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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2022 - Part 1


February 2022 - part 2 <--- March 2022 - part 1 ---> March 2022 - part 2


Mars 14, 2022


Little duos, today 72 years old Speyside and partner

Not the Macallan mind you, rather one of those exceptional, if not often totally sublime, peerless, matchless old Glen Grants by Gordon & MacPhail that already gave us so much pleasure. Record-breakers in your glass rather than at auctions or in press releases! What's more, this one, if I'm not mistaken, will be the oldest Glen Grant we've ever tried.


I also believe it's from one of those casks that many whisky enthusiasts have been marvelling at for decades while visiting G&M's warehouses. I even believe many of us actually knew this very cask, you know, first row on the right, floor level (or was it another one?) I can tell you that after having only 'dreamt' of trying its content one day, and pestered G&M's very engaging reps with dozens of questions 'they couldn't possibly have commented on', having it in flesh in your wee tulip glass feels like a kind of life achievement. Now, find a sparring partner. Well, I chose another Glen Grant, naturally, but one that instead of stemming from the most old-fashioned, serious and respected old houses in Scotland, comes from one of those very successful new DNVBs (digital native vertical brands), namely our dear friend The WhiskySponge. Let us proceed…

Glen Grant 26 yo 1995/2021 (50.6%, WhiskySponge, 328 bottles)

Glen Grant 26 yo 1995/2021 (50.6%, WhiskySponge, 328 bottles) Five stars
This was The Sponge's 42nd bottling. And we know he enjoys his Glen Grants (including very old ones by G&M, by the way). Colour: between white wine and straw. Nose: I'm not dreaming, this is rather 'old-school' Glen Grant, certainly fatter, oilier, also more mineral and flinty than other current offerings. It is then geared towards the more common vanilla, barley and ripe apples and pears, without departing from its mineral oiliness. With water: great, with wonderful mentholy herbs this time and more chalky limoncello, as well as green fruits. Greengages, naturally, gooseberries, bits of fresh rhubarb... Shouldn't we mention kiwi too? Mouth (neat): chalky lemons, you could almost call this 'a Scottish mojito'. Wee leafiness, aspirin tablet... With water: more of that, more tart citrus a first, then the same green fruits that we had found in the nose. Including that wonderful delicacy I used to love when I was a kid and that's become very hard to find, preserved greengages. Unless you make your own. Finish: rather long, on just the same combinations slowly fading away while you're considering having another glass (in drinking conditions, not when tasting of course, ha). Comments: pure barleyness, maltiness and 'proper' Glen-Grantness. Another fatter distillate-driven one by the Sponge.
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Glen Grant 72 yo 1948/2020 (52.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Premier Whisky Hong Kong, American oak sherry cask, cask #440, 290 bottles)

Glen Grant 72 yo 1948/2020 (52.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Premier Whisky Hong Kong, American oak sherry cask, cask #440, 290 bottles) Five stars
Amazing. These decanters were filled in December 2020. Once more, the solid strength of these whiskies by G&M is staggering and does show that even when are very old, they remain in full form. Now, about the 1948 vintage, I did try one at 66 years old and one at 70 yo (the whisky, not me, tsk tsk!) and both had been utterly lovely (91-90) while a very special vatting, that 1948 + 1961 they did back in 1981 to celebrate the marriage of Charles and Diana had been rather weaker in my book (WF 81) but it's true that it had been bottled at 40% and that that they had probably done an extremely large batch. Colour: bronze gold. Nose: immediately on candied fruits (plums) and jams, plus delicate mint, pine resin and camphor. Not a trace of old age, nowhere, never. The only way to find out is to watch all the following aromas popping out one after the other for a good quarter of an hour, especially various very aromatic honeys and flowers such as our beloved woodruff and honeysuckle. In short, it's the complexity that gives the age away here. With water: as expected, hardwoods and fruitcakes are coming to the front. Cedarwood too, humidor, rosewood, some cinnamon, chestnut honey, many small dried dates and figs, and even 'echoes' of old rancio. Mouth: amazing, menthol, liquoricy and honeyed straight in the arrival this time, without a single off-note, on the contrary. Some kind of very old secret herbal liqueur. Great body by the way, very impressive. With water: could be the tricky part, let's see… No, not at all, with drops of lemon mint, mead, no oak 'as such', some tobacco, Zante currants, pear cake, tarte tatin… It's just endless and that, once again, comes with age. I mean, from Time. Finish: medium, this time with a tiny-wee bit of oakiness (black tea), which is completely normal. Cinnamon and cedarwood, a little marmalade, more dried figs and dates, plus perhaps wee bits of mushrooms in the aftertaste. Very lovely, never drying. Comments: naturally, we would now ask G&M about the numbers of casks of GG 1948 that they would still own; and they would politely answer, 'we couldn't possibly comment on that'. Got to love G&M. Well, anyway, if they still own sister casks, I'm happy to report that those will keep (if I humbly may, ha).

SGP:661 - 94 points.

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


Mars 13, 2022


Some more French fines

Remember, a fine is distilled wine, whereas a marc is distilled spent grapes. By definition, cognac and armagnac are fines and so is fine de Bourgogne, for example, whilst marc de Bourgogne is marc (bravo, S.!) This time again we'll kick this off with a little apéritif…

Ducastaing la Baïse 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Armagnac, +/-2021)

Ducastaing la Baïse 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Armagnac, +/-2021) Two stars
In the word Baïse, the umlaut is important. If you do not speak French, please just drop that. This is some very old-school Armagnac from Condom, Gers, which makes the name even funnier. But that's enough sauciness, let's try this baby… Colour: gold. Nose: not that 'old-school', or 'vieille-école', actually, rather fresh, fruity and seemingly pretty young. Soft liquorice, liquorice allsorts, peach and quince jelly, then a few flowers, basically dandelion, plus maple syrup and chestnut honey. No complains at this point, this is pleasant, fresh and easy. Mouth: feels really young, rustic, simple, grassier on the palate, a little spirity, perhaps a little forgettable. Fruit peeling, fresh eau-de-vie, a wee vinosity, some grapes, raisins, plum spirit (prune)… Finish: medium, grassy, very simple, very rustic. Some greenish oak in the aftertaste, plus raisins, liquorice wood and banana skin. Comments: for your fishing hipflask, perhaps. It's good, clearly, but I would not quite call this 'a malternative'.

SGP:451 - 76 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 2006/2021 'Organic' (50.1%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, for Kirsch Import)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 2006/2021 'Organic' (50.1%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, for Kirsch Import) Four stars
Some estate Cognac from the Pasquet estate, so grown, harvested, distilled and matured by themselves. Colour: gold. Nose: many stewed fruits in some sweet wine sauce, with dollops of acacia honey and a few pencil shavings thrown in. With water: some much unexpected whiffs of fresh oil paint, then fresh rhubarb and cut cactus, or agave. A tiny drop of turpentine, drawing gum, then white asparagus. In short, this one's pretty singular, in a good way. Mouth (neat): potent, eau-de-vie-ish, a little grassy, reminiscent of some excellent marc de Bourgogne (rather than fine). With water: vine peaches stewed in white wine, a wee echo of pineau, then vanilla and a feeling of white oak (while it's most certainly French oak). Finish: rather long, with quite a lot of soft liquorice plus vanilla. Comments: this one's clearly malternative, and most excellent. Reduction on the spot is hard to do, though, careful with your pipette because some tannins are eager to jump out.

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Paul Beau 'Hors d'Âge' (43%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2019)

Paul Beau 'Hors d'Âge' (43%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2019) Three stars
According to the great folks at The Whisky Exchange, this baby's won buckets of awards and medals. Which, I agree, is always a little suspicious, but their VSOP was very okay last time we tried it (WF 79). It is a very traditional house. Colour: amber. Nose: it's a fine, balanced, jammy and fruity cognac, with good citrus (marmalade) and maple honey, plus the usual stewed peaches, then quince jelly and mirabelle jam. Very focused on jams and honey, it would not wander into spicy or herbal territories yet, not to mention anything tertiary. Mouth: led by marmalade and honey once more, this time with small mentholy and liquoricy touches flying around. The much expected raisins are soon to take over, together with oriental pastries (baklava) and notes of burnt cakes. Finish: medium, a notch grassier, with touches of bell pepper. Some blood oranges, stalk... Comments: pretty good stuff but I'm not sure it'll rock my world, or deserve the WF Double Gold De La Muerte Award, should that ever exist (what's  your opinion?) The 43% vol. are a little low too.

SGP:551 - 80 points.

Château de Laubade 1989/2018 (49.2%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #90014)

Château de Laubade 1989/2018 'Brut de Fût' (49.2%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #90014) Five stars
A blend of baco, ugni blanc and colombard. We've been happy to learn, from the label, that the casks was lying in chai N°5 (warehouse #5) and that this was tirage N°3 (third disgorging). As usual, this is single-estate armagnac. Colour: full gold. Nose: quite a few steps above the cognac, with superb notes of coffee, walnut cake, cigars, charcoal, then tarte tatin and quince tarte. A lovely earthiness in the background, even a few notes of morels and porcini. Wow wow wow. Mouth: this will be short indeed, what a wonderful, tight, nervous, firm armagnac! There is an old-schoolness to this one (coffee, rancio, toasted oak) as well as some herbal liqueurs, especially Verveine du Velay. Huge, immense, tremendous notes of Verveine du Velay. As a matter of fact, I'm the #1 fan of Verveine du Velay (although that would rather tend to be an old-fashioned liqueur for old ladies). No shame, no shame at all. Finish: long, even greater, always with a lot of verveine/verbena, although orange and citron liqueurs, as well as raisins would tend to supplant that towards the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely superb. Perfect age. It's to be remembered that 1989 was a great vintage in the southwest of France, including in Bordeaux.

SGP:661 - 90 points.

Château de Lacquy 2001 '100% baco' (47%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #320, 336 bottles, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2001 '100% baco' (47%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #320, 336 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
So, one hundred percent baco here, and a single cask. Colour: gold. Nose: some full-flown fruity armagnacness, full of jammy fruits, especially mirabelles and quinces, then various honeys. I know that was short, but his nose is superb and brilliantly simple and straightforward. Remember, while complexity's an obvious asset in spirits, simplicity can be just beautiful as well. Mouth: a tad oakier now, with wood shavings and bitter chocolate, also coffee beans and strong liquorice. Something pine-y and even teak-y. Perhaps not totally consensual, but whilst malt remains a little too thin to stand this kind of treatment, a good, solid armagnac will bear it with panache and even glory (S., please, this is only booze). Finish: long, with a little more citrus (kumquats). Comments: we often call armagnac 'rustic' and indeed this is 'rustic' on the palate, but I would say it works extremely well, especially after a mound, and I mean a mound of foie gras and ceps. Or duck confit (insert gentle burp here).
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Perhaps some older ones…

Domaine de Baraillon 1958/2021 (41%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1958/2021 (41%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Four stars
This is Baraillon by Claverie, #1 armagnac at Château Whiskyfun, so we'll just say nothing. I mean, before we try it… Colour: amber. Nose: #1 = butterscotch, #2 = millionaire shortbread, #3 = currant, #4 dried small Turkish figs, #5 = fifty years old Yquem from any vintage, #6 = bliss. Mouth: we sometimes say that old spirits would tend to converge and indeed, you'd be forgiven for saying this is some old rum. Having said that, it may have lost a bit of its brightness and became a little drying, extremely chocolaty, coffeeish, almost tarry, and certainly pretty glutamate-y and salty. Brilliant old armagnac, it's just that it may have lost a (large) part of its glow. Finish: medium, rather on bouillon, lovage, coffee and miso. Mocha and tobacco in the aftertaste. Comments: just su-perb, as expected, but possibly a wee bit past its prime. Now, we totally loved the mocha in the aftertaste.

SGP:362 - 87 points.

Bas-armagnac 1946/2021 (41.4%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance, 34 bottles)

Bas-armagnac 1946/2021 (41.4%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance, 34 bottles) Four stars
This is post-war armagnac, so we'll try this one for Ukraine! Colour: amber. Nose: extremely contrasting after the 1958, that is to say shock-full of jams, preserved fruits (apricots, peaches) and old white wines. We shan't list them, but great old Meursaults are springing to my mind. Coming pretty unexpected are clear notes of white chocolate and a floralness that's not meant to appear in a, wait, 2021-1946=75 years old brandy. Well, indeed, a part of those 75 years may have been spent in a demijohn, which wouldn't count when calculating the real 'age' of this wonderful old armagnac. Splitting hairs, once more. Mouth: ha, mushrooms, old pipe tobacco, cocoa, office coffee, umami sauce, chicory coffee, Bovril… All that on a lighter, although not quite too fragile body. Very dry in fact, almost amontillado-y. Finish: medium, extremely dry. Meaty chocolate and black tea. Comments: all the characteristics of an old wine that you should not, perhaps, judge as if it were a well-bred, yet still young cru. Rather intellectual, which doesn't surprise me one bit.

SGP:361 - 86 points.

We've got quite a lot of wartime armagnacs and cognacs yet to taste, but I don't feel like tasting them just now. No, not now. Rather back to the 1980s, and we'll be done this time.

Château de Laubade 1986/2019 (48.5%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #90024)

Château de Laubade 1986/2019 'Brut de Fût' (48.5%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #90024) Four stars
First tirage here, and warehouse #5 once more. They've been distilling both ugni blanc and baco here. Baco, actually baco blanc (there's a black/noir baco too) is a cross of Folle blanche and Noah, created in 1898 by Mr Baco so that it would resist Phylloxera while retaining the main characteristics of the traditional folle blanche. Ugni blanc is just another name for trebbiano. Colour: deep gold. Nose: these Laubades 'brut de fût' are all pretty stellar. This time I'm finding a wonderful chocolateness, notes of Ethiopian mocha, some hardwood dust, and assorted black tealeaves. In the background, 'vieille prune' (old plum eau-de-vie, when it's good it's very good, when it's bad it's very bad. Right). Mouth: totally old-school. This is the kind of armagnac you would drink whenever you would attend a bullfight (corrida) down there in the Gers. Very dry, oloroso-like, with much coffee and bitter chocolate, with a drop of salty beef stock. Plum spirit fighting back in the background. Finish: long, dry, on more plum, coffee and chocolate. Comments: you could almost believe this is some old slivovitz. Just superb, but the Laubade 1989 remains my favourite.
SGP:352 - 87 points.

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


Mars 12, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Cragganmore and Oban
A quick visit to some older expressions of these two names from the Classic Malts series. I've always enjoyed Oban - as a West Coaster I have a soft spot for anything in that part of the country - but Cragganmore I've always found a little so-so. Although, there are certainly many perfectly fine indy examples around. 


Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 1995)

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 1995)
Colour: gold. Nose: pretty nice, on damp sackcloth with underlying notes of caramel shortbread, milk chocolate, caffe latte and brown sugar. You do indeed fell like this is an altogether more 'old fashioned' style with the influence of brutal reduction, filtration and caramel all 'lurking' in the background. But what is left behind is very easy and simplistically pleasurable. Some nicely honeyed touches and a wee herbal suggestion in time as well. Mouth: rather teaish and a little milky, like a digestive dunked in milky earl grey. But also some dried flowers, sweetened breakfast cereals, buttery toast, marmalade. It's a breakfast whisky it would seem. Again, a simple and somewhat old fashioned style designed to be quaffed absent mindedly from a tumbler - which is not something I'm against at all. Finish: short, sweet, more brown sugar, biscuits, caramel etc. Comments: probably the very epitome 'Speyside malt whisky' from the vantage of the mid-1990s. It's a bit basic and simplistic, but it's also almost profoundly inoffensive and easy to sip. And isn't everyone obsessed about being inoffensive these days? 
SGP: 641 - 81 points. 



Cragganmore 12 yo 1988/2000 (60.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #37.16)

Cragganmore 12 yo 1988/2000 (60.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #37.16)
The SMWS had many such bottlings of relatively young, humble malts around these years, I'm sure there's quite a few gems still sheltered behind these lovely but identical old labels. Colour: pale gold. Nose: not a million miles from the old OB, only brighter and punchier of course. Similar light notes of hessian cloth, sunflower oils and various light beers such as shilling ales and old school IPA. Humble but charmingly natural malt whisky. With water: more of these cooking oil notes, quite an impression of vase water, pressed flowers and plain toasted cereals. Mouth: wooft, quite a fighter at this ABV. A bit hot and volatile really, with all these sharp, jagged peppery notes, mashed grains and cereals and brown bread. With water: again a tad simple, on breads, beers, grains, peppery heat and some mashed cereal notes. Finish: medium in length. Cereals and cooking oils again, a little lactic sweetness too, like a sip of milk stout perhaps. Comments: Not sure I didn't prefer the OB to be honest. It's a bit simple and a bit, well, boring I suppose. But it's also humble, unshowy and functional malt whisky that I'm sure many Edinburgh aficionados enjoyed getting pleasantly drunk on in the Spring of 2000 - no doubt toasting all the plain sailing years that undoubtedly lay ahead…
SGP: 551 - 79 points. 



Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, -/+ 1990)

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, -/+ 1990)
We're fans of Oban here at WF. In fact, ironically enough, Serge tried another old Oban 14yo from similar era not so long ago here on WF. Let's see if we align… Colour: gold. Nose: a full-bodied malt indeed, lots of polish, soot, bouillon, mustard powder, a rather resinous waxiness and things like fir wood, light medical embrocations and some green fruitiness. Also this gentle coastal vibe in the background. Feels decidedly 'west coast highlands' - which I can't help but love. Mouth: rather scary that these batches start to take on an 'old bottle' feel about them. Not necessarily OBE but rather this feeling of having cohered into something singular and a bit different over time in glass. Lots of wax polish, cereals, dried mint, ointments, wet rocks and delicate notes of bandages and lemon peel. Still pretty coastal and feels rather medicinal without being particularly peaty. Still superbly oily in texture in the mouth. Finish: medium, peppery, more mustard powder, bouillon stocks, suet, eucalyptus and wee hints of tobacco and umami paste. Comments: very, very good and hugely pleasurable to sip. These bottles are still underpriced and overlooked I would say. Same score as Serge. 

SGP: 463 - 89 points. 



Oban 14 yo 'Bicentenary' (43%, OB, 1 litre, 1994)

Oban 14 yo 'Bicentenary' (43%, OB, 1 litre, 1994)
A batch released, or 'labelled', for the distillery's 200th anniversary in 1994. You'd think they might tip a few sexy casks into such a batch, but then this was 1994 and well and truly back in whisky's age of innocence. Not to mention the fact that they released a totally brilliant (but absolutely bonkers) 16yo Manager's Dram sherry cask for that same occasion (WF92). Colour: orangey gold. Nose: we aren't far off the older 75cl batch, there's just a bit more mustardy heat up front, dry waxes, hessians, pressed yellow flowers and starchy cornflour. Globally very similar, which I'm sure the Diageo blending teams are pleased to hear. Just perhaps a little drier and 'fuller' with a more pronounced waxy quality. Mouth: similar once again but I find this one displaying a little more of a mashy and vegetal side up front. Honey roast parsnip, lanolin, cough mixtures and various beers and damp grains. Maybe not quite as luminous as the earlier batch, but there's still plenty to enjoy. Finish: ok, picks up steam in the finish actually, some very nice notes of salty honey, breakfast cereals and dark beers. Lovely, warming and lightly waxy aftertaste. Comments: not quite the equal of the earlier one, but it's still a totally solid and idiosyncratic dram. A quiet, stalwart bottling that I am always happy to revisit. A shame we don't have a current batch for comparison. Not to mention the 16yo Bicentenary! I would love to try that one again. 

SGP: 552 - 87 points. 




A wee announcement born out of my own personal frustration

Indeed, for the first time and because of some extensive business traveling I'll really have to do, I won't be able to participate in The Whisky Show Old and Rare this year. Which, to me, is close to having an open magnum of Mouton 1986 on the table and not being allowed to have a sip of it, or a Ducati 900 Mike Hailwood Replica in the garage and not a drop of gas. So, I thought the only way I could try to overcome my sense of frustration and still kind of participate would be to run this WAFF(*):

For anyone into older bottles Angus will be co-hosting some virtual tastings along with friends Jonny McMillan and the good folks at the Whisky Exchange on the weekend of the 18th-20th March. Some of which you may still find tickets for.


(*) Wee Ad For Friends



Mars 10, 2022


Little Duos, today Deanston
Madeira vs. Oloroso

Again, indeed. Deanston's become one of our pet distilleries, if I may. Love what they do, even when it's unlikely (strange casks and such). Always fun, always fair, never pretentious.

Deanston 12 yo 2006/2019 'Madeira Cask Finish' (55.6%, OB, distillery exclusive)

Deanston 12 yo 2006/2019 'Madeira Cask Finish' (55.6%, OB, distillery exclusive) Four stars and a half
It was obviously tough to do some distillery exclusive bottlings just before stupid Covid. But I would suppose the whisky mob's always there to help them get rid of the stash. Colour: straw. Nose: right-o, mustard, walnuts, wholegrain bread, a touch of apple vinegar, cider for sure, sourdough, leaven, baker's yeast… Indeed we're at a bakery. The neighbours are brewers. With water:  mead and beer, then walnut wine. Mouth (neat): extremely good. I remember when Glenmo came up with their own 'Madeira', a long time ago, it was already almost everyone's favourite. As for the 'Burgundy', well... But back to this wee Deanston, the sweet mustardy touch, mingled with liquorice and a little pepper liqueur and honey just work a treat. Sometimes you would think of fortified mead, or chouchen. With water: orange cordial and walnut wine, with a dollop of honey and, well, Madeira. Finish: long, rather rich but with a wonderful dry structure. Figs and very old riesling. Comments: I'm in a good mood, just because of this wee whisky.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

And so, number two…

Deanston 12 yo 2008/2021  'Oloroso Cask Matured' (52.7%, OB, 13,227 bottles)

Deanston 12 yo 2008/2021  'Oloroso Cask Matured' (52.7%, OB, 13,227 bottles) Four stars
Colour: rich gold. Nose: there, more walnuts, then meats, hams, mutton suet, glutamate, caramel ramens, sour cherry jam, roasted cassis, beer sauce (carbonnade), and just some mineral, thick and walnutty oloroso, with a little overcooked office coffee around 7pm, NYPD-style. Like in a crime series on the telly. With water: salty, bouillony, meaty. Malt extracts, a touch of Marmite, more walnut cake, last week's gravy, meatballs, beef jerky… Mouth (neat): very heavy and thick, dry and concentrated, but quite bizarrely, it would never get cloying. Burnt walnut cake, burnt brownies, a feeling of dry molasses, treacle toffee, and just more carbonnade flamande. Massive bone-dry oloroso, with just touches of pencil shavings. With water: chills out, becoming a little sweeter and jammier, also spicier. Ras-el-hanout and pipe tobacco. Finish: long, this time really fruitier. Fruitcake and fig wine. Rather some cracked pepper, paint, oak and cedar woods in the aftertaste. As when we used to suck our pencils at school (tsk tsk). Comments: really heavier, but I say it's almost a draw.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

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


Mars 9, 2022


The Tamdhu Works, part dva

So, the indies. The officials have been a little boring yesterday, I have to say. This time, we'll do things randomly, for more fun.

Tamdhu 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL 12201, 337 bottles)

Tamdhu 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL 12201, 337 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: good nutty nose, with some sunflower oil, fresh croissants, sesame oil, then brioche and vanilla. Not earthshattering, and neither is it very 'particular', but this is a pleasant nose. Mouth: good fruitiness, with overripe apples, Danishes, clafoutis, then croissants again and cassata. No-quibble malt whisky that we won't remember forever, but that goes down well and without hassles. Finish: medium, on cider apples and sweeter beers. Apple juice and young calvados. Comments: fine drop from just before Y2K. Remember?
 SGP:541 - 80 points.

Tamdhu 2001/2013 (53.7%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 13050, 685 bottles)

Tamdhu 2001/2013 (53.7%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 13050, 685 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: we're reminded of the official 'batch strengths' (oh, no) but this is rather cleaner, without any sour notes, rather good cakes, biscuits, brioches, white chocolate, toasts, burnt bread, roasted nuts, toffee and fudge… With water: subtle oils, sunflower, pine nuts… Mouth (neat): very good! Treacle toffee, Malibu (just one drop, no worries), bananas flambéed (al rum, naturally) and just a big fat well-caramelised tarte tatin. With water: some lighter yet waxier developments around young cognac and… well, young cognac. How interesting. Finish: medium, waxy and oily, close to the barley, even breadier in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe we're starting to talk. Spitzenklasse at barely 12.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Tamdhu 10 yo 2007/2018 (57.8%, Archives, Koval cask, cask #36101, 156 bottles)

Tamdhu 10 yo 2007/2018 (57.8%, Archives, Koval cask, cask #36101, 156 bottles) Four stars
Always a good laugh with these 'Fishes of Samoa' labels. We're still waiting for a 'Tardigrades of Mongolia' series! Colour: straw. Nose: these lovely oils that were to be found in the MoS and that were sadly absent from the officials. Sunflower, linseed… The doughiness is perfect too, there's some welcome chalk too, some pils and other blond beers too, and a little cottage porridge too. I mean, not supermarket porridge. With water: white asparagus and Scottish mud, more linseed oil, a little damp cardboard.  Mouth (neat): very good upfront, a tad mentholy, camphory (perhaps the Koval cask?) rather fat and, indeed, oily, with an impeccable fruity barleyness. Something reminiscent of both patchouli and mothballs. With water: tends to close down on apples and wine gums. Finish: medium, with an awesome fruity barleyness. Comments: feels authentic, natural, and simply very good. Mind you, another tenner that would be ruling a show.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

There, another 2007 for good measure… Hold on, have you seen the strength?...

Tamdhu 13 yo 2007/2020 (66.5%, Or Sileis, sherry butt, cask #13822, 348 bottles)

Tamdhu 13 yo 2007/2020 (66.5%, Or Sileis, sherry butt, cask #13822, 348 bottles) Four stars and a half
Attempted murder once again. Bah, they'll never catch me. Colour: gold. Nose: bourbon, barley and ethanol, plus vanilla and cappuccino. No further chances to be taken. With water: wow, it's doing the peacock's tail. Apricot tarte, apple pie, soft white nougat, lemon tarte (I always insist, with meringue!), pears poached in Sauternes (try that), then peppermint, chartreuse, verbena liqueur… It seems that we unleashed a whole horde of herbal aromas! Mouth (neat): great, it seems, well I'm not sure these roasted-and-flambéed pineapples really belong here. So, with water: prickly pears, cranberries, more tarte tatin, apricot pie… and so on. Superb. Finish: goes on in the same vein for a lot of time. Some kind of sweet basil and lime in the aftertaste, which makes it very fresh in the end. Comments: great bunch of molecules but our worst nightmare here would be to have a whole double-magnum of this and no single drop of water. Exquisite youngish Tamdhu (but they should sell it with a free wee bottle of water on the side).
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (55.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL 15369, 265 bottles)

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (55.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL 15369, 265 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw/gold. Nose: the oiliness is the first thing to come through, with some sunflower oil once again, then doughs and fresh breads. Fresh kougelhopf and focaccia. Which just kills any just soul. Totally anti-modern and in a way, unwillingly anti-OB. With water: many leaves, bidis, lime leaves, breads, peelings, walnuts and just sweet apples. Wonderful nose. Mouth (neat): tighter, peppery, but bringing a huuuge walnut cake in front of us. I say that's bordering corruption. With water: complex, fat, oily, barley-y, bready. Say apricot-and-hazelnut bread, to be had with genuine goose foie gras. Boy am I not making myself hungry! Finish: medium, clean, barley-y, very nice. I'm reminded of Canadian late-harvest apple wine. Or is that Canadian apple ice-wine? Comments: not much to add, this is impeccable, tabernak!

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (53.3%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask # 18-2003, 161 bottles)

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (53.3%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask # 18-2003, 161 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: similar, that is to say all on some kind of waxy and oily western fruitiness and fruit breads. Having said that, this one's got many more sultanas too. With water: more breads chiming in, which is strictly always great news. In my simplistic system and on the nose, breads = good, woods = bad. Mouth (neat): how good is this! A wonderful fruit cocktail enhanced with at least three different kinds of honey (what?) and a few soft spices, around Szechuan pepper and turmeric powder. There. With water: some lemon zests, grass, green spices, green tannins. Not sure the palate was in need for water. Finish: medium, doughy and sweet. Just stewed apples in the aftertaste. Comments: another excellent middle-aged Tamdhu, perhaps just a tad less comfortable with H2O than others.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Tamdhu 2014/2020 (62.2%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #13764, 275 bottles)

Tamdhu 2014/2020 (62.2%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #13764, 275 bottles) Three stars and a half
With a wonderful kitten on the label. Colour: full gold. Nose: hot, with a wee metallic side at first (copper coins), which I find lovely, then apple peel and rhubarb. Let's not forget that this baby was bottled at some rather lethal 62% vol. Consequently, with water: whiffs of rainwater, leaves, peelings, then sourdough and bone-dry cider. Chervil and, perhaps, a little marrow. Green walnuts, very typical indeed. Mouth (neat): some extremely punchy spicy and grassy young sherry. Quite turbulent and pretty raw when unreduced. With water: we're rather reminded of the official 'Batch Strengths' (let me ask again, what does batch strength mean?) Apple pie, walnuts, cider, a little nougat, some grass, leaves, cherries, pepper, cinnamon… The youth does feel, after all this baby's only six or even five. Gets a little sweeter and rounder after five minutes, it may need a lot of oxygen. Finish: long, a little sour and rather spicy. Green pepper and hints of burnt beans. Comments: I think it's pretty good given the age, but perhaps does it lack a little more polishing.

SGP:451 - 83 points.

Let's call this a tasting session, if you agree.

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


Mars 8, 2022


The Tamdhu Works

Another name that we've been accumulating over the last months, time to down a few Tamdhus. We'll do that with much pleasure by the way, as we've already found some marvellous fruity ones in the past.

Tamdhu 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Tamdhu 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
Back on the tasting desk, since we had liked an earlier batch rather a lot (circa 2015, WF 86 but it was a 43% version). Colour: gold. Nose: this lovely maltiness mingling with pastries of all kinds and all origins, popcorn and nougat, honey cake, mead, butterscotch, some lighter pipe tobacco, then whiffs of manzanilla straight from Sanlucar. No need to tell you that this ticks all boxes in my little book, but let's hope it won't fall apart on the palate because of the low strength. Mouth: it does not. Excellent maltiness once again, walnut cake, oranges, earl grey, bergamotes indeed (those lovely square sweets they make from bergamots in Nancy, France), a few raisins, Linzer and panettone… Bravo! Finish: not that long but perfectly balanced, still malty and cakey. Comments: one of the rare occasions where 40% ABV worked out. Very good BFYB tipple, in my opinion.

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Tamdhu 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021)

Tamdhu 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
We've got several earlier batches of the 12 but I think we'll keep those for domestic uses. Colour: gold. Nose: It's becoming a little tougher after the wonderful, and certainly brighter and fresher 10. This 12 has got rather more sour woods as well as doughy and grassy sherry, now these dried and candied apples do work well. There's also a large bag of Jaffa cakes, orange blossom cookies, and a little ginger beer. Perhaps even a drop of Buckfast. Mouth: closer to the 10, which is good news. More spiced-up mead, gingerbread, cinnamon rolls, old man's jam (confiture du vieux garçon) and just raisins. Finish: medium, with more gingerbread and a little muscovado sugar. Cinnamon toffee in the aftertaste – but does cinnamon toffee exist? Comments: very good  - it kept improving in the glass - but I should have had the 10 after the 12.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Tamdhu 15 yo 'Limited Release' (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Tamdhu 15 yo 'Limited Release' (46%, OB, +/-2019) Four stars
The old 15s from the 1980s in their flat 'armagnac-like' bottles were wonderful whiskies (WF 90 like). Colour: full gold. Nose: rather towards the 10. Lovely cakes and honeys of all kinds plus a little shoe polish this time, engine grease, then orange essence, fino, tight honey, oloroso, fruitcake, Stolle, pumpernickel, raisin bread, prunes in armagnac (we prefer armagnac with prunes)… Mouth: no wonder the distillery used to belong to the makers of Macallan, because I find this close to modern sherried Macallan. Some butterscotch and a tight oakiness, raisins, fruitcake, demerara sugar, tobacco, almonds and amaretti, maraschino while we're in Italy, a spicier marmalade, peppers, some cinammony figs… Really a tighter sherried malt. Finish: long and spicier yet. Bitter almonds, Swiss Läckerli and cinnamon mints. Comments: a wee tad cask-forward but excellent for sure. They should keep these batches in concrete eggs for a few years before releasing them, but I'm not sure the SWA would approve.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 002' (58.5%, OB, +/-2016)

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 002' (58.5%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars and a half
We're late, we've only ever tried Batch 1. I believe no one's ever fully understood what 'a batch strength' was. Colour: full gold. Nose: shock-full of Hershey's chocolate, then tea and all-spice. That's all what I'm getting at this 'batch strength'. With water: oak, sawdust, more large-batch chocolate, tapioca and then cardamom. Mouth (neat): a leafy sherry, with sour berries, green walnuts and a lot of kirschwasser. That's all what I'm getting at this 'batch strength'. With water: improves a lot, even if they oak is staying in the front. Honey, olive oil, beeswax and walnut cake. Finish: long, geared towards marmalade and white pepper, with more gingerbread in the aftertaste. Comments: modern-style, certainly very good, but perhaps a tad simple after the lovely 10-12-15.

SGP:541 - 82 points.

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 003' (58.3%, OB, +/-2018)

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 003' (58.3%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: sameish, perhaps a tad sourer but always very much on chocolate, mocha and raisins. With water: the oak coming further forward. Chocolate and a few leaves. Mouth (neat): extremely modern, as if they had STRised some sherry hogsheads. Tea, butterscotch, cherry cake, and just tons and tons of milk chocolate. With water: some spicy marmalade, touches of mustard, some bitterness. Bitter apples and pears, even a little chilli. Pad Thai. Finish: more chocolaty oak and all the spices that would come with it. Comments: I just couldn't tell about my favourite. Perhaps batch #1.

SGP:551 - 82 points.

As it appears, there's no batch #004 at Château WF, which is a scandal.

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 005' (59.8%, OB, +/-2020)

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 005' (59.8%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: more bourbon-type goodness (I know it's sherry), more vanilla, more Werther's Originals, more pecans and macadamia nuts, praline, toffee and fudge, marzipan, cappuccino, a little cognac perhaps… With water: some leafy sherriness arising. Baked apples, fresh cinnamon rolls, sour cherries, walnuts… Mouth (neat): back to a tighter, sourer style of sherry, with leaves and green spices, bell pepper, walnuts… Now there's also much, much less chocolate than in the earlier batches. With water: how funny, it's getting fruitier here, fresher, less oak-driven, more on apple pie and marmalade. Finish: long, well balanced between the marmalade and some herbal teas. Comments: nose neat, sip reduced.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Perhaps a last official before we start to tackle the indie expressions? Or should we rather do the latter tomorrow?

Tamdhu 12 yo '120th Anniversary' (57.6%, OB, Taiwan exclusive, oloroso sherry, 3600 bottles, 2018)

Tamdhu 12 yo '120th Anniversary' (57.6%, OB, Taiwan exclusive, oloroso sherry, 3600 bottles, 2018) Three stars and a half
Was this one really exclusive to Taiwan? Did Tamdhu celebrate their 120th anniversary only in Taiwan? Colour: amber. Nose: same modern style, full of cedarwood, pencil shavings, chocolate and macchiato. With water: you cannot not wonder whether they haven't been benchmarking modern Glendronach. It's loaded with chocolate, then mulberries and… bramble jam indeed? Mouth (neat): very hot, chocolaty, extractive and spicy. I can see why our dear friends in Taiwan would have selected this, it would make for a great sauce for dumplings (which we just a-do-re). Ha. With water: still thick, heavily chocolaty, going towards armagnac this time. Except that no armagnac would ever shelter this much cedarwood – and chocolate. Finish: long, extremely chocolaty. Absent minded drinkers will believe they've just had some hot chocolate by Van Houten. Comments: excellent, just a little monolithic, I would say.

SGP:551 - 84 points.

Wait wait wait, we just found Batch Strength #004!

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 004' (57.8%, OB, 2019)

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 004' (57.8%, OB, 2019) Four stars
More sherry goodness. What these good Tamdhus don't quite have is the meatiness, or say the umaminess that a few other sherry monsters would display. Colour: deep gold. Nose: just like #005, this one would start a tad bourbony, with some shortbread, caramel, butterscotch and molasses/corn syrup. A little varnish and notes of raspberry jelly. With water: no changes. Is my trustworthy Vittel broken? Mouth (neat): I find this good. Good jams, some tropicalness (bananas flambéed and a little maracuja), the usual coffee and some citrus. Works well, with much less chocolate (a.k.a. oak) in the way. With water: good gingerbread, marmalade, mead, maraschino, a little PX, a little icing sugar here and there, syrups, fig wine… Finish: rather long, curiously oriental. More fig wine, arrack… Comments: probably my favourite batch. Still not the subtlest tool in the shed, but I do find it more complex than the others.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

That was a little exhausting, I believe we'll have the indie Tamdhus tomorrow. Thank you and auf Wiedersehen.

(Merci Lucero)

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


Mars 7, 2022


Blair Athol, rather abundantly

Pitlochry is not just a tourist nest, it's also the home of two lovely distilleries, Edradour and, indeed, Blair Athol. One of them makes a pretty fat and ample distillate, the other one being more into a lighter, easier style. But as always with malt whisky, there are many exceptions. Let's see if we'll stumble upon some of those…


Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, DS Tayman, wine cask)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, DS Tayman, wine cask) one star and a half
This one was finished in an Israeli wine cask. I believe it is the first time we're trying anything by the house DS Tayman. Colour: straw. Nose: a funny one, full of Haribo's best and strawberry Jell-O, while some rougher maltiness would try to resist and keep this drink malty in the background. Mouth: a tough one, rather in the style of some early finishings in red wine as they used to be done twenty-five years ago. Really feels flavoured, with cassis buds, more strawberries, and some green tannicity, possibly from the wine cask. It's not that it is terrible, it's just that it really feels 'flavoured'. Finish: medium, on pepper and strawberries. In theory, that works, but in practice… Comments: not sure the gentler Blair Athol had much to say here. Now, some aspects will please a few adventurous aficionados.

SGP:761 - 69 points.

Another 12 that's been a tad… reinforced shall we say…

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (50%, Claxton's Exploration Series, Oloroso Sherry Quarter Cask)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (50%, Claxton's Exploration Series, Oloroso Sherry Quarter Cask) Two stars and a half
They would tend to use that term for 1/4 of a butt's size, but we've seen 50l quarter casks too (quarter of a barrel). Colour: gold. Nose: walnuts playing first fiddle, then whiffs of dunnage, mud, old wine barrel indeed, and root vegetables. Celeriac. Not an easy one to describe. With water: goes towards mashed vegetables, mashed peas perhaps, potatoes, houmous and humus (right)… Mouth (neat): dry, a tad bitter, on walnut skin and some leather. Notes of dates in the background that would add some sweetness. Some pepper and cinnamon too. With water: gets greener. Those peppery root vegetables and those green walnuts. Not an easy one. Finish: medium, leafy, leathery. Some marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: a good one but I'm finding it a little austere.

SGP:361 - 78 points

For once, this is starting slowly… Please another 12…

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2021 (55.7%, James Eadie, Amontillado cask finish, export exclusive, cask # 354548, 341 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2021 (55.7%, James Eadie, Amontillado cask finish, export exclusive, cask # 354548, 341 bottles) Four stars
Love the 'export exclusive' mention, that reeks of the good old days. They could have added 'export quality'. Remember, basically, amontillado is a wine that started as a fino, so under flor, and that became an oloroso, so oxidative. Colour: gold. Nose: great fun. Smoked walnuts and mustard, cigars, eucalyptus, bitter chocolate, hashish and old embrocations. Vaporub. With water: geared towards breads. Mouth (neat): awesome, with a curious but excellent bubblegum + walnuts combo. What didn't quite work in the previous ones is working a treat here. Also citron liqueur, always a winner at WF Towers. With water: some sweet spices plus bergamots and kumquats. Green peppercorn. Finish: long, with a tight, citrusy, zesty spiciness. You could drink this with Pad Thai. Touch of mint in the aftertaste. Comments: very clever composition, with a genuine Jerezian feeling.

SGP:461 - 86 points

Well, they did Marsala too…

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.2%, James Eadie, Marsala cask finish, UK exclusive, cask # 3887, 314 bottles)

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.2%, James Eadie, Marsala cask finish, UK exclusive, cask # 3887, 314 bottles) Four stars
A UK exclusive this time! Marsala is great, it's just that we'd love to know about the kind of Marsala they've used, as there are literally dozens of them. White, red, seco, amabile, soleras… They even have Nero d'Avola. Colour: gold. Nose: I don't know if that's because Marsala is Italian, but what I first get is just a huge fresh panettone. While it's to be said that I am the Chairman of the Alsatian Panettone Club (quite). Wonderful raisins, orange blossom, sweet doughs… With water: breads and cakes, scones, muffins... Mouth (neat): excellent, rather tight, just a tad stuffy at first but that's because of the high strength. Panettone and focaccia plus some kind of allspice combo. Let's see… With water: raisins kicking in. I suppose it was sweet Marsala. But don't drown it, it is not a great swimmer and would become a little too tea-ish. Finish: long, caky. Comments: on second thought, I think I liked the amontillado a tad better. A matter of taste, both being technically perfect.

SGP:451 - 85 points

Perhaps try one that was made as Mother Nature intended…

Blair Athol 11 yo 2010/2021 (58.1%, Best Dram, refill hogshead, cask #300303, 298 bottles)

Blair Athol 11 yo 2010/2021 (58.1%, Best Dram, refill hogshead, cask #300303, 298 bottles) Four stars
Ah, a good old refill hogshead… Colour: gold. Nose: lovely, with patchouli and pot-pourri at first, then teak oil, pinewood, cedar and bitter almonds. Was that short enough? With water: very close to some C/S officials that we could try at the Distillery. Vanilla and barley, with whiffs of shoe polish and metal polish. Reminds me of when my dear grandma was polishing the silver, which she would do each and every year. Cheers, Marie. Mouth (neat): some spicy oak at first (cinnamon and nutmeg), then light sriracha and satay. This one's clearly from the east of Scotland rather than from the midst of Perthshire. Ha. With water: very good, barley-y indeed, with some maple syrup and sweetened tea. Indeed, some people are adding sugar to their tea. Some sultanas. Finish: medium, rather on orange cakes. I'm afraid we'll have to mention panettone again. Comments: super extra-good. Extra-point for the polishes.

SGP:551 - 86 points

Blair Athol 9 yo (58.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #68.42, 'Cosy and Toasty', 28 Queen Street Exclusive, 286 bottles, 2020)

Blair Athol 9 yo (58.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #68.42, 'Cosy and Toasty', 28 Queen Street Exclusive, 286 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Toasts, but of course. Colour: gold. Nose: chalk and croissants, that's what I'm getting at full strength. A touch of wood varnish, perhaps. With water: some butter cream coming through. Some hay too, which I find very 'Blair Athol'. Reminiscent of those old official bottles, you would have had Dufftown (red label) and Blair Athol (blue label). Does that ring a bell? Mouth (neat): very good young sweet barley-y and cake-y malt, with some orange and bananas jam in the background. Simple pleasures, bottled. With water: excellent. Apple cake, orange cake, banana cake, toasts if we must… Finish: medium, kind of oily, on those various cakes. Which, I insist, is very Blair Athol. Comments: thumbs up!
SGP:541 - 85 points

Blair Athol 13 yo 2008/2021 (53.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #300529, 290 bottles)

Blair Athol 13 yo 2008/2021 (53.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #300529, 290 bottles) Four stars
Ha, literature, not always easy to follow. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: gooseberries and stewed rhubarb. We're close to the make this time. With water: oh these doughs. Mouth (neat): lovely apricot eau-de-vie and mirabelle. Lovely indeed but it's to be wondered if this one did not age in amphoras or in those large sandstone jars that some are using (which would be a great idea by the way, with all due respect to the SWA). With water: amazing complexity, many stone fruits, eaux-de-vie indeed, oils, seeds… Finish: medium, perhaps a little austere at this point. Chlorophyll. Comments: some wood's been used, obviously, but it is undetectable. Stunning work here, I would say this one's really been aged by time, and that no trees were harmed. Wouldn't this rather be the whisky of the future? Make whisky without trees?

SGP:551 - 87 points

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (55.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #304771, 301 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (55.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #304771, 301 bottles) Five stars
I'll say it again, these labels are stunning. We're far from the very loud poppish ones that you can only really look at while wearing sunglasses. Colour: amber gold. Nose: exactly the opposite. Thick oils and polishes, jams and jellies, crystallised fruits (especially quince), kumquats and well-made rum. I would mention Foursquare. With water: acetone and walnuts! Mouth (neat): oh! Wood oils, heavy teas, pu-ehr, cedarwood, pencil shavings (wood and lead), then heavy fino sherry, vin jaune, mustard, walnuts… This has every aspect of sorcery. With water: extraordinary, if a little concoctiony. Gentian coming out, that's rather not a bad sign. Finish: long, leafy, wit even a touch of salt Manzanilla. Was it a sherry hogshead? A little aniseed and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: was some A.I. involved? Aliens? Ghosts indeed? You say this was twelve-year-old Blair Athol?
SGP:562 - 90 points

What a series indeed. To be honest I haven't quite checked 'who', 'why', and 'how' yet (remember I remain an amateur), but this is getting really intriguing... Good, a last Blair Athol – let's make it a French one!

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Whisky Lodge, Orcines, cask #435)

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Whisky Lodge, Orcines, cask #435) Four stars
This by our friends in Lyons, capital city of the Gauls. A city irrigated by three major rivers as they say after a few glasses, the Rhône, the Saône, and Beaujolais. And now a fourth one, whisky… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: these Orcines are often rather crystalline, this is just another example. Pure barley spirit, with apple juice, pear juice, barley syrup and a minimal touch of vanilla. Plus vine peach juice, I would add. Mouth: unexpected saltiness, otherwise more apple, pear and peach juices. Millimetric, extremely barley-y. Finish: unexpectedly long, more on doughs, mint, liquorice and breads. A drop of pastis in the aftertaste, it's true that Marseille is not too far away. I mean, when you check a map of France from Alsace. Comments: I remember the owner of the Whisky Lodge and yours truly have been Keeperised at the very same moment. A ta santé, great drop!
SGP:651 - 86 points

That's nine BAs, that's enough. Cheers and pace. Hold on, there's more…

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, cask # #HL 12149, 597 bottles)

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, cask # #HL 12149, 597 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: full gold. Nose: these older ones were nuttier, earthier, I would even add 'smokier'. Some herbal cordials too, amer bière, Fernet-Branca, Wulong…  With water: extraordinary combo, with roasted peanuts, roasted raisins, and just satay. I'd kill a few racists for satay (of course not, I realise that was stupid, officer). But wow, raisins and peanut butter, utter sin. Mouth (neat): utterly excellent, very nutty, tobacco-y, meaty, with cigars and crazy coffees. Ethiopians. With water: some sour sweet wines, Banyuls, some mead… This part is a little more uncertain. Finish: medium, meatier. Marrow soup and smoked ham. Chicken stewed in beer, with raisins! Comments: it's always fantastic when you change category, after a bunch of young ones, however good those were..
SGP:552 - 88 points

That's ten, but I suppose we could have a very last one by HL…

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (57.1%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, European Sherry Butt, cask #HL 12537)

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (57.1%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, European Sherry Butt, cask #HL 12537) Three stars and a half
Why they've added Boris to the label, I don't quite know, he wasn't even Premier yet when this was bottled, was he? . No politics in whisky, that's one of our mottos! Colour: amber. Nose: some pure praline, peanut butter indeed, glazed chestnut brittle, sesame oil and some kind of earthy thickish ale. When I retire, I'll learn about beer. With water: scoria, coal, walnuts, mustard, earth, fern, compost… Mouth (neat): huge, terrifying, pungent, raw. The grittiest, spiciest side of sherry. Huge green walnuts a.k.a. monster walnuts. With water: very aggressive, green, you could almost believe it was Caol Ila from a sadistic cask. Finish: very long, peppery, salty, really strange. Salted raisins. Comments: we've tried some pretty massive BAs, but this one takes the biscuit. Boy is it tough! Which would explain why they would have added Boris to the label. Looks like we've come full circle.

SGP:362 - 84 points

A session that went to eleven. It's been a little exhausting, to be honest, Blair Athol being neither Clynelish, nor Springbank. But we made it and I thank you for your ongoing support. CU, pace, salute and nazdrovie.

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


Mars 6, 2022


  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!


A wee bunch of cognacs

After a lot of rum, some just brilliant, cognac is back on the tasting desk today, while we keep thinking of our dear friends in Ukraine.

Frapin 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #1900)

Frapin 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #1900) Three stars and a half
I believe this one was bottled around five years ago, but I could be wrong. In the olden days, pretty much anything bottled above 40% vol. used to qualify as 'cask strength' in Cognac (brut de fût). Colour: full gold. Nose: rather very 'Frapin' as far as I can tell, that is to say on a lot of both fresh/ripe and stewed/jammy fruits, especially peaches. In the background, touches of sweet liquorice and raisins as well as honeysuckle. An uncomplicated yet very appealing style, void of any rancio, tobacco or meaty touches. It's almost akin to a family pack of liquorice allsorts after ten minutes, especially those that are filled with orange. Mouth: in keeping, sweet and fruity, with a wee grassy touch (tea, earl grey) otherwise more sweet liquorice, raisins and sweet marmalade, Jaffa-cake, orange jelly, then a very tiny touch of Szechuan pepper. Finish: medium, with more liquorice allsorts and a very discreet salty signature. After all, Cognac is coastal. A little maple, cane and agave syrups. Comments: some very good, rather easy, uncomplicated, assertive liquorice-led young cognac.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 85' (51%, OB for Distilia, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 85' (51%, OB for Distilia, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is cask strength. Colour: gold. Nose: I think it's not the first time I'm finding a little botrytis in some Vallein Tercinier. Naturally, this cannot be, unless they've added drops of old Sauternes or other similar beauties to the cask while no one was watching. Or it is just an analogical feeling, after all there are no peaches in cognac either. So, stewed peaches, a tiny mentholy side, some sultanas, some liquorice… In fact all these are not really spectacular, it's the balance and the way all this is working together that's brilliant. Think the Zappa band, ha. With water: a little saponification for a few seconds (happens), then biscuits, tobacco, a little mint and a little camphor, green melons, then simply some lovely green tea. I'm often quoting blue-green Wulong/Oolong… They have some great ones in Taiwan. Mouth (neat): starts liquorice-and-citron-driven, gets then unexpectedly salty (a wee bit), then herbal (mint tea, walnut skin) and lastly, fruity. Peaches, apricots and raisins. With water: herbs and fruit peel or skin in majesty. A very curious feeling of peat in the background. No, my glass was immaculately clean, I promise. Finish: long… hold on, it's got 'something' of Highland Park. Comments: a wonderful rather grassier petite champagne. Hope mad (and very sick) Mr P***n won't start to call their own brandies 'nebol'shoy shampanskoye' and make the use of petite champagne by French cognac-makers illegal in R***a.

SGP:461 - 89 points.

La Joyeuse 'Lot 79' (57.8%, Jean-Luc Pasquet for Malternative Belgium for Art Malts, 81 bottles, 2021)

La Joyeuse 'Lot 79' (57.8%, Jean-Luc Pasquet for Malternative Belgium for Art Malts, 81 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Boy these 1979s are already older than 40. Colour: amber. Nose: a very different style, with a little varnish at first, even something a little bourbony (that would be great old bourbon of course), before it would just dive into rosewater, gewurztraminer, litchi juice, then the usual suspects, peaches. Marvellous. With water: firmer but still insanely aromatic and, to tell you the truth, close to an old Sauternes indeed, or perhaps Gewurz V.T. Tried a Raymond-Lafon the other day that was a bit like this, just wonderful, with tiny touches of mocha. That may be the, err, the botrytis. Mouth (neat): formidably tight, with a little varnish once more at first, then blood oranges, fresh figs, peppermint and prickly pear jelly. Which is another sin. With water: a rather lovely oak coming out, rather close to a great darjeeling. No sugar, no milk, no lemon please. Finish: long, superbly balanced between that darjeeling and, this time, citrus. Menthol, eucalyptus and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: masterful, unless you would be firmly against any tiniest form of oakiness. Joyful indeed.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Prunier 1974/2021 (58%, Whisky Mercenary 10th Anniversary, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles)

Prunier 1974/2021 (58%, Whisky Mercenary 10th Anniversary, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles) Five stars
Love the whisky mercenary. True passion that shows on many accounts. Colour: gold. Nose: to be totally honest (always bad when anyone says that, uh) I believe whisky takes very high strengths a little better than cognac or armagnac, but that's just a gut feeling, without any scientific evidence. You got it, this is a tad brut… No wait, I was wrong, it just needed a minute or two to become rounder, fruity, cakey and rather all on toffee, millionaire shortbread, butterscotch and cappuccino. A drop of soy sauce and a smaller one of Maggi in the background. With water: the lovage-y, glutamate-y side stays there, which I do enjoy (call that umami if you must), then we have cough syrup and camphor. Camphor lifts many old spirits (even humans). Mouth (neat): relatively sweet, perfumy, with some marmalade and touches of lavender jelly, perhaps. Candied cherries too, maraschino… It's all a tad unusual but remember, 58. With water: how good is this? Latte, peppermint and triple-sec, perfect combo. What do you say, trained mixologists? The tiniest echoes of gentian and caraway in the back of the background. Finish: long, getting a little piney. Lovely freshness. Comments: please tell me where all those wonderful cognacs had gone? Actually, we've got the answer, they went to Belgium.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

La Boutique 'Lot 69' (45.2%, Malternative Belgium, Petite Champagne, 148 bottles, 2022)

La Boutique 'Lot 69' (45.2%, Malternative Belgium, Petite Champagne, 148 bottles, 2022) Five stars
The French keep saying that 1969 was an erotic year. Ha, boomers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the freshest so far, full of dandelions and wisteria at first, then acacia blossom and acacia honey, white chocolate, Mandarine Napoléon (another Belgian thing, mind you) and maple syrup. It's smooth, it's mellow, it's easy, it's wonderful. Mouth: I believe it is only natural that you would find a little oak in such an old cognac. The Mandarine is back as well, juicy golden sultanas as well, Jaffa cakes too, not to mention Timut pepper and liquorice wood. All that works in sync, just like an old straight-8 Bugatti. Finish: medium, rounded, perhaps on chamomile tea sweetened with good all-flower honey. Thank you, bees. A very tiny touch of soap in the aftertaste, which is not uncommon in old cognacs, in my meagre experience. Comments: wonderful. Now, who is 'La Boutique'? A very, very friendly lady? Is that why they chose the vintage '69? Bahn let's not speculate…
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Boy don't we keep touching high ceilings… And Belgium…

Vallein Tercinier '53 Carats Lot 68' (47.2%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF006, 168 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier '53 Carats Lot 68' (47.2%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF006, 168 bottles) Five stars
On an unrelated note, 1968, that's when MC5 recorded Kick Out The Jams. Colour: full gold. Nose: totally and fully and integrally on mangos, sultanas, pink bananas, maracuja and tangerines, plus maple syrup, honeysuckle, elderflowers and fir honey. This is incredibly fragrant. Oh and jams. Mouth: wooooh! Citrons, pink grapefruits, verbena, yellow chartreuse, tangerines, granny smith, eucalyptus, mentholated liquorice, then a little earth and, hurray, gentian. And sultanas. Finish: medium, splendid, with a perfect herbal, mentholy development, with notes of thyme. Thyme sweets. Comments: we wanna talk to that Maurice guy. A.m.a.z.i.n.g. cognac by V.T. for B.B. 1968? Well, it's never too late to kick out the jams m*********s.

SGP:651 - 92 points.

Borderies No 65 (56.7%, Swell & Co + Emotions Distillers, Grosperrin, 144 bottles, 2022)

Borderies No 65 (56.7%, Swell & Co + Emotions Distillers, Grosperrin, 144 bottles, 2022) Five stars
As you may have guessed a long time ago, in old French, borderies means borders. 1965-2022, that's 56 or 57 years, am I not right? Colour: full gold. Nose: so predictably great, subtle, with herbs, fruit peelings and grasses rather than plain fruits, also cantaloupes and blood oranges. Melon skin. Another one that's just perfect, it seems. With water: humus, mosses, Zante currants, liquorice wood, geranium flowers, potpourri… Mouth (neat): it is in these old cognacs that oak works best. Amazing sandalwood, cedar, incense, pinesap, heavy chestnut honey… Then just mint and verbena, with a droplet of mezcal. No, I'm serious. With water: opens up and does the peacock's tail. The oak is getting loudish, but it remain more than fine. Finish: long, with notes of old barrels, old wood, pipe, marmalade and figs, arrack… Comments: top of cognac once more, just starting to flirt with oak.

SGP:561 - 90 points.

Do we have room for a last very old cognac?

Grosperrin 1924/2021 (42.8%, Wu Dram Clan, Paradis Series, 40 bottles)

Grande Champagne 1924/2021 (42.8%, Grosperrin for Wu Dram Clan, Paradis Series, 40 bottles) Four stars and a half
This was not, 'of course', kept in wood for 97 years, or they would have done a very creepy funerary decanter akin to the one that a famous Scottish brand starting with M just did with an 81 years old. You know, those three hands holding a decanter that keep giving us all dreadful nightmares since the first press release – with pictures - came out. Bottles for Russian oligarchs (oops!) Colour: amber. Nose: stunning praline, natural Nutella (apologies), puréed chestnuts, pecan brittle, then a little wood dust perhaps, thuja wood, some cigarette tobacco (mentholated ones, Kools…) There's a little fragility to this on the nose, which was to be expected but I suppose it'll all happen on the palate anyway. Oh and 1924, that's Ma Rainey. Mouth: oh! Certainly a little fragile and, ach, err, past its prime (paradis or not paradis), but it's still very much alive although I would have rather said armagnac. Liquid caramel, stewed peaches, notes of rhum agricole, then herbal teas between chamomile and rooibos.  What's rather impressive is the fact that it would pick up steam with oxygenation and get brighter and fruitier after around fifteen minutes. If quince jelly tickles your fancy, this is for you. Even better tarte tatin with quinces instead of apples. Well, it's getting better and better, thank you O2! Finish: medium, but I've never met such a slow cognac, really, it took ages to open up. Raisins, old Tokaji, toasted bread and brioche, assam tea, IKEA's meatballs, strong honey, green pepper, juniper, pine resin… hold on, Jägermeister? Underberg? Why is it all happening in the finish? Comments: 1924, the year of the great people (perhaps not Stalin, Lenin, Kalinin, Rykov…) Very hard to score.

 SGP:561 - 89 points.

That's enough.

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


Mars 5, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
A mish-mash of 'stuff' from Loch Lomond!
Loch Lomond, there was a time - probably not that long ago really - when its wares were the butt of many jokes in whisky circles. That seems less so today, although some of their distillates remain undoubtedly pretty whacky. Nevertheless, it's almost impossible to fail to be impressed by their cosmic and labyrinthian still house.


Not to mention the sprawling site of the distillery itself, that includes a cooperage and laboratories, all full of charming and highly knowledgeable staff. I've tried quite a variety of examples of their various distillates in recent years and, I have to say, I feel like they only become more and more impressive. The snag I usually find though, is that the indies seem to have the best casks - as ever in today's whisky world it seems.



We'll do this not quite at random, but in a way which should - theoretically - leave the peated ones till last…



Inchmurrin 10 yo 2010 (60.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #112.78 'Waxing Lyrical', 2nd fill bourbon barrel, 240 bottles)

Inchmurrin 10 yo 2010 (60.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #112.78 'Waxing Lyrical', 2nd fill bourbon barrel, 240 bottles)
Inchmurrin is well renowned as a kind of deliberate 'clone' distillate of the defunct Littlemill. It's true that many bottling of it display this particularly green, Irish-accented fruity funk which is reminiscent of dearly departed Littlemill. Colour: straw. Nose: it would appear that someone has accidentally bottled a barrel of Clynelish. This is indeed waxy and showcasing a lot of almost artificial 'bubblegum' fruitiness. Fruit salad juices mixed with olive oil, cut grasses and parsley, pink grapefruit, carbon paper - funky but extremely fun and very good. Some metal polish and slightly exotic esters once again make you think of old Irish pure pot still whiskeys. With water: fresher and more open on cereals, coal dust, sandalwood, dried flowers and cigarette rolling papers. Characterful distillate indeed! Mouth: very good arrival, rather powerful and hot but also showing juicy sweet pineapple jelly, mouth-coating oiliness, more of these lovely waxy vibes and wee touches of milk bottle sweets, limoncello and tarragon. With water: perfect now. Thick in texture, full of shoe polish, waxy and mineral oil impressions. White pepper heat, buttered toast and molten white marshmallow. Finish: long, tangy with fizzy fruit sweets, new leather, mineral oils and a little more olive oil and bubblegum. Comments: I think these batches are really terrific whisky. They're fun, charismatic, playful, never boring and really very delicious. Puts many other contemporary distillates in the shade.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.



Great stuff! This session starts very well. I think another Inchmurrin, don't you…?



Inchmurrin  22 yo 1998/2021 (52.8%, Lady Of The Glen, hogshead with Oloroso sherry finish, 225 bottles)

Inchmurrin  22 yo 1998/2021 (52.8%, Lady Of The Glen, hogshead with Oloroso sherry finish, 225 bottles)
I wanted to know who the Lady Of The Glen actually is, so I just checked their website and apparently she is 'the green lady ghost, purported to roam around Stirling Castle' - presumably she's been doing virtual tastings for them during lockdown? Colour: amber. Nose: a nice and rather lean and earthy sherry profile up front. One that incorporates clean rubber, hessian, Bovril and wee hints of liquorice and aniseed. These more metallic and polished notes from the Inchmurrin come through slowly but surely. Some suggestions of polished leather and the orange oils and bergamot. Lovely nose thus far. With water: gets more savoury, on cured meats, brown bread and cloves. Mouth: hmmm a bit bitter and slightly soapy on arrival. Very herbal and bitter, on Unicum and Jägermeister, black pepper, soot, carbolic soap. Not sure about this one now I'm afraid. Let's try with water… With water: only marginal improvements I'm afraid, minimal soap now but still quite powerfully bitter, vegetal, herbal and peppery. Aggressively so I'd say. Tough and a tad mono-dimensional. Was it the sherry finish that did that? Finish: medium and a tad acrid at times. Tough! Comments: things started well on the nose but overall I think it's a tough and possibly slightly flawed cask. Not sure if the finish improved or worsened things overall. Anyway, there's many other far superior bottling by LOTG out there for sure.
SGP: 471 - 70 points.



Loch Lomond giveth, and Loch Lomond taketh away…



Old Rhosdhu 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.2%, Duckhammers Rare & WhiskyNerds joint bottling, cask #416, refill hogshead, 346 bottles)

Old Rhosdhu 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.2%, Duckhammers Rare & WhiskyNerds joint bottling, cask #416, refill hogshead, 346 bottles)
For this joint bottling there are two different labels. Guys, don't accuse me of favouritism, but the one with the Otter on is definitely my favourite ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: ha! Concentrated funky old Irish whiskey mixed with some aged Guyanese rum and poured over a dollop of molten Gruyere cheese. But then there's the fruits that begin to get the upper hand, tinned tropical fruit juices, some rather opulent New Zealand sauvignon and a wee hint of marzipan. Funny but excellent. Mouth: really doubling down on this old Irish Whiskey profile now. Copper coins, suet, dried mango, monstera fruit, hessian, cod liver oil - did I mention they do 'whacky' on occasion at Loch Lomond? Some breads and more grassy olive oil notes come through now as well. Finish: good length, a little tropical but now also green acidity, cereals, breads and more grassy and oily notes. Perhaps a little cardboard in the aftertaste, which isn't as luminous. Comments: excellent at times and showcasing a pretty left-field style overall, one that's only really to be found intermittently in Loch Lomond makes.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.



On to peat now, in theory…



Croftengea 13 yo 2007/2021 (49.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 255 bottles)

Croftengea 13 yo 2007/2021 (49.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 255 bottles)
Let's see what the House Of Croucher has unearthed for us… Colour: pale straw. Nose: if you took some bubblegum and smooshed it around in an old sooty fire hearth… you'd something that probably isn't much like this whisky, but this whisky does make you think immediately of coal scuttles and bubblegum though. Following? I thought not. A very funny and whacky nose that also incorporates metal polish, smashed cactus and bath salts. Fun stuff! Mouth: a few notches more classical with a lovely clean sweep of chalky peat smoke. Wood ashes, bath salts (again!) and a mash up of grapefruit and seawater. It teeters on a rather chemical profile but never quite commits, so it's actually rather playful in that sense. More chalk, smouldering ashes, pine cones and impressions of newspaper ink and lanolin. Finish: quite long, peated grapefruits anyone? Smoked mineral oils? New leather? Brined olives? Comments: I really like this, but at times I feel as if I maybe shouldn't? Yet more envelope nudging from the shores of bonnie Loch Lomond.
SGP: 465 - 85 points.



Croftengea 14 yo 'Batch 3' (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2020, 503 bottles)

Croftengea 14 yo 'Batch 3' (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2020, 503 bottles)
Comes with a wizard on the label, or possibly a roadie for the Grateful Dead? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: not as similar to the North Star as I'd expected, this is much more farmy, and actually makes you think more of Ardmore. Lots of wet chalk, smoky grist, sooty chimneys, hessian sackcloth and things like wood ashes, soda bread and iodine. I also get a few drops of lemon juice and sheep wool. Mouth: bigger and much more classically peaty. Thick, peppery peat smoke, smoked olive oil, seawater, iodine and camphor. Still nicely farmy as well though which keeps this Ardmore cosplay alive. Finish: medium and all on ashes, chalk, farmyard smokiness, smoked olive oil and anthracite. Comments: a bit more classical, but still a peaty weirdo - in the best sense. Same quality as the North Star I think.
SGP: 476 - 85 points.



Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #341, hogshead, 280 bottles)

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #341, hogshead, 280 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a more elegant take this time. A more concentrated profile of peat smoke that incorporates brine and ointments, along with bacon rind and syrupy cough medicines. Some touches of seawater, pink grapefruit and sandalwood too. Impressive complexity I think. With water: lovely salinity emerging now, along with a nice sappy quality. Dried sage, green olive bread and more of these camphor notes. Mouth: lovely syrupy profile! Gloopy and medicinal with herbal ointments, camphor, tiger balm and various medical embrocations. Impressions of sandalwood, bandages, ink and seawater all fading in and out. Excellent! With water: the texture is very impressive, it's got this persistent syrupy edge, more of these sappy, herbal and medicinal tones and consistently thick peaty flavour. Finish: long, warm, peppery, herbal and with a few wee fruit tea impressions that elevate the complexity. Comments: It's really quite funny how different all these Croftengeas are. This one is really top notch, great selection team TWE!
SGP: 566 - 89 points.



Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.2%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #342, hogshead, 269 bottles)

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.2%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #342, hogshead, 269 bottles)
A sibling cask, should be same ballpark… Colour: pale gold. Nose: yup, same juice. Perhaps just a wee bit narrower, more towards coastal and saline aspects. Some dried seaweed, soy sauce and hessian. Maybe not as 'in yer face' as 341. With water: a little drier, sootier, on carbolic acidity, fermenting wash and sheep wool - yes a bit more farmy I suppose. Mouth: once again, same ballpark profile, but here it's a little less distinctive, more juicy, syrupy peat smoke, more tar, iodine and camphor stylings. It misses some of these fruitier components that made its sibling more complex I would say. With water: sits nicely between salty and umami qualities. Makes you think of many Asian influences such as nori, pickled ginger and fish sauce, which I'm a sucker for in whisky. Finish: quite long with a deep smokiness now, warm kiln air, a wee meaty bacon note and back to medicines and iodine. Comments: another great one, but I just preferred the extra dimensionality (what?) of its sibling.

SGP: 466 - 86 points.



Inchfad is supposed to be peatier? Right?



Inchfad 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.7%, Dram Mor, cask #1100, PX finish, 274 bottles)

Inchfad 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.7%, Dram Mor, cask #1100, PX finish, 274 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: unexpectedly fruity! As in ripe plums, prunes, sultanas, fruit loaf and some more savoury notes of dry oloroso sherry and black miso. I would not have pegged it as a PX finish at first nosing, but the proof may be in the eating… With water: I find it becomes nicely saline and meaty now, some pork scratchings with a glass of dry oloroso. Mouth: ok, peat comes through more clearly here, oily in texture, medicinal, lightly herbal with cough syrup impressions and more of these dark fruit notes but they are very much in the back seat now, while the peat presses the accelerator. You could also add some Iberico ham and black olives - my God, what I'd give for a few days in Jerez! With water: leathery, salty, some camphor and hessian, a little olive oil and more impressions of black olive bread and cured meats. Finish: good length, clean, earthy, salty and still dominated by the sherry. Doesn't feel like PX at all to me, more Oloroso style, which is great news. Comments: this is classy stuff and a very successful finishing I would say - the peat and the sherry are on the best of terms here. It's just that I now really want to eat some Iberico ham now. And olives. With some pork scratchings. Oh, and drink some VORS Oloroso. In Jerez of course. Urgh!

SGP: 465 - 87 points.



Inchfad 16 yo 2005/2021 (52.2%, Thompson Brothers, PX finish, 300 bottles)

Inchfad 16 yo 2005/2021 (52.2%, Thompson Brothers, PX finish, 300 bottles)
Finished for 2 years I believe. Colour: deep gold. Nose: not dissimilar to the Dram Mor bottling, in that there's an initial suggestion of mirabelle eau de vie and sultanas on the nose, but overall it's a little earthier and going towards things like soots, bouillon, pollens and smoked meats. With water: lovely umami notes of miso, soy sauce, cod liver oil, camphor and putty now. A little smoky charcoal note too. Mouth: more obvious PX influence here, a wee touch of pencil shavings and graphite oils, but also more umami paste, black olive tapenade, aniseed, salted liquorice and hints of iodine and damp pipe tobacco. Very good, but perhaps a notch too much wood influence for me. With water: becomes a little jammy and peppery now, pink peppercorn, hessian, a pencil shaving note again too. I think I preferred the palate neat for this one. Finish: medium, on charcoal, olives, earth, tobaccos and a little bramble jam. Comments: not as convinced by the PX influence on this one, but it goes down very easily when neat.

SGP: 564 - 84 points.



I think Croftengea is peatier than Inchfad. I'd also say that there's lots of fun and pleasure to be had with all these various Loch Lomond makes. Although, we didn't even get into Glen Douglas, the new Rhosdhus, or actual Loch Lomond for that matter come to think of it. What a lousy excuse for a Loch Lomond tasting!



Thanks to Julien.




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


Mars 4, 2022


Little duos, today opposite Jura

I just wanted to do a very short session today, with two Isle of Jura that should be utterly different. I know this won't be fair, but is life fair? I would add that every time we're trying Jura's whisky, we're thinking of George Orwell. Even more so these days…


Jura 'Journey' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Jura 'Journey' (40%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
A very fairly priced NAS – well, all NAS should be fairly priced, like less than £50! – that's meant to be a blend of peated and unpeated whiskies from the famous Distillery. Jura Journey is not a new expression, but it's the first time we're having a go at it. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I've read on a prominent 'lifestyle' blog that this one is smoky because they deep-char the barrels. 'Lifestyle', we said. We'll it's not very smoky, in fact, rather pretty leafy and tea-ish, with just overripe apples and tiny touches of cellar dust, mustard, plus a little toffee, vanilla fudge and wee hints of Madeira, not uncommon in Jura. Neither is this little sootiness. Fine nose, rather light but 'with something special'. Mouth: good sooty start, with some oak, ashes and a little lapsang souchong (there, smoke), but it's soon to become thin and even skimpy (shall we say). Dry, leathery and salty, with also a feeling of coal dust on your palate. Finish: short, saltier yet and even more reminiscent of the driest Madeiras. Sercial, right? Dry ashy aftertaste, with also pear peeling. Comments: after all, this is meant to be the bottom-of)the-range. Not unpleasant, at all.

SGP:352 - 78 points.

This is where things get really unfair…

Jura 27 yo 1991 + 1994/2021 (52.1%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel and hogshead, 334 bottles)

Jura 27 yo 1991 + 1994/2021 (52.1%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel and hogshead, 334 bottles) Five stars
An unusual bi-vintage bottling. The label is really fun. I see a tanker of E-150 in the background, but no large plastic Phylloxera and no matching tie and handkerchief, so not dead sure this is that famous and much skilled Master Blender we're all thinking about…  Colour: straw. Nose: more mineral, more austere, more on flints, cider apples, perhaps turnips, scoria, asparagus, salmiak, rapeseed oil, grape pips, walnut skin, brake dust… I really love all this austerity, we're almost in white wine territories. Reminds me of that PX seco that I tried the other day, brilliant wine that I may remember forever. With water (which should bring out the fruits): no! Rather wool, plaster, fresh paint, linoleum, lip balm and paraffin, then beeswax and drops of vase water. Mouth (neat): masterly work. Dry mustard, chalk and flints, dry Madeira this time again, leather polish, walnut skins, then rather salted citrus, pickled lemons, a touch of peppermint, vegetable bouillon… Doesn't quite feel 27 but who cares. With water: there, gentian, apples, walnuts and various oils. Finish: long, with perhaps a little more lemon, otherwise chalk and wool. The expected ashy mustard in the aftertaste. Comments: it remained austere all along, from the first to the last drop. I would add that it reminded me, at times, of those St Magdalene we tried right yesterday. No bad news, now I'm not an utter fan of all old 'refill' Juras, but this time I bow.
SGP:372 - 91 points.

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


Mars 3, 2022


Little duos, today St. Magdalene

St. Magdalene's malt has always enjoyed cult status amongst the Malt Maniacs, mainly thanks to that flabbergasting UD-Rare Malts 19-1979/1998 that was extremely potent and virtually unbreakable. Actually, once poured, your tulip glass would crack before the whisky would even start to show the slightest signs of tiredness.

St Magdalene

Sadly, I don't think there's been a new bottling of St. Magdalene (or its alter ego Linlithgow) since ten years or so, even if the famous Lowland distillery was only closed in 1983. Because 1983 was only yesterday, was it not? What's sure is that we've got great friends at Whiskyfun.

St. Magdalene 27 yo 1983/2010 (52.7%, Part des Anges, Closed Distilleries, bourbon barrel, 132 bottles)

St. Magdalene 27 yo 1983/2010 (52.7%, Part des Anges, Closed Distilleries, bourbon barrel, 132 bottles) Five stars
Part des Anges (Angel's Share) was an excellent small French indie bottler that may have been a little early. As we all know, 1983 was the Distillery's last vintage; to think that it's become flats… Colour: white wine. Nose: this is like meeting an old friend for the first time since years. Wonderful notes of grape pip oil and old silverware, very idiosyncratic (do we love that word), then huge notes of autumn leaves and apple peeling, plus grapefruit skin and something slightly glutamate-y and miso-y that you would usually rather find in old sherried babies. It is both very complex and pretty austere, which is a little unusual but very 'Magdalene' in our humble opinion. With water: more apple peel, natural soap (saponin) and paraffin, some kind of waxy fino, fresh butter, mashed peas, mashed potatoes, these metallic touches once more, some new wool, new jumper (what was up back in 1983? Sergio Tacchini?) … I don't think any Distillery's still making something even remotely close to this style, the only ones being, in my book, Millburn or Glen Albyn, but those are long gone too. Mouth (neat): massive, with loads of tobacco and salted green fruits, red-bean mochi, more autumn leaves, gritty oils (extreme olive oil), then pickled lemons and a curious touch of sake. I find this little Magdalene pretty Japanese. With water: more sweetness coming out, grapefruit jelly perhaps, perhaps a little mutton fat and marrow, these wee soapy and metallic touches once more, some peppers and some grasses… It remained superbly austere. Finish: long, still sharp, salty and grassy, with some marzipan in the aftertaste and perhaps a little coal smoke. Comments: moving whisky. Not sure we'll ever manage to taste more St. Magdalene that we haven't tried yet, except for the next one…

SGP:362 - 90 points.

And now, drumroll…

St. Magdalene 23 yo 1970/1994 (58.1%, Rare Malts)

St. Magdalene 23 yo 1970/1994 (58.1%, Rare Malts) Five stars
I never jotted down the smallest, silliest notes about this one, what I remember is that some friends used to tell that it was superior to the 19/1979, whilst others would have claimed to the contrary. The only other 1970 I've ever tried was a DL Platinum that had been excellent but not integrally dazzling in my book (WF 89). Colour: gold. Nose: where else are you going to find proper Swiss Gruyère melted in balsamico, stearin, shoe polish, with some menthol, turpentine, linseed oil, sulphur candles (not burnt), kirschwasser and ham? What's this unlikely yet wonderful sorcery? Scottish fondue? With water: amazing waxy grasses, suet, fresh almonds, perhaps seal blubber, ski wax, wool and mint leaves (unusual combo, I agree), a little fresh paint… Mouth (neat): a hi-power nutty and leafy start, full of walnuts, wood-smoked fish, grapefruits, bitter almonds, amontillado, many oils and a growing tartness. Tends to become superbly bitter, chartreusey, very leafy. Artichokes and eggplants in the background. With water: this is where it will start to sing if you give it time, reaching a pinnacle that's rather easy to miss if you're not an attentive and patient taster. Superb lemons, many green teas, green pu-ehr and just all kinds of waxes and oils. Very, very long and breath-taking development if you give it time. Finish: long, grassy, mentholy, herbal and, just like the 1983, pretty salty. Some kind of limey vegetable bouillon in the aftertaste. Miso and tofu too. Comments: stunning but easy to miss. In other words, perhaps not for street drinkers or new-born whisky influencers on b****y YouTube. They must have had a lot of fun at United Distillers while they were selecting all these casks of 'official independent bottlings'. Imagine the cask samples lined-up on the desks… This must have been one of the most, say introspective of them all. Talking about the whiskies, naturally.

SGP:462 - 92 points.

(Many thanks Christian and Jeffrey)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all St. Magdalene we've tasted so far


Mars 2, 2022


Yet another world session
After twenty years, I'm afraid our Scotch-centric vision of the whisky world is about to crack. Many more whiskies from 'the rest of the world' are coming our way these days, while many Scottish names seem to have becoma little absent. Where are they?

Hagmeyer WAH ! (43%, OB, France, +/-2021)

Hagmeyer WAH ! (43%, OB, France, +/-2021) Three stars
This single malt is Alsatian! Well in truth I only know of around ten people in Alsace who are not making whisky yet. Quite. In my experience, Alsatian whiskies would tend to be a little thinnish, partly thanks to the eau-de-vie stills they're using (Holsteins and such). But there are exceptions, naturally… Hagmeyer are located in Balbronn and this is organic. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally wood-led, but certainly not in a bad way. A lot of caraway and tons of clove, so either you enjoy clove or you don't. Good notes of citrons and maize bread in the background, Mouth: between some funny gin and whisky. More caraway and more clove, citronella, fresh ginger, touches of turmeric, lime… And juniper. Gin indeed. Finish: medium, very fresh, nicely herbal, a tad medicinal (that's the juniper), with some citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: doesn't quite taste like malt whisky in my book, now as a 'general spirit' I find it rather excellent. Who needs clear categories anyway.
SGP:660 - 80 points


Gwalarn (40%, OB, France, blend, +/-2021)

Gwalarn (40%, OB, France, blend, +/-2021) Three stars
Actually a blend of whiskies from several 'Celtic' origins, so rather a meta-world whisky. Made by the new owners of Glann ar Mor in Brittany. Colour: straw. Nose: a fine sweet gentle smoke ala Ardmore at first, then a few medicinal touches ala Laphroaig (embrocations), then a touch of cardboard, then assorted bready notes. Works well, whether it's really 'Celtic' I wouldn't know, but it sure is rather coastal. Proof: we're almost about to mention whelks and kelp. Mouth: Ardmore again. Feels stronger than 40%. Ashes, cardboard, apple and lemon juice, touch of salt, a little rhubarb. Tends to nosedive after that, which is normal at 40% vol. Finish: very short now, the 40% feel. Well, they don't, precisely. Comments: solid coastal blend, probably with a very high proportion of peated malt whisky.
SGP:443 - 80 points


Since we're at Glann ar Mor…

Kornog (46%, OB, France, +/-2021)

Kornog (46%, OB, France, +/-2021) Four stars
This is the peated Glann ar Mor. New owners, slightly 'updated' design (I liked the original one rather better I have to say), let's see. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: class talks. Extremely pure, bandage-y, vertical, you would believe this is one of the greatest Sancerres. In my humble opinion, white Sancerre (sauvignon blanc) is one the wines that are closest to great malt whisky – and conversely. Long story short, love this drop. Mouth: a slight lack of 'fatness', possibly because it would be a little too young (who knows with these b****y NASses) but all the rest is perfect. Green melons, white tequila, iodine, ashes, smoked kippers, sorrel, seawater, oysters… Finish: medium, saltier yet, with some lime juice, smoked fish, samphire, and a tiny touch of pinewood. Smokier aftertaste. Comments: class distillate, one of the best in continental Europe in my book. Now an even higher voltage would work even better I would say. Like 48% (but where would this end?)
SGP:456 - 87 points


To Canada, what do you say?

St Laurent Rye 3 yo (43%, OB, Canada, Quebec, Lot No 001, +/-2022)

St Laurent Rye 3 yo (43%, OB, Canada, Quebec, Lot No 001, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
I believe this baby from Rimouski near the mouth of the St Laurent River is brand new. This is 80% rye and 20% barley. Not too sure about the ABV statement, the label being so charmingly cluttered that I couldn't find any mention of it. Or my eyes are really getting bad… Colour: light gold. Nose: the thing is, I'm a sucker for these light, fresh and yet emphatic young ryes that are reeking of fresh breads and herbs of many kinds. Once again with these young modern whiskies, we're rather between artisan gin and whisky (if I may) but it just works. Liquorice wood, caraway, fennel seeds, fresh bread… Does the people need more? Mouth: excellent. Rye is currently growing on me. Touches of pineapple yogurt at first, then ginger cookies, tiny touches of lavender, breads aplenty… Finish: medium, rounder, with more vanilla, gingerbread, and liquorice in the aftertaste. A little caraway this time again. Comments: I haven't even said 'tabarnak', have I? Great, great young rye, but why wouldn't they write 'seigle' instead of 'rye'? I'm joking, bien sûr.
SGP:551 - 84 points


To Wales…(this is becoming the 6-Nation…)

Penderyn 9 yo 2012/2021 (57%, OB, for LMDW, Amontillado)

Penderyn 9 yo 2012/2021 (57%, OB, for LMDW, Amontillado) Four stars
As I understand it, this was fully matured in amontillado, not just finished. Colour: light gold. Nose: nicest Penderyn I've ever nosed, simple as that. Pure nutty cake-iness, with amaretti, marzipan, whiffs of hops, and possibly a thin slice of our favourite cake, panettone (the Panettone Club is sponsoring us, did you know that?) With water: fresh doughs of various kinds, especially baguette – of course – then kumquats and yuzu. A touch of chocolate, from the amontillado I would suppose. Mouth (neat): class, very tight, citrusy, full of grapefruit and green walnuts. Sends a few shivers down your spine but that's not an unpleasant feeling. Brrr… With water: oh good! Blood oranges, green coffee, a little tobacco (untipped Camels – boy they'll fine you one day), some tight marmalade, proper quince jelly (lot of quinces, almost no sugar)… Finish: medium, candied, jammy, yet fresh. Comments: I have to confess I had troubles with the first Penderyns because they had heavily Madeira-ed them. But that was a long time ago and this is just perfect! Time heals all wounds, they say.
SGP:551 - 85 points


Perhaps to India?

Amrut 'Triparva' (50%, OB, India, +/-2021)

Amrut 'Triparva' (50%, OB, India, +/-2021) Three stars
The first ever triple-distilled Indian whisky. Feels a bit 'why?' to us but let's see, why not keep an open mind… Colour: gold. Nose: eggplants and olive oil, then custard and carbon paper. Cut grass and Kronenbourg. All right. With water: towards citrus, hops, IPA and tapioca. Semolina, polenta… Mouth (neat): better, although still a little uncertain and kind of wobbly. Mango syrup, cough medicine, apricot bread, kumquats, nutmeg… With water: do not ad too much water. Finish: medium and slightly thin. A little mango jam, perhaps? Menthol? Comments: very good, certainly, perhaps just a tiny-wee tad uninspiring. There are and were  so many utterly great Amruts!
SGP:540 - 81 points


Let us insist…

Amrut 'Spectrum 004' (50%, OB, LMDW, 2021)

Amrut 'Spectrum 004' (50%, OB, LMDW, 2021) Four stars
004? Looool, this is so Indian. Love India. As I understand this one, they have assembled barrels using four (4) different woods, namely US oak, PX, French and Oloroso. We'll die another day or something… This is almost molecular cooking… Colour: deep amber. Nose: game set and match. Espresso, demerara sugar, molasses, the blackest pipe tobacco, garden earth, cigars, miso soup, tangerine marmalade, mango chutney… Once again Amrut's spirit has worked as an aroma sponge. With water: emphasis on black raisins. Corinth, Smyrna… Mouth (neat): this feeling of Demerara rum, burnt cakes and woods, pine resin, heavy tar liqueur, salmiak… With water: chocolate and black raisins with a little menthol and tar taking over. Finish: long, thick, molasses-y, geared towards old rums, El Dorado-style, if that rings a bell. Comments: heavyish and almost clumsy but extremely good, if a little old-fashioned. We're expecting Hercule Poirot anytime soon…
SGP:561 - 87 points


Good, a last one, and let' change style. Completely.

Ezra Brooks '99 proof' (49.5%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2021)

Ezra Brooks '99 proof' (49.5%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2021)
What you need to understand is that this was 'Bottled at an elevated 99 proof for an enhanced flavor profile'. All right then, let's elevate ourselves too… (no age and no vintage, though). Colour: gold. Nose: nice maize bread, popcorn, nutmeg and cinnamon, lavender and geranium, tomato leaves,  tiny touches of peanut butter. Isn't peanut butter experiencing some kind of epiphany these days? Some nougat too, but this remains a lighter nose. Mouth: sweet, on a lot of peanut butter this time, with some orange cordial and violet liqueur. Very sweet, getting difficult because of that. Blood orange wine. Finish: medium, sweetish, with some Szechuan pepper and notes of Maltese liqueur for tourists. Or was that Cyprus? I can't quite remember… Comments: no, it's way, way too sweet on the palate for me. I'm not sure I could down 2cl of this without at least half a kilogram of ice. Rather poor stuff – yeah I know it's cheap...
SGP:730 - 65 points


We couldn't leave America like that…

Jack Daniel's '100 proof bottled in bond' (50%, OB, USA, Tennessee sour mash whiskey, +/-2021)

Jack Daniel's '100 proof bottled in bond' (50%, OB, USA, Tennessee sour mash whiskey, +/-2021) Two stars
I don't think I've ever tried this expression, but all in good time… It's said to be 'at least 4 years old', wow, we're impressed aren't we. Colour: gold; Nose: caramel, toffee, vanilla fudge, popcorn, nougat and sweet maize. Jack as we're expecting Jack to be. With water: some warm sawdust, peanut butter and pancake syrup. Not un-nice, just extremely simple. Mouth (neat): very sweet, almost liqueurish, but rather balanced, not unpleasant, with some sweet oak and touches of coconut, then biscuits and oriental bread. With water: sweet oak, nice touches of rounded beers, sponge cake and molasses honey. They call that honey but it's no bee's honey. Yeah, utter junk, beware. Finish: rather short, actually, but I do rather enjoy these sweet peanut sauces. Very sweet aftertaste, too much now. Comments: not great and even poor, but way better than that even poorer poor Ezra 'The Poor One' Brooks.
SGP:730 – 72 points


I think I'm hearing you…

Wild Turkey 'Longbranch' (43%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021)

Wild Turkey 'Longbranch' (43%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021) Two stars
This is oak-and-Texas-mesquite-charcoal refined, you understand. Nice packaging, would look nice in your saloon. Colour: gold. Nose: nice! Parsley, sage, verbena, thyme, lime, fennel, drop pf yellow chartreuse (the light one), then nougat, popcorn, orange liqueur and cinnamon rolls and cookies. Very pleasant for sure. Hope it's not too light on the palate. Mouth: I like this one, even if it's pretty uncomplex and, frankly, rather too easy. Ish. Puréed chestnuts, maple syrup, wee  touches of cologne/lavender/violets/whatever, then candy sugar and orange liqueurs. Getting sweeter and sweeter, not the best sign I'm afraid.  Finish: gets sweeter yet and lighter at the same time. Some coconut appearing, never totally a good sign (nah, coconut in whisky sucks big time). Comments: rather a little good but too sweet, unbalanced and lightish. I'm sure that's because of that Texas-mesquite charcoal, no?
SGP:730 - 76 points


It's better to stop here, I would say. See you, stay tuned.


Mars 1, 2022


Around the world once more
As we like to do, we'll start this from France. Sadly, we haven't got any 'Ukranian' spirits left in the stash.

Villa n°16 (43%, OB, Maison Peyrat, France, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
This one's finished in both cognac and pineau des Charentes casks, after having spent some time in ex-bourbon. Maison Peyrat is a cognac house in the Charentes that's started to also offer rum and, pretty recently, single malt whisky as well. Apparently, it's been double-distilled in Charentais stills. Colour: straw. Nose: certainly fruity, with peaches and then raisins, with a pineau that feels a little bit (fortified must). A fair maltiness too, and a whisky that seems to be pretty light and pleasant. Mouth: good, fair, first malty, then growingly on sultanas and simply young cognac. Which, naturally, is very pleasant. Finish: a tad short but good. More malty raisins, good freshness, cinnamon rolls in the aftertaste. Comments: very good surprise despite the 43% vol. that may look a little stingy. Hope they'll make a 'brut de fût' too.
SGP:630 - 84 points.

Perhaps a detour to our dear neighbours in Switzerland?

Säntis 'Snow White No.9' (48%, OB, Switzerland, 2000 bottles, 2021)

Säntis 'Snow White No.9' (48%, OB, Switzerland, 2000 bottles, 2021) Three stars and a half
I'll always remember the first 'Swissky'. This funny Säntis is made by the Locher Brewery (Brauerei Locher) in Appenzell, which lies in eastern Switzerland. We've had some excellent Säntis in the past but this one was first matured in beer casks and then finished in 'Berry vanilla liqueur casks'. To be honest I don't quite know what that is but the unmissable label would suggest it's close to the universe of sundaes and ice creams… Colour: deep gold. I was almost expecting rosé gold. Nose: well well well, they know how to make these things, don't they. Notes of fine de Bourgogne just all over the place, young cognac, some roasted almonds and peanuts, and back to fine. Which is extremely, well, fine (S., gold medal). Discreet whiffs of prickly pears and pomegranates, then indeed sweet pale ale. Mouth: tip-top. Ninety percent young cognac, ten percent malty beer and ten percent some kind fig arrack. Indeed we're good at math. Tends to become really chocolaty, with also drops of coffee liqueur. Finish: long, on similar notes, plus gingerbread, speculoos and Läckerli. Wait, that's rather Basel if I'm not mistaken. Comments: much pleased. I had also expected the use of glacier water or something, given the name.
SGP:451 - 84 points.


Off to England…

The Lakes 'Whiskymaker's Reserve No.3' (54%, OB, England, 9700 bottles, 2021)

The Lakes 'Whiskymaker's Reserve No.3' (54%, OB, England, 9700 bottles, 2021) Three stars and a half
Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1 had been rather very okay in my book (WF 80), No.2 was even more to my liking (WF 84). Now, No.3 aged in 'meticulously sourced PX, Oloroso, Cream Sherry and red wine casks'. Sounds scary, but you never know… Colour: salmony. Nose: pine resin and geranium flowers, strawberry rolls, fig wine, juniper, genever, then Stolle, speculoos, cloves, ginger cookies… It's really pretty concentrated and spicy. With water: fresh panettone! Mouth (neat): it seems that it survived the heavy treatment with wine. I mean, PX, and cream, and red wine! Ginger and cloves again, then dried figs and strawberry jam, sultanas, some kind of spicy fruitcake… With water: more oak spices coming out, that's always the tricky part. Bay leaves, leather and nutmeg. Finish: rather long, rather rich. Fig wine, raisins, cinnamon rolls. Comments: not exactly my preferred style – I find it a little heavyish – but they sure made it well. Kudos to the Chief-Emperor of Wood-Technology or whatever they call him/her at The Lakes D.
SGP:651 - 84 points.


To Finland. We've had some excellent Finnish whiskies the other day…

Teerenpeli 'Suomi 100 Juhla-viski' (43%, OB, Finland, 2016)

Teerenpeli 'Suomi 100 Juhla-viski' (43%, OB, Finland, 2016) Three stars and a half
This one was bottled to celebrate Finland's 100th anniversary. I know we're very late, but Happy Anniversary, Finland! Colour: copper gold. Nose: it's a smoky one, with barbecued herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley) and notes of rooibos, then camphor, eucalyptus, pine tar, ointments... To apply over your chest whenever the weather is getting freezing cold. Mouth: I really like this mojito from the north. Fresh lemon and mint mixed with tar liqueur, oysters (it's pretty salty) and juniper. Some bitterish caraway liqueur – do they also make aquavit in Finland? The 43% vol. don't quite feel light here, well done. Finish: medium, rather on smoked herbs and more tarry juniper. Softer aftertaste, leaving your palate fresh. Comments: a tad aquavity at times, and certainly good. I could drink more of this one and not wait until dear Suomi-Finland is 110.
SGP:465 - 84 points.


While we're in Scandinavia…

Smögen 9 yo '90° Proof' (51.4%, OB, Sweden, batch L001, +/-2022)

Smögen 9 yo '90° Proof' (51.4%, OB, Sweden, batch L001, +/-2022) Five stars
I believe this one's new. I mean, I don't see it anywhere… Colour: white wine. Nose: wee touches of pears, plus a perfect coastal smoke, fresh dough, fresh sourdough, coal dust and fresh almond paste. What's always superb in these wee Smögens is their perfect simplicity. Almost abstract whisky, cutting to the chase. With water: more coal, carbon, cellar dust, carbolineum, old paints… Mouth (neat): hope no one's going to hate me if I write that this is Caol Ila with a little more, well, a little more coal? Perfectly well-carved, pure, salty, lemony, with kippers, fat dry doughs, grapefruits, granny smith and the tiniest touch of peppermint. A little candy sugar to round this off. With water: more and more on brine. Are they already growing olives in Sweden? Finish: long, ultra-clean, salty, coastal, peaty, lemony… Comments: perfectly simple and simply perfect (that was lame at best, S.).
SGP:457 - 90 points.


I think we'll change style…

Currach Kombu (46%, Ireland, Kombu seaweed charred cask, +/-2021)

Currach Kombu (46%, Ireland, Kombu seaweed charred cask, +/-2021) Four stars
Wait wait wait, if I understand this well, this is sourced whiskey that was finished for 3 months in casks that had been charred using seaweed from the Atlantic, called 'kumbu'. Why would any serious taster not find this funny? After all, there's already been some Islay whisky that had been in contact with kelp, no? Didn't they call that 'Celp'? Wasn't it Van Wees in Holland who did it? In any case, innovation is good (you go first, added Dilbert). Colour: straw. Nose: sweet dough, maize bread, milk chocolate, custard and vanilla fudge, then miso, paprika and saffron. I find this a little bizarre and certainly not coastal, let alone 'Atlantic'. I mean, this is not Talisker. Mouth: let's be honest, this is great fun. The seaweed feels this time, there's samphires, burnt capers or something, lemon liqueur, bizarre tarry menthols… It is very hard to describe this, the nearest thing I've ever tasted was some crazy cachaça. Or Cooley's first batches of Connemara, remember?  Finish: long, salty, great fun once you got used to it. Tarry aftertaste, are we sure they've not rather used old tyres? Comments: whether this should be called 'whisky' or 'whiskey' might still be to be seen but believe me, this 'spi' is growing on you. A whole new category, that's cool! Congrats to the inventors, they're making our lives a little less boring with this sour-sweet concoction.
SGP:365 - 85 points.


(Thanks Henrik, thanks Jürgen)


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Lagavulin 22 yo 'Jazz Festival 2020' (52.6%, OB, Refill American & European Oak, 2004 bottles)  - WF92

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Scapa 24 yo 1993/2018 (61.2%, La Distillerie Générale, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #963, 1164 bottles)  - WF92

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Lohin McKinnon 'Central City - Chocolate' (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021)  - WF87

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Vallein-Tercinier 'Small Batch 41/43' (48.2%, OB for Kirsch Import, Bons Bois, 2021) - WF93

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Tamnavulin 'Tempranillo Cask Edition' (40%, OB, +/-2020)  - WF70

February 2022 - part 2 <--- March 2022 - part 1 ---> March 2022 - part 2




Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (55.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #304771, 301 bottles)

Glen Grant 72 yo 1948/2020 (52.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Premier Whisky Hong Kong, American oak sherry cask, cask #440, 290 bottles)

Glen Grant 26 yo 1995/2021 (50.6%, WhiskySponge, 328 bottles)

Jura 27 yo 1991 + 1994/2021 (52.1%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel and hogshead, 334 bottles)

St. Magdalene 27 yo 1983/2010 (52.7%, Part des Anges, Closed Distilleries, bourbon barrel, 132 bottles)

St. Magdalene 23 yo 1970/1994 (58.1%, Rare Malts)

Smögen 9 yo '90° Proof' (51.4%, OB, Sweden, batch L001, +/-2022)

Borderies No 65 (56.7%, Swell & Co + Emotions Distillers, Grosperrin, 144 bottles, 2022)

Château de Laubade 1989/2018 'Brut de Fût' (49.2%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #90014)

La Boutique 'Lot 69' (45.2%, Malternative Belgium, Petite Champagne, 148 bottles, 2022)

La Joyeuse 'Lot 79' (57.8%, Jean-Luc Pasquet for Malternative Belgium for Art Malts, 81 bottles, 2021)

Prunier 1974/2021 (58%, Whisky Mercenary 10th Anniversary, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier '53 Carats Lot 68' (47.2%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF006, 168 bottles)