Spicy butterscotch. Finish: long and even breadier. Cloves, thyme, ginger… The distillate fights back in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly not your average Clynelish, and the cask may have had something to do with that, but I’m simply finding this ‘mixture’ for our Japanese friends extremely good. Or did they add any Japanese spices?
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Speaking of Scotch Malt Sales in Japan (yes we try to think and act logically)…

Clynelish 1974 (55.2%, Scotch Malt Sales, Japan, cask #2568, +/-2005)

Clynelish 1974 (55.2%, Scotch Malt Sales, Japan, cask #2568, +/-2005) Five stars
A bottling done by Malcolm Pride. Early to mid 1970s Clynelish could be just stellar, and sometimes Brora-esque, let us see… Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, there, some Brora character, with some grass smoke, mustard, ointments, plaster, tar, old tools, engine oil, rusty old tins, earth, even touches of manure, whiffs of burning lamp oil, then orange peel, tangerines starting to rot or to become ‘very overripe’… The magic happens again! With water: amazing waxy/mineral/citrusy/earthy development. Everything’s in place, just like in the John Coltrane Quartet (say A love supreme). Mouth (neat): the kind of whisky that you want to marry. Amazing, almost slamming combination of cigars, bitter oranges, salted rum, chalk, white pepper, quinces, old herbal liqueurs (long forgotten recipes), toothpaste for gourmets (what?)… With water: exceptional. The smoky side grew much bigger. Finish: Comments: a very Brora-y Clynelish indeed, as could be seen in some 1973s as well. Magnificent whisky, hope it’s the kind they’ll remake at the ‘new’ Brora Distillery. My it’s going to get complicated, Old Clynelish, Brora, New Clynelish, New Brora, all in one place (yes, more or less)… Pfff… Anyway, an utterly stunning 1974 in my book, while, say the Rare Malts were rounder and ‘sweeter’ (and great as well, naturally).
SGP:465 - 94 points.

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


15,000 spirits
It looks like I’ve tasted my 15,000th spirit without even noticing a few days ago, but that’s not 15,000 whiskies, that’s around 13,500 whiskies and 1,500 other spirits. I may publish my 15,000th whisky around Christmas 2019 if Demeter, goddess of the harvest, lets me live - and not counting Angus’s own notes. By the way, does whisky have a god or a goddess? Could that be Bacchus/Dionysus? Or Michaeljacksonus?


March 22, 2018


Linkwood 1998 to G&M's lastest 1956

If you’re not afraid of seeing your personal data being stolen and do not care too much about organised tax evasion, you may have recently wandered throughout social media, and then perhaps have you noticed that those excellent people at G&M’s have a new Linkwood Sixty Years Old, lavishly presented in a wonderful decanter. And perhaps have you wondered if it was any good. Just ask, happy to serve! But first, a short stairway to that possible heaven…

Linkwood 10 yo 1988/1998 (43%, Signatory Vintage, 10th Anniversary, sherry butt)

Linkwood 10 yo 1988/1998 (43%, Signatory Vintage, 10th Anniversary, sherry butt) Four stars and a half
An old young one from a good source, isn’t that ideal… Colour: gold. Nose: I knew this one was great. Amazing pineapples, mangos, fresh Sauternes, rose petals, then drops of caraway liqueur, embrocations, late-harvest gewürztraminer… And a little barley as well as a little chocolate. They chose it very carefully, for their 10th birthday. Mouth: a tad more flinty and nutty, with notes of old amontillado, walnut, then ganache, with touches of rancio, a little leather and tobacco, some pepper… We’re almost in Jerez (would love being in Jerez just now, but why am I telling you this?) Finish: medium, very walnutty and oloroso-y. Remember, proper oloroso ought to be bone dry. Comments: a session that starts very well. Wait, if Signatory were 10 in 1998, that means that they’re 30 this year!!! Happy anniversary, Andrew and Signatory Vintage! For once I’m not late…
SGP:462 - 89 points.

1998? Let’s build upon that…

Linkwood 16 yo 1998/2015 (49.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 205 bottles)

Linkwood 16 yo 1998/2015 (49.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 205 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, earth and roots! That’s from the cask’s former content I suppose… Gentian, ginseng, a little grass smoke… Behind that, barley and ripe apples, plus a little vanilla. All is fine. Mouth: kicks you a little more, with much more citrus, lemons, oranges, grapefruits… It’s very fresh and really good. Feels a little more ‘Highlands’ than ‘Speyside’, but isn’t all that pretty controversial anyway? Finish: rather long, with a little spearmint, lemons, barley… Comments: very good simpler pleasures. Goes down extremely well.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Good, let’s have Cadenhead’s latest and then G&M’s new old Glory…

Linkwood-Glenlivet 20 yo 1997/2018 (53.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 498 bottles)

Linkwood-Glenlivet 20 yo 1997/2018 (53.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 498 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: starts rather fruity, with marshmallows and candyfloss, then we have the expected custard and sweet barley, and then rather melons and peaches, topped with light acacia honey. With water: it’s the custard that’s coming to the front of the stage. Mouth (neat): simply very good. Hops, barley, more marshmallows, vanilla, melons, rather pears than apples, a touch of sour dough, and a growing lemonness. Simply impeccable, if not totally unforgettable. With water: rounder, sweeter. Barley water and IPA. Finish: medium, very pleasantly ale-y, although I’m not specialist. Sweet malt. Comments: super good, goes down very well, does the job to perfection.
SGP:541 - 86 points.

Linkwood 60 yo 1956/2016 (49.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #20, 53 decanters, launched 2018)

Linkwood 60 yo 1956/2016 (49.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #20, 53 decanters, launched 2018) Five stars
RPP £22,000, but if it is a Canaletto of whisky, there are no limits and it would be vulgar to question that pricing. You’ll change car next year, okay? What’s more, ‘it is believed to be the final remaining 1950s cask in the world’. Talking about Linkwood, no need to say. Oh and to do this in true blogger style, I’ll add that Elvis was just having his first hit single in 1956, Heartbreak Hotel. And perhaps that this was distilled on January 3., not sure the stillmen had sobered up yet, let’s see… Colour: proper coffee. Nose: at first, it’s a walk in a forest somewhere in Scandinavia. Mosses, resins, mushrooms, perhaps wild strawberries… It’s after fifteen seconds that it tends to become much more molasses-y and honeyed, thick on the nose, with some prunes and old Armagnac, the richest pipe tobacco, Malaga raisins, and a really wonderful pine-y earthiness. That Scandinavian forest, remember? It really is a wonderful nose, with no over-oakiness whatsoever – which is a wee miracle.

Mouth: exceptional dryness, you would believe this is some 200 years old brandy de Jerez, without any sugar or PX. Black tobacco, walnut wine, the oldest olorosos, snuff, roasted chestnuts, chewing your Partagas, heavily toasted baguette, then rather more concentrated soy sauce, some kind of magical salted concoction, just a pinhead of pipe juice… In the background, just a touch of chestnut honey is bringing a little sweetness. Just a little. Finish: long and you would believe you just had some very old pre-war Sauternes that’s digested 90% of its sugars, blended with the finest Italian espressos. The aftertaste is a little sweeter, quite funnily and unexpectedly. Chestnut honey. Comments: it’s not just very rare and expensive old whisky, you can actually quaff it and you’ll enjoy it a lot. Thank you G&M!
SGP:372 - 91 points.
PS: from the empty glass, soy sauce blended with chestnut honey.


(And thank you Phil!)

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


March 21, 2018


Hurray, Dalwhinnie!

It’s not often that we’re able to do a proper Dalwhinnie session, since bottlings are so rare, especially at the indies. Although I remember very fondly the latest Dalwhinnie + chocolate tasting I did on location, two years ago. Don’t miss that whenever you’re up there in the Scottish Alps (what Scottish Alps?) But today is the day!

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
One of the Classic Malts, those whiskies that, let’s be honest, almost singlehandedly kicked the malt whisky craze off. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I had almost forgotten that Dalwhinnie was so firm and full. And, hey, smoky! Indeed I’m finding whiffs of wood smoke, then quite some toffee and a kind of floral butterscotch, not easy to describe. Some damsons too, tarte tatin, more toffee, oranges, Jaffa cakes… Mouth: it’s good whisky, it’s very malty, it’s got these lovely tenser oranges (when compared with, say Dalmore), these notes of Ovaltine, this discreet grassiness, all this toffee… Really very good, and it doesn’t seem to vary a lot. Finish: indeed, only the finish is a little less thrilling, getting a tad too grassy and even bitter for me. Bitter orange zests in the aftertaste. Comments: lost some points in the end, but it remains a very recommendable malt whisky.
SGP:452 - 83 points.

Dalwhinnie ‘Winter’s Gold’ (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Dalwhinnie ‘Winter’s Gold’ (43%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
You know, these NASses that – we hope – are temporary. In my little book the first versions have been okayish, back in 2015 (WF 78). Says it’s a ‘gentle spirit’, hope it’s not. Colour: pale gold. Nose: suffers a lot after the lovely 15 yo. It’s like listening to Kenny G. after Archie Shepp. Vanilla, cake, custard, apple juice, English breakfast tea… Mouth: sure it’s not bad, and I’m even finding it a little smokier, and sootier than the original vatting, but there’s also this curious ashy side that’s slightly out of tune. Nigel Tufnel’s little brother’s own amp (the one that goes to nine). No dull vanilla, having said that, so we’re safe. Finish: medium, not bad at all. Some kind of lightly smoked cake. Comments: they may well have improved the recipe, it seems to have gotten much closer to the very good 15. Very fair.
SGP:452 - 80 points.

Dalwhinnie 2002/2017 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D. SY. 313)

Dalwhinnie 2002/2017 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D. SY. 313) Three stars and a half
Remember Dalwhinnie had chosen oloroso as its finishing vessel (not as the flavouring wine, mind you!) I had liked the previous 1997. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh yes, very well made. No whacky winey tastes, oloroso being embedded in Scotchness since a good few decades. Nice notes of cured ham, sour fruits, leather, bay leaves, sour apples, touches of molasses, sweeter ale, walnuts… And the spirit’s inherent maltiness not blocked here, which is just fine. Mouth: it’s good, it’s got this smoky kind of sourness that’s a little unusual (caraway liqueur, coffee beans), and above all, it’s got really a lot of Ovaltine/Ovomaltine. Finish: of good length, with a rather coffee-ish ending. Reminds me of some Asian greener coffees, the Vietnamese have some brilliant ones, in case you’re into coffee. Comments: a finishing that’s totally not ‘WTF?’ (please excuse me). Oloroso (or palo cortado, or amontillado) or nothing!
SGP:452 - 83 points.

Some indies, you’re asking? Sure, but then we’ll have to go back in time…

Dalwhinnie 16 yo (40%, Sestante, decanter, +/-1986)

Dalwhinnie 16 yo (40%, Sestante, decanter, +/-1986) Two stars
Most probably a 1970 from G&M’s. A lovely ‘inverted parachute’ decanter, but such low strengths may well have suffered a bit in such containers over the decades, let’s see… Although Sestante’s ‘cow label’ had been very good. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, metallic mushrooms, carbon papers, damp old magazines, pine needles, autumn leaves, retsina… It’s only after five good minutes that more honeyed and malted notes are emerging, together with Cuban cigars and a little rubbed dill. Mouth: a little fragile, very soft, a little watery… It is almost old barley wine, with a little walnut wine… Frankly, it’s lost its punch. Decanters on the long run? Nah… But they sure look nice. Finish: extremely short. Comments: not dead, and indeed some sides were lovely if not amazing, but this reminds us that no one should ever ‘invest’ (I know that word hurts) in decanters, whether it’s whisky, cognac, or whatever. In my opinion… It’s like buying a car without an engine (not talking about a Tesla ;-)).
SGP:231 - 70 points.

A safer bet please…

Dalwhinnie 37 yo 1965/2003 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #102.14, ‘An off-road oldie’)

Dalwhinnie 37 yo 1965/2003 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #102.14, ‘An off-road oldie’) Five stars
Dalwhinnie have been using their own maltings until 1968, so this should be rather different. Please note that this baby was tasted at Glasgow’s Whisky Show Old and Rare, not at WF Towers. Colour: gold. Nose: it is curiously and unexpectedly medicinal, mentholy, and rather smokier than current makes. I’m finding quite a lot of chalk, peppermint cordial, and some light lapsang souchong, a style that’s very different from even the older official limited editions. Also more camphor, Vicks Vaporub, various balms and so on. With water: really very Highlands, with a rather clear Old-Clynelishness. Mouth (neat): very peaty! You would think this is a vatted malt with a good proportion of heavy peater, or perhaps some Dalwhinnie that spent its whole life in an ex-Lagavulin cask that wasn’t totally empty. In short, you wouldn’t recognise Dalwhinnie, with all this greenish smoke, these medicinal notes, and all the caraway. With water: indeed, Old Clynelish. Finish: long and really medicinal. Not quite old Laphroaig, but… Comments: really unusual, and really very good. As for the ‘off-road’ mention, I’m wondering whether the luminaries who were doing the names were thinking of the distillery’s location, off the A889 (and off the A9), or if they were already considering that the style of this lovely old Dalwhinnie was pretty un-Dalwhinnie. We may have to ask them…
SGP:353 – 90 points.

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


March 20, 2018


Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Talisker from now to 1957

It seems that the indies are having a little more Talisker these days, not obligatorily under that name. A good excuse for today’s session that we’ll try to do without too much order. Order is not always fun.

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2018)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2018) Five stars
Last time we tried the 10 that was in 2015 (WF 90!) while fearing that they would discontinue it. They have not, at least not in all markets. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this feeling of smoked brine that I enjoy so much. Some kind of Scottish broth with oysters, Thai basil, kumquats - or yuzu - plus shoe polish, tangerines, tiger balm, engine oil… In truth I never quite understood why some good folks kept claiming that Talisker was only ‘lightly’ peated. Mouth: perfect, clean, smoky, briny, very slightly toasted (barbecued scones – oh the h…) with drops of lemon juice and seawater. Excellent. Finish: long and salty. Perhaps a tad less peppery than earlier bottlings? Not too sure. Comments: gee, what lightly peated? Oh I’ve just noticed that the excellent people at TWE are quoting me on this one, it’s true that I had written that Talisker 10 was ‘always a benchmark’. They may keep that line, Talisker 10 is always a benchmark.
SGP:367 - 90 points.

We’ve also got a +/-2016 on the tasting table, frankly, it’s extremely similar.
Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2018) SGP:367 - 90 points.

Talisker 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, refill hogshead, cask #11178)

Talisker 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, refill hogshead, cask #11178) Four stars
There may have been some caramel in the OBs, while there isn’t any in this indie one. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s shier than the OB, a tad more ethanoly, and with rather more fruits from youth, namely pears. A little more porridge as well, dough, smoky yoghurt (I know, I know)… Very nice but rather simpler. Mouth: much closer to the OB, just a tad more brutal, barley-y… But it remains very excellent. Wonderful freshness and sharpness. Finish: long, clean, salty, blade-y. Comments: this is funny, I had a sister cask two years ago that was one year younger and much more immature. This one’s already pretty perfect.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

Talisker ‘Nest Point’ (45.8%, OB, +/-2017)

Talisker ‘Nest Point’ (45.8%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars
Quick, let us forget that this is NAS while being twice more expensive than the 10, a set-up that I’ll never, ever understand… Sure this one must come with a story and a rationale, but I just won’t bother learning about them… Colour: gold. Nose: much less happening in this one. Caramel and smoke, a spoonful of sawdust, vanilla, croissants, cappuccino… The Taliskerness has been toned down – but why would anyone do that? The oak is soft and fine, though, it’s just that we’re not into this for that - did I make my point? Mouth: better, but it’s very close to the 10, with just a little more citrus and lemony oak spices, around basil or dill or yuzu and stuff. Finish: no, it’s long, but there’s too much cinnamon and sawdust for me. More pepper than in the 10, but not quite the fresh pepper we enjoy so much in some Taliskers. Comments: not bad of course, and even very good, but it’s been killed by the fresher 10 within this little line-up.
SGP:467 - 85 points.

And now, Talisker Skye and Port Ruighe… I’m joking.

Talisker 18 yo (45,8%, OB, +/-2017)

Talisker 18 yo (45,8%, OB, +/-2017) Five stars
WF 89 in 2015. Colour: gold. Nose: as expected, this is more complex, we’d have even said more feminine before Weinstein. Rather on soft tobaccos, a little thyme, crème de menthe, dried eucalyptus leaves, hessian, green pu-erh, plus hints of raw cocoa and coffee beans… I really enjoy all these subtleties… Mouth: exceptional, harder and stronger than on the nose, more peppery, drier and more elegant than the Neist Point, with perfect notes of smoked herbs, herbal wines, mint tea, lime… There’s also more herbs than in the younger ones. Very very good, in my opinion. Finish: rather long, spicier without any excessive notes, with bitter oranges and just touches of cloves, very discreet. Comments: super high quality, a perfect bottling, with both the zestiness of youth and the complexity of older age.
SGP:456 - 90 points.

Shall we go on a little bit longer?…

Island 17 yo 2000/2017 (52.9%, Jack Wiebers, for Whisky Ship Zürich, bourbon, cask #271 b, 155 bottles)

Island 17 yo 2000/2017 (52.9%, Jack Wiebers, for Whisky Ship Zürich, bourbon, cask #271 b, 155 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby’s said to be Talisker, but of course, we’ve got no proof. But the glass should tell… Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah. Carbon paper, smoked porridge, damp earth, sour fruits, yoghurt… It’s all very tense, let’s see… With water: lemon-flavoured yoghurt from some organic farm in the Swiss Alps (so not too far from Zürich). Mouth (neat): oh, vanilla-ed smoked tea, the greenest lime, green chillies, star fruits, curry, coriander (big)… This is what you could only get from ‘deviant’ single casks, and it’s a lot of fun, really a lot of fun. With water: love these notes of raw lemons, the yoghurt, the rather yeasty smokiness, the sweet peppers… Finish: medium, greatly sour, lemony, and smoky. Comments: deviant indeed, but very lovely. Loved the sour side of it. Nothing tells me that this is not Talisker.
SGP:366 - 88 points.

Let’s further push all this…

Skye 1972/1991 (43%, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Skye 1972/1991 (43%, Berry Bros & Rudd) Five stars
This ought to be Talisker, or I eat my tasting glass. Not too sure if they were still using the Distillery's own maltings (closed 1972) and whether this was distilled before the stills were converted to steam heating or not (in 1972 as well). Colour: deep gold. Nose: good, sherry and peat can work, or it can lead to some utter disaster. This worked, and greatly so. Smoked chestnuts, smoked honey, old furniture polishes, Shangri-La’s bespoke shoeshine cream (I swear I’m clear and clean), cigars, and above all, a lot of artisan chocolate. Mouth: have you ever tried smoked chocolate from some proper chocolatiers? This is rather sublime, fragile at times (difficult balance), but this brine-y/lemony/chocolaty smoky blend just works. A lovely touch of liquorice brings some extra-dimension. Finish: medium, always a tad fragile, wandering from salty territories to darker chocolaty ones. Comments: a style from the past, although this wasn’t bottled such a long time ago. These old BBRs never fail you. Believe me, I know this from experience. Cheers Ronnie and Jonny!
SGP:355 - 92 points.

A last one, perhaps…

Talisker 1957 (100° UK proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s)

Talisker 1957 (100° UK proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s) Five stars
We’ve already tried several 1957s by G&M at various strengths, but never this one. I mean, formally… This was distilled before a fire destroyed the stillhouse in 1960, and using Talisker's own maltings. Colour: deep gold. Nose: woohoo! The black label at 70°proof is already quite something, but it can be a little fragile. Not the case at all here, this is just massively plasticky, soapy in a good way (that is possible, mind you), and it would start to gather all oils and saps known to Man. With water: congrats, we managed to tame it. Ripe figs and longans, artemisia, nashi… Mouth (neat): huge, minty, sharp yet rich and thick, almost excessive. Big mint, artisan toothpaste (excuse me?), brine, smoked oysters, Seville oranges, menthol cigarettes, menthol snuff… It’s quite a wrestler, Hulk Hogan in a bottle. With water: as often with these great bottlings by G&M, you have to be careful with water and not add to much. Maybe is that related to the way they are/were filtering their whiskies? So with only a few drops, you’re getting a rounder, smooth and almost rather softly honeyed Talisker. Buy a good pipette, that’s a better investment than fake collectables. Finish: long, and should you have added only a wee drop of proper water (again, Vittel is my choice – Nestlé, I know the cheque’s in the mail, but where’s the mail?), it’s getting all on smoked western fruits. Comments: really, careful with water. But then… Now the BBR was more mentholy/medicinal, which I enjoyed a little better.
SGP:456 - 91 points.

But indeed, the regular Talisker 10…

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


March 19, 2018


Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Stronachie new vs. '1901'

Let’s do something madder than usual, that is to say taste and compare an old original Stronachie with one of the contemporary bottlings by A.D. Rattray that bears the same name and that’s meant to be a good replica of Stronachie’s original style, as experienced from an original bottle of 1904 (but we’ll have an even older one!) The ‘newer’ Stronachie is actually a Benrinnes, but sadly, we’ve only got a sherry finish at hand, no the proper ‘natural’ one…

Stronachie 10 yo ‘Sherry cask finish’ (46%, A.D. Rattray, 6000 bottles, +/-2017)

Stronachie 10 yo ‘Sherry cask finish’ (46%, A.D. Rattray, 6000 bottles, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
It’s well a single malt whisky, not a blended malt. It must have been rather tricky to replicate an old single malt using another single malt instead of a vatting of various origins. Colour: straw. Nose: it does have something clearly ‘ancient’, with more soot than in modern whiskies, more mineral grasses, and some green nuttiness, as in fresh walnut skins. Perhaps wee touches of goji berries and crushed mints. Mouth: really unusual, starting with some green pepper, some cardamom, and a bitter leather, then we have rather some cured ham and quite a lot of caraway. A sweet and sour style that’s not often to be encountered. Finish: medium, grassy, with bitter fruits. A little soy sauce as well, more cumin, ginger… Comments: good but this is not a style that I usually cherish. It reminds of that ‘sherry’ that you may taste from the casks at he bodegas that specialise in making bespoke seasoned ‘sherry casks’ for the whisky industry.
SGP:361 - 79 points.

Stronachie 1901 (no ABV stated, OB, Alexander & MacDonald, +/-1925?)

Stronachie 1901 (no ABV stated, OB, Alexander & MacDonald, +/-1925?) Four stars
There are chances that this is a genuine old Stronachie, but as they say, you never know for sure when bottles are this rare and when it’s hard to do any proper comparisons. What’s sure is that it had the original Stronachie foil over the driven cork, and it seems that that cork was ‘coherent’. As for Stronachie Distillery, it was located near Perth and had only been active for around 30 to 40 years. It was mothballed in 1928. Colour: gold, slightly cloudy. Nose: it’s richer and rounder than the current 10, more complex as well. There’s some faint rubber, some soot, a feeling of old honey jar, old mead, honeysuckle, then rather more medicinal notes, old ointments, tiger balm, then rather gravel and clay, rancio… It does nose ‘old’ and does have wee hints of stoneware (clay), but it hasn’t got much OBE as such, although that’s no proof of either outcome. Could be an old bottle indeed.

Mouth: it’s funny and even troubling that we would find similarities with the new one. These leafy tobacco and leather, for example, or these touches of soy sauce, bouillon, marrow… Some old arrak as well, perhaps… Tends to become a little fragile after thirty seconds, and that, indeed, often happens with very old bottles. Finish: medium, rather chalky, with more tobacco and pine resin. Touches of medicinal eucalyptus and plasticine in the aftertaste – again, nothing abnormal. Comments: it is very good old-style whisky, for sure. Original Stronachie indeed or just a good old pre-WWII blend? Could well be indeed, but I also don't know the opposite. No, comparisons with the new one wouldn’t tell…
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Old Stronachie tankard (picture courtesy Stronach-Dutton Road-Rail)

(Thanks a lot, Mikhail)


March 18, 2018


Rum, still looking for malternatives
(or not)

May I remind you that I’m tasting rum from a whisky lover’s point of view? And that I’m no rum expert? And that I’m hardly a whisky expert anyway? And that I do not like anything doctored, doséed (LOL), sweetened-up, juiced-up, made-up, cooked or tampered with, but that I’ll respect everyone’s right to enjoy those styles? And perhaps that no one should try to ‘own the category’? Good…

Ron Cortez 3 yo ‘anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Panama, +/-2017)

Ron Cortez 3 yo ‘anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Panama, +/-2017)
With a name such as Cortez, this must be a hit all over South America! But at least they state ‘3’ as the age, and not 13, 23, or 33. Colour: gold. Nose: ethanol and molasses, plus caramel and sweets. Not sure anyone should have this as a sipper, hardly a proper conquistador at this point. Mouth: a tad sweet but relatively fair, just not very interesting. Rather whisky-washy, sucrose-y, with some burnt sugar, molasses, and a rather weak body. But at least it doesn’t stick your tongue to your palate. Finish: very short. Woosh! Comments: there is some honesty to this humble little conquistador, but I wouldn’t sip it.
SGP:530 - 65 points.

Burning Barn ‘Smoked Rum’ (40%, OB, UK, +/-2017)

Burning Barn ‘Smoked Rum’ (40%, OB, UK, +/-2017)
Made in the UK and cold smoked over apple wood. You should go to their website, they tell you that this is both ‘the UK’s first smoked rum’, and ‘a spiced rum fro grownups’. We can’t wait… Oh and why am I trying this? Master of Malt are the guilty party! Colour: dark amber. Nose: reminds me of the first Wasmund’s (they improved the recipe mucho mucho after that one). Burning tyres, but not as in Port Ellen, and burning menthol cigarettes, plus quite some cardamom. A funny nose that’s soon to lose you. What-is-this? Mouth: sweet Vishnu! This is very dry, acrid, gritty, tarry, ashy… But again, it’s not Port Ellen. I find it difficult, honestly, but there is some fun to it. Over-fried French beans and artichokes plus some fried bresaola. Finish: medium and a little sweeter. Some caraway and white pepper. Comments: an UFS (unidentified – not unmodified - flying spirit). Liked the unseriousness.
SGP:363 - 60 points.

Père Labat ‘Doré’ (50%, OB, Marie-Galante, +/-2016)

Père Labat ‘Doré’ (50%, OB, Marie-Galante, +/-2016) Two stars and a half
Doré or paille, those are the young French rums that have spent only a few months in oak. Some kind of reposado, if you will. This is ‘agricole’, so ex-cane juice and not molasses. Colour: pale straw. Nose: an immaculate cane-iness, with touches of aniseed, fennel, and perhaps a wee fino-ish side. I’d swear we’re nosing some kind of manzanilla. With water: no changes whatsoever, perhaps a little more plain sugar? Mouth (neat): there’s a little soap at first, with isn’t uncommon, then notes of tinned fish (sardines), a grassy smoke, and then notes of cane juice and citron, with notes of plasticine liked to that soap (which disappeared eventually). With water: better, more lemony, more on fresh pears as well. Finish: rather long, and very cane-y. Comments: it’s like with the tequilas reposados, I prefer them either white, or properly aged. But yeah, this is not bad… I have the white at 50% at WF 86, but this will be much lower I’m afraid…
SGP:452 - 77 points.

Coro Coro (30%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2016)

Coro Coro (30%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2016) Two stars
Holy featherless crow, this is actually rum plus cocoa (cacao)! It sure doesn’t belong here, but while I’m at it… Colour: gold. Nose: pretty terrible at first, but improving. Straw, crushed bananas, molasses honey, pine resins, Toplexil, kid’s mouthwash… No cocoa that I can smell, having said that. Remember this is an accident… Mouth: cough syrup for kids. Tastes like Don Papa. Pineapple liqueur, sugar syrup, more Toplexil, vanilla extracts. Not my kind of dop… I mean rum spirit at all, but I wouldn’t say it’s totally offensive, it just needs a lot of ice. Finish: short, sugary, syrupy. Comments: not a spirit, rather a kind of liqueur. Indeed, just like the dreadful Don Papa, but at least it says that it is so. So, I’ll be generous (impressed, S.!)
SGP:730 - 72 points.

All right, enough fooling around for today…

Caroni 19 yo 1998/2017 (55.1%, The Rum Mercenary, Trinidad)

Caroni 19 yo 1998/2017 (55.1%, The Rum Mercenary, Trinidad) Four stars and a half
All right, some could claim that ‘triumph without peril brings no glory’, but I sure won’t resist a proper Caroni, wherever it was matured… Colour: gold. Nose: ah, possibly the lighter style. I’m finding some fir bark, germolene, chestnut honey, then some tar, just a wee mocha-spoonful of… well, mocha, and only then whiffs of burnt kerosene and olive oil. The jury’s still out… With water: pine liqueur, balsamic stuff from some lovely ex-USSR republic, and new plastic. That spritz that second-hand car dealers are using. Mouth (neat): super-excellent! A totally resinous Caroni, thick and heavy, rather salty, and indeed very sappy. Capers, plasticine, pipe juice, over-brewed lapsang souchong, black cigar (Toscani-style). Doesn’t take many prisoners… With water: same. Finish: long, very pine-y. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: when any aged spirit gets this pine-y, it’s totally hit or miss. Hit in this case, I would say.
SGP:373 - 89 points.

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


March 17, 2018


A few Irish for St. Patrick

I know, this is hardly imaginative, but there, it’s St. Jameso…, I mean, St. Pat’s today. Let’s see what we have… Please note that I noticed that it was St. Pat’s when waking up early this morning, and that I foolishly decided to do this for breakfast. Which I never, ever do, cross my heart! What's more, Angus seems to be in North Korea these days...

Kilbeggan (40%, OB, Irish, blend, +-2018)

Kilbeggan (40%, OB, Irish, blend, +-2018) Two stars
Not too sure about what’s now coming from the proper reopened Kilbeggan Distillery and what’s sourced elsewhere in this blend. An earlier expression had been pretty okay in my book back in 2011 (WF 76). Colour: light gold. Nose: moderately expressive, with some vanilla, a little sawdust, cereals, roated peanuts, touches of porridge… And rather fewer fruits than elsewhere. Mouth: fine, very light, brioche-y, with some vanilla, a few walnuts, a touch of toffee, and some barley syrup. Extremely gentle, I would say… Finish: very short, thus clean. Obviously. Ideas of overripe apples and always a little vanilla. Comments: pretty good and pretty harmless, I would say.
SGP:331 - 75 points.

Bushmills ‘Sherry Cask Reserve’ (40%, OB, Steamship Collection, Irish, single malt, +/-2017)

Bushmills ‘Sherry Cask Reserve’ (40%, OB, Steamship Collection, Irish, single malt, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
This one was triple-distilled and matured in first fill oloroso. Colour: gold. Nose: doesn’t nose like fulltime sherry ageing but that’s not bad news at all, as we’re clearly experiencing Bushmills’ tropical fruits in full swing. Mangos, bananas, Williams pears (hardly tropical, I know) and sultanas, and then a little coffee and tobacco. Very pleasant fruity nose. Mouth: shy arrival but it does then unfold on strawberries and mangos, with clear notes of grenadine syrup as well, Mon Chéri, and touches of toasted oak and tobacco in the background. It’s just a tad thin (may have deserved 3 more degrees alcohol) but the profile is impeccable. Finish: medium, with nice notes of rosehip tea and a little mint tea. Comments: so much better than the weakish ‘Red Bush’ that I tried last year, but that one was a blend while this is single malt.
SGP:640 - 84 points.

Glendalough 13 yo (46%, OB, Irish, single malt, Mizunara Oak Finish, +/-2017)

Glendalough 13 yo (46%, OB, Irish, single malt, Mizunara Oak Finish, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Does using Japanese/Mongolian oak to finish some Irish (or Scotch for that matter) whisky make any sense? Reminds me of our own Alsatian Bolognese sauce. This is sourced whisky, obviously, as Glendalough was established in 2011. Can’t remember when they started distilling, though… Colour: gold. Nose: sweet herbal teas and ripe bananas and papayas, cassata, wee touches of copper (old samovar, right) and then a thin layer of argan and sesame oils, I supposed that’s the mizunara’s impact. Good news, that impact is rather moderate. Mouth: well, this is very good for sure. Nice ‘Bushmillsy’ tropical fruits, mangos and all that, plus even more argan oil, a feeling of halva or turron… And yet it keeps a pleasant toasty dryness. Finish: the oak feels a little more now, with some black tea and a little cocoa, but oranges are coming to the rescue in the aftertaste. Comments: I thought the regular ex-bourbon 13 yo was very good (WF 83) and I believe this funny Japanised one’s just as good.
SGP:641 - 83 points.

Method & Madness ‘Single Malt’ (46%, OB, Irish, bourbon barrels, +/-2017)

Method & Madness ‘Single Malt’ (46%, OB, Irish, bourbon barrels, +/-2017) Three stars
This one was ‘enhanced with French Limousin oak, so possibly Cognac wood. So, finished. I’ve seen it advertised as a 14 yo. This line belongs to Pernod-Ricard so it’s most probably Midleton juice. Colour: pale gold. Nose: really very nice, and once you’ve got Cognac in your head, you cannot not think of Cognac (well said, S.) Sunflower oil, vine peaches, vanilla, dandelions, pollen, plus a very wee toasted sourness that may come from that French oak. Some light pipe tobacco. Mouth: the oak feels a bit too much for me now, with some black tea tannins, cocoa powder, some ginger, juniper… I think it dominates the distillate a bit, while that distillate’s really lovely, as expected. Pink bananas, guavas, overripe apples, acacia honey… Plus quite some vanilla from the previous wood. Finish: medium, rather gritty and tea-ish indeed. Marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: just a little less oak and this would have been much to my liking. Or they could have done it the Cognac way indeed, first that French oak, then the hogsheads or barrels for many years. But that would have needed much longer planning…
SGP:651 - 81 points.

Teeling ‘Brabazon Bottling 01’ (49.5%, OB, Irish, single malt, sherry, 12500 bottles, 2017)

Teeling ‘Brabazon Bottling 01’ (49.5%, OB, Irish, single malt, sherry, 12500 bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half
A newish NAS range by Teeling. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s rather discreet sherry, which the colour already suggested. Notes of espresso coffee and stewed rhubarb, some sultanas (PX?), ideas of brandy de Jerez, some prunes, and then rather dried dates. I’m finding this extremely pleasant. Mouth: a wee bit too sweet for me at first (ah, PX!) but the fruitiness is impeccable, with more stewed rhubarb, oranges, crushed bananas, pineapples, and a rather oily mouth feel. Indeed, impeccable despite the sweetness that’s bordering, well, sugariness. Finish: medium, creamy, with some icing sugar, cherry liqueur, Kahlùa and marshmallows. Comments: I think this sugar is a tad disturbing but other than that, what an excellent bottling!
SGP:741 - 83 points.

Teeling 27 yo (41.6%, OB, for Switzerland, Irish, single malt, rum cask, cask #658, 2017)

Teeling 27 yo (41.6%, OB, for Switzerland, Irish, single malt, rum cask, cask #658, 2017) Five stars
A rum cask? Let’s expect a proper fruit bomb… Colour: straw. Nose: you bet! Mangos, papayas, guavas, bananas, passion fruits, blood oranges… It’s a soft avalanche, shall we say. Nothing to add. Mouth: totally exceptional, an amazing fruit bomb indeed, but with many subtleties and twists and turns. Love this, please call the Irish Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, the number of the pub is +353 1 237 7… No, don’t! Finish: it’s even quite long at this humble strength. Superb fruitiness… Comments: sometimes you just don’t need novels.
SGP:741 - 92 points.

OK since we’ve just had some 27 yo Irish for Switzerland, let’s be logical and have another one…

Irish Single Malt Whiskey 27 yo 1990/2017 (47.1%, Acla da fans, Switzerland, Irish, single malt, barrel, 182 bottles)

Irish Single Malt Whiskey 27 yo 1990/2017 (47.1%, Acla da fans, Switzerland, Irish, single malt, barrel, 182 bottles) Five stars
Good company, good people, good whiskies. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re close to the other 27 but this is a little more on grassy oils, and probably a little less exuberant. There’s more barley as well, cereals (breakfast, I told you), and then indeed, bananas, mangos, passion fruits, but also ripe apples and pears. Some nectar, some vanilla. Mouth: oh yes extremely good. Tenser and more citrusy, with a large fruit salad, bananas, apples, lemons and grapefruits, a touch of tamarind, then notes of roasted nuts, a little maple syrup, a touch of fudge, mandarins, apricots… Finish: rather long, very fruity, oily, perfect. Comments: really perfect.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

I think breakfast is now over. Thank God this is the weekend… Oh just one thing, when you taste spirits early in the morning everything is bigger, so careful. For example, sweetness is sweeter, saltiness is saltier, and so on. So you have to adapt your scales, if you see what I mean. Unless, of course, if you always taste early in the morning, like they do in Ireland. Of course they don’t. Anyway, happy St. Patrick’s!

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


March 16, 2018


Many more grainy grain whiskies
(includes good surprises)

Indeed, single grain whiskies are pouring in at an even faster pace than before. We could do one grainy session per week, mind you, but do not worry, we won’t do that…

Hamiltons Lowland Single Grain (40%, Angus Dundee, grain, +/-2017)

Hamiltons Lowland Single Grain (40%, Angus Dundee, grain, +/-2017)
This is said to be an undisclosed wheater – with a little malted barley, naturally. Tricky use of the appellation 'Lowland' here (but I guess that's not verboten), hope no one will ever make any grain whisky on Islay! Colour: pale gold. Nose: h.e.l.l.o.? Medicinal alcohol, sawdust, cardboard, nail polish remover, vanillin. Almost oaked vodka, in fact, extremely shy. Mouth: nobody in there. A cardboardy bitterness, a little sweet cider, more cardboard. A very thin spirit. Finish: almost none. A little sugar. Comments: most probably not designed as a sipper. No pleasures to be had from any proper copita or tulip-shaped tasting glass, tumblers and huge ice cubes being de rigueur here, in my opinion. Or perhaps Red Bull or Irn Bru?
SGP:330 - 40 points.

The Norfolk Farmers (45%, OB, St. George Distillery, grain, 1998 bottles, 2016)

The Norfolk Farmers (45%, OB, St. George Distillery, grain, 1998 bottles, 2016) Two stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: much more presence, aromas, wildness, and, well, expressiveness here, we’re almost closer to some farmy (indeed) malt whisky, with quite a lot of ale, sourdough, cider, then candyfloss, icing sugar, and preserved apricots. A pleasant nose, I have to say, not one of those indistinct vanilla juices that may be met elsewhere. Mouth: really, it’s fair, with maybe a little too much oak for me (cinnamon powder) but also pleasant and unusual notes of stem tea (cherry), chocolate, caraway, and sweet juniper (genever). Finish: rather long, on pretty much the same flavours. Comments: a pretty good surprise, I think this is rather sippable young grain whisky.
SGP:451 - 78 points.

Cambus 25 yo 1991/2017 (52.1%, Claxton’s, sherry butt, cask # 1725-103028, 571 bottles)

Cambus 25 yo 1991/2017 (52.1%, Claxton’s, sherry butt, cask # 1725-103028, 571 bottles) Three stars and a half
I remember we’ve had some very difficult 1990s Cambus, but you never know… Colour: pale gold. Nose: sour cider, wine, sawdust, vanilla, custard, green melons, butternuts, the plywood department at Home Depot… With water: oh, old cigars and cigarettes, old teas, twenty years old patchouli, ten years old potpourri… That’s really lovely and quite antiquated. Mouth (neat): seriously, it’s a better grain whisky, not deep, but with good lighter fruitcakes and a bag of overripe apples. Plus macaroons. With water: as expected, more coconut comes out, drops of arrak… Finish: medium, cake-y, with various teas. Marriage Frères’ coconut-flavoured stuff. Comments: good surprise, this was not all only about varnishes, coconut, vanilla and wine gums.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Cameronbridge 23 yo 1994/2017 (53.9%, Archives, grain, refill sherry hogshead, cask #19928, 234 bottles)

Cameronbridge 23 yo 1994/2017 (53.9%, Archives, grain, refill sherry hogshead, cask #19928, 234 bottles) Three stars and a half
As I sometimes say, if our Dutch friends decided to bottle this middle-aged grain, there must have been a reason. Not sure you could say that about all bottlers, ahem… Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little acetone-y, goes on with preserved pears and other fruits, and keeps moving with more and more geranium flowers. Never found this much geranium in any whisky, I think. Some tamarind as well, tomato leaves, and perhaps a hint of smoke, possibly from the cask’s previous content. Really unusual. With water: barley water, marzipan, cherry liqueur (guignolet), hessian, a touch of peat. Mouth (neat): very fruity! It’s really fun, albeit a tad Fanta-ish. 7up, tobacco, hints of smoked tea, redcurrants, then more oak. With water: works a treat, as if this was rather some very nice blend. A malty side. Finish: medium, on orange-flavoured marzipan and once again a little lapsang souchong in the aftertaste. Comments: fun and good. Not your average grain whisky, that’s for sure.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Invergordon 27 yo 1988/2016 (45.8%, The Single Cask, cask #8118)

Invergordon 27 yo 1988/2016 (45.8%, The Single Cask, cask #8118) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it is one of those grain whiskies that nose a bit like multi-column rum, which is not obligatorily a bad thing, mind you. Whiffs of sugar cane, sunflower oil, popcorn, a pleasant almost yoghurty sourness from the oak (I suppose), then more hay mixed with crushed strawberries, and even wee touches of eucalyptus. I find this pretty complex. Mouth: really very good, this time with a rooty side, celeriac, gentian, sweet carrots, then more vanilla, white bread, cinnamon… The oak starts to feel after fifteen seconds. Finish: not the best part, but that’s most grain whiskies’ fate in my book. A little too much sawdust, white pepper and cardboard. Comments: still one of the better grains in my book – mind you, grains are usually cruising along the 70-75 marks.
SGP:440 - 80 points.

Strathcolm ‘Extra Special’ (40%, Alistair Forfar, scotch grain, +/-2017)

Strathcolm ‘Extra Special’ (40%, Alistair Forfar, scotch grain, +/-2017)
Mind you, this one accumulates handicaps, grain, no age statement, the use of the words extra and special (dissonant in this context)… But you never know, do you… Colour: pale gold. Nose: not bad! Vanilla, syrups, white chocolate, touches of melon jam… It’s okay, it’s really okay… Mouth: ouch, no, this is almost the same as the Hamiltons, with this cardboard, sawdust, and not enough vanilla to make up for that. Finish: short, empty. Comments: minimum service as far as Scotch whisky is concerned, so not extra and not special – at all. Or as we sometimes say, blended whisky to which they haven’t even bothered adding malt. Too bad, the nose was okay.
SGP:330 - 42 points.

Strathclyde 28 yo 1989/2017 (46%, Cadenhead, 216 bottles)

Strathclyde 28 yo 1989/2017 (46%, Cadenhead, 216 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: LOL And I mean LOL. Olive and argan oils, then pinewood dust, bread dough, and a huge vanilla cake. They say the wood makes the whisky (well, some do, at least); in the case of grain whisky, they may well be right. Mouth: rather in good bourbon territories, with good coconut, vanilla, bread, brioche, and a feeling of rye. All that is covered with a layer of milk chocolate. Finish: medium, rounded, praline-like. This is almost proper gianduja (not Nutella, eh!) Comments: liked these notes of roasted hazelnuts quite a lot. Praline in a bottle – which is hard to resist.
SGP:530 - 83 points.

Let’s find a rather special grain to put an end to this grainy session…

North British 1964 (46%, Moon Import, 10th Anniversary, sherry wood, 300 bottles, +/-1990)

North British 1964 (46%, Moon Import, 10th Anniversary, sherry wood, 300 bottles, +/-1990) Three stars and a half
One of the most wonderful labels ever, but Moon/Mongiardino always had stunning labels. Colour: gold. Nose: hazelnuts, tropical fruits, pina colada, soft caramel, vanilla fudge, roasted pine nuts, sweetcorn, läckerlis. Hoppla, excusez… Mouth: very good for grain whisky. Not all these old North British have been to my liking, and perhaps is that proper bottle ageing, but it’s one of those grain whiskies that are getting slightly malty over (a long) time. Notes of rum too, old forgotten vanilla liqueurs, antique Malibu… Finish: medium, perhaps a tad winey. We’re talking, say, Australian chardonnay. Comments: sadly we don’t score labels, but this is a very fine old grain whisky, for sure. By the way, North British was known for distilling maize, so this could well be 95% maize (plus a little malted barley).
SGP:540 - 83 points.

Wait, perhaps do we also have a much older one… and then a last very old one…

Invergordon 43 yo 1974/2018 (41.9%, Kintra, cask #15, 198 bottles)

Invergordon 43 yo 1974/2018 (41.9%, Kintra, cask #15, 198 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one’s brand new, so no pictures yet, but very old Invergordons have always been my favourite grains. Especially the sherried ones. Colour: gold. Nose: why is that that this is more complex? Just a matter of age? Wonderful slightly petroly tropical fruits, mangos and coconuts but also old tools, Meursault, vanilla, hints of oyster mushrooms, pine needles… So, why was Invergordon better? Mouth: very lovely soft coconut water (and I’m not a fan of coconut in my whisky), vanilla cake, green tea, moss, old chardonnay again, raw mushrooms… And, most of all, no obvious dull oakiness, despite both the old age and the low strength. Finish: a little short perhaps, but delicate and rose-y. Old perfume. Comments: age does bring complexity. Fact. One of the rare single grain whiskies worth bottling as a single, IMHO.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

North of Scotland 41 yo 1970/2012 (47.1%, Finest Whisky, cask #5, 234 bottles)

North of Scotland 41 yo 1970/2012 (47.1%, Finest Whisky, cask #5, 234 bottles) Four stars
The long-closed North of Scotland Distillery was sometimes called ‘Alloa’ and sometimes ‘Strathmore’. I’ve only tasted around ten of them so far. Colour: gold. Nose: strawberries! Crushed ripe strawberries, strawberry yoghurt, strawberry jam, strawberry beer, strawberry wine… And I am not joking! All around all these strawberries you’ll find thin layers of custard, milk chocolate, and perhaps plum wine. Mouth: good, even very good. Like just all grain whiskies, it’s not very deep, and it’s even a little thin, but should you like strawberry yoghurt as much as I do, you’re in for a treat. Very good oakiness, rather with earl grey and baklavas. That’s right, bergamot and orange blossom, plus some rosehip tea. Those kinds of notes only appear after at least 30 years of proper aging, in my modest opinion. Finish: hold on, sweet mustard? Really? Comments: a very funny, almost poetic old grain. Loved the rosehips.
SGP:550 - 86 points.

Good, there’s more but I think we’ve had more than enough grain whiskies. You say we’ve tried ten of them? Please excuse me, but ‘burp’. I need malt!

(Merci, les amis!)

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


March 15, 2018


A wee bag of Glen Moray

Well, a few. The indies are having quite a lot of them these days, while around ten years ago, it was rather all about the (cheap) officials. I think you should rejoice, but speaking of the OBs…

Glen Moray 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Glen Moray 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
Partly sherry, partly bourbon. No odder wines, apparently. Colour: white wine. Nose: crushed barley, some hints of iron (old tin box), perhaps gravel, then rather cider apples and green tea (not brewed). This is extremely light so far... Mouth: a sweeter and rounder arrival, nicely lemony as well, before we get back to green apples, barley, and these wee metallic touches. Nice oily texture, the lower strength isn’t totally a problem here, even if the middle’s a little weaker. Finish: short, but pleasant, with a little more honey. Comments: a honest and loyal drop that’s easily available for fair prices. What more could the people want?
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Glen Moray 9 yo 2007/2017 (55.4%, Kintra, cask #6712, 138 bottles)

Glen Moray 9 yo 2007/2017 (55.4%, Kintra, cask #6712, 138 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a blade-y, ‘green’ Glen Moray, sharp, almost acridly grassy at first nosing, but in a good way. Much more sweet barley, sugarcane syrup and wine gums in a second step, with also a pleasant honeyed/floral side. Dandelions and light pollen. With water: some marzipan and touches of camphor, always welcome. Mouth (neat): pure clean round and sweet malt whisky, with plenty of pears and pineapples at first, then custard, maple syrup and, once again, sugarcane syrup. This goes down even better than at PyeongChang 2018. With water: same. Simple pleasures abound in this wee ‘Moray. Finish: medium, barley-y, with very good fruits and touches of butterscotch in the aftertaste. Comments: pretty perfect young easy – not dull at all – malt whisky. That won’t make you lose your hair (from scratching your head).
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glen Moray 1994/2017 (54.8%, The Whisky Agency & Three Rivers Tokyo, re-charred hogshead, 230 bottles)

Glen Moray 1994/2017 (54.8%, The Whisky Agency & Three Rivers Tokyo, re-charred hogshead, 230 bottles) Three stars
To re-char a hogshead you usually take the heads off, then you scratch the inside, then you burn it, then you put either the old heads back or use new ones. You’re then pretty close to some first fill ex-bourbon barrels. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, you feel the rejuvenated US oak, with these notes of fresh pastries, custard and grated coconut. That gives it a clear bourbony side, but I have to say it’s all pretty sexy. Nosing a fresh panettone from the skillfullest mammas’. With water: more pencil shavings than at kindergarten. Mouth (neat): indeed, bourbon made in Scotland, and I’d swear there’s a lot of rye inside. Pears, violets, caraway, custard, coconut liqueur, cinnamon rolls, lavender… And indeed, sawdust. Very good, I think, just rather deviant. Blackmore playing Bach. With water: same, more or less. Whisky made by carpenters ;-). Finish: medium, vanilla-ed and very cinnamony. Comments: not quite my cup of malt, but the treatment (usually rather to be found with very young craft whiskies) was made with much care, hence my good score.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Glen Moray 25 yo 1992/2018 (46.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles)

Glen Moray 25 yo 1992/2018 (46.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: candyfloss and buttered popcorn! Then rather hay, apple peelings, barley water, and just a handful of mud from an old farmyard. Also some tobacco, for sure. Mouth: very good, clean, malty and fruity, with good herbs and tobacco. Perhaps one cherry – or one of the better Belgian Kriek beers. Love the moth feel and the strength, natural 46% is a perfect one. Finish: medium, a notch spicier. Drops of black tea, then an earthier aftertaste. Comments: an older Glen Moray that was probably made upon this older kind of wood technology: take good cask, fill, wait. Or perhaps not, but I do recommend it.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

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

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



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bowmore 15 yo 2000/2015 (58.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 180 bottles)

Clynelish 1974 (55.2%, Scotch Malt Sales, Japan, cask #2568, +/-2005)

Dalwhinnie 37 yo 1965/2003 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #102.14, ‘An off-road oldie’)

Linkwood 60 yo 1956/2016 (49.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #20, 53 decanters, launched 2018)

Macallan 10 yo ‘100 proof’ (57%, OB, 75cl, +/-1990)

Skye 1972/1991 (43%, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2018)

Talisker 18 yo (45,8%, OB, +/-2017)

Talisker 1957 (100° UK proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s)

Vega 40 yo 1977/2018 (48.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 400 bottles, 2018)

Irish Single Malt Whiskey 27 yo 1990/2017 (47.1%, Acla da fans, Switzerland, Irish, single malt, barrel, 182 bottles)

Teeling 27 yo (41.6%, OB, for Switzerland, Irish, single malt, rum cask, cask #658, 2017)